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By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
LinuxCare, http://www.linuxcare.com/

(?) Id "x" respawning too fast: Murdered Mysteriously

From Kelley Butch on Tue, 07 Sep 1999


I've been running LINUX on my Thinkpad 600 for a few months now with good results. The other day I experienced a power outage and the system went down. Now, during boot-up and just before the "log-in" screen I get this:

According to /var/run/gdm.pid, gdm was already running (process id) but seems to have been murdered mysteriously. INIT: Id "x" respawning too fast: disabled for 5 minutes

and after 5 minutes I get the same error.

I removed the pid file thinking that would solve the problem, but the pid file gets recreated and the errors start over again.

The culprit seems to be the last line in my inittab file:
x:5:respawn:/etc/X11/prefdm -nodaemon
- (this is a link to /usr/bin/gdm)

Thanks in advance,

(!) Oh yeah! I've seen that on some Red Hat 6.x systems. 'prefdm' is a symbolic link to your preferred display manager (the original xdm, the newer kdm for KDE, or the culprit of your problem the gdm, GNOME display manager).
Try starting the system in single-user mode (or running the command 'telinit 3' to switch to the "normal" multi-user mode without any display manager (graphical login) running. Then remove the PID file and any stray core files in the root, /root and similar directories.
You might also want to look for any UNIX domain sockets under the /tmp directory and /var. You can use the command command: 'find /tmp /var -type s -ls' to look for them.
You'll normally find a couple of them under /var for things like the printer (might also be under /dev) and gpmctl (console mouse and cut/paste support) as well as one or two sockets for your X server(s). Those would normally be in the /tmp/.X11-unix/ directory and be named X0, X1, etc. (If you've never run multiple concurrent X sessions then you'll only see X0 under there).
You probably don't have to do anything with those sockets. However, it might make sense to blow away the one's under /tmp. X will (re-)create those as necessary.
The fact that the version of GNOME gdm that shipped with Red Hat 6.x can't gracefully handle (clean up after) an inadvertant shutdown or other mishap is very disappointing.
Personally I still think GNOME is still beta quality code. (Or at least it was when RH 6.x shipped). It dumps core files all of the place, can't figure out whether there is a living process that owns a 'dead' socket, etc.
Oh well. At least it's getting a bit better.
I did grope around a bit at the GNOME web site: http://www.gnome.org.
I did NOT see this question listed in their FAQ (which surprises me, since I would think that this would be a very commonly encountered problem among RH6/GNOME users). However, I did find a link to a bug tracking system. From there I searched for messages related to our "murdered mysteriously" problem. There was some indication that Martin K. Petersen is the contact for gdm and that he posted patches to resolve that (and several other) gdm issues.
I also saw several references to a gdm2 (which presumably is a second version of the GNOME display manager).
In any event, you may want to download a set of updates to your version of GNOME. Hopefully the fix to this problem is included therein. (I'm pretty sure that the GNOME CVS sources are updated, I just don't know if there are RH RPMs of the latest versions and patches readily available).

Copyright © 1999, James T. Dennis
Published in The Linux Gazette Issue 46 October 1999
HTML transformation by Heather Stern of Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

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