The command sudo service gdm stop would successfully disable the X server in Ubuntu 11.04 temporarily.

However, this same command no longer works in Ubuntu 11.10, because "gdm" is an "unrecognized service" according to Terminal. How, then, do I disable the X server in Ubuntu 11.10?

  • if you just want to restart x server just log in and out, otherwise ctr+alt+backspace normally does it to... perhaps that shortcut needs to be enabled under keyboard preferences
    – HTDutchy
    Oct 13, 2011 at 22:01
  • 1
    possible duplicate of How to stop the login server? Oct 16, 2011 at 19:31
  • The question should be "how to stop the session manager" but as many people thinks that gdm is an "X server" this should stay like this.
    – Emmanuel
    Dec 6, 2013 at 9:14

7 Answers 7


GDM was switched out for LightDM, so:

sudo stop lightdm

Or in your service parlance:

sudo service lightdm stop

For future reference, all these upstart services (that can be run with initctl's service command and shortcuts) are .conf files in /etc/init/

  • The question is about exiting X server, but I believe lightdm is X server client ? No ? and the command in your answer will only stop the client and not the server ?
    – Ahmed
    Apr 12, 2015 at 2:23
  • 1
    @Ahmed the lightdm startup script is what starts X.
    – Oli
    Apr 12, 2015 at 8:34
  • @Ahmed "DM" - desktop manager; yes gdm and lightdm are X clients, but they assume special responsibilities - managing other client window decorations, stacking order, drag-n-drop, cut-n-paste, etc.
    – qneill
    Feb 13, 2017 at 22:41

The reason that doesn't work is because Ubuntu 11.10 has switched from GDM to LightDM.

Try this command instead:

sudo service lightdm stop
  • lightdm isnt the Xserver,,
    – RichieHH
    Dec 15, 2020 at 16:36

You can also use the keyboard shortcut:

Alt + PrtScn/SysReq + K

A bit of a long winded keyboard shortcut, maybe too many people were pressing Ctrl+Alt+Backspace so they changed it to this.

I can confirm this as working from 10.04 through to 11.10.


@Oli pretty much nailed it, but I wanted to note that this probably won't help you out much if you need to do something from the command line without X.

For that, you should press Ctrl+Alt+F1, then log in from the console. Afterwards, you can kill and restart the lightdm service as needed.

  • For my future me: on Deepin 20.1 / DeepinOS 20 press: Ctrl + Alt + F2
    – Wlad
    Jan 23, 2021 at 13:37

Technically speaking gdm or lightdm are managing desktop session requests they are not X servers. (an X server is serving events to X application, xorg is an X server :) .


To stop the X server killall Xorg or sudo killall Xorg if you are not owner of the process.

Of course you must have a terminal to do that.

One way if you cannot open a gnome terminal or an xterm is to start a text console; press simultaneously Ctrl + Alt + F1 keys, then login at the prompt (your password will not be shown, not even as asterisks). (F1 to F5 are ok)

  • Yup, exactly. And the question was how to shut "X server" down? I have no gdm or lightdm installed, I have nothing to do with them. We started server: "X &" as root. How can we stop it ?
    – Tele
    Dec 6, 2013 at 2:59
  • @Tele Just made an edit
    – Emmanuel
    Dec 6, 2013 at 9:10
  • 1
    Yes I know about killall, but isn't there something more delicate, regular and official. I don't like brutality. Do we have to wipe the process out like a frozen one?
    – Tele
    Dec 7, 2013 at 5:38

old post but current question. The command sudo service mdm stop would successfully disable the X server in Linux Mint 17.3 temporarily. After install drivers you can do sudo service mdm start.

  • 1
    This has nothing to do with halting the Xserver.
    – RichieHH
    Dec 15, 2020 at 16:37

since this is the primary result that came up with the google search Solus stop X server, I wanted to add this answer because Solus doesn't use service.

for this, you can use sudo systemctl stop lightdm and do whatever you need to do.

  • 1
    lightdm is NOT the xserver. Google is picking up on wrong answers from people not reading the Q properly.
    – RichieHH
    Dec 15, 2020 at 16:38
  • @RichieHH the X server can be disabled through lightdm, which used to be gdm back then (as the original question noted), and using the display manager (lightdm, gdm, lxdm, etc.) is the recommended approach to safely disable the X server.
    – Tcll
    Dec 16, 2020 at 21:35
  • 1
    lightdm was never gdm. lightdm replaced gdm in Ubuntu. The title of the Q it is to do with EXITING the Xserver. There is a difference between exiting the display manager which your reply does and exiting theX server. Dont confuse X Server with Display Manager, or disable for exit.
    – RichieHH
    Dec 18, 2020 at 4:49

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