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I have an intermittent problem that just started showing up several days ago. I am running 11.10 and all updates are current.

I first saw the symptom with a custom version of the "Home" nautilus-home.desktop file I created in ~/.local.share/applications. I added a few static shortcuts to specific folders. What I found was, clikcing the icon once would open up my home folder, but after closing that nautilus window, clicking the icon again did nothing (did not even show icon backlight animation). However, I could right click on the same icon and access my short cuts as many times as I want. Symptom persisted until restarting lightdm. Just yesterday I saw the same sort of symptom happen with a custom launcher I created for a chromium-borwser to open a specific URL (with a few short cuts to other URLs). Click the icon - it works once. Then never again. Right click the icon and I can use the short cuts over and over - no problem.

Note - at one point I assumed I might have a problem with my custom .desktop file, so I did a test by removing my custom nautilus-home.desktop. However, even after restarting lightdm, and verifying the home icon was the standard one from /opt/share/applications (all my custom shortcuts were gone) I saw the same symptom re-appear - it runs once and then not again until restarting lightdm.

It seems to be intermittent and seems to move between various launchers. Not sure what to do or even what background data to gather.

Attempt to improve question after the first answer:

I tried the following: 1) remove all custom launchers 2) reboot 3) add custom lauchers back 4) reboot 5) attempt to use .... still have "runs once and never again" symptom with several launchers

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I took a different approach last night, since nothing interesting was appearing in logs anywhere I could find. I checked the lineup of active processes before and after triggering the symptom - low and behold I see compiz in sleep state after triggering the problem. I wondered if any of my settings might be messing with things so I did a "unity -reset". No more symptoms! So, one by one, I went back to the ccsm tool restoring my old settings. It seems that the symptoms return when I set the Backlight mode (experimental tab) to "Backlight and Edge Illumination Toggles". Symptoms go away with either Backlgiht toggles or Edge Illumination Toggles, but both together seems to trigger my symptoms. So at this point, the problem is not solved, but I know how to avoid it. It does bother me that I can not reporduce this on my other computer though. I still think it is worth filing a bug report ... I'll figure out how to do that tonight.

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So, did you solve your problem? If so, can you mark this answer as "accepted"? – Mirzhan Irkegulov Feb 25 '12 at 14:46

I had a problem like this on 11.10. I solved it by removing all the troublesome launchers, and then re-adding them.

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Did some more digging. Tailing my .xsession-errors file, I see a flood of error messages when I reproduce the symptom. I have not had time to research the errors yet, but I am now suspecious the real problem has nothing to do with unity launchers. Current suspect is problems with nvidia restrcited drivers. Will update after I have a chance to diagnose further. Further evidence that the .desktop files themselves are not a problem - I moved them to a different computer and did not see the same symptoms. – Don Nov 22 '11 at 17:29
This is getting interesting ... after upgrading my Nvidia driver, I still see same symptoms. Went back to my other computer where the same .desktop files work, and repeated the test while tailing .xsession-errors. I see a simillar burst of errors even though it seems to work. So I guess these .xsession-errors are also a red herring. I would welcome some suggestions. – Don Nov 23 '11 at 17:25

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