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Using debian unstable with Gnome 3 but I think this has always happened.

If I log out and then log back in again it seems the X session is restarted or in some way changed.

In any case, when I start a terminal in the second session and re attach the screen, it's no longer possible to start X apps. (message is 'Cannot open display').

Is there an environment variable I can set or command I can run so that the screen session knows the new X details, or do I always have to start a new screen session?

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I suppose that you have some problem with xauthorization.

Please check if the value of XAUTHORITY environment variable changes each time you start a new X session. If it is true, you have to update this variable in each shell you have inside screen, because their environ contains still the value it has the time you started screen.

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    Bingo, thank you. Setting the XAUTHORITY to the new GDM-created database fixed it. However, there are various other environment variables that have changed which I'd like to preserve. This page suggests a way of grabbing the environment variables when screen starts, and 'loading' them when the session is restored.
    – user4137
    Sep 15, 2011 at 21:42
  • @edd-steel I like this idea of automating the environ copy :-)
    – andcoz
    Sep 15, 2011 at 23:47
  • me too! I've tried it out and it works pretty well -- but it only loads the environment automatically on new screens (within the existing session) not existing screens. That's just a function call away though!
    – user4137
    Sep 16, 2011 at 0:37

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