Confused by different xorg sessions by default

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Confused by different xorg sessions by default

Postby altreus » 2018-08-26 21:59

Hi all

I sort of Googled and sort of searched the forum for this but honestly I don't have the search fu required to find the answer, if it is already answered.

I'm running Debian 9.5 with Cinnamon, and I've been playing around because I was trying to solve a particular issue. Now I'm very confused. Let me tell you my story.

I have a Dell XPS 13 with the QHD+ screen, which I suppose must mean quite high definition, because it is neither ultra HD nor boring old 1080p HD. However, it is a high-DPI monitor, which causes issues, because when I plug in an external monitor at 1080p it has no idea how to cope with it.

I did Google for that solution, but that got me down a path of playing with xrandr that I really didn't like being in. What I did learn is that Wayland supports this out of the box, but that meant using Gnome 3.

What I also learned, when I broke my desktop with xrandr, is that Debian appears to run xorg on two TTYs: 1 and 2. My default login environment is on TTY2; There's another one on TTY1; and all the others are consoles as I'd expected. This is the first thing I'm confused about. Why are there two?

So anyway I installed task-gnome-desktop and some arbitrary selection of Wayland packages and rebooted. This reboot appeared to be necessary to get the little gear icon to appear on the login screen, from which I could choose to use Gnome 3 on Wayland. I did this; I plugged in my external monitor; it worked perfectly! So Wayland certainly provides the answer I needed.

Unfortunately, Gnome 3 is terrible. It's so awful I couldn't use it. But that's OK, I don't have to use it. I only need to run it if I want to plug my external monitor in, which is not often: normally it's either a TV at work so I can run a presentation, or my TV at home so I can watch a video.

Which brings us to the next part of my confusion: There's no gear icon on the login screen on TTY1.

Further investigation determined that this is not, in fact, a login screen, but a lock screen. However, it is not the Cinnamon lock screen, because I know what that looks like - it's a dark version of my wallpaper with the time moving around over it. If I type my password in to unlock it, lo and behold, it's the exact same session as is running on TTY2! What on earth? And it's not some funny thing where Ctrl+Alt+F1 just locks the screen with a different lockscreen, because Ctrl+Alt+F2 brings me back to the unlocked TTY.

Now I'm very confused, so I decide that what I'll do is go over to TTY3 and run *another* xorg with startx, and use that to pick Gnome3. I had to use sudo to do it, but... this doesn't even give me a login screen. It just gives me a desktop that looks a bit like Cinnamon because it's certainly not Gnome 3. Some investigation determines that I have launched a Cinnamon session as root, because I am logged into it as root.

Every time I go to TTY1 it's locked; every time I go to TTY2 it is unlocked; and I can't figure out how to launch another X server with the login screen so I can pick Gnome 3 and then avoid it forever.

Can someone help alleviate my confusion, and also explain how I can run a Gnome 3 session for the occasional boring usage?
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Joined: 2018-08-26 21:30

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