How can I get myself out of this boot loop?

I am a bit at a loss, my Grub screen is empty (shows no options to choose from.) I now only have access to Grub options if I hold down the Shift key during the time Grub is being processed.

I got myself into this pickle while upgrading Ubuntu 19.04 to 19.10, and something went wrong.

I started going through the different Kernel options to see if one would get the system back up. The last one did. I was able to get to a login window; however, logging into Ubuntu would not work. So I tried logging in using the Unity Desktop option. This brought me to the Unlock Login Keyring. But the Unity Desktop UI is empty -- besides a auto-start opening Rhythmbox. Somehow in Unity or Ubuntu-MATE. I can't get a Terminal doing Ctrl+Alt+T.

As suggested, using Ctrl+Alt+F5 works, but I can't figure out what is missing in order to boot into Ubuntu Desktop 19.10, tty5 login states:

Welcome to Ubuntu 19.10 (GNU/Linux 5.3.0-19-generic x86_64)

I tried login into unity --:1 to get into a standard UI based on this helpful post but got this:

compizconfig - Info: Backend     : gsettings
compizconfig - Info: Integration : false
compizconfig - Info: Profile     : mate
Switched to profile 'unity-lowgfx' (for enfironment 'mate')
compizconfig - Info: Backend     : gsettings
compizconfig - Info: Integration : false
compizconfig - Info: Profile     : unity-lowgfx
WARNING: no DISPLAY varable set, setting it to :0
compiz (core) - Info: Loading plugin: core
compiz (core) - Info: Starting plugin: core
compiz (core) - Info: Loading plugin: :1
compiz (core) - Error: Failed to load plugin: :1

It looks like it is somehow switching to mate and fails loading the plugin.

Doing a reboot brings me straight back into some leftover Ubuntu-MATE; without UI -- not very helpful.

  • This is similar problem, and for me disabling auto login worked: askubuntu.com/questions/1181649/…
    – MeSo2
    Oct 31, 2019 at 19:15
  • 1
    Please post your comment as an answer. Oct 31, 2019 at 21:50
  • This is similar problem, and for me disabling auto login worked: askubuntu.com/questions/1181649/…
    – MeSo2
    Nov 1, 2019 at 0:59
  • 1
    @WinEunuuchs2Unix I just tried again, but somehow I can't... It must be a web UI bug
    – MeSo2
    Nov 1, 2019 at 0:59
  • Thanks your answer was posted. I hope you don't mind but I improved it to traditional standards. Nov 1, 2019 at 1:22

3 Answers 3


I solved my own question with this answer:

I had to disable "Auto Login" and then the screens were normal again.

To summarize the link:

sudo -H gedit /etc/gdm/custom.conf

and commented out these lines (by placing a # in front):

  • @WinEunuuchs2Unix thank you for the edit, I just added this askubuntu.com/questions/1185377/… new post related to the problem I found. Not sure if it is a bug...
    – MeSo2
    Nov 1, 2019 at 1:28
  • I voted to close your new question as a duplicate of an older question Nov 1, 2019 at 1:39

You can get into a terminal. You just use the following combination: CTRL + ALT + F5 You'll get a tty window, where no desktop is needet. Just like a serverinstance of Ubuntu. Then you log in there and have full access as your user, just without the GUI. To Switch back to the gui: Reboot or CTRL + ALT + F1 (Source: What is a tty, and how do I access a tty? )

And yes, you probably have to perform an update-grub if you change anything to the boot params. To get it back, I would suggest that you use the following commands(this may fix the failure in the upgrade):

sudo -i 
apt update && apt dist-upgrade -y
dpkg --configure -a
apt-get dist-upgrade
apt-get autoremove
apt-get autoclean
  • CTRL + ALT + F5 worked. I ran your suggested commands, but that somehow brought me back into Uinity. update-grub fines different images, but the Grub UI is still empty after a reboot bringing me back into that boot loop.
    – MeSo2
    Oct 29, 2019 at 19:51

What's your filesystem?

This sounds similar to what I initially experienced while trying out 20.04's ZFS root installer (which I've read is in 19.10, bit I could never find it). After logging in from the GUI I'd be kicked right back out.

If by any chance that's your issue, the reason is Ubuntu-specific. You need to rename the datasets. See here.

Another time this happened to me I had something in my ~/.profile that was throwing an error.

Long story short, your issue could be caused by anything without more info.

  • fs is ext4 root in LVM2_member (I am now thinking of a auto-loader code fix some time back, that needed to be added to get X to do something ... but do not remember. Could this be causing it?)
    – MeSo2
    Oct 31, 2019 at 2:21
  • .profile content: if [ -n "$BASH_VERSION" ]; then if [ -f "$HOME/.bashrc" ]; then . "$HOME/.bashrc" fi fi if [ -d "$HOME/bin" ] ; then PATH="$HOME/bin:$PATH" fi
    – MeSo2
    Oct 31, 2019 at 18:18
  • where is rpool/USERDATA in root?
    – MeSo2
    Oct 31, 2019 at 18:48
  • My comment only matters if your filesystem is ZFS, which it isn't (it's ext4 on LVM). Also your .profile looks fine, so I don't know what the issue is.
    – dcmorse
    Oct 31, 2019 at 20:06
  • thanks for following up. I found that the autologin was causing the problem (see comment) "Answer Your Question" sent me there. Not sure why
    – MeSo2
    Oct 31, 2019 at 20:13

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