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It shows the desktop symbol but it doesn't show the files on my desktop neither. I'm running Ubuntu 11.10 with GNOME shell.

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Just to doublecheck: I assume you're logging in as root, not launching nautilus with a command like sudo nautilus – Amanda Jan 25 '12 at 20:45
up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you're running nautilus in as root, you'll see root's Desktop folder. Yours is likely in /home/yourname/Desktop (and the rest of your files are probably elsewhere in /home/yourname/)

You can use symlinks to make them available, but operating at root is usually not a good idea. Better to use sudo to run commands as root while logged in as your regular old user self.

In nautilus you can use go > location ... or ctrl-l to view and change the full path to the directory you're in. So do ctrl l and then just type in /home/yourname/Desktop to access the files in your own user desktop directory.

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I need to copy a file into a folder. I order to make changes to the folder I need to launch nautilus as root which I did with "gksudo nautilus". BUT I can't access the folder where the file is located because it's not displayed anymore. – H3R3T1K Jan 25 '12 at 21:13
@user34648 added to my answer, but you can also use sudo cp /home/yourname/desktop/file /path/to/destination/ as a command line alternative. Read man cp first, though. – Amanda Jan 25 '12 at 21:32
Or use gksu nautilus ~user_name – bodhi.zazen Jan 25 '12 at 21:33
OK I guess I didn't know that my home folder is not in the root directory. – H3R3T1K Jan 25 '12 at 21:35
If that works for you, please do accept my answer :) – Amanda Jan 25 '12 at 21:41

If you launch as root you are in root's /home not your's.

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