Start X at login

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A display manager can be used to provide a login screen and start the X server. This article explains how this can be done using an existing virtual terminal.

To manually start X, startx or xinit are used. Both will execute ~/.xinitrc, which may be customized to start the window manager of choice as described in the xinitrc article.

Shell profile file

Note: This runs X on the same tty used to login, which is required in order to maintain local permissions.
  • For Bash, add the following to the bottom of ~/.bash_profile. If the file does not exist, copy a skeleton version from /etc/skel/.bash_profile.
  • For Zsh, add the following to ~/.zprofile instead.
~/.bash_profile or ~/.zprofile
vt=$(fgconsole 2>/dev/null)
(( vt == 1 )) && exec startx -- vt$vt &> ~/.xlog
unset vt

The user will be logged out when X is killed. In order to avoid this, remove the exec part from the script. Also note the redirection of the output to ~/.xlog.

Tip: This method can be combined with automatic login to virtual console to provide autologin.