Ubuntu Crashes on Start and Returns to the Login Screen

While customizing my Ubuntu Desktop, I installed Murrine by following this thread on Ubuntu Forums.

I spent quite some time customizing my desktop’s look and feel after this installation. Once all was said and done, it was late, so I logged out and went to bed.

The next day, I could no longer log into my Gnome Desktop. It would start loading, my gDesklets would load, the panels would start loading, and all of a sudden, I would hear my error sound and the whole desktop would crash, the screen going black and returning me to the login screen.

I was able to log in to other accounts without any problems, so that narrowed it down to a user-specific problem. I was also able to log in to KDE and use a nested window (xnest) to login to the faulty Gnome account and it would work! But only through xnest. Why? I don’t know.

I removed Murrine. Still no go.

Figuring something still lingered in my Gnome that caused the crash, I deleted all of the Gnome related folders in my home folder (.gnome, .gnome2, .gconf, .gconfd, .metacity). This essentially reset Ubuntu to its default settings.

UPDATE (2007.02.11):   If you can’t get to a graphical desktop to delete your Gnome folders, you can drop to a terminal (CTRL + ALT + F1) and login.  Remove the folders by using the following command:

rm -rf .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity

I was able to log back in.

I re-customized my desktop the way I like it, and AGAIN, it crashed!

I deleted all of my Gnome folders and started over, but this time, after every little change I did to my desktop, I logged out and back in.

After going through this process of elimination, I’ve determined that this problem is caused by turning on panel transparency. As soon as I made a panel use transparency, I could no longer log in. Something broke my transparency along the way that is related to Murrine in some way…

To remove the transparency without deleting all of my Gnome folders, I simply logged into KDE, used xnest to login to the crashing Gnome account, removed the transparency, ran a gnome-session-save in terminal, logged out of KDE, and logged back in to my Gnome account. No problems!

For now, I will not use transparency until I figure out what is causing it. Maybe it’s a gtk2 problem?? I don’t know.

If any of you can shed any light on this, it would be greatly appreciated!

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22 responses to “Ubuntu Crashes on Start and Returns to the Login Screen”

  1. Raffy says :

    My problem of just being sent back to the login screen was solved by freeing up space.

  2. Thomas. says :

    How can I delete these gnome folders?
    Is it possible to boot into terminal mode and delete them. If so. Would someone explain how. Thanks.

    email me at thomas [dot] buckler {at} gmail [dot] com

  3. Chrisn says :

    had the same problem, due to lack of space. Booted in terminal mode, rm -R’erred the dir with my crap and done 🙂

    Thanks for the tip

  4. Rofo says :

    Hi, wanted to boot Live Ubuntu (6.10) on my newly assembled machine (ASUS P5VDC-MX board). Booting started fine byt stopped with “Can’t find tty” and gave me a prompt. However, when I disconnected my HDD from the motherboard (Samsung SATA 250 G), everything worked fine??

    It’s great to play along with the live version but my intention was really to move it onto my hard disk which is difficult to do when it is disconnected.

    I ran XP on the system previous to my Ubuntu experiment so there does not seem to be any problems with the hardware.

    Any ideas, anyone?

    — Rofo

  5. matt says :

    take a look at the ubuntu and xorg bugs describing similar crashes in 3d/transparency/compositing systems:
    https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xorg-server/+bug/60288 (ubuntu bug report)
    https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=8537 (the upstream bug)
    http://ubuntuforums.org/newreply.php?do=postreply&t=354697 (a recent forum thread with reports from edgy and feisty users)

    hope that helps.


  6. mrza44 says :

    i have the same prob either. After installing some programs including nvidia driver9755 i can only log in as safe or from terminal, and cannot start x server, however there is 30gb free space in hdd(could be senn from xp by a 3party program) and i have 2gb ram on my sys. i also adjusted transparency to full. How can i come over this problem. i m new to terminal win.

  7. Kevin Guertin says :

    As described in the post, run the command in the green box. That should reset Ubuntu to its defaults. When you get back to your Gnome desktop, don’t use transparency.

  8. cus says :

    Awesome!!! i completely screw up my monitor refresh rate on the screen resolution config and i couldn’t solve it until i came to this reset solution. Remember to boot to see the changes! thanks alot man!!!

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