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It is actually the second time I'm writing this, I have to retype everything, though. The first time I was using lynx from the terminal, but the system considered my post spam for some reason and everything I'd typed was lost (never thought Stack Exchange was so lynx-hostile, there wasn't a single link in my post).

Anyways, here's the problem. I installed kubuntu-desktop, played with it, didn't like it and decided to remove it. And that's where the problem comes in. I uninstalled the package and its dependencies (via apt autoremove), rebooted the system, and it didn't load properly. The only message I got was "Scanning for btrfs file systems..." Which I found strange, because I never had problems with my btrfs partitions.

The console worked, though, so I tried do seek advice online (after making sure everything else worked; even VLC worked, although I could only hear the sound). That didn't work, so I turned to trial and error.

After I installed kubuntu-desktop again, the problem was seemingly fixed. But it's not really fixed, because I still can't get rid of kubuntu-desktop and its dependencies without bringing down Xfce. Here's what I did:

sudo apt install kubuntu-desktop
sudo apt install phonon-backend-gstreamer
sudo apt remove --purge kubuntu-desktop
sudo apt autoremove
sudo apt autoclean
sudo apt clean
reboot
sudo apt purge
cat ~/.bash_history | grep -P "remove|install"
sudo apt remove phonon-backend-gstreamer
reboot
sudo apt search xfce
sudo apt install --reinstall xfce4
sudo apt install --reinstall xubuntu-desktop
reboot
cat dpkg.log
cat dpkg.log | grep "2017-02-18 16:"
sudo apt remove xubuntu-desktop
sudo apt autoremove
sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop
sudo apt purge xfce4
sudo install xfce4
sudo apt -f install
dpkg --configure -a
sudo !!
sudo apt install kubuntu-desktop
reboot

Which is when the system loaded almost properly. I say "almost" because the Greybird theme in Xfce is all broken if functional, even though I never edited the Xfce themes; that was part of the reason I decided to get rid of KDE several hours after installing it, less, if you consider I had been away for 4 hours after the installation.

I already had unrelated packages somehow marked for autoremoval. For example, I reinstalled mysql-server, mysql-common and mysql-client several days ago, imagine my surprise when I found out the package motion was missing. I checked /var/log/dpkg.log and there it was, it was really removed at the same time I purged MySQL packages.

I've run sudo apt purge --simulate kubuntu-desktop. The output is not encouraging:

The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:

accountwizard akonadi-backend-mysql akonadi-server akregator amarok amarok-common amarok-utils apturl-common apturl-kde baloo-kf5 baloo-utils bluedevil breeze breeze-cursor-theme cdparanoia cdrdao cracklib-runtime cryptsetup discover discover-data dolphin dragonplayer dvd+rw-tools fonts-lato fonts-noto fonts-noto-mono fonts-noto-unhinted fonts-oxygen growisofs gstreamer-qapt gtk2-engines-oxygen gtk2-engines-xfce gtk3-engines-breeze gwenview ibus-qt4 ieee-data k3b k3b-data kaccounts-integration kaccounts-providers kaddressbook kamera kate kate5-data kcalc kde-config-gtk-style kde-config-gtk-style-preview kde-config-mailtransport kde-config-sddm kde-config-telepathy-accounts kde-config-whoopsie kde-spectacle kde-style-oxygen-qt5 kde-style-qtcurve-qt4 kde-style-qtcurve-qt5 kde-telepathy kde-telepathy-approver kde-telepathy-auth-handler kde-telepathy-contact-list kde-telepathy-data kde-telepathy-desktop-applets kde-telepathy-filetransfer-handler kde-telepathy-integration-module kde-telepathy-kaccounts kde-telepathy-kpeople kde-telepathy-minimal kde-telepathy-send-file kde-telepathy-text-ui kdeconnect kdeconnect-plasma kdegraphics-strigi-analyzer kdemultimedia-kio-plugins kdenetwork-filesharing kdepim-doc kdepim-runtime kdepimlibs-data kdepimlibs-kio-plugins kdeplasma-addons-data kdesudo kdoctools5 kgamma5 khelpcenter khotkeys khotkeys-data kimageformat-plugins kinfocenter kio-audiocd kio-mtp kmail kmenuedit knotes kontact konversation konversation-data korganizer krdc kross kscreen ksysguard ksysguard-data ksysguardd ksystemlog ktnef ktorrent ktorrent-data kubuntu-settings-desktop kubuntu-web-shortcuts kwin kwin-addons kwin-common kwin-data kwin-style-breeze kwin-x11 kwrited libaccounts-glib0 libaccounts-qt5-1 libakonadi-kde4 libakonadi-kmime4 libakonadiprotocolinternals1 libappstreamqt1 libavahi-gobject0 libbaloocore4 libbaloofiles4 libbalooxapian4 libc-ares2 libcdr-0.1-1 libcrack2 libdiscover2 libdolphinvcs5 libfakekey0 libflac++6v5 libfreehand-0.1-1 libgit2-24 libgpod-common libgpod4 libgrantlee-templates5 libgrantlee-textdocument5 libhttp-parser2.1 libibus-1.0-5 libibus-qt1 libk3b6 libk3b6-extracodecs libkabc4 libkaccounts1 libkcalcore4 libkcddb4 libkcompactdisc4 libkdecorations2-5v5 libkdecorations2private5v5 libkeybinder-3.0-0 libkf5activitiesexperimentalstats1 libkf5akonadiagentbase5 libkf5akonadicalendar5 libkf5akonadicontact5 libkf5akonadicore-bin libkf5akonadicore5 libkf5akonadimime5 libkf5akonadinotes5 libkf5akonadiprivate5 libkf5akonadisearchdebug5 libkf5akonadisearchpim5 libkf5akonadiwidgets5 libkf5alarmcalendar5 libkf5baloowidgets-bin libkf5baloowidgets5 libkf5bluezqt-data libkf5bluezqt6 libkf5calendarcore5 libkf5calendarsupport5 libkf5calendarutils5 libkf5contacts-data libkf5contacts5 libkf5emoticons-bin libkf5emoticons-data libkf5emoticons5 libkf5eventviews5 libkf5followupreminder5 libkf5gapi-data libkf5gapicalendar5 libkf5gapicontacts5 libkf5gapicore5 libkf5gapidrive5 libkf5gapitasks5 libkf5gpgmepp-pthread5 libkf5gravatar5 libkf5holidays-data libkf5holidays5 libkf5identitymanagement5 libkf5imap5 libkf5incidenceeditorsng5 libkf5itemmodels5 libkf5kdcraw5 libkf5kdepimdbusinterfaces5 libkf5kdgantt2-5 libkf5kipi-data libkf5kipi30.0.0 libkf5kmanagesieve5 libkf5kontactinterface-data libkf5kontactinterface5 libkf5krosscore5 libkf5krossui5 libkf5ksieve5 libkf5ksieveui5 libkf5ldap5 libkf5libkdepim5 libkf5libkleo5 libkf5mailcommon5 libkf5mailimporter5 libkf5mailtransport-data libkf5mailtransport5 libkf5mbox5 libkf5messagecomposer5 libkf5messagecore5 libkf5messagelist5 libkf5messageviewer5 libkf5mime5 libkf5noteshared5 libkf5people-data libkf5people5 libkf5peoplebackend5 libkf5peoplewidgets5 libkf5pimcommon5 libkf5pimtextedit5 libkf5qgpgme5 libkf5sendlater5 libkf5syndication5 libkf5sysguard-bin libkf5templateparser5 libkf5tnef5 libkf5unitconversion-data libkf5unitconversion5 libkf5webkit5 libkfilemetadata4 libkfontinst5 libkfontinstui5 libkidletime4 libkldap4 libkmime4 libknewstuff2-4 libkolab1 libkolabxml1v5 libkonq-common libkonq5-templates libkpimutils4 libkresources4 libksane-data libksane0 libksignalplotter7 libktorrent-l10n libktorrent5 libktpcommoninternals9 libktplogger9 libktpmodels9 libktpotr9 libktpwidgets9 libkwin4-effect-builtins1 libkwineffects7 libkwinglutils7 libkwinxrenderutils7 liblastfm1 libloudmouth1-0 libmission-control-plugins0 libmspub-0.1-1 libmusicbrainz5cc2v5 libmygpo-qt1 liboxygenstyle5-5 liboxygenstyleconfig5-5 libpackagekitqt5-0 libpagemaker-0.0-0 libpam-kwallet4 libparted-fs-resize0 libperl4-corelibs-perl libpowerdevilcore2 libpowerdevilui5 libpwquality-common libpwquality1 libqca2-plugin-ossl libqgsttools-p1 libqjson0 libqt5concurrent5 libqt5multimedia5 libqt5multimedia5-plugins libqt5multimediaquick-p5 libqt5multimediawidgets5 libqt5qml-graphicaleffects libqt5xmlpatterns5 libqtassistantclient4 libqtcurve-utils2 libqtscript4-core libqtscript4-gui libqtscript4-network libqtscript4-sql libqtscript4-uitools libqtscript4-xml libreoffice-avmedia-backend-gstreamer libreoffice-draw libreoffice-impress libreoffice-kde libreoffice-pdfimport libruby2.3 libscim8v5 libsgutils2-2 libsignon-extension1 libsignon-glib1 libsignon-plugins-common1 libsignon-qt5-1 libsyndication4 libtag-extras1 libtelepathy-glib0 libtelepathy-logger-qt5 libtelepathy-logger3 libtelepathy-qt4-2 libtelepathy-qt5-0 libvisio-0.1-1 libwhoopsie-preferences0 libxcb-cursor0 libxcb-dpms0 libxcb-record0 libxerces-c3.1 muon-notifier muon-updater ofono oxygen-sounds partitionmanager plasma-dataengines-addons plasma-desktop plasma-desktop-data plasma-discover plasma-discover-common plasma-discover-private plasma-discover-updater plasma-look-and-feel-org-kde-breezedark-desktop plasma-pa plasma-runners-addons plasma-wallpapers-addons plasma-widgets-addons powerdevil powerdevil-data print-manager pulseaudio-module-bluetooth python-dbus python-qt4-dbus python3-pykde4 python3-pyqt4 qapt-deb-installer qml-module-org-kde-bluezqt qml-module-org-kde-draganddrop qml-module-org-kde-kio qml-module-org-kde-telepathy qml-module-qt-labs-folderlistmodel qml-module-qt-labs-settings qml-module-qtmultimedia qml-module-qtquick-controls-styles-breeze qml-module-qtquick-xmllistmodel qml-module-qtwebkit qtdeclarative5-xmllistmodel-plugin rake ruby ruby-did-you-mean ruby-minitest ruby-net-telnet ruby-power-assert ruby-test-unit ruby2.3 rubygems-integration sddm sddm-theme-breeze session-migration signon-kwallet-extension signon-plugin-oauth2 signon-plugin-password signon-ui signon-ui-service signon-ui-x11 signond skanlite sni-qt software-properties-kde sshfs systemsettings telepathy-accounts-signon telepathy-gabble telepathy-haze telepathy-logger telepathy-mission-control-5 telepathy-ring telepathy-salut ubuntu-release-upgrader-qt user-manager vcdimager whoopsie-preferences xfce4-pulseaudio-plugin

As you can see, xfce4-pulseaudio-plugin is marked for autoremoval. And I don't doubt some essential packages might be. If only I knew which ones...

How can I fix it?

Update

I'm glad I didn't run these commands as soon as I was recommended to try them:

aptitude remove '?and(?reverse-depends(gnome),?not(?reverse-depends(?exact-name(xubuntu-desktop))))'
aptitude remove '?and(?reverse-depends(unity),?not(?reverse-depends(?exact-name(xubuntu-desktop))))'
aptitude remove '?and(?reverse-depends(kubuntu),?not(?reverse-depends(?exact-name(xubuntu-desktop))))'
aptitude remove '?and(?reverse-depends(kde),?not(?reverse-depends(?exact-name(xubuntu-desktop))))'

But I did run this, to see what would be deleted if I did:

aptitude search '?and(?reverse-depends(kubuntu),?not(?reverse-depends(?exact-name(xubuntu-desktop))))' | grep -vP "^p\s+[^\s]{2,}"

Here's the output:

i A ark                             - archive utility                           
idA baloo-kf5                       - framework for searching and managing metad
...
idA plasma-desktop                  - Tools and widgets for the desktop         
i   plymouth                        - boot animation, logger and I/O multiplexer
i   plymouth-label                  - boot animation, logger and I/O multiplexer
i   plymouth-theme-ubuntu-text      - boot animation, logger and I/O multiplexer
idA powerdevil                      - Global power saver settings.              
i   python                          - interactive high-level object-oriented lan
i   python3                         - interactive high-level object-oriented lan
i   python3-dbus                    - simple interprocess messaging system (Pyth
i A python3-dbus.mainloop.pyqt5     - D-Bus Qt main loop support for Python 3   
i A python3-pyqt5                   - Python 3 bindings for Qt5                 
i A qapt-batch                      - Batch package manager for KDE             
idA sddm-theme-breeze               - Breeze SDDM theme                         
idA software-properties-kde         - manage the repositories that you install s
idA systemsettings                  - System Settings interface                 
i   ttf-ubuntu-font-family          - Ubuntu Font Family, sans-serif typeface hi
v   x-terminal-emulator             -                                           
v   x-terminal-emulator:i386        -                                           
i   xfce4-terminal                  - Xfce terminal emulator                    

It's even more for kde.

aptitude search '?and(?reverse-depends(kde),?not(?reverse-depends(?exact-name(xubuntu-desktop))))' | grep -vP "^p\s+[^\s]{2,}"

Output:

idA accountwizard                   - wizard for KDE PIM applications account se
idA akonadi-server                  - Akonadi PIM storage service               
idA akregator                       - RSS/Atom feed aggregator                  
i   apport                          - automatically generate crash reports for d
idA apturl-common                   - install packages using the apt protocol - 
i A breeze-icon-theme               - Default Plasma icon theme.                
i   cron                            - process scheduling daemon                 
i   dbus-x11                        - simple interprocess messaging system (X11 
i   debconf                         - Debian configuration management system    
v   debconf-2.0                     -                                           
v   debconf-2.0:i386                -                                           
...
i   perl-base                       - minimal Perl system                       
v   perlapi-5.22.1                  -                                           
v   perlapi-5.22.1:i386             -                                           
i A phonon                          - multimedia framework from KDE using Qt 4 -
idA plasma-dataengines-addons       - additional data engines for Plasma        
idA plasma-desktop                  - Tools and widgets for the desktop         
idA plasma-runners-addons           - additional runners for Plasma 5 and Krunne
i A plasma-scriptengine-javascript  - JavaScript script engine for Plasma       
idA plasma-wallpapers-addons        - additional wallpaper plugins for Plasma 5 
idA plasma-widgets-addons           - additional widgets for Plasma 5           
i A plasma-workspace                - Plasma Workspace for KF5                  
i   policykit-1                     - framework for managing administrative poli
i A polkit-kde-agent-1              - KDE dialogs for PolicyKit                 
i   procps                          - /proc file system utilities               
i   psmisc                          - utilities that use the proc file system   
i   python                          - interactive high-level object-oriented lan
i   python3                         - interactive high-level object-oriented lan
i   python3-apport                  - Python 3 library for Apport crash report h
i   python3-dbus                    - simple interprocess messaging system (Pyth
i A python3-dbus.mainloop.pyqt5     - D-Bus Qt main loop support for Python 3   
idA python3-pykde4                  - Python 3 bindings for the KDE Development 
idA python3-pyqt4                   - Python3 bindings for Qt4                  
i A python3-pyqt5                   - Python 3 bindings for Qt5                 
i A python3-sip                     - Python 3/C++ bindings generator runtime li
i   python3-software-properties     - manage the repositories that you install s
i A qapt-batch                      - Batch package manager for KDE             
i A qml-module-org-kde-activities   - provides integration of QML and KDE Framew
idA qml-module-org-kde-telepathy    - kde-telepathy QtDeclarative QML support   
i A qml-module-qtquick-controls     - Qt 5 Quick Controls QML module            
i A qml-module-qtquick-dialogs      - Qt 5 Dialogs QML module                   
i A qml-module-qtquick-layouts      - Qt 5 Quick Layouts QML module             
i A qml-module-qtquick2             - Qt 5 Qt Quick 2 QML module                
v   qtbase-abi-5-5-1                -                                           
v   qtbase-abi-5-5-1:i386           -                                           
v   qtdeclarative-abi-5-5-0         -                                           
v   qtdeclarative-abi-5-5-0:i386    -                                           
i   shared-mime-info                - FreeDesktop.org shared MIME database and s
v   sip-api-11.2                    -                                           
v   sip-api-11.2:i386               -                                           
v   sip-py3api-11.2                 -                                           
v   sip-py3api-11.2:i386            -                                           
i   software-properties-common      - manage the repositories that you install s
idA software-properties-kde         - manage the repositories that you install s
idA sshfs                           - filesystem client based on SSH File Transf
i   sudo                            - Provide limited super user privileges to s
i   systemd                         - system and service manager                
v   telepathy-connection-manager    -                                           
idA telepathy-gabble                - Jabber/XMPP connection manager            
idA telepathy-haze                  - Telepathy connection manager that uses lib
idA telepathy-mission-control-5     - management daemon for Telepathy real-time 
idA telepathy-ring                  - GSM and 3G UMTS Telepathy connection manag
idA telepathy-salut                 - Link-local XMPP connection manager for the
idA ubuntu-release-upgrader-qt      - manage release upgrades                   
i   ufw                             - program for managing a Netfilter firewall 
i   uno-libs3                       - LibreOffice UNO runtime environment -- pub
i   update-manager-core             - manage release upgrades                   
i   update-notifier-common          - Files shared between update-notifier and o
i   ure                             - LibreOffice UNO runtime environment       
i   whoopsie                        - Ubuntu error tracker submission           
idA whoopsie-preferences            - System preferences for error reporting    
v   x-terminal-emulator             -                                           
v   x-terminal-emulator:i386        -                                           
i   x11-utils                       - X11 utilities                             
i   xauth                           - X authentication utility                  
i   xfce4-terminal                  - Xfce terminal emulator                    
i   xneur                           - in-place conversion of text typed in with 
i   zlib1g                          - compression library - runtime             
i A zlib1g:i386                     - compression library - runtime            

I had to edit some of the lines out, there's a 30,000 characters limit here, and the output was huge. Anyway, I can't imagine removing sudo, for one, would go well.

It more and more looks like I'll have to remove the unwanted packages by hand, and then apt-mark as manually installed the ones I'm not sure about, because KDE might have broken dependencies other than those of Xfce (xubuntu-desktop still directly depends on some of the packages listed above). I really don't want to do it but it's preferable to missing some essential packages or performing a clean install after trying to do it with the help of automatic tools.

What would be the fastest way to check a package? Like, build its dependecy tree or something? I suppose I can remove the packages on which nothing else depends first after identifying them with deborphan, and then gradually go up, purging their dependencies, but that'll take a lot of time.

Update #2

I think I've solved the problem, but I'll be damned if I know how I did it. I can say what I did though. I've removed both kubuntu-desktop and xubuntu-desktop (from Ctrl+Alt+F1) and autoremoved their dependencies, and then rebooted the computer. The system booted, and I've got Xfce no problem. Now, I don't know if some critically important packages are missing or not, but I've used tee this time, so I can always look up what exactly has been autoremoved. Anyway, I am going to use | tee -a <log file name> for every install and removal from now on. I really recommend anyone to do the same thing, because while /var/log/dpkg.log may be reliable, there's just too much info there.

1

Try this:

Start in text-only mode

  • Switch on your computer.

  • Press and hold the Shift key, which will bring up the Grub menu.

  • Select the line which starts with Advanced options.

  • Select the line ending with (recovery mode)

  • Your PC should display a menu with a number of options.

  • First select the option will be Enable networking

  • Then select the option will be Drop to root shell prompt

  • The PC will start in a terminal.

    Run these commands:

Mount partitions in read-write mode

mount -o remount,rw /

mount --all

Update repositories

apt-get update

Install aptitude and deborphan

apt-get install --reinstall aptitude deborphan

Eliminate all the components that are not necessary in Xubuntu

aptitude remove '?and(?reverse-depends(gnome),?not(?reverse-depends(?exact-name(xubuntu-desktop))))'
aptitude remove '?and(?reverse-depends(unity),?not(?reverse-depends(?exact-name(xubuntu-desktop))))'
aptitude remove '?and(?reverse-depends(kubuntu),?not(?reverse-depends(?exact-name(xubuntu-desktop))))'
aptitude remove '?and(?reverse-depends(kde),?not(?reverse-depends(?exact-name(xubuntu-desktop))))'

Reinstall xubuntu-desktop

apt-get install --reinstall xubuntu-desktop

Eliminate orphan packages

deborphan
apt-get --purge remove $(deborphan)
deborphan --libdevel
apt-get --purge remove $(deborphan --libdevel)
deborphan --find-config
dpkg --purge $(deborphan --find-config)

Remove unnecessary packages

apt-get autoremove

Remove downloaded packages

apt-get clean

Restart system

reboot
  • Is it really necessary to start in text-only mode? Ctrl+Alt+F1 worked the first time around, and now that I've reinstalled kubuntu-desktop both KDE and Xfce work too. The message about scanning for btrfs systems did not appear again after the reinstallation, and even if it had, my / and /home directories are mounted on btrfs partitions, both of which were operational the whole time, it was only when switched back to Ctrl+Alt+F7 that I saw that single message instead of a desktop. – Shrenostal Feb 19 '17 at 11:09
  • It is wise to work in text only mode when modifying desktops. – kyodake Feb 19 '17 at 13:00
  • If Ctrl-Alt-F1 works, there are no need to go to Rescue-mode. But never do this kind of work in a terminal-window opened with Ctrl-Alt-T!! – Soren A Feb 19 '17 at 20:42
  • Maybe... But I don't think using aptitude remove '?and(?reverse-depends(kubuntu),?not(?reverse-depends(?exact-name(xubuntu-desktop))))' is safe at all, anyway. I've run aptitude search '?and(?reverse-depends(kubuntu),?not(?reverse-depends(?exact-name(xubuntu-desktop))))' | grep -vP "^p\s+[^\s]{2,}", and updated my question. Somehow, I doubt running the first command would not remove those hundreds of packages aptitude search listed. – Shrenostal Feb 20 '17 at 17:44

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