I'm having a problem logging into xfce under Arch Linux.

After logging in (with Slim like I usually do), I get this error message:

Unable to load a failsafe session
Unable to determine failsafe session name. Possible causes xconfd isn't running (D-Bus setup problem);
environment variable $XDG_CONFIG_DIRS is set incorrectly (must include "/etc") or xfce4-session is installed incorrectly.

Fixes that did NOT work:
I found these fixes on Google, but none of them worked for me.
1. Make sure $XDG_CONFIG_DIRS is set correctly:

export XDG_CONFIG_DIRS=/etc/xdg

2. Make sure everything in my home directory has correct permissions:

sudo chown -R $USER $HOME

3. Change permissions of /etc/xdg:
(I later realized that this must be an old fix because Arch recommends 755 permissions for /etc/xdg, NOT 644)

sudo chmod 644 /etc/xdg

4. Try to start an xfce session manually:
(because this did not work, I know that the problem is with xfce and not SLIM)


5. Total reinstall of all xfce apps:

yaourt -Sa $(yaourt -Qsq xfce) 

6. Remove xfce config and then reinstall everything (in order to make sure that xfce settings are reset to default)

mv ~/.config/xfce ~/.config/xfce.bak
yaourt -Sa $(yaourt -Qsq xfce)

7. Deleting session cache:

rm -r ~/.cache/sessions/

I'd list the output of yaourt -Qsq xfce if I could, but I'd need to login to my computer in order to copy and paste it.

3 Answers 3


The way work for me is to replace exec startxfce 4 by dbus-launch xfce4-session

The xstartup file looks like the following:

 dbus-launch xfce4-session
  • Only this variant worked for me on Debian 10, thank you bro!
    – Fr0sT
    Jul 10, 2020 at 12:26
  • Please can you update this answer to latest 21 release
    – Someone
    Oct 29, 2021 at 6:49

Don't use slim. It's outdated and doesn't support logind and other systemd stuff on arch. Use lightdm with the gtk greeter instead (official Xfce-IRC-help-channel recommendation).

Alsoxfce4-session-develis outdated in favor forxfce4-sessionsince the 4.12 release. I will updatexfce4-session-develas soon as a >4.12 development version is released.


I found out that the problem was with xfce4-session-devel. The latest update doesn't work on my system. Installing the stable xfce4-session package would have been the correct fix:

sudo pacman -S xfce4-session

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