When I try to log in via tty (Ctrl+Alt+FX) I get a prompt, e.g.:

laboratory login:

I can then type in the username and press enter but it immediately resets to the same prompt, with no error message and no password prompt. I am unable to log into my graphical environment, hence needing to use tty (I believe my desktop manager is not starting). What is going wrong?


That's because you're probably typing the wrong username: remember that upon user's creation, if the full name provided it's two words long and it contains uppercases (e.g. "John Smith"), it will default to the first word converted to lowercase (i.e. "john").

Before switching to a tty, open a terminal within your graphic environment by hitting Ctrl+Alt+t and run the command whoami: this will return the exact username to be used upon tty login.

Since you can't access your graphical environment, try the following:

  1. Shutdown the system
  2. While booting, hold Shift to access grub2's menu
  3. Select Advanced options for Ubuntu and hit Enter


  1. Select your current kernel's recovery mode (e.g. Ubuntu 12.04 x.xx.xx-xx-generic (recovery mode)) and hit Enter


  1. Select root - Drop to root shell prompt and hit Enter

Recovery menu

  1. Run cat /etc/passwd to see a list of all the users present in the system. Check your actual username
  2. Run exit
  3. Select resume - Resume normal boot
  4. Try to login in a tty using the username recovered from the list
  • I'm unable to get into my desktop environment, hence why I am using the tty in the first place. I am also fairly confident I am using the correct username although I'll look into it. Is there any way using a Live USB that I can determine the correct username to input?
    – Birdie
    Apr 13 '15 at 5:13
  • 1
    @Birdie Yes there is, and there's also a faster method. I can write an answer for that, but the fastest way overall would be to just try to insert the first word of your username converted to lowercase, because that is usually the correct username to be used
    – kos
    Apr 13 '15 at 5:17
  • The username is only one word anyway, and it's lowercase as well.
    – Birdie
    Apr 13 '15 at 5:19
  • @Birdie Ok, please add that you can't login to your graphic environment to your original question, in the meantime I'll write another answer
    – kos
    Apr 13 '15 at 5:21
  • @Birdie Check the update on this answer
    – kos
    Apr 13 '15 at 5:38

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