EDIT Aug, 2017: The problem does not occur with the new intel graphics driver integrated in the linux kernel ( dont know the version ), that is integrated in 16.04. I had this problem multiple times with 14.04.

This ( unreadable contents on the X-session ) hapenned to me the second time and I had to kill the X-session to restore a normal X Session. So, perhaps, it would be interesting for me to just know, what actually hapenned here. Please see the two screen shots.

My current configuration is

X-window-mananger: metacity 2.34.13
Desktop Environment: GNOME Shell 3.10.4
Desktop Manager: lightdm 1.10.6

Let me know, if any other details are required to analyse the problem.





  • Don't have a solution, but I've seen this issue on Fedora23/Gnome3.18 (xorg) a few times as well. My impression was it never happened out of the blue, just when the laptop came out of suspend. – bgse Aug 29 '16 at 19:49
  • can you reproduce the problem? – Zanna Aug 29 '16 at 19:54
  • @Zanna In case you are asking me, unfortunately not, the laptop in question is running Ubuntu by now. I could get the exact hardware configuration though, and with a bit of work one could probably deduce the drivers and such that were in use. – bgse Aug 29 '16 at 19:58
  • No, I cannot reproduce the problem. But, I can tell you the steps that happenned. Firefox was using a lot of memory, because of some java script running painlessly. The screen by that time was almost frozen. So, I changed to tty1, killed firefox out of frustration and also evolution ( that I never started myself, but saw in the list of processes ) . After coming back to xsession, I saw this problem. However, I do not want a solution here, but out of sheer curiousity, want speculative answers, what could have happenned here. – infoclogged Aug 29 '16 at 20:51
  • Related (unanswered) question – Zanna Aug 30 '16 at 7:53

I have the same problem for about a year and could not find a permanent solution. There is a simple, temporary solution: If you change the "Antialiasing" option of the Fonts to "None", the characters will re-appear. You can use (Unity) Tweak Tool to do so. The next time you log in, you can switch "Antialiasing" to RGBA or Grayscale until you have the same problem.

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  • it was good, that I posted this problem here, because I saw the error agin and this time I did not have to kill the Xsession. Thanks to your solution. However, I used Grayscale antialiasing option and it works too. The RGBA option is indeed the cuplrit. Since there is no optical difference between GRayscale and RGBA for me, I would leave Grayscale permanently. – infoclogged Sep 3 '16 at 6:36
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    Moreover, I found out, that the problem is only with Nautlius. Dolphin shows the fonts even when Nautilus and PCManFM fails to show. So, it is definetly a GNOME issue and not any OS kernel driver. – infoclogged Sep 3 '16 at 7:35
  • You may get the same problem with the Grayscale option, too. In such a case, just change anything on the Fonts tab, or switch back to "Restore defaults". – Erol Sep 6 '16 at 19:46
  • This used to help but with latest intel driver doesn't anymore. – abergmeier Dec 2 '17 at 11:13
  • Thanks! Changed to 'Grayscale' and the problem was fixed! – madhat1 Jan 3 '18 at 9:34

From the command-line a temporary fix is: xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Xft/Antialias -s 0

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