Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

How can I run two instance of, e.g. GNOME, on my computer at once? I know how to change the virtual terminal, but I can't work out how to start a second instance of gnome - it just exits telling me that the X session is locked.

EDIT: The other thing that I would really like to know is how to run two different desktops at once - e.g. XFCE and GNOME. I know that I can change the default desktop in .xinitrc or something like that, but then I would have to do so every time - is there any way to select the desktop type when creating the new XSession?

share|improve this question
up vote 6 down vote accepted

The key is creating a new "screen" on which the xserver can run. Something along the lines of

 startx -- :1

where 1 is the increment of the number of screens you already have running (with the initial screen :0).

Fedora Forums has a good bit of information, but I'm not sure if its still accurate.

For information best suited to your distribution, be sure to look at the man page, man startx, from a terminal, or just Google "man startx" and go from one of the man page directories online.

share|improve this answer

Use Xephyr to create an embedded X session.

$ Xephyr -ac -br -noreset -screen 800x600 :1

-ac disable access control restrictions
-br create root window with black background
-noreset don't reset after last client exists
-screen 800x600 Specify screen characteristics

Open the terminal and set the DISPLAY variable


Do not use export or all your programs will appear in the embedded session. Now, whenever you run a program from this terminal, it will appear in the embedded X session.

If you wonder, Xephyr will just create a new window with the given resolution, so you don't have to worry about getting back to your original session.

share|improve this answer

Use xnest. Xnest launches a new X server (:1, :2, etc) inside an X window. Very useful to log in as several users/with several different desktops at the same time. If you're using GDM, you can automatically log in as a new user (or environment) with

gdmflexiserver --xnest
share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .