I've just installed 12.10 from scratch. Unity also started okay, but in a poor resolution. I found a setting (I think it was in "software sources") to change the display driver to Nvidia, and then I rebooted.

When Ubuntu now starts, it goes to the desktop (I see a file that I saved to the desktop) but there are no other screen elements -- no Unity, no menu bar at the top, no window decoration, nothing.

Ctrl-Alt-T and Ctrl-Alt-F2 work as they should, but it's kinda limiting...

  1. How can I restore the default driver? I guess I need a way to open those "software sources" settings again - or anything else that could fix it! I hope I don't have to type all this by hand.
  2. How can I install a proper Nvidia driver so that I can get up to 1280x1024? My old tricks don't seem to work, but perhaps they might if I solve #1...
  • I had the same problem with ati 5450, which I eventually replaced with Nvidia Gt610 -- and got the same problem. Have just tried everything in this post with no success until ... I did: sudo apt-get remove nvidia-current And rebooted (ie. Without reinstalling nvidia-curent) Now I have unity back
    – user116811
    Dec 26, 2012 at 12:39

5 Answers 5


I just went through this myself, the problem is that there is a bug in the Ubuntu installer that removes the Linux Headers needed for the Nvidia drivers to work.

You'll need to do the following:

From a terminal:

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-generic && sudo apt-get remove nvidia-current && sudo apt-get install nvidia-current

If you don't see output from nvidia-current being installed then one of the first two commands failed.

You'll need to reboot, and once you do you'll be able to use your computer again.

  • Should I run nvidia-xconfig after the reinstall before I boot normally? Jan 27, 2013 at 20:44
  • For me, installing Linux headers without reinstalling nvidia-current worked.
    – Zoltán
    Aug 29, 2014 at 8:21

To restore the default driver you have to uninstall the package nvidia-current. You can do this in your STTYs (Ctrl-Alt-F[1-6]).

sudo apt-get remove nvidia-current

Afterwards simply reboot and you should be fine.

  • 1
    The accepted answer did not work for me, complete removing nvidia-current worked. If i tried re-installing it, i would still have the same issue. This answer worked for me.
    – prolink007
    Dec 30, 2012 at 22:26

The headers I have were newer than the kernel I was running. For that reason I had to upgrade my kernel version. Then, I would recommend the following procedure:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install linux-source
sudo apt-get install linux-headers-generic
sudo apt-get remove nvidia-current
sudo apt-get install nvidia-current

In my case the problem was the proprietary driver from NVIDIA which doesn't work on Optimus laptops. All I had to do was running

sudo nvidia-uninstall

and removing /etc/X11/xorg.conf

OBS: You need to turn off X server to do that. Use ctrl+alt+f1 to go to "interfaceless" mode and type

sudo stop lightdm

After uninstalling run

sudo start lightdm

I had the same issue, nothing helped until I ran this:

sudo apt-get autoremove fglrx --purge
  • 4
    Just to note, fglrx is for ATI cards
    – laconbass
    Jan 11, 2014 at 10:58

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