I am using Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on a USB on an HP Pavillion.

I posted a problem about removing Thunderbird. I was advised to use GKSU Nautilus to become root, or as I understand it, SUPERUSER. I could NEVER get it to work and I am now afraid I have screwed up my whole LINUX system. I can't get stuff to mount and then other stuff says it can't unmount (see images)

I have read that either using sudu or gksu can possiblibly lock the user out entirely. It seems that I am completely locked out as an administrator I can't even access the system settings/user accounts!

I am now completely overwelmed. I even tried to create a new USB loaded with 12.10 and was willing to overwrite everything and start new, but without being able to mount another USB I can't even do that.
I was going to (in desparation) try and run 13.04 from a DVD. I got as far as getting the ISO and it's files onto a DVD but now the DVD won't mount so I can't use it.
Have I screwed it all up with the GKSU command or perhaps the sudu?
It definitely seems as if I've lost any and all permissions.


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  • The locking out with sudo is a completely different issue that doesn't occur with gksu, and then you just would not be able to login, can you describe what you did when trying to remove thunderbird? – w4etwetewtwet May 27 '13 at 20:02

First, I don't know why you'd want to use Nautilus to remove Thunderbird. That's just wrong. If you were deleting things with Nautilus as root, you could have nuked anything by mistake. If you're not sure exactly what you erased, I'd not be too concerned with screwing up you whole Linux install, because you probably did. I've hosed my system, and some people re-install weekly, just to try out different distributions.

Second, do you have a good backup of all your user files? Things like photos, documents you've created over the years and don't want to lose? If you do, great. If not, I'd do some damage control first. If you can boot to an Ubuntu Live CD or USB, you should be able to plug in the 1 TB USB drive you use for your regular backups, find your home directory on your hard drive and copy everything to a folder on your 1 TB USB drive.

If you don't have a large USB drive you use to make regular backups , you need one, and you need to use it.

After you've managed to back up everything, and you're sure you've backed up everything including hidden files in your home directory because you've checked carefully, you can do a clean install and copy everything back if all the other excellent advise you're going to get here can't save your installation.

  • I was told to use gksu if using anything less than Ubuntu 13.04 and i use 12.04 LTS I tried gksu since sudo didn't seem to let me get rid of Thunderbird. But now I seem to have buggered it all up as I have NO access at all. I'm like a guest user. Can I reverse this? As it stands now I can't even get it to mount an USB or DVD so I can get in and perhaps reinstall. I think I would probably upgrade to 13.04 since it is the latest and greatest. I'm ok backup wise. Here is the original Thunderbird post: askubuntu.com/questions/295126/… – Buskieboy May 28 '13 at 18:24
  • Well, gksu nautilus would open a file manager, and you can delete ANYTHING with it. The problem is knowing what to delete to uninstall an application. There's really no way the average user, nor even the advanced user can know what to delete and what not to delete. Then there are all the config files that may have been altered by the installation. What you needed to do was use the software center to remove it, or perhaps sudo apt-get remove thunderbird As it is now, you will probably be better off re-installing. It's faster and easier, but what do you need to save from that drive first? – Marc May 29 '13 at 4:03
  • Ok, I looked at the link, and I don't know what went wrong exactly. Thunderbird would have had a bunch of config files that should have been removed by the [apt-get --purge remove thunderbird] command. However, there are also a lot of data files containing emails and attachments and the like that might not be deleted. Kinda like deleting when LibreOffice, you wouldn't want to delete all the documents you created using LibreOffice. There's no way anyone with my knowledge could tell what you may have inadvertently deleted that would cause your current problem. – Marc May 29 '13 at 4:17
  • One last point . . . what's on that hard drive that you need to save before you risk losing it all with a repair or re-installation? You should be able to install over the top and not touch your data, BUT DON'T YOU COUNT ON IT! If there's stuff on that drive you can't afford to loose, let's copy it somewhere safe FIRST. – Marc May 29 '13 at 4:19
  • I'm pretty much ok back up wise. I had done a huge back up when I originally lost my Vista OS and went to Ubuntu to do just that. I filled up about 8 DVD's of music, picture and other files. I've been lazy and using Ubuntu off of the USB ever since and have always been wary about pulling the trigger on a full HD install of Ubuntu. But now it looks like I'll have to do so, but my question is How? If I can't mount anything I can't load a new USB with Ubuntu 13.04. I tried to use the DVD I had loaded the 13.04 iso onto and the DVD drive is not mounted and the DVD isn't shown. – Buskieboy May 29 '13 at 16:28

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