If I start an X application from a terminal, the error messages go to the terminal. If I start them from a GUI, where do the error messages go, or alternatively how are they dealt with?

3 Answers 3


Display managers such as xdm & gdm usually capture stderr from the processes they start and log it to a file such as /var/log/xdm.log or /var/log/gdm/:0.log. That includes the output from the X server being started.

Once your session starts, it may redirect output from the session processes to a file such as ~/.xsession-errors as tante pointed out in his answer.


Usually all generic X errors (and those of some applications) go to the file ~/.xsession-errors.


They go to whatever terminal the X server was started from. If you boot to command line and then start X, you can see them by hopping back to that VT (hit Ctrl-Alt-F1). If you boot directly to X, I'm not sure where the messages show up by default; it may vary by distro.

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    The question explicitly mentioned login from a GUI session manager. Oct 1, 2010 at 11:56

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