I recently wanted to solve a problem with using a second monitor from my laptop that is running debian (jessie) but because I lack knowledge things didn't go as planned. Now I am getting booted into tty1, without any kind of graphical environment starting.

I got a Dell XPS17 laptop, using an Intel HD 2nd gen chipset and a Nvidia gt555m graphic card.

What I initially did was install some drivers (some nvidia drivers iirc) and then creating an xorg.conf.

When I now execute startx only a black screen appears, but no errors are printed in the /var/log/Xorg.0.log.

My goal is to make the default laptop display run again, using the Intel hd graphic card and an additional monitor using the Nvidia card (but I would be happy as well if only the laptop display would work again).

What do? I'm not that familiar with Linux/unix and I would appreciate any stp-by-step solution available.

  • How did you create the xorg.conf file? The recommended way is to use Xorg -configure (see: the Debian documentation on Xorg). Jul 31, 2015 at 17:26
  • First step is to check if a window manager is running.
    – dirkt
    May 4, 2017 at 6:34
  • If the first step (from @dirkt) states "yes", the second step would be to check what's you first, second, … screen.
    – Nepumuk
    Feb 6, 2020 at 19:14

1 Answer 1


Have you tried right or left-clicking on the black screen? Some WindowManagers doesn't leave much evidence that they're running... You may even have started a WM that doesn't use the mouse but keyboard-commands (like ratpoison). Try running ps to see what WM you're running.

Try starting X with xinit - this usually gives you a terminal-window (xterm) on a "dotted" desktop, but may start a WM too. You can also specify a WM - eg. xinit /usr/bin/icewm (depending on which WMs you've got installed and where they're located).

Try looking in /etc/X11/ for the file which selects what WM you're using -- or use the alternatives command to select the WM you want among those available.

  • 1
    startx and xinit are pretty much equivalent, as former uses the latter, so I doubt it will fix anything. Your comment about searching /etc/X11 for some file is confusing. I guess you mean xinitrc? It's not the first place xinit starts looking, but rather ~/.xinitrc, so I would check that first (if it exists). Jul 31, 2015 at 17:32

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