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This question is very similar to a few others on this site, but I don't think identical to any; please hear me out.

I've had Xubuntu installed for a few weeks now, but today I accidentally pressed Ctrl + Alt + F6 while doing work while logged in under XFCE. This dropped me into a terminal environment, which surprised me. I'd never seen this happen before.

Panicking, I hastily typed sudo startx to get back to an X session, which dropped me into a root session. That too, for some reason, shocked me, so I shut down the computer.

Upon booting back up again and trying to log into my XFCE session like usual, I was logged in to a black screen for a fraction of a second and then logged back out again, dropped into the XFCE login screen. This behavior is repeated no matter the number of full reboots performed.

I believe this is an issue with how XFCE is now configured, but I don't know what to do. I have very little experience dealing with X session configuration. Does anyone know what might be happening here?

EDIT: I have already tried removing the ~/.Xauthority file and rebooting. No improvement, the issue has persisted.

EDIT 2: I'm running Xubuntu 18.04. Output of ~/.xsession-errors

dbus-update-activation-environment: setting DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS=unix:path=/run/user/1000/bus
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting DISPLAY=:0
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting XAUTHORITY=/home/neil/.Xauthority
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting QT_ACCESSIBILITY=1
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting LANG=en_US.UTF-8
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting GDM_LANG=en_US
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting DISPLAY=:0
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting XDG_GREETER_DATA_DIR=/var/lib/lightdm-data/neil
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting USER=neil
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting DESKTOP_SESSION=xfce
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting PWD=/home/neil
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting HOME=/home/neil
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting QT_ACCESSIBILITY=1
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting XDG_SESSION_TYPE=x11
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting XDG_DATA_DIRS=/usr/share/xfce4:/usr/local/share:/usr/share:/var/lib/snapd/desktop
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting XDG_SESSION_DESKTOP=xfce
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting SHELL=/bin/bash
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting XDG_SEAT_PATH=/org/freedesktop/DisplayManager/Seat0
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting IM_CONFIG_PHASE=1
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP=XFCE
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting GPG_AGENT_INFO=/run/user/1000/gnupg/S.gpg-agent:0:1
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting SHLVL=1
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting LANGUAGE=en_US
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting GDMSESSION=xfce
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting LOGNAME=neil
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS=unix:path=/run/user/1000/bus
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/run/user/1000
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting XAUTHORITY=/home/neil/.Xauthority
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting XDG_SESSION_PATH=/org/freedesktop/DisplayManager/Session0
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting XDG_CONFIG_DIRS=/etc/xdg/xdg-xfce:/etc/xdg
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting PATH=/usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/games:/usr/local/games:/snap/bin
dbus-update-activation-environment: setting _=/usr/bin/dbus-update-activation-environment
xfce4-session: Unable to access file /home/neil/.ICEauthority: Permission denied
  • Running startx is fine - running sudo startx is the problem, it has likely left you with a root-owned ~/.Xauthority file which your XFCE session is now unable to overwrite. You will need to log into the terminal environment (e.g. Ctrl-Alt-F6) again and delete the file (rm ~/.Xauthority). – steeldriver Aug 5 at 23:56
  • @steeldriver would the .Xauthority file be in my home directory or /home/root/? I have since deleted the /home/neil/.Xauthority a couple of times, to no avail upon restart. – ifconfig Aug 5 at 23:58
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    I'm not even sure what /home/root would be - if you have already deleted the file in your own home directory, then please ignore my comment (although you might want to edit your question to include this information, since it will stop others from making the same assumption) – steeldriver Aug 6 at 0:16
  • Thank you for trying to help, @steeldriver. My idea of /home/root comes from the Raspberry Pi, which I believe at one point featured a root home directory. – ifconfig Aug 6 at 0:20
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    Is there an .xsession-errors file? Have you checked its contents? What version of Xubuntu is this? – steeldriver Aug 6 at 0:32
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Ah, that's it! Thank you, @steeldriver for the debugging tip. As per ~/.xsession-errors:

xfce4-session: Unable to access file /home/neil/.ICEauthority: Permission denied

Upon removing ~/.ICEauthority, login works like a charm again. I suspect that my prior removal of the ~/.Xauthority file was also critical to the resolution of this issue even though it didn't appear so initially.

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