I am not able to run my ~/.xinitrc (~/.xsession) scripts when logging into my computer. I'm using Xubuntu 12.10 with vanilla lightgm as the login manager. Both these files have the right permission (executable). I have in my ~/.xinitrc, the following:

#!/usr/bin/env bash 

# read ~/.Xmodmap if it exists
if [[ -f "${HOME}/.Xmodmap" ]]; then
    xmodmap "${HOME}/.Xmodmap"

# read ~/.Xresources if it exists
if [[ -f "${HOME}/.Xresources" ]]; then
    xrdb -load "${HOME}/.Xresources"

# use gnome-keyring-daemon to manage keys
/usr/bin/gnome-keyring-daemon --start --components=gpg
/usr/bin/gnome-keyring-daemon --start --components=ssh

Any other command (like date >> "$HOME/did_start") is not also being executed.

Now apparently, even if I delete my ~/.xinitrc and ~/.xsession files, xmodmap seems to be reading ~/.Xmodmap, and ~/.Xresources is also being partly read. I checked in /etc/X11/Xsession to see if there are any commands which makes it read these two files, and found none. What could be happening?

EDIT: Since Gilles asked, I'm using a custom session while login in through lightdm (/usr/share/xsessions/custom.desktop):

[Desktop Entry]

But apparently this still starts XFCE via startxfce4 even though I don't have it in my ~/.xinitrc.

And as Ulrich Dangel pointed out, there is a line in /usr/xdg/xfce4/xinitrc which reads ~/.Xmodmap and ~/.Xresources, and this script is executed by startxfce4. So that "mystery" is now resolved. But again, the colors (for xterm, urxvt etc.) from ~/.xinitrc is still not being loaded.

  • How’s going your process of logging in? What sessions are available (if any)?
    – tijagi
    Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 5:20
  • What session type do you choose in lightdm? Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 17:40
  • @Gilles I am using a custom session. I've updated my question with more information on that.
    – metwarp
    Commented Dec 25, 2012 at 13:18

1 Answer 1


For your first question, it typically depends on your session, i.e. the file in your example is not necessarily sufficient as it doesn't start your WM/DE. Normally ~/.xsession or ~/.xinitrc start the whole environment and are not only used to automatically launch some programs, i.e. they should contain a line like exec x-window-manager but the global xsession may just source the file.

For your other question, Debian (and probably Ubuntu) have /etc/X11/Xsession.d which for example loads ~/.Xresources. These files are also responsible for loading and finding the default window manager.

To debug your issues you should have a look in ~/.xsession-errors or start the xserver from a console and see the error messages directly there, i.e. startx -- /etc/X11/Xsession

  • For the first part, even though I don't have a exec startxfce4 line in my ~/.xinitrc, XFCE starts (it's weird, something else must be happening). For the second part, yes, what you said seems to be the case. The /etc/xdg/xfce4/xinitrc script caused the two files to be read.
    – metwarp
    Commented Dec 25, 2012 at 13:17
  • @metwarp ok updated the comment Commented Dec 26, 2012 at 1:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .