As root, I changed one user’s home directory to a soft link to another drive (while the user was not logged in). Then this user could not run startx anymore, though other users with the same .xinitrc and also in audio group still could. Changing back to the previous home directory or setting it via usermod did not help. No error on console, startx exits with success, only this hint appears if logging:

xf86EnableIOPorts: failed to set IOPL for I/O (Operation not permitted)

Here is a log (xorg’s log is much longer but does not seem to have more to offer).

root@Freesia/~# startx >& /tmp/startxlog
root@Freesia/~# cat /tmp/startxlog
X.Org X Server 1.20.4
X Protocol Version 11, Revision 0
Build Operating System: Linux 5.10.0-21-amd64 x86_64 Debian
Current Operating System: Linux Freesia 4.19.0-9-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 4.19.118-2+deb10u1 (2020-06-07) x86_64
Kernel command line: BOOT_IMAGE=/boot/vmlinuz-4.19.0-9-amd64 root=UUID=27ab16fe-4180-4d31-ba99-60476076083f ro quiet
Build Date: 28 March 2023  05:03:02PM
xorg-server 2:1.20.4-1+deb10u9 (https://www.debian.org/support) 
Current version of pixman: 0.36.0
    Before reporting problems, check http://wiki.x.org
    to make sure that you have the latest version.
Markers: (--) probed, (**) from config file, (==) default setting,
    (++) from command line, (!!) notice, (II) informational,
    (WW) warning, (EE) error, (NI) not implemented, (??) unknown.
(==) Log file: "/home/alex/.local/share/xorg/Xorg.1.log", Time: Tue Mar 19 17:47:00 2024
(==) Using system config directory "/usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d"
xf86EnableIOPorts: failed to set IOPL for I/O (Operation not permitted)
(II) modeset(0): Initializing kms color map for depth 24, 8 bpc.
xinit: connection to X server lost
waiting for X server to shut down (II) Server terminated successfully (0). Closing log file.

I tried to delete and recreate the user with the legacy home directory, to no avail.


1 Answer 1


The PATH variable contained a symlink to a subdir of the new location of the user's home directory. This produced a circular reference (too many levels of symbolic links) when the actual home directory changed, which apparently is a reason for startx to exit immediately.

(Taken verbatim from an update to the original question)

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