The operating system provides a variety of networking services, including distributed file systems and remote execution. X servers provide additional networking capabilities, including access to remote displays and security services.
The desktop layers a user interface on top of these networking features. The goals of this interface and its underlying architecture are to make networked systems:
Easier to use. Users can run applications and access data files without worrying about where in the network the applications and data are located.
Easier to administer. The desktop provides application integration tools and networked search paths that make locating remote data and applications easier for systems. In addition, the desktop's file-name mapping process makes administering complex networks containing numerous servers easier.
Flexible. While the administration features of the desktop have been designed for certain common network situations, the desktop can accommodate many other customized network configurations.