BackTrack 5 Linux. Startx not working

I just managed to get BackTrack 5 running on my PC at home after  a lot of struggle.  Installation was pretty smooth as everything from booting up from Live DVD to installation was very easy. But the real problems popped out after that. I originally intended to write one long post listing all the problems faced, but this one will address one only.


 startx command doesn’t work


This was the most annoying problem which just refused to get fixed.  After logging in on command prompt, you need to run startx command in order to start GUI, but for some folks GUI doesn’t start and it falls back to command prompt with errors like:

VESA(0): no valid modes
Screens found but, no usable configuration.


and / or something similar. The problem is particularly vexing because live DVD works just fine.  I had the same problem in GNOME 64 bit and KDE 32 bit versions.  There are quite a few people who faced this problem and it seems like the solutions provided in these pages, Techarena and BackTrack forums do work for many people. But no solution provided in those threads at that time worked for me.  If you are like me and neither of those solutions worked for you, then read on.

There are two ways to do this. First an easier way is to boot using live DVD and connect to internet to download drivers and update. Other is to  log in to BackTrack installation using root account with password toor and access internet from command prompt. You can do it either way, it’s your choice. Please read the following tutorial here to learn how to configure internet connection from command prompt.  From command line, you can use lynx browser, but it’s utility is rather limited. So I suggest booing up from CD and downloading drivers first to a location which you can access from installation.

Once your internet is up and running, check up your repositories and update,

apt-get update 

Don’t run apt-get upgrade yet. It’ll just download and install 500MB worth of software and the problem will come back on next reboot. Also keep in mind that updates have to be installed on hard disk installation. Don’t run this command on live DVD boot Now you have to download and install drivers for your graphics card. Mine is a NVidia and I downloaded my drivers from this page:

For 32-Bit, run command




For 64 bit,


Users with Intel and ATI chipsets  can download their divers from and . After the downloads are complete, install the divers using  either ./ or sh command. You may have to make the files executable first using chmod +x driver-file-name . Some drivers may come in different packages. Follow the instructions in that case.

Run apt-get -f install to fix any missing dependencies and then run startx. You may want to reboot once before doing that though.  startx will work just fine as intended and will guide you to he BackTrack 5 desktop.

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