5

Consistently, from the time that I freshly installed Ubuntu 18.04 (about a month ago) the position of my desktop icons - with the exception of the Trash icon - have never been remembered between sessions. They always re-appear aligned vertically to the left of the screen in the same order (not the order in which I place them). I have tried with "Keep aligned" on and off.

The solutions presented here seem quite drastic and the answers are not marked accepted. They refer to older releases. I also do not wish to totally reset the desktop as I have made other configuration changes I wish to keep.

Is there a way of getting Ubuntu to remember desktop icon positions without doing anything that affects the other parts of the desktop?

Output of gsettings list-recursively | grep nautilus

org.gnome.nautilus.window-state sidebar-width 196
org.gnome.nautilus.window-state start-with-sidebar true
org.gnome.nautilus.window-state geometry '650x475+142+27'
org.gnome.nautilus.window-state maximized true
org.gnome.nautilus.window-state start-with-location-bar true
org.gnome.nautilus.compression default-compression-format 'zip'
org.gnome.brasero nautilus-extension-debug false
org.gnome.desktop.notifications application-children ['update-manager', 'org-gnome-software', 'firefox', 'org-gnome-nautilus', 'netbeans-netbeans', 'org-gnome-fileroller', 'org-gnome-terminal', 'megasync', 'gnome-terminal', 'keepassx', 'org-gnome-tweaks', 'gnome-control-center', 'libreoffice-libreoffice', 'libreoffice-calc', 'libreoffice-writer', 'alarm-clock-applet', 'vlc', 'gnucash', 'thunderbird', 'brasero', 'skypeforlinux', 'software-properties-gtk', 'steamforwindows-steamforwindows', 'discord-discord', 'filezilla', 'org-gnome-totem', 'q4wine', 'apport-gtk', 'wine-programs-quicktime-quicktime-player', 'eog', 'wine', 'org-gnome-gedit', 'gnome-shell-extension-prefs', 'gnome-calculator-gnome-calculator', 'gnome-network-panel', 'ubuntu-social-kit-ubuntu-social-kit', 'brave-browser', 'gnome-system-monitor-gnome-system-monitor', 'steam', 'jetbrains-studio', 'clamtk', 'org-gnome-dejadup']
org.gnome.gedit.plugins.filebrowser.nautilus confirm-trash true
org.gnome.gedit.plugins.filebrowser.nautilus click-policy 'double'
org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-visible-columns ['name', 'size', 'date_modified']
org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-zoom-level 'standard'
org.gnome.nautilus.list-view use-tree-view false
org.gnome.nautilus.list-view default-column-order ['name', 'size', 'type', 'owner', 'group', 'permissions', 'mime_type', 'where', 'date_modified', 'date_modified_with_time', 'date_accessed', 'recency']
org.gnome.nautilus.icon-view captions ['none', 'none', 'none']
org.gnome.nautilus.icon-view thumbnail-size 64
org.gnome.nautilus.icon-view default-zoom-level 'small'
org.gnome.nautilus.icon-view text-ellipsis-limit ['3']
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences confirm-trash true
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences install-mime-activation true
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences use-experimental-views true
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences always-use-location-entry false
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences default-sort-in-reverse-order false
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences open-folder-on-dnd-hover false
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences show-move-to-trash-shortcut-changed-dialog true
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences executable-text-activation 'ask'
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences mouse-forward-button 9
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences tabs-open-position 'after-current-tab'
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences recursive-search 'local-only'
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences click-policy 'double'
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences show-delete-permanently false
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences default-sort-order 'name'
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences default-folder-viewer 'icon-view'
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences search-view 'list-view'
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences fts-default true
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences show-directory-item-counts 'local-only'
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences show-create-link true
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences show-hidden-files false
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences show-image-thumbnails 'never'
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences thumbnail-limit uint64 10485760
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences mouse-back-button 8
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences bulk-rename-tool @ay []
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences mouse-use-extra-buttons true
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences search-filter-time-type 'last_modified'
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop trash-icon-name 'Rubbish Bin'
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop text-ellipsis-limit 3
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop background-fade true
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop home-icon-visible false
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop trash-icon-visible true
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop network-icon-visible false
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop font ''
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop network-icon-name 'Network Servers'
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop home-icon-name 'Home'
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop volumes-visible true

Output of gsettings list-recursively | grep icon:

org.gnome.shell.window-switcher app-icon-mode 'both'
org.gnome.desktop.interface menus-have-icons false
org.gnome.desktop.interface toolbar-icons-size 'large'
org.gnome.desktop.interface icon-theme 'ubuntu-mono-dark'
org.gnome.desktop.interface buttons-have-icons false
org.gnome.desktop.background show-desktop-icons true
org.gnome.DejaDup.Drive icon ''
org.gnome.nautilus.icon-view captions ['none', 'none', 'none']
org.gnome.nautilus.icon-view thumbnail-size 64
org.gnome.nautilus.icon-view default-zoom-level 'small'
org.gnome.nautilus.icon-view text-ellipsis-limit ['3']
org.gnome.DejaDup.File icon ''
org.gnome.Vino icon-visibility 'client'
org.freedesktop.ibus.panel property-icon-delay-time 500
org.freedesktop.ibus.panel xkb-icon-rgba '#415099'
org.freedesktop.ibus.panel show-icon-on-systray true
org.gnome.nautilus.preferences default-folder-viewer 'icon-view'
org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock icon-size-fixed true
org.gnome.shell.extensions.dash-to-dock dash-max-icon-size 36
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop trash-icon-name 'Rubbish Bin'
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop home-icon-visible false
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop trash-icon-visible true
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop network-icon-visible false
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop network-icon-name 'Network Servers'
org.gnome.nautilus.desktop home-icon-name 'Home'

Additional information:

find . '!' -user $USER
./.local/share/gvfs-metadata/home-79a18d9c.log 
./.local/share/gvfs-metadata/home 
./.cache/dconf find: ‘./.cache/dconf’: Permission denied 
./.dbus find: ‘./.dbus’: Permission denied 
./.gvfs find: ‘./.gvfs’: Permission denied
  • @DKBose I have added the outputs as requested. Thanks. – authentictech Feb 23 at 11:23
  • @DKBose It shows this: ./.local/share/gvfs-metadata/home-79a18d9c.log ./.local/share/gvfs-metadata/home ./.cache/dconf find: ‘./.cache/dconf’: Permission denied ./.dbus find: ‘./.dbus’: Permission denied ./.gvfs find: ‘./.gvfs’: Permission denied – authentictech Feb 23 at 12:11
  • 1
    When I run ls -l in my ~/.local/share/gvfs-metadata folder, all the files there are owned by me. What do you see on your system? According to askubuntu.com/a/42989/248158 files in that folder may be written to. I don't know why .local/share/gvfs-metadata/home seems not to be owned by you. Could that be the reason your changes are not saved? If I drag an icon on my desktop to a new location, I can see that .local/share/gvfs-metadata/home is modified. – DK Bose Feb 23 at 12:58
  • @DKBose The files are all owned by me except for home and home-79a18d9c.log which are owned by root. – authentictech Feb 23 at 13:03
  • 1
    Even home should be owned by you, in my opinion. – DK Bose Feb 23 at 13:05
6

It's possible that a file recording the position of icons on your desktop cannot be modified due to wrong permissions.

To identify such files, run find . '!' -user $USER.

In your case, the output included ~/.local/share/gvfs-metadata/home. Changing the ownership of this file to you should fix your problem.

Content of ~/.local/share/gvfs-metadata

In general, very few, if any, files and folders in your home folder should be owned by root.

  • 1
    This also fixed the problem of desktop icons remaining untrusted and not displaying their proper icon image and app name. – authentictech Feb 23 at 13:41
  • I'm very curious how the permissions ended up that way. The only thing I can think of that is only slightly connected is I once opened up nautilus as root. – authentictech Feb 23 at 21:50
  • 1
    How you opened nautilus as root and what you did then probably have something to do with it. I can't be more specific than that because after having been bitten once during Ubuntu 11.04, I've avoided using file managers as root. – DK Bose Feb 24 at 1:18
  • More reading: askubuntu.com/questions/423040/… – DK Bose Feb 24 at 2:50

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