X server

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The X.Org server, part of the X.Org releases, is the main component of the X Window system which abstracts the hardware and provides the foundation for most graphical user interfaces, like desktop environments or window managers, and their applications.


This page will provide you with useful information but the Xorg guide details the installation of Xorg in a more convenient manner.

Installing xorg-server is much lighter than emerging the entire xorg package, and has all the necessary components to have a fully functional GUI such as plasma for example.

If you're only updating, check the upgrade sub-article.

USE flags

Portage knows the X USE flag for enabling support for X in other packages (default in all desktop profiles). Make sure this USE flag is added to the USE flag list to ensure X compatibility system wide:

FILE /etc/portage/make.conf


x11-base/xorg-drivers is a meta package to pull in the wanted drivers (note that these driver can be automatically pulled in if your graphics card/drivers info is set in make.conf and you are using a graphical profile) Issue the command emerge --search xorg-drivers to see if xorg-drivers is already installed prior to emerging.

Follow the links for information how to set up these devices.

It is recommended to issue the --verbose option when emerging xorg-server because xorg-drivers or mesa may be pulled in as dependencies if they are not already installed. Using --verbose will show more information on USE flags and dependencies before package installation. If xorg-drivers and/or the mesa packages are emerged directly (IE without the --one-shot option) they will be recorded in the world file and could cause future package upgrade conflicts when Portage is upgrading dependencies. It is a best practice to allow them to be merged into the system as dependencies by setting USE flags or using a graphical profile.


media-libs/mesa (see Wikipedia) is a graphic library that provides a generic OpenGL implementation. Mesa may already be automatically pulled in by graphics card/driver settings in make.conf and if a graphical profile is set. Issue the command emerge --search mesa to see if mesa is already installed prior to emerging.


Now install x11-base/xorg-server.

Alternatively you can install the x11-base/xorg-x11 meta package, which installs the full X.Org release with additional fonts and utilities. They're not necessary for a working desktop.

USE flags for x11-base/xorg-server X.Org X servers

dmx Build the Distributed Multiheaded X server local
glamor Enable Glamor OpenGL 2D acceleration local
kdrive Build the kdrive X servers local
static-libs Build static versions of dynamic libraries as well global
unwind Enable libunwind usage for backtraces local
wayland Enable dev-libs/wayland backend global
xcsecurity Build Security extension local
xephyr Build the Xephyr server local
xnest Build the Xnest server local
xorg Build the Xorg X server (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED) local
xvfb Build the Xvfb server local

root #emerge --ask x11-base/xorg-server

x11 overlay

The Gentoo X11 team maintains the x11 overlay. It contains main and 'live' revisions of X.Org versions in preparation to be moved into gentoo.git , the primary Gentoo ebuild repository. Use layman or eselect repository to setup the repository.



If the acl USE flag is enabled globally and ConsoleKit is being used (default for desktop profiles) permissions to video cards will be handled automatically. It is possible to check the permissions using getfacl:

user $getfacl /dev/dri/card0 | grep larry

A broader solution is to add the user(s) needing access the video card to the video group:

root #gpasswd -a larry video

Note that users will be able to run X without permission to the DRI subsystem, but acceleration will be disabled.


The X server is designed to work out-of-the-box, with no need to manually edit Xorg's configuration files. It should detect and configure devices such as displays, keyboards, and mice.

However, the main configuration file of the X server is the xorg.conf.

Boot service

Usually the X server is started by starting a display manager automatically on boot.

See also

  • Xorg/Guide - A guide detailing specifics on the configuration of Xorg.