When X Goes Bad






When X Goes Bad

If you’re using X Windows in any of its multiple guises (particularly Motif) on a workstation or PC running UNIX and are especially unlucky, X itself may freeze the entire screen. If you can get into your computer through the network, you can get rid of X Windows. Doing so makes all the programs using X go away so that you have to log in all over again. The trick is to figure out which program is X Windows. Here’s an edited ps report from a System V system:

UID   PID   PPID   C  STIME   TTY   TIME  COMMAND
johnl 24788 19593  0  Jan 18  vt01  0:00  /usr/bin/X11/xinit
johnl 24789 24788  5  Jan 18  ptmx  38:10 Xgp :0

In this case, X is called Xgp because the particular computer happened to have a graphics processor running the screen.

Here’s the equivalent from a Sun workstation:

PID TT STAT TIME  COMMAND
224 co IW   0:00  /bin/sh /usr/openwin/bin/openwin
228 co IW   0:00  /usr/openwin/bin/xinit -- /usr/openwin/bin/xnews :0
229 co S  149:23  /usr/openwin/bin/xnews :0 -auth /usr/johnl/.xnews

You can find out which process is X in two easy ways:

  • The command line has the strange code :0, which turns out to be X-ese for "the screen right there on the computer."

  • The amount of computer time used (in the STAT column) is large because X is, computationally speaking, a pig.

After you figure out which process is X, you can give it the old Number-Nine kill and probably be able to log back in.



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