I am trying to use the terminal, however, when I try to open a terminal window it opens then runs a bunch of text and closes its self in less then one second. How do I fix the terminal?

  • How are you opening the terminal? – TheWanderer Sep 4 '16 at 2:16
  • 2
    Have you modified your ~/.profile or ~/.bash_profile or ~/.bashrc ? – glenn jackman Sep 4 '16 at 2:27
  • Its possible, I just installed the OS and the first thing it had me do was this really long up grade for the OS. – Caleb Sep 4 '16 at 2:46
  • One of those big software update marathons. – Caleb Sep 4 '16 at 2:47

When you invoke the terminal with Ctrl+Alt+T a script called ~/.bashrc is run. This script might have been modified somehow to execute commands improperly and then exit without ever showing the input prompt.

My ~/.bashrc file (Ubuntu 16.04 unaltered) contains the following:

# ~/.bashrc: executed by bash(1) for non-login shells.
# see /usr/share/doc/bash/examples/startup-files (in the package bash-doc)
# for examples

# If not running interactively, don't do anything
case $- in
    *i*) ;;
      *) return;;

# don't put duplicate lines or lines starting with space in the history.
# See bash(1) for more options

# append to the history file, don't overwrite it
shopt -s histappend

# for setting history length see HISTSIZE and HISTFILESIZE in bash(1)

# check the window size after each command and, if necessary,
# update the values of LINES and COLUMNS.
shopt -s checkwinsize

# If set, the pattern "**" used in a pathname expansion context will
# match all files and zero or more directories and subdirectories.
#shopt -s globstar

# make less more friendly for non-text input files, see lesspipe(1)
[ -x /usr/bin/lesspipe ] && eval "$(SHELL=/bin/sh lesspipe)"

# set variable identifying the chroot you work in (used in the prompt below)
if [ -z "${debian_chroot:-}" ] && [ -r /etc/debian_chroot ]; then
    debian_chroot=$(cat /etc/debian_chroot)

# set a fancy prompt (non-color, unless we know we "want" color)
case "$TERM" in
    xterm-color) color_prompt=yes;;

# uncomment for a colored prompt, if the terminal has the capability; turned
# off by default to not distract the user: the focus in a terminal window
# should be on the output of commands, not on the prompt

if [ -n "$force_color_prompt" ]; then
    if [ -x /usr/bin/tput ] && tput setaf 1 >&/dev/null; then
    # We have color support; assume it's compliant with Ecma-48
    # (ISO/IEC-6429). (Lack of such support is extremely rare, and such
    # a case would tend to support setf rather than setaf.)

if [ "$color_prompt" = yes ]; then
    PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;32m\]\u@\h\[\033[00m\]:\[\033[01;34m\]\w\[\033[00m\]\$ '
    PS1='${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h:\w\$ '
unset color_prompt force_color_prompt

# If this is an xterm set the title to user@host:dir
case "$TERM" in
    PS1="\[\e]0;${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\u@\h: \w\a\]$PS1"

# enable color support of ls and also add handy aliases
if [ -x /usr/bin/dircolors ]; then
    test -r ~/.dircolors && eval "$(dircolors -b ~/.dircolors)" || eval "$(dircolors -b)"
    alias ls='ls --color=auto'
    #alias dir='dir --color=auto'
    #alias vdir='vdir --color=auto'

    alias grep='grep --color=auto'
    alias fgrep='fgrep --color=auto'
    alias egrep='egrep --color=auto'

# some more ls aliases
alias ll='ls -alF'
alias la='ls -A'
alias l='ls -CF'

# Add an "alert" alias for long running commands.  Use like so:
#   sleep 10; alert
alias alert='notify-send --urgency=low -i "$([ $? = 0 ] && echo terminal || echo error)" "$(history|tail -n1|sed -e '\''s/^\s*[0-9]\+\s*//;s/[;&|]\s*alert$//'\'')"'

# Alias definitions.
# You may want to put all your additions into a separate file like
# ~/.bash_aliases, instead of adding them here directly.
# See /usr/share/doc/bash-doc/examples in the bash-doc package.

if [ -f ~/.bash_aliases ]; then
    . ~/.bash_aliases

# enable programmable completion features (you don't need to enable
# this, if it's already enabled in /etc/bash.bashrc and /etc/profile
# sources /etc/bash.bashrc).
if ! shopt -oq posix; then
  if [ -f /usr/share/bash-completion/bash_completion ]; then
    . /usr/share/bash-completion/bash_completion
  elif [ -f /etc/bash_completion ]; then
    . /etc/bash_completion

Using Nautilus file manager navigate to your home directory and double-click on your .bashrc file. As painful as it sounds compare your .bashrc to the one listed above for differences and fix the errors.

Alternatively it is probably safe to copy the text above and paste it over your .bashrc file. Since it's broken anyway there is nothing to lose.

There are other files: ~/.profile, ~/.bash_profile and ~/.bash_login that can also be analyzed but ~/.bashrc is the first place to start.

The terminal is an integral part of Ubuntu and Linux that 99% of users need to use occasionally and that many users require frequently. It's important to ensure Terminal works.

If you made a backup before upgrading you should restore it and repeat the upgrade because other things could be broken besides Terminal. If this is a brand new install then simply install it again with a new Ubuntu Live DVD or USB.

  • 1
    There is really no need to copy from your .bashrc; OP can copy a fresh .bashrc from /etc/skel/.bashrc. – edwinksl Sep 4 '16 at 5:02
  • @edwinksl I honestly didn't know that. What if his corrupted .bashrc (if it really is corrupted) came from a corrupted /etc/skel/.bashrc though? In this case both files would have to be fixed and he would need to see a pristine version. – WinEunuuchs2Unix Sep 4 '16 at 5:28
  • Unless OP used sudo to mess around with /etc/skel, the .bashrc from /etc/skel is pristine and is the default .bashrc that comes with Ubuntu. Note that you can also find .profile there too. – edwinksl Sep 4 '16 at 5:32

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