I installed Debian Wheezy with the GNOME GUI, and then upgraded to Jessie using the terminal. After the upgrade was done, I tried logging out and logging back in, but it booted straight to command line view with no GUI. When I logged in and entered the startx command as root, all I got was a black screen. Do I need to manually update GNOME somehow, or is there another way to get to the GUI desktop? How do I change the boot parameters to boot to GUI by default?

  • Check /var/log/Xorg.0.log. You will most probably have the information to know what is going on and get the hint you need to solve your problem. By the way, have you installed proprietary video drivers from a source other than apt?
    – YoMismo
    Jan 28, 2015 at 8:00

2 Answers 2


You can check your runlevel (dictating whether you boot to console or gui) in /etc/inittab. A line like id:2:initdefault: means you're set to boot to gui by default.

You might be having a X problem. Check your /var/log/Xorg.0.log specifically looking for lines with (EE) which would indicate problems to investigate.

  • I checked /etc/inittab and the default runlevel was indeed 2. I also checked /var/log/Xorg.0.log and no errors were found. However, I do get an error whenever I boot that says "Error: Driver 'pcspkr' is already registered, aborting"
    – Felsg2574
    Oct 4, 2014 at 4:40

I had the very same problem today while installing Debian Jessie via debootstrap.

The solution was: Xorg was apparently missing a .xinitrc configuration file in my homedir. Try the sample given in https://wiki.debian.org/Xinitrc

The most important lines are at the end of the file, where a windowmanager or DE is started via "exec"

Then again try "startx". Xorg should show up now without problems.

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