7.2. Desktop Environments and Window Managers

Once an X server is running, X client applications can connect to it and create a GUI for the user. A range of GUIs are possible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, from the rudimentary Tab Window Manager to the highly developed and interactive GNOME desktop environment that most Red Hat Enterprise Linux users are familiar with.
To create the latter, more advanced GUI, two main classes of X client applications must connect to the X server: a desktop environment and a window manager.

7.2.1. Desktop Environments

A desktop environment brings together assorted X clients which, when used together, create a common graphical user environment and development platform.
Desktop environments have advanced features allowing X clients and other running processes to communicate with one another, while also allowing all applications written to work in that environment to perform advanced tasks, such as drag and drop operations.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux provides two desktop environments:
  • GNOME — The default desktop environment for Red Hat Enterprise Linux based on the GTK+ 2 graphical toolkit.
  • KDE — An alternative desktop environment based on the Qt 3 graphical toolkit.
Both GNOME and KDE have advanced productivity applications, such as word processors, spreadsheets, and Web browsers, and provide tools to customize the look and feel of the GUI. Additionally, if both the GTK+ 2 and the Qt libraries are present, KDE applications can run in GNOME and visa versa.