On Thu 22 Sep 2016 at 12:10:35 -0400, Greg Wooledge wrote:

> On Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 09:00:11AM -0700, Seeker wrote:
> > A little late, but personally I would have tried using '~/.xprofile'
> > first.
> > 
> > I believe the information about this from the Arch Wiki applies equally
> > to Debian.
> > 
> > https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/xprofile
> wooledg@wooledg:~$ grep -r xprofile /etc/X11
> wooledg@wooledg:~$ 

Good catch! You can have a ~/.xprofile but none of the files in /etc/X11
will look for it. startx uses only the files in /etc/X11; it will ignore
whatever is in such a file.

That does not mean nothing else will look for ~/.xprofile and source it
if it exists. It's one of the wonders of Debian; just when you think you
have a total grasp of the situation something extra comes to light. Time
for some not very onerous detective work. (Clue: DM). 

> Apparently Debian's "X session" is heavily customized, as described in
> https://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/debian-reference/ch07.en.html#_starting_the_x_window_system
> Arch's customizations are different and don't appear to be the same
> as Debian's.

I'm going to say there is nothing in Arch's setup and documentation
which helps with customising Debian's X. In particular, Debian does not
use ~/.xinitrc. Advice on this file is splattered all over the web and
has lead many a Debian user down a dead end road.
> What I was missing was a simple pointer from lightdm's joke of a man page
> to either Xsession(5), with some indication that lightdm *runs* a Debian
> X session, or directly to the debian-reference web page.

It has to execute an Xsession, either by using the existing one in
/etc/X11 or offering its own. Or a combination of both. Or something
else nobody has mentioned yet.

You could prevent people rolling in the aisles by providing patches for
the manual which would make the situation clearer if your intention is
to improve the documentation. kdm's approach is:

      kdm  is the KDE display manager also known as login manager. It shows a   
       graphical login screen for username and password. After authenticating   
       the user it starts a session.
       kdm  can be configured for remote login via XDMCP. XDMCP is the "X Dis‐  
       play Manager Control Protocol" which is  used  to  set  up connections   
       between remote systems over the network.                                 
       kdm  is  a  derivative of xdm. man 1 xdm may provide useful information  
       (requires installed xdm). For X-related problems try man 7x X and man 1  

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