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On my system, Ubuntu freezes occasionally. The entire display becomes unresponsive - the mouse still moves but nothing happens on click, and with the keyboard I can press Ctrl+Alt+F1 to go to a login prompt.

When I log in from the prompt, it appears all my programs are still running as normal. Yesterday for example I was converting some videos and running top showed the avconv process still running. I left it going for several hours and eventually it had completed the task perfectly. (What actually appeared to cause the freeze was opening Transmission from the notification area, but killing the process from the command line didn't make the system responsive again.)

Anyway, after reading through this question it seemed like restarting the GUI was the way to go. So I ran sudo service lightdm restart but it closed all the programs down when logging out.

So for future use, is there a way to restart only the GUI and go back to exactly where I was? Everything else in the linked thread is about rebooting or restarting the OS.

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I know that it's possible to run a parallel X session (e.g. on Ctrl+Alt+F8), keeping that one running. But I don't know how. –  modosansreves Oct 31 '12 at 20:19
in that situation the X server got broken, but didn't close the connection to the running apps, so they continued to 'work' –  modosansreves Oct 31 '12 at 20:21
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2 Answers 2

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The answer in a single word:


Unfortunately X applications which are running will be terminated when X closes. Since closing the X server, and restarting is what fixes your problem... there is probably no way around it.

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Try simply typing unity --replace. This should restart Unity without stopping any running programs.

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