I have Ubuntu running in a VirtualBox VM on both a Windows 7 host and also a Macbook Pro.

Four times now (on two different hosts) after having successfully installed (auto-)updates, and restarted the machine, I get my normal desktop background, but no launcher. I can right-click on the desktop and open up a terminal The terminal window is fixed to to the top left of the desktop, and has no menubar - despite the context menu (right-click) showing the menubar as being enabled.

Alas, almost everything I have tried to do from within the terminal has had precisely no effect. I have tried each and every suggestion I could find from answers to similar issues - eg.:

The only thing that works thus far is running "unity --debug".

Any and all suggestions would be most welcome.

many tias, gary


I found the same thing from updating today. Finally found that in ~/.profile there was a line:


If you press ctrl+n on the desktop it'll show your home folder, then ctrl+h will show hidden files.

Open ~/.profile then remove or comment out export UNITY_LOW_GFX_MODE="1".

I also removed my Unity config (I renamed /home/huw/.config/compiz-1 to /home/huw/.config/compiz-1-old)

Then restarted and it was all working. Hope that helps!


I'm running Ubuntu under VirtualBox V5.0.24 on macOS 10.11.6 My ~/.profile did not have the export line. However, the rename of ~/.config/compiz-1 worked for me as well.
I did some experiments and found that just trashing ~/.config/compiz-1/compizconfig/config resolved the problems on my setup. Shortly after trashing that file the menu bar and launcher appeared and a new empty config file was created. I suspect an empty config file results in the same effect as the config created after renaming compiz-1 which created a new config (works) containing only the following two lines.

profile = unity-lowgfx

The old ~/.config/compiz-1/compizconfig/config (that didn't work) had the following lines

backend = ini
profile = 
integration = true
plugin_list_autosort = true

As solution 0 stated, I did not have that export line in ~/.profile. Further, .config/compiz-1 was an empty subdir. Renaming, or deleting that subdirectory creates a new one. However, selecting autohide to yes, breaks the system....this solution above is a recovery of the launcher, not a fix for autohide.


Renaming or removing ~/.config/compiz-1 worked for me. Here is what I've done.

  • left-click on the desktop's background and choose "Open Terminal"
  • At the prompt, type

    mv .config/compiz-1 .config/compiz-1-old
    sudo reboot

After the reboot everything worked fine again.

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