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I use GDM and usually run an XFCE4 session. Suddenly, if I attempt to boot in using GDM, the following symptoms appear:

  1. The GDM background does not go away.
  2. Windows from two applications (remains of an old session?) are visible.
  3. No windows can be interacted with (xfwm does not appear to be working).

The xfce panel is present and Whisker Menu can be launched but not interacted with.

However, if I go to tty1 and launch lightdm and log in to the same account, a new and fully operation XFCE session starts (complete with working xfwm4).

While the obvious workaround is to simply use lightdm, I would like to actually fix this new problem that seems to have suddenly begun. I did a complete shutdown last time the system worked normally.

What could cause this and how should I attempt to troubleshoot it? I am a recent Windows refugee and this is beyond my current realm of knowledge.

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This might not completely answer your question, but might offer a quick-fix. I also have this problem, using Xubuntu 14.10 so something has broken recently...

I find that the mouse is still responsive (in part) so you are able to RMB the desktop and open a terminal.

xfwm4 --replace

Should do the trick.

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