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I had a debian squeeze, and decided I wanted more modern software versions. I set my repositories to testing and started to run all the updates. I further installed some software. No gnome extensions except for tweak-tool.

I definitely rebooted during this whole process. I have my debian on a usb hard drive, so I then took it on another computer and when I logged in the desktop showed only the wallpaper. The black bar on the top disappeared upon clicking "login" and about a second later the black mousepointer turned white. Next nothing. I see the debian wallpaper (the login screen one), not the one I had set up in gnome, and nothing else. No panels, not app switcher, no right click, nothing. I can go to tty with cntr-alt-Fx.

Now I brought it back to the machine where I had it working before, but that has the same problem now.

I looked around in the logs and on the web, but found nothing much special. Tried restarting gdm, tried reconfiguring gdm and xorg with dpkg. No avail.

Im pretty stuck with an unusable system...

any hints appreciated. It seems some other people have asked about similar issues, but the answers don't work for me...

ps: is there a way to turn on fallback from the command line?

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Somehow I had uninstalled the gnome-session package, probably by uninstalling evolution. After reinstalling that it worked again.

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