[sf-lug] virtual terminals (When GUI X sessions turn bad...)

Michael Paoli Michael.Paoli at cal.berkeley.edu
Sat Feb 9 11:22:10 PST 2008

When an X server is started in Linux, such as via
startx -- :[0-63]
it will generally pick and launch itself on the first available virtual
E.g. if I have text logins enabled on tty[1-4], have X running on tty[5-7],
and have text logins enabled on tty9-tty12, and I launch X from tty9, e.g.:
$ startx -- :3 &
the X server will be on tty8.
If I were to launch more X servers, next X server would grab tty13,
then tty14, etc. up through tty63.

E.g. if you lanch X from a text virtual terminal, then switch back to that
same virtual terminal - you won't find your X server there, but rather the
output of the command you used to launch X.

It's also possible to tell an X server to use a specific available
virtual terminal (e.g. by passing argument vt9 to use tty9; this can also
be set in various configuration locations, such as for gdm, kdm, xdm, etc.)

see also:

> Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2008 13:32:48 -0800
> From: RBV <GoodWriter2548 at earthlink.net>
> Subject: [sf-lug] When GUI X sessions turn bad...
> To: sf-lug at linuxmafia.com
> Message-ID: <479BA700.7050400 at earthlink.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
> I'm trying to resolve an  annoyance with my Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty) system
> running Gnome.  For what it's worth, the system has a 2 GHz P4 and 1 GB of
> RAM, so I don't think system resources are the issue.
> The problem is that non-default Gnome sessions, the ones accessed via
> CTRL+ALT+[F1-F6], don't stay GUI if I leave them alone for even a few
> seconds.
> >From my default Gnome session (the one that "lives at" CTRL+ALT+F7), I can
> use CTRL+ALT+[F1-F6] to go to a new text-based session window, login under a
> currently active or new user name, then type (without the quotation marks)
> "startx -- :[1-6]" to start a new Gnome desktop session.  As long as I stay
> in that new Gnome session everything works perfectly.
> IF, after setting up a secondary Gnome session, I use CTRL+ALT+Fn to navigate
> away from that session then back to it, I receive a text-based screen with
> the startup sequence of the broken X session listed -- that is to say, the
> Gnome session has become unusable.d

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