I had got into a serious problem while solving my the system is running in low graphics mode using this link.

This guy and I have almost same Nvidia card. Mine is just bit more newer, so when I was on step #13 I completed it and rebooted my computer and my screen resolution got shrinked while my problem has not solved instead I have lost my unity and all can see is a blank screen with only my destop icon and shrunken screen in center. I get unity back when I remove the nvidia-current package

My actual problem was that when I boot Ubuntu I get a screen saying:

The system is running in low graphics mode. Your screen, graphics card and input device settings could not be detected correctly. You will need to configure these yourself.

and I was able to login after few tries.

  • fyi, if you can quit from these screens, you can get a cli login. Login and run the command startx. Then after the desktop starts, CTRL-ALT-F2 to get another login. Login there and run unity. To get to desktop, CTRL-ALT-F7. But I've got intel graphics.
    – Krista K
    Jan 17, 2013 at 19:25
  • Seems that for people getting this problem with Intel graphics, lightdm is the culprit and workarounds are add a delay in rc.local or install and use gdm.
    – Krista K
    Jan 17, 2013 at 19:54
  • answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/nvidia-graphics-drivers/… i solved it here thanks for replying :) Jan 18, 2013 at 20:30
  • Glad to see! Would you please write up an answer then accept it? That way, this question will show as answered. Trippy about the dual GPU setup; so you have a Intel Core & nVidia video card?
    – Krista K
    Jan 18, 2013 at 20:47
  • yes i have a intel Core & nVidia card. bumblebee seems like a Savior for system having such configurations.... Jan 19, 2013 at 19:52

4 Answers 4


It is not related to nvidia drivers. Because by default Ubuntu uses non-nvidia drivers even though you might have nvidia GPUs. I have an nvidia GPU too.

My Ubuntu used to boot fine until something happened which caused the same issue. After reading posts, reading logs and little bit trial and error, turns out the problem is related to lightdm GUI server.

I dont know solution to the problem but there is a quick work around in 3 steps. This will save you from reinstalling Ubuntu.

  • Step 1: When the error shows up, hit Ctrl+Alt+F1. This will open the commandline interface. Login as root.

  • Step 2: Remove a particular X11 config file. This file is not really required.

    rm /etc/X11/xorg.conf.failsafe

    Somehow the existence of the above X11 configuration file causes the OS to throw that error.

  • Step 3: Restart lightdm with:

    service lightdm restart

    This will restart lightdm and voila your desktop is back!


You can solve this problem by following the instructions here: https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/nvidia-graphics-drivers/+question/218729

  • 4
    Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference.
    – Aditya
    Jan 19, 2013 at 19:51

Me: Ubuntu 12.10, I had just edited my /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf without paying too much attention, rebooted, and got this error.

So I did the CTRL+ALT+F1 and made my way to the file, opened it in vi and noticed that there was a hard return missing:

greeter-session=unity-greetergreeter-setup-script=blah blah blah

I changed that to:

greeter-setup-script=blah blah blah

and viola! No more "low graphics mode" error. Hope that helps someone.


My root partition was full. I logged in remotely from SSH, made some free space and rebooted perfectly.

  • Did this solve your issue of "The system is running in low graphics mode"? How did you SSH when your system can't boot up?
    – Alaa Ali
    Jul 18, 2013 at 13:23
  • @Alaa While this is unlikely, X may refuse to boot up properly if your disk is full. However, then it's more likely to see other symptoms.
    – gertvdijk
    Jul 18, 2013 at 14:45
  • 1
    Shame on everyone that down voted this perfectly valid answer. If your root partition is full, you will boot into low graphics mode. However, your system will still be running (otherwise how are you getting the error message?). Get to a command prompt and free up the space.
    – Dave
    Sep 16, 2013 at 12:33

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