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 the login session.
  • 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 it to ~/.zprofile instead.
  • This line makes it possible to graphical login from 1 to 5 terminals, but 6 terminal to the console input.
[ -z $DISPLAY && $XDG_VTNR -eq 5 ] && exec startx &> ~/.xlog


  • This method can be combined with automatic login to virtual console.
  • If you would like to remain logged in when the X session ends, remove exec.
  • To redirect the output of the X session to a file, create an alias:
alias startx='startx &> ~/.xlog'