What X Server Is and Why You Do NOT Need It

Spend enough time using Linux and you are bound to hear terms like “X Server”, “Xorg”, “X Windows”, or “X11”. All of these terms refer to the same technology, and none of them are things you need for your Linux-based dedicated server.

On Linux and Unix-like operating systems, the X Server is a layer that sits on top of the text-based console, providing a GUI (graphical user interface) for users. Most desktop environments run on top of X, and it is commonly used on desktop and laptop installations of Linux distributions.

The reasons you do not need X on your server are threefold:

  1. You can accomplish everything you need to do from the command line, and if you need a graphical interface, you can use a web-based control panel.
  2. X is by its nature network-ready, which means that it is possible for remote users to login to the graphical interface. This can present a security risk on a server that does not even need it running in the first place (See reason #1)
  3. It consumes needed resources. There is no point in taking up extra RAM for X, especially if you are accessing your server remotely. X consumes a pretty big chunk of system memory and could possibly pinch away small amounts of CPU power, even when not in use. There is no point in sacrificing resources for something you do not need (see reason #1 again).

Just to bring home the point one more time, X is not something you need on a server, especially for web hosting. If you are running some type of application server that requires remote graphical logins, that is a different story, but for hosting, keep X off your server.