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When I start Ubuntu it enters tty[1-6] instead of my desktop. Normally I could get back to the desktop by pressing CTRL + ALT + F7 but that doesn't work.

I tried sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop but it fails. I tried startx which started the x-server or x-window (not sure what it's called) but it just brought up a black screen with my mouse cursor. If I pressed printscreen, a dialog box would open up.

I can't get back to my desktop. Any ideas how I can?


Edited for more info. This was a fresh install of the latest version. It's dual booting with Win7 - but I doubt that matters. Before this happened, I installed lamp-server but realized it wasn't what I wanted. I then installed xampp and uninstalled lamp-server with "sudo tasksel remove lamp-server". I restarted with "sudo shutdown -r now" because it would not shut down using the graphical interface.

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was this a fresh install of the latest ubuntu or did you upgrade from an earlier version? –  quack quixote Nov 3 '09 at 19:18
If you know what happened right before it starting doing this, that would also be helpful to know. –  emgee Nov 3 '09 at 19:21
Fresh install of the latest version. Before this happened, I installed lamp-server, xampp then uninstalled lamp-server with "sudo tasksel remove lamp-server". I forgot to add that to the original question. I will edit it in now. –  Bua Nov 3 '09 at 20:26
When you say "it fails," it helps if you can provide a specific error. There are many ways for apt to fail. –  Ryan Thompson Nov 3 '09 at 21:37

4 Answers 4

This is what worked for me.

  • Logged in to tty1
  • Purged unity-greeter which was the default lightdm greeter for my unity desktop

    $ sudo apt-get remove --purge unity-greeter

  • Then I installed lightdm-gtk-greeter

    $ sudo apt-get -y install lightdm-gtk-greeter

  • Restarted Ubuntu
  • Logged in to my desktop
  • Removed lightdm-gtk-greeter

    $ sudo apt-get remove --purge lightdm-gtk-greeter

  • Installed unity-greeter

    $ sudo apt-get -y install unity-greeter

  • Then restarted again and it worked

  • P.S. In case you cannot connect to internet to download and install required packages using apt-get, I suggest you manually download it from Ubuntu package archives from a working computer, save it in a usb drive, mount it from tty1, and then use dpkg to install it. Please use Google to find out how.

    If lightdm-gtk-greeter works for you and you are satisfied with it, you can stop there. However in my experience, it uses slightly more memory than unity-greeter and not as aesthetically good looking as well.

    share|improve this answer

    I think I may be experiencing similar issues.

    Since I noticed the mouse I tried ctrlaltF1 then ctrlaltF7 and it was fixed for me.

    It's irritating that this happens a lot when I turn my TV off for a while then on.

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    It sounds like you might have managed to uninstall your desktop environment. (Unless Karmic has replaced GDM, which I doubt.)

    If you were using GNOME, you probably installed Karmic with the ubuntu-desktop. You'll want to reinstall that:

    $ sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

    ...or possibly

    $ sudo apt-get --reinstall install ubuntu-desktop

    That should pull in any missing packages. Once you've reinstalled, you should be able to run

    $ sudo /etc/init.d/gdm restart

    ... and get back to the GDM login screen.

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    Login, and type:

    /etc/init.d/gdm restart
    This should launch Gnome Desktop Manager.

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    This didn't work because gdm wasn't there –  Bua Nov 3 '09 at 21:15

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