I'm trying to keep things fairly minimal, but it's tough!

(Judging by what I read online, I have to pick for myself one of each of these:

  1. a display manager
  2. a greeter
  3. a window manager
  4. a desktop environment


I don't know, maybe I don't need all of the above, but it's hard for me to tell what of this I really need, and what's bloat.)

Right now, the way I have it is that I get a text-only login interface, and, after I log in, I run

% exec startxfce4

This works OK, but I'd like to automate away that obligatory call to exec startxfce4. I already have this very same command in ~/.xinitrc (in fact, it's all I have in this file), but apparently it's not enough. What do I need to do instead (or in addition)?

Also, the text-only interface is OK, except that the font is tiny (I have a high-rez screen), hard to read. I wouldn't mind having a graphical login screen, but I have not been able to find one that I can install without installing a bazillion other packages alongside, many of them with names featuring the word "gnome", which I want to avoid.

Is there a really minimal graphic login that I can use to log into xfce4?

1 Answer 1


Actually, you have already picked (4) - that's what XFCE is, a desktop environment, and thereby (3), the XFCE Window manager (xfwm). XFCE doesn't include a display manager, but other desktop environments do (GNOME has GDM, LXDE as LXDM, KDE has KDM, Unity has LightDM), and most display managers come with a default greeter. So, in effect, once you pick a desktop environment, you usually have the other three choices made for you.

after I log in, I run

% exec startxfce4

... I already have this very same command in ~/.xinitrc...

That's what startx does:

To  determine  the  client to run, startx first looks for a file called
.xinitrc in the user's home directory.  If that is not found,  it  uses
the  file  xinitrc  in  the  xinit  library directory.

So you need to run startx on login to a TTY. The Arch Wiki offers a nice snippet for doing this:

[[ -z $DISPLAY && $XDG_VTNR -eq 1 ]] && exec startx

You can add this to .bashrc, and when you login to TTY1 (see the check for XDG_VTNR), it will start the GUI.

As for display managers, the Arch Wiki lists quite a few, some of which are lightweight. You may have some luck with SLiM, whose dependencies are pretty minimal. It's also on the list of recommended apps by XFCE.

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