xauth and .Xauthority

If you are getting an error message similar to

/usr/bin/xauth: timeout in locking authority file /home/username/.Xauthority

you are probably facing one of the following scenarios.

Most of the time the .Xauthority file lock error message occurs due to one, or more, of the following problems:

  • Wrong file ownership, which can be fixed by
    sudo chown username.usergroup /home/username/.Xauthority
  • Wrong file permissions, which can be fixed by
    sudo chmod u=rw go= /home/username/.Xauthority
  • Incorrect selinux security context, which can be fixed by
    sudo restorecon -R -p /home/username

The end result should look something like this:

ls -lZ /home/username/.Xauthority
-rw-------. username usergroup unconfined_u:object_r:xauth_home_t:s0 /home/username/.Xauthority

The last problem is normally caused by copying the home directory to a machine with selinux enabled from one (or a backup/archive) that did not record the required security context information.

Security context information can be preserved by using the appropriate flags for rsync (-AX) or tar (–selinux –acls –xattrs):

rsync -avAX /source/oldhome/username/ /home/username/
tar --selinux --acls --xattrs -cvf file.tar /home/username

For further details on selinux, see the CentOS SELinux wiki.

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