Installing Xorg on Gentoo with the nouveau Driver

I configured my kernel as shown here. That was based on the information found here and here. Check out the resources section at the bottom.

Because my kernel is good-to-go, I should just need to make the following changes to my make.conf file before installing xorg-server.

nano /etc/portage/make.conf

These are the changes I made.


Make sure you have the following USE flag.

echo "x11-base/xorg-server" >> /etc/portage/package.use

Before installing xorg-server.

emerge --ask xorg-server

Now refresh your environment.

source /etc/profile

I choose to reboot here.

Starting X

Xorg “should” work out-of-the-box so there “should” be no need to manually create and edit configuration file in the /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/ directory. Here goes…


The Necessary Troubleshooting

Obviously that didn’t work because that would be too easy!! The output showed xauth complaining about a few things, namely stuff like.

hostname Unknown host
xauth: file /root/.serverauth.4170 does not exist

Then Xorg tries to start but fails with this.

/etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc: line 59: twm: command not found
/etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc: line 60: xclock: command not found
/etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc: line 61: xterm: command not found
/etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc: line 63: exec: xterm: not found
/etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc: line 62: xterm: command not found
xinit: connection to X server lost

waiting for X server to shut down Server terminated successfully (0). Closing log file.

The Fix

Funnily enough, it was the hostname Unknown host message that bothered me the most as this indicates a general networking issue. Turned out I hadn’t associated my hostname with the localhost. This was easily solved by editing /etc/hosts and amending the below line. This removed that particular error but did not get Xorg working.            localhost storm

Now I have a fairly good idea what might be up here but if all this is new to you and your Xorg is failing with similar messages, there a few clues in errors.

One thing to bear in mind is that users of X must be part of the video group. I thought this might explain the xauth warnings. However this can be easily checked with.

storm ~ # groups andy
root bin daemon sys adm disk wheel floppy tape video

Lastly, as per the docs, I believe twm and xterm should be installed. This certainly fits with the last few errors.

emerge --ask twm xterm xclock

This will pull in a few extra packages but hopefully Xorg should work now. Although not strictly necessary, I install xclock here too.

xterm screen shot



Gentoo Wiki – Xorg/Configuration

Gentoo Wiki – X server

Gentoo Wiki – X without Display Manager

Linux Reviews – Screenshot grabbing


Gentoo Wiki Archives – Dell_2407WFP_LCD

Gentoo Wiki – xorg.conf

Gentoo – X.Org/xsession

Gentoo Wiki – Fontconfig

Gentoo Wiki Archives – HOWTO_Xorg_and_Fonts – rxvt-unicode

ArchLinux – Multihead

ArchLinux – Nouveau

ArchLinux – Xorg

ArchLinux – X resources


How-To Geek – How to Quickly Resize, Convert & Modify Images from the Linux Terminal – Manipulating Images – Doing more with…more: Dual-head display

Gentoo – X.Org/Dual Monitors

ArchLinux – Configuring keyboard layouts in X

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