Preventing X11.app from automatically opening an XTerm on launch

Mac OS X X11 Server, called X11.app, is configured to open a new xterm on launch by default. This default behavior can be pretty annoying, but can be easily disabled.

In order to stop Mac OS X X11.app from launching a new and empty xterm when launched for the first time, one must install a customized .xinitrc file into $HOME.

During start, X11.app looks for $HOME/.xinitrc and, if no one is found, it executes /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc. It’s the /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc script the one that launches an empty xterm.

To stop X11.app from launching an empty xterm:

  1. cp /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc $HOME/.xinitrc
  2. Edit $HOME/.xinitrc and remove the line that reads "xterm &"

This will prevent X11.app from starting useless client applications, like xterm, on launch.

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9 thoughts on “Preventing X11.app from automatically opening an XTerm on launch

  1. Thanks, this is about the only source of this information that I could Google. Can you publish it in forums.macosxhints.com so that other people can benefit from it?

  2. I’m having this problem. I found xinitrc only in X11/lib, not in /etc. The xinitrc I found did not contain a line starting xterm, rather it starts quartz-wm. Commenting out that line solved my problem. Apparently quartz-wm is a window manager for x.

    @Macintosh-2 ~ % locate xinitrc
    /sw/fink/10.3/unstable/main/finkinfo/x11/xinitrc.info
    /sw/fink/10.4-transitional/unstable/main/finkinfo/x11/xinitrc.info
    /sw/src/xfree86-base-4.2.1.1-3/xc/programs/xinit/xinitrc.cmd
    /sw/src/xfree86-base-4.2.1.1-3/xc/programs/xinit/xinitrc.cpp
    /usr/X11/lib/X11/xinit/xinitrc

    @Macintosh-2 ~ % cat .xinitrc
    #!/bin/sh

    userresources=$HOME/.Xresources
    usermodmap=$HOME/.Xmodmap
    sysresources=/usr/X11/lib/X11/xinit/.Xresources
    sysmodmap=/usr/X11/lib/X11/xinit/.Xmodmap

    # merge in defaults and keymaps

    if [ -f “$sysresources” ]; then
    xrdb -merge “$sysresources”
    fi

    if [ -f “$sysmodmap” ]; then
    xmodmap “$sysmodmap”
    fi

    if [ -f “$userresources” ]; then
    xrdb -merge “$userresources”
    fi

    if [ -f “$usermodmap” ]; then
    xmodmap “$usermodmap”
    fi

    exec quartz-wm

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