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gnome-session - Start the GNOME desktop environment


gnome-session [-a|--autostart=DIR] [--session=SESSION] [--failsafe|-f] [--debug] [--whale]


The gnome-session program starts up the GNOME desktop environment. This command is
typically executed by your login manager (either gdm, xdm, or from your X startup
scripts). It will load either your saved session, or it will provide a default session for
the user as defined by the system administrator (or the default GNOME installation on your

The default session is defined in gnome.session, a .desktop-like file that is looked for
in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/gnome-session/sessions, $XDG_CONFIG_DIRS/gnome-session/sessions and

When saving a session, gnome-session saves the currently running applications in the
$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/gnome-session/saved-session directory.

gnome-session is an X11R6 session manager. It can manage GNOME applications as well as any
X11R6 SM compliant application.


The following options are supported:

Start all applications defined in DIR, instead of starting the applications defined
in gnome.session, or via the --session option. Multiple --autostart options can be

Use the applications defined in SESSION.session. If not specified, gnome.session
will be used.

Run in fail-safe mode. User-specified applications will not be started.

Enable debugging code.

Show the fail whale in a dialog for debugging it.


Sessions are defined in .session files, that are using a .desktop-like format, with the
following keys in the GNOME Session group:

Name Name of the session. This can be localized.

List of component identifiers (desktop files) that are required by the session. The
required components will always run in the session.

Here is an example of a session definition:

[GNOME Session]

The .session files are looked for in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/gnome-session/sessions,
$XDG_CONFIG_DIRS/gnome-session/sessions and $XDG_DATA_DIRS/gnome-session/sessions.


gnome-session sets several environment variables for the use of its child processes:


This variable is used by session-manager aware clients to contact gnome-session.


This variable is set to the X display being used by gnome-session. Note that if the
--display option is used this might be different from the setting of the
environment variable when gnome-session is invoked.

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