I was updating ubuntu from 14.04 to 16.04. Somewhere in between the system restarted and the following message came up:

The system is running in low graphics mode. Your screen, graphics card, and input device settings couldn't be detected correctly. You will need to configure these yourself

I went to failsafe recovery following the question "How to fix "The system is running in low-graphics mode" error?" but I was unable to open the terminal.

How do I fix it??

  • You said "…following the question which has been asked here before…" Please edit your question and add a link to the other question you're referring to. – Chai T. Rex Feb 20 '17 at 1:37
  • Are you using a ati radeon graphics card? – Emilio Galarraga Feb 20 '17 at 1:48
  • I think I am using nvidia. Not sure though!! I don't remember. – tattwamasi amrutam Feb 20 '17 at 1:49

Your nivdia driver/libraries are possibly conflicting with the newer X11 libraries from the upgrade. Two things to check... either logging remotely or Ctrl-Alt-F1 so you are in terminal mode.

1 - Make sure Your /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf is in good shape. If you are unsure you can reset to default.

sudo rm /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf
sudo ucf -p /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf
sudo apt-get install --reinstall lightdm

2 - Check your current nvidia drivers

sudo ubuntu-drivers devices

Look at the output and determine the recommended driver

vendor   : NVIDIA Corporation
modalias : pci:v000010DEd00000DDAsv000017AAsd000021D1bc03sc00i00
model    : GF106GLM [Quadro 2000M]
driver   : xserver-xorg-video-nouveau - distro free builtin
driver   : nvidia-304-updates - distro non-free
driver   : nvidia-304 - distro non-free
driver   : nvidia-331 - distro non-free recommended
driver   : nvidia-331-updates - distro non-free

and follow the output which could be as easy as.

sudo apt-get install nvidia-340

I myself would recommend you un-install any installed nvidia drivers if any before running ubuntu-drivers to clean out before proceeding.


I had a very similar situation when upgrading my Dell Vostro 1500 (Nvidia 8400M GS) to Ubuntu 16.04.2. There the reason was a wrong proprietary driver version. In particular, the nvidia-304 which used to work fine before needed to be replaced with the newer nvidia-340.

First find out which driver number you need. Enter your card details on the Nvidia Download page, select Linux and click "Search". It gives you the current nvidia driver number like e.g. 340.102. The first number is the number you're looking for, in this example it would be 340.

As described above press CTRL+ALT+F1 to get to the text console. Then log in and install the proper driver (use the number you got above) via:

sudo apt install nvidia-340

Now you're almost done, however there is one more important thing. If your previous driver (in my case nvidia-304) was using bumblebee and the new driver isn't, you will likely end-up in another pitfall - the infinite login loop. Therefore you need to check one more thing:

Check if bumblebee is installed:

apt list --installed | grep bumblebee

If not (empty answer from the command) make sure to delete any residual bumblebee module blacklist, which breaks the new driver and causes the infinite login loop:

sudo rm /etc/modprobe.d/bumblebee.conf

After this your graphics should work. Either reboot or restart lightdm by

sudo service lightdm restart

I solved the problem by upgrading the Linux kernel:

  1. Press CTRL+ALT+F1 to enter terminal

  2. Upgrade kernel with sudo apt-get install --install-recommends linux-generic-hwe-16.04 xserver-xorg-hwe-16.04 (This is for ubuntu 16.04 desktop, for server see https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Kernel/LTSEnablementStack).

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