I have Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. This morning when I logged into my Ubuntu, after login screen the complete desktop was empty, the only operation I could perform is right-click and open terminal.

What I've tried:

  1. Ctrl+Alt+F1 unity --reset : didn't work
  2. From terminal unity --reset : didn't work
  3. And from login screen selecting Ubuntu 2D and that also didn't solve the problem.

My laptop is Toshiba SA-60 onboard ATI graphic card with 1 GB RAM.

Please tell me how to solve this problem. I don't want to reinstall Ubuntu as whenever I install a I/O error pops up, forget about that. I don't want to reinstall Ubuntu. Please help.

  • 1
    I accidentally removed python, after that ubuntu-desktop dissapeared, I didn't have an access to standart terminal. Thankful to this post I ran Ctrl+Alt+F1 and installed ubuntu-desktop directly by command sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop
    – klimat
    Mar 15, 2013 at 14:09
  • In my own case, sudo plasma_session solved the problem! Jan 18, 2022 at 19:00

4 Answers 4

  • Install gnome-tweak-tool.
sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool
  • Go to Desktop list item. Make sure Have file manager handle the desktop is turned ON.

    enter image description here

  • Thanks a lot. Sometimes something strange can happen. Unity --reset says "this should never happen... report a bug". But help of community makes a difference.
    – SChepurin
    Apr 13, 2013 at 12:46
  • Glad it helped.
    – green
    Apr 13, 2013 at 12:47
  • Alas, this option no longer exists.
    – user643722
    May 3, 2016 at 20:00
  • 1
    True, the option has been renamed as "Icons on Desktop". However it works as the old one.
    – Omegafil
    Oct 25, 2016 at 8:19

I had the same problem and I was unable to reset unity. I finally solved by reinstalling libgrail5:

sudo apt-get install --reinstall libgrail5

The answer is kind of weird. Because you have tried the right things to reset unity.

Lets try once again,

Press Alt+Ctrl+F1, login and then enter these commands one by one.

sudo lightdm stop

gconftool-2 --recursive-unset /apps/compiz-1

unity --reset-icons

unity --reset

Have you played with any config file, x org configuration last time?

sudo reboot now

  • dude its not happening, its giving errors n i can't even post them
    – sunny
    Jul 17, 2012 at 17:21
sudo apt-get install --reinstall libgrail5

I have tried all the unity re-installs even going back to gnome. this took me 3 hours , but above command did the trick. My mistake was to tweak compiz, i know they give warnings ,but we run linux so what do you expect.

Precise desktop wallpaper no icons or anything I was ready to reinstall ,but still i did like to know I am not a geek or a newbie but something in between.


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