I run a second xserver through tty2 this way:

export DISPLAY=:1
xinit -- :1

I don't have any .xinitrc file defined and I get only a black screen with xterm window. It looks like that running xterm is hardcoded in xinit bin. Is it possible to run xserver without that xterm window ? When I close xterm the screen is redirected back to tty2 and there is a messasge:

xinit: connection to xserver lost

Does it mean that xserver can't be run without any "regular" window ? (there is always also a root window)

  • How do you run your first X server? A display manager (gdm, kdm, xdm)? Why don't you configure the display manager to run the second server in the same way it runs the first server?
    – dirkt
    Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 19:34
  • I use UBuntu 16.04 LTS , so there is lightdm. I play with a minimal X11 setup just for learning purpose.
    – Irbis
    Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 19:50
  • Just start X :1 without xinit.
    – mviereck
    Commented Jul 24, 2017 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


The manual page is the place to start. From "man xinit":

If no specific client program is given on the command line, xinit will look for a file in the user's home directory called .xinitrc to run as a shell script to start up client programs. If no such file exists, xinit will use the following as a default:

    xterm -geometry +1+1 -n login -display :0

The X server will wait until that program stops before shutting down. You can certainly use different programs, including those that do not open a window. But without a terminal (or window manager) the X display will be hard to use.

Further reading: startx manual page.

  • So when using xinit I can't close xterm and still have xserver running, right ? (I know that such setup doesn't make much sense but I want to check all options. I can later open xterm again remotely, for example through ssh). startx internally also uses xinit, what are other posiblities to run xserver ?
    – Irbis
    Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 19:55
  • 2
    The X server expects to have a client program running, which could be xterm or some other application. Usually the "other" application is a window manager. Once there are no clients, X stops :-) Commented Jul 23, 2017 at 20:08

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