I know some distro's (Moblin? ) have X starting as a user other than root already... What is required to do this? What steps need to be taken?

I don't think it matters but I think X is started by KDM on my system and I'm running Arch Linux

  • When I was with Slackware, I used to type startx after logging in, so I think that was me who start the X server (and not root). Is that what you are asking for?
    – phunehehe
    Commented Sep 12, 2010 at 15:42
  • 2
    @phunehehe: No, it doesn't matter whether the X server is started by a display manager or by startx. In most cases, the X server binary is setuid root (i.e. runs as root no matter who invoked it), and needs to be in order to access the video card. The question is about not needing the X server to run as root. Commented Sep 12, 2010 at 15:52

1 Answer 1


The first step that needs to be taken is to make sure that you have a card that supports kernel-mode-setting. If you don't you will likely still have to run X as root. Ubuntu is looking into doing this and thus has a small set of directions here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/X/Rootless which I think should work as a good starting place for most major distros.

  • Intel Graphics has supported KMS the longest IIRC ;). Commented Sep 12, 2010 at 16:04
  • So does nouveau (the open source nvidia driver), though only recently.
    – WhyNotHugo
    Commented Sep 12, 2010 at 18:36

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