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Talkback: 108/bilbrey.html

[ In reference to "Using a Non-Default GUI (in RHEL and kin) " in LG#108 ]

Brian Bilbrey [bilbrey at orbdesigns.com]

Wed, 31 Oct 2007 18:29:19 -0400

On Wed, Oct 31, 2007 at 12:15:46PM -0700, nishith datta wrote:

>    hi brian,
>    Sorry if I am bothering you with this email.
>    This is in connection with your article about winmans in linuxGazette. It
>    was very informative and good. I was struggling with installing fluxbox on
>    RHEL 4.0 and I finally could do it with help of your article.
>    Just that I have not understood what is the purpose of  the following
>    files /etc/X11/gdm/Sessions/fluxbox and the
>    /etc/X11/dm/Sessions/fluxbox.desktop.
>    Both have a exec command and I have entered the fluxbox binary only in the
>    fluxbox.desktop file . It is working fine . What is the fluxbox file in
>    gdm/Sessions dir for ?
>    my files look like this :-
>       /etc/X11/gdm/Sessions/fluxbox file
>        #!/bin/bash
>        exec /etc/X11/xdm/Xsession FluxBox
>        /etc/X11/dm/Sessions/fluxbox.desktop file
>        [Desktop Entry]
>        Encoding=UTF-8
>        Name=FluxBox
>        Comment=This session logs you into fluxbox
>        Exec=/opt/fluxbox-1.0.0/src/fluxbox
>        Icon=
>        Type=Application
>    I hate to bother you . Hope it is alright and you will help me out in
>    understanding things better.

No problem, Nishith. You're referring to this article, I think:


I would hazard to guess that /etc/X11/dm is the default display manager directory, where by default I mean "the place where Red Hat expects to find display manager session stuff". Then there's directories for the assorted actual display managers: xdm, kdm, gdm. That's for stock X, KDE, and Gnome, respectively. But in each of those login manager screens, you can select which window manager you want to use for that (and optionally future) X sessions. So in each display manager configuration directory, there are session files designed to work with that particular display manager, for each installed Window Manager. So, for instance, if you installed RHEL4 in kitchen sink mode, with both KDE and Gnome goo, then you're likely to find these:

/etc/X11/ dm xdm gdm kdm

Then, when you install a non-stock RPM of, say, fluxbox, you'll likely find separate files for that window manager to define a session under each of those DMs. That they're different (which seems to be your confusion) is a function of the fact that each is a configuration file for a different display manager.

But all of the others eventually refer back to files in /etc/X11/dm/Sessions for the setup and startup of the window manager. In one Red Hat box I can touch, I find /etc/X11/gdm/Sessions/GNOME. That invokes /etc/X11/xdm/Xsession with an argument of "gnome". Looking at Xsession, I see that ... it leads elsewhere entirely: /usr/share/switchdesk.

I'd have expected the trail to end at /etc/X11/dm/gnome.desktop, yet it does not, at least in this specific case. Of course, in this specific case, it's also a server that had X installed on it by a prior admin, and due to configuration issues, I don't want to remove it, so it's just sitting unused.

The lesson here is that the easiest path is to follow the chain of calls and see where it leads. In many cases, I configure machines not to autostart X at all (runlevel 3 on Red Hat machines), so that when I'm experimenting with display hardware, xorg.conf, etc., I can be assured of a clean boot, then do my testing by manually starting an X session. If I'm in a particularly stable position, I'd be likely to add startx to my .profile (for a while).

Yes, a couple of tangents, but I hope this helps,



>    thanks
>    nishith
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