What's the correct way to restart Gnome 3 (and Xorg) under Debian 7.0 Wheezy?

I've seen older documentation on how to this, but it is outdated.

The ctrl+alt+backspace shortcut no longer works by default.

Running sudo /etc/init.d/gdm3 restart from Gnome terminal just gives me a blank screen with blinking underscore and never properly reboots the X session.

  • 1
    What exactly do you want to accomplish?
    – Joseph R.
    Aug 17, 2013 at 19:57
  • @JosephR. restarting the x session without rebooting the entire box. Aug 17, 2013 at 19:58
  • Then why does sudo /etc/init.d/gdm3 restart not "properly restart the display"? What is "proper"?
    – Joseph R.
    Aug 17, 2013 at 20:00
  • @JosephR. when I do that the terminal just hangs at a blinking prompt. Might be a localized problem but I assumed I was going about things the wrong way. Aug 17, 2013 at 20:05
  • Check out my answer. Solves your problem?
    – Joseph R.
    Aug 17, 2013 at 20:12

2 Answers 2


You need to issue the command for restarting the X server from outside the X session:

  • Switch to a virtual terminal using CTRL+ALT+Fi with i falling between 1 to 6 inclusive (2 to 7 inclusive if you're on Fedora or RHEL).
  • Log in at the prompt
  • Run sudo /etc/init.d/gdm3 restart or sudo service gdm3 restart
  • Reattach to the original screen using CTRL+ALT+Fi, where i is the higher screen number of the original X session, F7 should be the default on Debian
  • 1
    How do I reattach to the original session? ctrl + alt + f7? Is f7 the assumed default session? Aug 17, 2013 at 20:13
  • @JamesMcMahon Usually. Although it might be re-spawned on "higher" screens (F8 and upwards). Note that the F1 screen is the default one for the X session on Fedora.
    – Joseph R.
    Aug 17, 2013 at 20:15

If you use a privative graphical driver, probably you must stop and start the service gdm3, cause it will be failed at the start with restart command.

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