Title photo
frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Thu, 24 May 2012

When X dies in Linux

X died on me today. For the uninitiated, I mean the graphical environment -- the GUI, if you will.

The cursor moved, but the mouse and keyboard otherwise had no effect. I'm running Debian Squeeze with the default GNOME desktop environment.

While the keyboard couldn't do anything on the desktop, I was, however, able to open a virtual console with ctrl-alt-F2.

I logged in, ran the top utility to find out what processes, if any, were going awry. All looked OK, but I still had no functionality in the GUI.

I noted the PID -- aka the process ID number -- of Xorg, the underpinnings of the GUI itself.

Then, using my rootly privileges (you can either su to root or use sudo, the latter of which I generally choose), I did the following:

$ sudo kill -9 xxxx

In this case, xxxx is the PID, a four-digit number in my particular case.

I was immediately returned to the Debian GNU/Linux login screen, which is run by the GDM display manager.

I logged in and all was (and is) fine.