I have used cowbuilder to set-up a chainroot with ubuntu+1 (essentially minimal ubuntu installation in a sub-folder, which you can "change" into, for example for building packages in a clean environment).

How can I start gnome-session from there? Ideally I want it to appear on a new VT. I hope to achieve poor-man's virtualisation ;-)

  • 2
    Please elaborate, what is "chainroot"? Aug 15 '10 at 18:19
  • @Source Lab: Done =)
    – Dima
    Aug 16 '10 at 0:37
  • Does chainroot have a homepage somewhere? I can't find it in the Ubuntu repos and though I do find a few references through Google, nothing very helpful.
    – Roger Pate
    Aug 16 '10 at 1:13
  • @ROger Pate: google for debootstrap, pbuilder, cowbuilder. In essence you know you have / mounted? with chainroot command you can pretend your / is temporarly somewhere else, which allows you to run "bootstrapped" debian/ubuntu releases.
    – Dima
    Aug 16 '10 at 1:31

You should be able to do this with a combination of startx and /etc/X11/Xsession, as long as you've got the necessary trees bind-mounted (I'd guess that you'll need /dev, /sys, and /proc)

Chroot into your… chroot and run

sudo startx bash

which should give you an X term with a shell. To start a GNOME session you can simply run


from that shell.

You should be able to get this on the VT of your choice; check out the man page for startx for this, and other potentially interesting options.

Note that this doesn't make for a secure chroot - since /proc and /sys and /dev are mounted in the chroot a sufficiently advanced malicious user break out of the chroot with ease.


I have used such a setup a long a time ago. I believe it was just as simple as starting X from the chroot specyfing a different display name:

startx -- :1

Switch to it with: CTRL-ALT-F9


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