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startx - initialize an X session
startx [ [ client ] options ... ] [ -- [ server ] [ display ] options
The startx script is a front end to xinit(1) that provides a somewhat
nicer user interface for running a single session of the X Window Sys-
tem. It is often run with no arguments.
Arguments immediately following the startx command are used to start a
client in the same manner as xinit(1). The special argument '--' marks
the end of client arguments and the beginning of server options. It
may be convenient to specify server options with startx to change them
on a per-session basis. Some examples of specifying server arguments
follow; consult the manual page for your X server to determine which
arguments are legal.
startx -- -depth 16
startx -- -dpi 100
startx -- -layout Multihead
To determine the client to run, startx looks for the following files,
If command line client options are given, they override this behavior
and revert to the xinit(1) behavior. To determine the server to run,
startx first looks for a file called .xserverrc in the user's home
directory. If that is not found, it uses the file xserverrc in the
xinit library directory. If command line server options are given,
they override this behavior and revert to the xinit(1) behavior. Users
rarely need to provide a .xserverrc file. See the xinit(1) manual page
for more details on the arguments.
The system-wide xinitrc and xserverrc files are found in the
The .xinitrc is typically a shell script which starts many clients
according to the user's preference. When this shell script exits,
startx kills the server and performs any other session shutdown needed.
Most of the clients started by .xinitrc should be run in the back-
ground. The last client should run in the foreground; when it exits,
the session will exit. People often choose a session manager, window
manager, or xterm as the ''magic'' client.
Below is a sample .xinitrc that starts several applications and leaves
the window manager running as the ''last'' application. Assuming that
the window manager has been configured properly, the user then chooses
the ''Exit'' menu item to shut down X.
xrdb -load $HOME/.Xresources
xsetroot -solid gray &
xbiff -geometry -430+5 &
oclock -geometry 75x75-0-0 &
xload -geometry -80-0 &
xterm -geometry +0+60 -ls &
xterm -geometry +0-100 &
xconsole -geometry -0+0 -fn 5x7 &
DISPLAY This variable gets set to the name of the dis-
play to which clients should connect. Note
that this gets set, not read.
XAUTHORITY This variable, if not already defined, gets
set to $(HOME)/.Xauthority. This is to pre-
vent the X server, if not given the -auth
argument, from automatically setting up inse-
cure host-based authentication for the local
host. See the Xserver(1) and Xsecurity(7)
manual pages for more information on X
$(HOME)/.xinitrc Client to run. Typically a shell script which
runs many programs in the background.
$(HOME)/.xserverrc Server to run. The default is X.
/etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc Client to run if the user has no .xinitrc
/etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc Server to run if the user has no .xserverrc
xinit(1), X(7), Xserver(1), Xorg(1), xorg.conf(5)
X Version 11 STARTX(1)