Display Manager

Without display manager you need to log in into the console and then statrx. Display Managers put them selfs in between those two steps. They are started by adding xdm to the default boot level: rc-update add xdm default. This reads the file/etc/conf.d/xdm that contains the name of the login manager. After login startx starts what is stored in the XSESSION environmental variable or does what is inside the file~/.xinitrc of the user that has logged in. Most desktop environments com with their own display manager that replaces xdm as gdm for gnome, kdm for kde and lxdm for LXDE.

Start, stop and login

startx test it, see log file for problems: /var/log/Xorg.0.log

Ctrl + D exits

startx checks if in your home directory ~/.xinitrc exist. If so, it starts what it will find inside. Maybe you have done one of the following commands:

echo "exec startxfce4" > ~/.xinitrc

echo "exec startkde" > ~/.xinitrc

This command created the file~/.xinitrc, and executes kde. Otherwise it starts the session found in /etc/X11/Sessions where/etc/rc.conf points to.

To start x automatically rc-update add xdm default. This starts the Display manager as default xdm that allows also to login graphically. If you use an other login manage set its name in/etc/conf.d/xdm

X is a display server, the program name is Xserver. Check man Xserver

The script startx is a script in and calls xinit that calls Xserver.

See man startx to see for example how options are passed.


Slim is a lightweight login manager. See https://sourceforge.net/projects/slim.berlios/. To start it, add slim to /etc/conf.d/xdm. Slim has also a log file /var/log/slim.log.

Slim will start per default what is set by the environmental variable XSESSION that is initialized via/etc/rc.conf .

Alternatively the environmental variable can be set via/etc/end.d add XSESSION="Xfce4" to/etc/env.d/90xsession

env-update && source /etc/profile

To have a setting per user ~/.xinitrc has to be started. Put the following

      login_cmd           exec /bin/sh - ~/.xinitrc %session

command in/etc/slim.conf

Unfortunately slim does not have an autologin with timeout


Lightdm is an other display manager with its config file /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf

Lightdm is not as light as it seems to be, it is full featured but needs no special configuration on config file levels. It can login a user automatically with a time out for intervention.

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