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Today I installed the daily updates and then a funny thing happened... I was playing Morrowind on Wine, and in the game I tried to navigate to the video settings menu to adjust the brightness. I had done this before many times with no problem. As soon as I clicked "video", the game silently crashed and returned me to my desktop. The funny part was that my second monitor, which normally remains "signaled" with a black screen, while playing Morrowind, was now showing signs of "no signal". A quick check in nvidia-settings showed that my second monitor stopped being detected. I thought... ok, no big deal, I'll just restart and everything will be OK... WRONG. Upon restarting, X would not start because the NVidia driver compiled for 3.5.0-18-generic went missing, as in, it was not shown in lsmod. The monitor that had disappeared also did not come back. So I thought, ok, I must have gotten a new kernel, maybe now I have to reinstall the driver. Sure enough, uname -r showed 3.5.0-19-generic, one tick newer. So I sudo apt-get remove --purge nvidia-current-updates and then sudo apt-get install --reinstall nvidia-current-updates. The files downloaded and the module compiled successfully with no warnings or errors.

At this point, the lightdm login screen works fine across both monitors, but after logging in, I only get my desktop background image. No Unity or desktop icons. The strange thing is, the X log has no errors. After a few restarts, I finally got the second monitor to come back online after physically removing my GPU and putting it back in.

I'm pretty puzzled about this whole thing, whence I ended up here. Any one have any clue what's going on? I just want my desktop back :/

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I wanted to only leave a comment, but I don't seem to have the permissions, so I'm using the answering window instead.

I don't have a full answer, but I'm seeing similar symptoms on a new installation of 12.10. For now, all I can offer is a workaround: when you only see the desktop background, you can press CTRL+ALT+T, which opens up a terminal window. In there, you can install e.g. a very simple window manager, which you can use as a fallback from unity.

sudo apt-get install fluxbox

Then you can kill the gnome-session process, which will effectively kill your whole X session.

pkill gnome-session

You'll get back to the login screen. In the login window, click the ubuntu icon in the login window, and select fluxbox. This will at least allow you to move windows around and have an environment in which you can debug the original problem.

Sorry, but I can't help with the original problem right now.

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