I'm Using Arch Linux + Xfce4 (Edit: running as VBox OS guest) and I wanted to change a username and it's home directory accordingly. I followed these steps as root:

1.Renamed the home directory

# mv /home/oldusername /home/newusername

2.Changed user's login name and home directory:

# usermod -l newusername oldusername
# usermod -d /home/newusername newusername

3.Changed user's default group name

# groupmod -n newgroupname oldgroupname

All that went fine, I could log in as newusername and check that the env variables $USER, $HOME are ok.

But when I run "startx", the X session does not start. Then I shutdown the system and as root again I rename the home directory back to /home/oldusername. Then I login as newusername and this time startx succeeds. Why is that? only the dirname is changing, all other files (.xinitrc, etc.) are the same..

  • 1
    does grep oldusername .xinitrc holds any results? Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 13:01
  • no, there should be no username harcoded in any files/scripts. I forgot to mention that I'm running the Arch Linux as a guest OS in virtualbox, I will edit my question to add that.
    – rodrunner
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 13:07

1 Answer 1


It seems that there is a configuration somewhere pointing to that user. I have a few suggestions you can try.

First, make sure your new $HOME has the right ownership.

Secondly, read and post the error message given by Xorg.

Thirdly, search your $HOME directory for any configuration files that hold the old $HOME path.

cd $HOME
grep -r "olduser" .

It would be a good idea to pipe the search to less or redirect to file.

If you can't find anything in your $HOME the next step is to try /etc/. That is generally where all configurations should be.

If that holds nothing, do the same on /.

  • I've deleted the $HOME/.config/xfce4/ directory just in case but it didn't help. Since it was a test system I think I will delete that user and create a new one.
    – rodrunner
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 13:33
  • @rodrunner I edited my answer
    – Digisec
    Commented Jan 10, 2016 at 13:37

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