Gnome green screen of death

Matthew Seaman matthew at
Fri Sep 27 06:53:48 UTC 2013

On 27/09/2013 04:34, leeoliveshackelford at wrote:
> Good afternoon, dear FreeBSD enthusiast.  I have installed X11 and Gnome on my computer equipped with FreeBSD 9.1. The X11 
> and Gnome packages were taken from the d.v.d.-r.o.m. that 
> contained the operating system.  The computer is an H.P. Z220 
> with an Intel Xeon quad-core processor.  I do not want Gnome 
> to start automatically on bootup.  I wish to call it from the 
> command line on the local console.  When I have finished 
> working with Gnome, I expect the operating system to return me 
> to console session from which Gnome was called.  I have 
> started Gnome with the command "exec gdm-session".  I do not 
> know if the "exec" keyword is necessary, but it worked.  When I 
> am finished working with Gnome, I click on the logoff (or 
> logout?) button.  The screen turns solid green with none of 
> icons, characters, image, or splash.  The computer does not 
> respond to the keyboard.  When I cut the power to the computer, 
> and then reboot, I receive a sequence of messages complaining 
> that ada0s3a, ada0s3d, and so on, are corrupt, and that I must 
> run fdsk.  What am I doing wrong here?  The following error messages, which are shown only partially because they flash quickly on the screen, appear before Gnome starts:  

There's a number of things:

  -- you seem to be logging into your X environment as root.
     This is not a particularly good idea.  Much better to
     create yourself a normal user account for that, and use
     su(1) or sudo(1) to take rootly powers as required.

  -- You don't say what sort of graphics card the system has.
     If you look at /var/log/Xorg.log.0 (or something similar to
     that) it will have that information amongst a lot of other

     The nature of the graphics card is important, because some
     models don't switch back to console mode from graphics mode
     very well.  It's a known bug, and unfortunately if you have
     one of those models the best advice at the moment is to run
     a display manager (xdm, kdm, slim) and always use a graphical

  -- The use of 'exec' in ~/.startx is correct, but not if you're
     typing that from the shell command prompt.  What exec does is
     *replace* the current process with the one you called.  That's
     fine if you're replacing the (very small) shell script that is
     ~/.startx, but not if you're replacing your login shell.

     The recommended way to start X from the command line is to set up
     a ~/.startx script (which could contain just your 'exec
     gdm-session' command, or quite a bit more.  Then type startx to
     (like it says on the tin...) start X.



Dr Matthew J Seaman MA, D.Phil.

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