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How To Get the X Window System to Work

The answers to this question can, and do, fill entire books. If the
installation program wasn't able to configure the X server correctly,
Linux will most likely try to start the X display, fail, and drop back
into text-only terminal mode.

First and foremost, make certain that you have provided, as closely as
possible, the correct information to the installation program of your
video hardware: the video card and monitor. Some installation programs
can correctly guess a "least common denominator" screen configuration,
like a 640-by-480 VESA-standard display, but there are many possible
video hardware configurations that may not be able to display this

The X Window System configuration file is called (usually)
/etc/XF86Config, /etc/X11/XF86Config, or

If you need to manually configure the X server, there are several
possible methods:

* Try to use the XF86Setup program, which can help identify the
correct X server and monitor timings for the video hardware.
* Make sure that the X server has the correct options. If you log in
as the superuser, you should be able to use X --probeonly to get a
listing of the video card chipset, memory, and any special
graphics features. Also, refer to the manual page for the X
server. (E.g.; man X), and try running the X server and
redirecting the standard error output to a file so you can
determine, after you can view text on the screen again, what error
messages the server is generating; e.g., X 2>x.error.
* With that information, you should be able to safely refer to one
of the references provided by the Linux Documentation Project.
("Where can I get the HOWTO's and other documentation? ") There
are several HOWTO's on the subject, including a HOWTO to calculate
video timings manually if necessary. Also, the Installation and
Getting Started guide has a chapter with a step-by-step guide to
writing a XF86Config file.

Also, make sure that the problem really is an incorrect XF86Config
file, not something else like the window manager failing to start. If
the X server is working correctly, you should be able to move the
mouse cursor on the screen, and pressing Ctrl-Alt-Backspace will shut
down the X server and return to the shell prompt in one of the virtual

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