startx - initialize an X session
startx [ [ client ] options ... ] [ -- [ server ] options ... ]
The startx script is a front end to xinit 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 on a
per-session basis the default color depth, the server’s notion of the
number of dots-per-inch the display device presents, or take advantage
of a different server layout, as permitted by the Xorg(1) server and
specified in the xorg.conf(5x) file. 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 first looks for a file called
.xinitrc in the user’s home directory. If that is not found, it uses
the file xinitrc in the xinit library directory. 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
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(7x)
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), Xserver(1), Xorg(1)
Man(1) output converted with