startx results in "Cannot find a free VT" on my Virtual Dedicated Server from my home machine

hi !

I have a Virtual Dedicated Server with root access, based on Redhat 9.0.
I installed Xfree86 without problems.

Now, using X11 on my home machine (an apple OS X), i open an ssh session with X11 forwarding (ssh -X to my VDS. It works fine : xclock, xemacs, X applications work correctly on my screen.

But when i try to use 'startx' to be able to use e.g. the Gnome environment , i get the following errors
Fatal server error:
xf86OpenConsole: Cannot find a free VT

I have tried with the root user, and with other users. I have played with /etc/inittab to no avail. Here is a portion of :etc/inittab
x:5:respawn:/etc/X11/prefdm -nodaemon
0:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty ttys/0
1:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty ttys/1
2:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty ttys/2
3:2345:respawn:/sbin/mingetty ttys/3

And here is ls -l on /dev
crw-r--r--    1 root     root       1,  10 jan  1  1970 anon
crw-------    1 root     root       5,   1 nov 22 04:04 console
drwxr-xr-x    1 root     root            0 jan  1  1970 discs
crw-rw-rw-    1 root     root       1,   7 jan  1  1970 full
prw-------    1 root     root            0 nov 22 03:48 initctl
crw-r-----    1 root     root       1,   2 jan  1  1970 kmem
srw-rw-rw-    1 root     root            0 nov 22 03:48 log
crw-r-----    1 root     root       1,   1 jan  1  1970 mem
drwxr-xr-x    1 root     root            0 jan  1  1970 misc
drwxr-xr-x    1 root     root            0 jan  1  1970 net
crw-rw-rw-    1 root     root       1,   3 jan  1  1970 null
crw-r-----    1 root     root       1,   4 jan  1  1970 port
crw-------    1 root     root     108,   0 jan  1  1970 ppp
crw-rw-rw-    1 root     root       5,   2 nov 22 04:07 ptmx
drwxr-xr-x    2 root     root            0 nov 22 03:48 pts
drwxr-xr-x    1 root     root            0 jan  1  1970 pty
crw-r--r--    1 root     root       1,   8 jan  1  1970 random
lr-xr-xr-x    1 root     root            5 nov 22 03:48 root -> ubd/0
lr-xr-xr-x    1 root     root            3 jan  1  1970 serial -> tts
drwxrwxrwt    2 root     root           40 nov 22 03:48 shm
drwxr-xr-x    1 root     root            0 jan  1  1970 tts
crw-rw-rw-    1 root     root       5,   0 jan  1  1970 tty
lr-xr-xr-x    1 root     root            2 jan  1  1970 ttys -> vc
drwxr-xr-x    1 root     root            0 jan  1  1970 ubd
crw-r--r--    1 root     root       1,   9 nov 22 03:48 urandom
drwxr-xr-x    1 root     root            0 jan  1  1970 vc
crw-rw-rw-    1 root     root       1,   5 jan  1  1970 zero

And ls -l on /dev/ttys
crw-------    1 root     root       4,   0 nov 22 03:49 0
crw-------    1 root     root       4,   1 nov 22 03:49 1
crw-------    1 root     root       4,   2 nov 22 03:49 2
crw-------    1 root     root       4,   3 nov 22 03:49 3
crw-------    1 root     root       4,   4 jan  1  1970 4
crw-------    1 root     root       4,   5 jan  1  1970 5
crw-------    1 root     root       4,   6 jan  1  1970 6
crw-------    1 root     root       4,   7 nov 22 03:49 7

 Please help me find a way to have this work !

Thank you

Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

> using X11 on my home machine (an apple OS X), i open an ssh session with X11 forwarding (ssh -X
   to my VDS
>  i try to use 'startx' to be able to use e.g. the Gnome environment
You mean you run "startx" inside X-window?
You won't get the Gnome-seesion running inside X-window
(Gnome is kind of X-window manager which X-window run inside it).

If you want to get "the Gnome which runs on RedHat Linux 9 box" to you Mac OS X, then "vnc" is the one.
Run vncserver on the RedHat Linux 9.0 box, then use vncviewer on the Mac OS X to connect it.
Say, ssh into RedHat 9 box and run
-- RedHat 9 ---
$ vncserver    <---- first time will ask you to type in password twice
.... display :1   <--- may be :2, :3 or other number

---- Mac OS X --- (with VPN connection first)
$ vncviewer <IP or hostname of RedHat 9>:1  <--- the display number you get when you run vncserver above

Then you will see the Gnome in vnc.


safarlebusAuthor Commented:
thank you for your suggestion.
I did as you suggested : downloaded, compiled and started vncserver, and use Vncthing (a Mac OS X aqua standard vnc client) to connect to the vncserver on my redhat box.

Everything worked ok... but what i see in my vnc client is just another terminal window, which gives the exact same error message when i try to have it run 'startx'
> in my vnc client is just another terminal window, which gives the exact same error message when i try to have it run 'startx'
Do you see "Gnome" in your vncviewer? If not, then ssh into the Linux box and
# cd ~/.vnc
# vi xstartup
then replace "twm" with "gnome-session"
# vncserver
And connect vnc again.

What your vnc client see is a X-window manger, you can not start another X-window manager (startx) in it (this X-window

However, you should be able to install vncserver from RedHat 9 CDs which use "gnome-session" by default.

Cloud Class® Course: Ruby Fundamentals

This course will introduce you to Ruby, as well as teach you about classes, methods, variables, data structures, loops, enumerable methods, and finishing touches.

safarlebusAuthor Commented:
well actually, trying "gnome-session", i just realised i did not have Gnome installed. How could i install it ? I have a VDS, not a home machine : i have no access to cds, etc..., and my disk space is limited to 4 GB

Go the the following URL and download all the gnome rpm files (search keyword gnome, not just start with "gnome"):
You can skip the "devel" rpm files to save space.

The do as root
# cd /tmp/gnome   <--- assume you download to /tmp/gnome
# rpm -ivh *.rpm
If missing any package, then download from the same URL and then try again.


Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
safarlebusAuthor Commented:
thank you... i understand better. I have spent a lot of time, and have decided not to use Gnome because it would be so heavy (i have only 4 GIG)

It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Unix OS

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.

Question has a verified solution.

Are you are experiencing a similar issue? Get a personalized answer when you ask a related question.

Have a better answer? Share it in a comment.