XINIT(1) MachTen Programmer’s Manual XINIT(1)

xinit - X Window System initializer

xinit [ [ client ] options ] [ -- [ server ] [ display ]
options ]

The xinit program is used to start the X Window System
server and a first client program on systems that cannot
start X directly from /etc/init or in environments that
use multiple window systems. When this first client
exits, xinit will kill the X server and then terminate.

If no specific client program is given on the command
line, xinit will look for a file in the user’s home direc-
tory called .xinitrc to run as a shell script to start up
client programs. If no such file exists, xinit will use
the following as a default:

xterm -geometry +1+1 -n login -display :0

If no specific server program is given on the command
line, xinit will look for a file in the user’s home direc-
tory called .xserverrc to run as a shell script to start
up the server. If no such file exists, xinit will use the
following as a default:

X :0

Note that this assumes that there is a program named X in
the current search path. However, servers are usually
named Xdisplaytype where displaytype is the type of graph-
ics display which is driven by this server. The site
administrator should, therefore, make a link to the appro-
priate type of server on the machine, or create a shell
script that runs xinit with the appropriate server.

An important point is that programs which are run by
.xinitrc should be run in the background if they do not
exit right away, so that they don’t prevent other programs
from starting up. However, the last long-lived program
started (usually a window manager or terminal emulator)
should be left in the foreground so that the script won’t
exit (which indicates that the user is done and that xinit
should exit).

An alternate client and/or server may be specified on the
command line. The desired client program and its argu-
ments should be given as the first command line arguments
to xinit. To specify a particular server command line,
append a double dash (--) to the xinit command line (after
any client and arguments) followed by the desired server

Both the client program name and the server program name
must begin with a slash (/) or a period (.). Otherwise,
they are treated as an arguments to be appended to their
respective startup lines. This makes it possible to add
arguments (for example, foreground and background colors)
without having to retype the whole command line.

If an explicit server name is not given and the first
argument following the double dash (--) is a colon fol-
lowed by a digit, xinit will use that number as the dis-
play number instead of zero. All remaining arguments are
appended to the server command line.

Below are several examples of how command line arguments
in xinit are used.

xinit This will start up a server named X and run the
user’s .xinitrc, if it exists, or else start an

xinit -- /usr/X11R6/bin/Xqdss :1
This is how one could start a specific type of
server on an alternate display.

xinit -geometry =80x65+10+10 -fn 8x13 -j -fg white -bg
This will start up a server named X, and will
append the given arguments to the default xterm
command. It will ignore .xinitrc.

xinit -e widgets -- ./Xsun -l -c
This will use the command .Xsun -l -c to start the
server and will append the arguments -e widgets to
the default xterm command.

xinit /usr/ucb/rsh fasthost cpupig -display ws:1 -- :1 -a
2 -t 5
This will start a server named X on display 1 with
the arguments -a 2 -t 5. It will then start a
remote shell on the machine fasthost in which it
will run the command cpupig, telling it to display
back on the local workstation.

Below is a sample .xinitrc that starts a clock, several
terminals, and leaves the window manager running as the
‘‘last’’ application. Assuming that the window manager
has been configured properly, the user then chooses the
‘‘Exit’’ menu item to shut down X.

xrdb -load $HOME/.Xresources
xsetroot -solid gray &
xclock -g 50x50-0+0 -bw 0 &
xload -g 50x50-50+0 -bw 0 &
xterm -g 80x24+0+0 &
xterm -g 80x24+0-0 &

Sites that want to create a common startup environment
could simply create a default .xinitrc that references a
site-wide startup file:

. /usr/local/lib/site.xinitrc

Another approach is to write a script that starts xinit
with a specific shell script. Such scripts are usually
named x11, xstart, or startx and are a convenient way to
provide a simple interface for novice users:

xinit /usr/local/lib/site.xinitrc -- /usr/X11R6/bin/X bc

DISPLAY This variable gets set to the name of the
display to which clients should connect.

XINITRC This variable specifies an init file con-
taining shell commands to start up the ini-
tial windows. By default, .xinitrc in the
home directory will be used.

.xinitrc default client script

xterm client to run if .xinitrc does not exist

.xserverrc default server script

X server to run if .xserverrc does not exist

X(1), startx(1), Xserver(1), xterm(1)

Bob Scheifler, MIT Laboratory for Computer Science

X Version 11 Release 6 3