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I have a remote machine running Debian 8 (Jessie) with lightdm installed. I want it to start in no-GUI mode, but I don't want to remove all X-related stuff to still be able to run it though SSH with the -X parameter. So how to disable X server autostart without removing it?

I tried systemctl stop lightdm, it stops the lightdm, but it runs again after reboot. I also tried systemctl disable lightdm, but it basically does nothing. It renames lightdm's scripts in /etc/rc*.d directories, but it still starts after reboot, so what am I doing wrong? And I can't just update-rc.d lightdm stop, because it's deprecated and doesn't work.

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systemd is fairly new in debian, and if it is not working as expected I suggest you file a bug report. – bodhi.zazen Feb 19 at 16:49
1  
Running X stuff through ssh doesn't require an X server installed on the machine. (It just requires the X client libraries). Do you really want an X server installed? [AFAIK, you've found a bug—the disable should have worked. Of course that's hardly an answer...] – derobert Feb 19 at 16:53
    
@bodhi.zazen The problem is I don't know if it works as expected or not, because I don't know if I'm doing it right. I'm new to the systemd too. – kurogetsusai Feb 19 at 17:02
    
@derobert Oh, so... I think I don't need the X server in that case. It's still more of a workaround than a solution, but thanks. Can I safely remove the lightdm and all xorg-server-* packages or should I keep something, e.g. xorg-server-input-* or video drivers? – kurogetsusai Feb 19 at 17:02
    
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The disable didn't work because the Debian /etc/X11/default-display-manager logic is winding up overriding it.

In order to make text boot the default under systemd (regardless of which distro, really):

systemctl set-default multi-user.target

To change back to booting to the GUI,

systemctl set-default graphical.target

I confirmed those work on my Jessie VM.

PS: You don't actually need the X server on your machine to run X clients over ssh. The X server is only needed where the display (monitor) is.

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+1 . Major effort "beyond the call of duty". – Faheem Mitha Feb 19 at 23:06

I don't know much about Debian, but on my Ubuntu 14.04 laptop, here is the standard procedure I use when I want to disable X and boot to command prompt for troubleshooting:

  1. Edit the file /etc/default/grub in superuser mode and set GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="text"

Optionally, also uncomment this line: #GRUB_TERMINAL=console and then do sudo update-grub. The machine will boot in text mode.

  1. To start the graphical interface from there, you then do sudo service lightdm start #could be gdm or startx in some situations

Source: http://askubuntu.com/questions/52089/how-do-i-boot-to-a-command-line-interface-instead-of-a-gui

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Try the following command:

echo  "manual" | sudo tee -a /etc/init/lightdm.override
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