This is mystifying me. I have tried all other solutions that I could find and none seem to work. The 'appearance' menu has disappeared from settings. I'm using gnome-classic. Here's what I've tried so far:

1) Right click -> Change desktop background This just brings up settings

2) gnome-control-center background Same as above which is annoying. It also brings up this:

[_LOG_LEVEL_FATAL 12:41:31.369606] Switchboard.vala:201: Couldn't find background.plug among the loaded settings.
[_LOG_LEVEL_FATAL 12:41:31.369641] Switchboard will not function properly.

3) apt-get install gnome-control-center-unity to which I get E: Unable to locate package gnome-control-center-unity

  • In step 2, your error mentions Switchboard and a background.plug file. Are you running Elementary OS or Ubuntu with the Elementary desktop? Or having you installed the Elementary desktop in the past but now using gnome-classic?
    – iBelieve
    Sep 26 '13 at 13:23
  • Actually, now you mention it, I did yes. I briefly installed it but it didn't work so I thought I removed it.
    – andy
    Sep 26 '13 at 14:02
  • Which version of Ubuntu are you using? If 13.04, did you try reinstalling gnome-classic using sudo apt-get purge gnome-session-fallback;sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallback
    – jobin
    Sep 30 '13 at 9:39
  • Currently on 12.04. Will that work on this version?
    – andy
    Sep 30 '13 at 10:34
  • Can you do this: sudo apt-cache check and sudo apt-get -yqq install debsums; debsums -s? If the first fails edit your question and add the results, if the second produce output the same.
    – Braiam
    Sep 30 '13 at 13:20

Just to followup: I never managed to fix the problem concerning the wallpaper dialog but I found a workaround to change it from the command line with this little script:

#! /bin/bash

path=$(cd $(dirname $1); pwd)/$(basename $1)
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri file://$path

Looks like the control-center-unity package was deleted. Have you tried installing the .Deb package of control-center-unity from http://www.ubuntuupdates.org/package/core/saucy/main/base/gnome-control-center-unity ?

  • Thanks for this! Although, I'm trying to install it and it says I'm missing libgnome-desktop-3-7 (>= 3.2.0)
    – andy
    Oct 3 '13 at 12:15
  • Maybe this will help? pkgs.org/download/libgnome-desktop-3-7 If nothing else works, try purging gnome-classic and re-installing. as @jobin suggested. I think part of the problem might be an unmet dependency during the initial installation of gnome-classic.
    – APNW
    Oct 3 '13 at 12:20
  • Hmm, this is super frustrating. The first option didn't work and neither did apt-get purge gnome-panel && apt-get install gnome-panel
    – andy
    Oct 3 '13 at 12:29
  • Taking a wild chance, you could try installing Ubuntu-tweak tool and enabling desktop icons? No logic to my answer, but just that a few others have had this help.
    – APNW
    Oct 3 '13 at 14:42
  • That does help somewhat. I can right click on the desktop now and 'Change desktop background' but that just brings up the settings dialogue. Very weird
    – andy
    Oct 4 '13 at 8:36

Try going to synaptic and look for the packages


you will probably see



Install them both and then try to access to your desktop settings to see.

  • libgnome-control-center-dev wasn't installed, but I still can't see the appearance menu
    – andy
    Oct 7 '13 at 10:53
  • Precisely, if it wasn't installed that's the missing component, just mark it for installation and apply the changes.
    – Irving
    Oct 10 '13 at 3:37
  • Sorry, I should've made it clear: It wasn't installed but it wasn't in the settings once I did end up installing it.
    – andy
    Oct 10 '13 at 7:30

You should remove the gnome panel.
Type in the terminal following code:

sudo apt-get purge gnome-panel && sudo apt-get install gnome-panel.
  • I've already tried that but it doesn't seem to fix the problem
    – andy
    Oct 7 '13 at 10:57

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