When I boot Ubuntu it loads and shows only the desktop background. I have a black cross cursor and can right click to show the expected context menu for the desktop.

I can use Ctrl+Alt+F1 to get a terminalF1toF6 (tty1 to tty6) from which I have tried a lot of things suggested to others with similar issues on here.

I tried the basic sudo apt-get update and sudo apt-get upgrade which didn't help. I tried restarting lightdm. Updated nvidia drivers. Nothing made a difference.

One post said the issue was to do with the ccsm unity plugin being disabled. I managed to get that program to run and the plugin was disabled but enabling it has made no difference.

One suggested that unity needed reinstalling so I ran sudo apt-get install --reinstall unity. It reinstalled but didn't fix the problem.

Another said to install GNOME then switch back to unity which didn't work (though I could load gnome without any problems). I also ran a few commands which were supposed to set the defaults and reset settings though I can't remember what they were exactly. As you may have guessed those had no effect too.

Anyone have any ideas? I would just reinstall Ubuntu from usb but I have no way to get it onto a USB to do so.

Edit: The linked duplicate answer is one I had already tried and found didn't solve my issue.


I ran into the same problem using MATE 1.8 under Ubuntu 14.04 and after hours i ended up installing Cinnamon (which i'm more than happy now with, btw.), to get a working desktop to find out what's going wrong.

The solution was to disable all the autostart programs from MATE inside my user profile. I've moved all .desktop files out of ~/.config/autostart/ and then been able to login to MATE again.

I'm 99% sure your problem will be fixed by disabling your autostart items.

  • Deleting the compiz.desktop file seems to have worked. :D Just gotta redo all my settings I assume. – James Coyle Mar 30 '15 at 23:08

For the Desktop Issue use these commands,

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get remove ubuntu-desktop unity -y
sudo apt-get purge ubuntu-desktop unity -y
sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends ubuntu-desktop -y
sudo apt-get upgrade -y 
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade -y
sudo apt-get autoclean -y
sudo reboot

As for your USB, go on someone else's computer, Install UNetBootIN and Burn the ISO

  • That hasn't worked for me. :/ – James Coyle Mar 30 '15 at 23:04
  • Install Cinnamon then..... – DeOxyRibose Acid Mar 31 '15 at 13:12
  • He didn't need to install Cinnamon. Just deleted .compiz.desktop file in ~/config/autostart folder. From my comment, you may have thinked that my solution was to install another Window Manager. This was only to be able to have a desktop which made it easier to apply the fix. I'm using XFCE and Compiz meanwhile, btw. :-) – NetAndif May 24 '15 at 16:51

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