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Linux and Unix startx command

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startx syntax
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About startx

startx begins an X Window session.

Description

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 System. 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. 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 server and specified in the xorg.conf configuration.

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 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 behavior. Users rarely need to provide a .xserverrc file.

The system-wide xinitrc and xserverrc files are found in the /etc/X11/xinit directory.

startx syntax

startx [ [ client ] options ... ] [ -- [ server ] [ display ] options ... ]

Environment Variables

DISPLAY This variable gets set to the name of the display 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 prevent the X server, if not given the -auth argument, from automatically setting up insecure host-based authentication for the local host.

Files

$(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 file.
/etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc Server to run if the user has no .xserverrc file.

startx examples

startx -- -depth 16

Start an X session at 16 bits color depth.

startx -- -dpi 100

Start an X session at 100 dpi (dots per inch) resolution.

startx -- -layout Multihead

Start an X session with support for multiple displays.

Xorg — The executable of the X Window System server.