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On Linux Mint 17.1 with XFCE installed, I removed MDM to enable booting in text mode. Now, when I try to run startx, it open the xfce4-panels on a grey background but gets stuck there with the panels not responding. Same happens with running startxfce4 (it also loads the wallpaper). sudo startxfce4 does works perfectly but it logs me in the graphical mode as root.

Is there any way to start the XFCE GUI manually using an unprivileged account?

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This will do the trick:

# cp /etc/xdg/xfce4/xinitrc  /home/user/.config/xfce4/xinitrc
# chown user /home/user/.config/xfce4/xinitrc
# chown user /home/user/.ICEauthority
$ startxfce4

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