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Your right, you have to edit .xinitrc. For kde, I have 'exec startkde' in there. Tab-completion with start should give you a couple of other options. Its just that in /etx/X11/xinit/ there are a couple of example file, and users without an xinitrc will read xinitrc from there.
I want to know which files are to be edited and I wud like to do it manually.
Look in the directory /etc/X11/xinit. You can see that xinitrc is just a link to a wm-specific xinitrc file. The link gets set by the xwmconfig script. You could use "diff" to see what the specific differences are for each window manager.
My experimenation still goes.
After changing the WM to xfce, I ran once again xwmconfig to select icewm but I could not login thro GUI (Even as root ).
Finally tried editing /usr/lib/X11/xinit/xinitrc and now i got it right.