The Raspbian GUI vs. the evil ‘startx’

So it all started with the best intentions: Let’s try to open up a Windows machine with RDP!

The straw…

So somewhere I found how to install rdesktop and that led me to install some other packages & type ‘startx’ to get it all going… and it was all downhill from there! šŸ˜¦

No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the old GUI to come up the way it used to!

Stuff I tried, but that ultimately didn’t pan out

I tried restoring the ‘.old’ .Xauthority file. I tried changing the .Xauthority file’s user:group back to pi:pi (from root:root). I tried deleting the .Xauthority file altogether. Hell, I even though it plausible that Raspbian’s default partitioning of my 32GB SD card somehow let me clog the FS – but nope; not one partition with >15% utilization.

Update: OH! I also added a “startx; sleep 10” to the end of my Ā .profile at some point that caused xface to not start until I logged in via ssh and killed the bugging-out xServerĀ process… :@

Update 2: Great! Now I get the same blank/black desktop again!?Ā Running ‘startx’ will bring up xface, but this is still a manual SSH step required to get my GUI up and running! Poking around I removed the instigating ‘rdesktop’ package and based on the post below, installed slim to replace lightdm, which only seems to want to drop me into the black-screen GUI with a right-click menu to open a terminal emulator and other applications.

The (lesser-evil) downside is that the login-prompt is back, but at least it is accepting the same user/pass that SSH has been all along šŸ™‚ (raspi-config was of no help here, contrary o some forum posts)

The final solution

In the end, I said my goodbyes to lxde and uninstalled it and moved to xface, at the cost of a few hundred MBs of SD space. I followed the instructions below without any difficulties whatsoever:

I had some doubts (read: “Oh shit, did I really make things worse!?”-moments) at a few points during the reboot process, but xface ultimately came up with its (somewhat obnoxiously coloured) desktop background

I’ve done a first-pass in the settings tweaking certain things, but time will tell if xface will pass the ‘good enough’ test.

Once thing worth noting is that xface seems to take much longer to shutdown once given the ‘reboot’ command, but this may simply be my mind playing tricks on me…Ā This seems to have been related to the “startx; sleep 10” that I had added to my .profile… and removed – see the Update above.

…but why use a GUI in the first place!?

Being quite accustomed to working through a console, using vi, etc. I still like to be able to use the Pi, connected to my monitor in complete SILENCEĀ šŸ™‚

Adding to that the amount of googling I do in the course of my hackling, a web browser and text-editor were natural additions.


I probably could have tried something from the Raspbian recovery menu (hold SHIFT at boot-up)… only though of this after xface’s obligatory post-install reboot. Oh well.

Update2: Maybe I should have looked further into lightdm’s config for the issue…

Lessons (I really should have) learned

Oh how nice it would be to have a full backup of the SD card to revert back to in case of similar catastrophes… but unfortunately I may have to end up screwing the pooch much harder than this to actually put the effort into deuplicating and storing SD cards…


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