I had a hard drive stop working last week. Not a big problem, I just purchased a new one and restored the latest backup (I back it up using rsync on it while it is running). I get the computer working again, boot it, attempt to log in, and as the title says, I'm greeting with only wallpaper and a cursor.

I've spent most of the day scouring the Internet for a solution but haven't found one. Here's what I've tried and found out.

  • It affects all users so solutions like deleting ~/.config haven't worked.
  • I installed another display manager (gdm, I usually use lightdm), and tried to login using it; it also displayed the wallpaper and cursor.
  • I installed other desktop environments (lxde and gnome, I usually use xfce). lxde returns me to the login screen, gnome occasionally has a system error, but I'm not sure if it is related.
  • I'm guessing that the backup possibly picked up something in /var that is now confusing the system (I don't back up /proc, /run, /sys, or /tmp).
  • The applications that normally start upon login appear to start and run.
  • Checking the log files hasn't yielded much of anything.

I'm running Ubuntu 14.04.1. I suspect tracking this down is a long shot, but reinstalling and reconfiguring a new system is not something I'm looking forward to doing.


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