First, let me say I'm new to Linux.

Second, I recently purchased a VPS from OVH and I installed Ubuntu Server 18.04.1 LTS 64-bit.

Then, I installed Xfce4 using this command:

sudo apt install xfce4 xfce4-goodies

However, upon completion, I noticed that nearly all of the application icons were missing! They're missing in the File Manager. They're missing in the top-level Applications menu (oddly, they're not missing in the submenus). They're missing in the dock, except for File Manager and "Minimize all open windows and show the desktop".

Interestingly, Trash, File System, and Home on the desktop show their icons.

How can I recover the missing desktop icons?


If you start from a server install and continue to install specific packages, your are essentially building the desktop environment yourself and thus responsible yourself for installing and configuring everything that is needed for a functional desktop.The packages you installed may not have installed the necessary icon packages, so you will need to find out which these are an install these.

The easier way to set up a desktop environment on a server installation, is to install one of the ubuntu-desktop pacakges. In your case, install xubuntu-desktop to automatically install everything needed for a xfce desktop according to the Xubuntu developpers. This will bring in everything with a single command.

  • I did what you suggested. I installed xubuntu-desktop, then rebooted. I got Ubuntu internal errors! So I removed it and I'm going to give up. Clearly, this is too problematic. Jan 6 '19 at 14:14

I found the fix. I downgraded to Ubuntu 16.04 and now everything works fine. Apparently, Ubuntu 18.04 is a little broken in this respect. If anybody cares to fix this, go ahead, but I no longer care.


I thought I had a similar problem on xfce under 18.04 - which I appear to have resolved by opening the "Desktop Settings" dialogue, selecting the "Icons" tab and selecting icon type "File/launcher icons" (it was previously "minimised application icons").



As "vanadium" already mentioned: The server "edition" differs a lot from the "desktop" edition and is meant to be "headless" - no gui elements. Ubuntu 18.04 runs very stable, but it is very difficult to install a desktop by hand. So if you grab the current Xubuntu 18.04 iso (Desktop) you will have a stable xfce desktop system. The Ubuntu Desktop 18.04 will provide you with a gnome desktop - which runs also stable. So there is nothing wrong with 18.04 Ubuntu, but your initial setup (starting with a server image to add manually a desktop) is rather a stony way.

  • Appreciate the response, but I should point out that OVH does not offer the option to install a desktop Ubuntu, only the server edition. Jan 7 '19 at 0:19
  • I've just looked up the german site <ovh.de/virtual_server/betriebssysteme.xml>. They offer a Kubuntu desktop, but no Ubuntu Server 18.04. Different countries, different sites ;-)
    – kanehekili
    Jan 8 '19 at 19:54
  • Whoa! The German site offers Kubuntu 14.04. That's positively ancient! Jan 11 '19 at 16:56

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