I have a brand new distribution of raspbian running on my raspberry pi,

When I do startx it loads a bit. Then I see the wastebasket, but the menus just flicker on and off.

I checked my user pi for the right groups and it is correctly setup I think audio video group were present along with others.

How can I fix this?


The basic xterm works, but when trying to go into safe mode the screen stops working entirely for both commandline and startx

The Monitor model https://www.adafruit.com/product/2407

  • How are you viewing the screen? I am going to guess that you have an HDMI cable from your Pi to a monitor, based on the situation you described. It seems as if startx is working fine, but your connection has a problem which would cause the flicker. The other possibility is that the startx window is reloading rapidly over and over, which would cause the flickering appearance. It would be helpful if you could describe your setup, cables, etc.
    – dixonge
    Nov 15, 2015 at 16:41
  • it's not a flicker.. this is the computer rendering things funny. It's just an HDMI cable going to an LCD touchscreen. Also seeing this behavior on my asus monitor.
    – Erik
    Nov 20, 2015 at 18:41
  • Hi @Erik, since the post has been brought up again... Did you solve the problem - if so you can always write your own answer. Did you check goldilocks' suggestions? Any good news? Feel free to share.
    – Ghanima
    Dec 21, 2015 at 11:20
  • @Ghanima added comments to his response. Will do further work before modifying my question.
    – Erik
    Dec 23, 2015 at 9:03
  • Have you tried this pi with another display? Does it work anywhere?
    – goldilocks
    Dec 23, 2015 at 10:49

2 Answers 2


Try something as minimal as possible. First:

sudo apt-get install xterm

Now create an xinitrc file for your current user:

echo '#!/bin/sh' > ~/.xinitrc
echo xterm >> ~/.xinitrc
chmod 755 ~/.xinitrc

Check that it looks like the below w/ cat ~/.xinitrc:


Now, as the same user, try startx. You should end up with a plain black screen, an X shaped mouse cursor, and a (very primitive looking) black on white xterm window.

This is just to check if it is not something weird with the higher level GUI stuff. You can exit w/ ctrl-alt-backspace.

In any case, you could also try adding this to /boot/config.txt and rebooting:


I'm presuming this is an HDMI monitor. Comment out any other hdmi_ or gpu_ lines by adding an # to the beginning.

If that works, have a look at the documentation for hdmi_group and hdmi_boost and experiment. You'll have to remove hdmi_safe first -- there is documentation for that on the same page -- and possibly experiment with setting some of the things that sets (e.g., hdmi_boost).

  • I used vim to create the file, got a black on white window with a mouse.. the mouse didn't respond to my touch inputs (but that's another matter)
    – Erik
    Dec 23, 2015 at 9:03
  • current entries I have were given to me by the vendor/manuf. adafruit hdmi_group=2, hdmi_mode=1, hdmi_mode=87, hdmi_cvt 800 480 60 6 0 0 0
    – Erik
    Dec 23, 2015 at 9:05
  • going into safe mode made the display unusable entirely (commandline no longer works)
    – Erik
    Dec 23, 2015 at 9:06

Try reinstalling Rasbian Jessie or try apt-get update && apt-get upgrade

  • 1
    um, this is a fresh install with all patches/upgrades.. no
    – Erik
    Nov 20, 2015 at 18:40

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