Technology, Ubuntu

How to Fix Lost Launcher and Desktop on Ubuntu 14.04

Logged into your Ubuntu 14.04 computer and all you see is the desktop background and can’t do anything?  Thinking that you have to totally wipe everything to fix?  Think again.  I found the solution.

After much time and fear that I was going to have to spend time backing up stuff via live boot disk or command line, I thankfully came across this post showing how to do it but the solution was actually found deep in the comments by a chap named Daniel.   Here is Daniels solution and I have added one more tip at the end and added my comments in [comment brackets]:


  • Enter Ctl+Alt+F1

[this gets you to a terminal because normal ctl + alt + T doesn’t work]

  • $ sudo apt-get install gnome-panel

[installs the old-skool ugly-but-reliable k-car gnome]

  • $ sudo mv ~/.Xauthority ~/.Xauthority.backup

[this is greek to me]

  • Reboot

[I used this command: sudo reboot now]

  • select gnome login instead of ubuntu default after writing your password to login.

[ you select it by clicking on icon where you enter user/login and hit drop down]

  • once logged in open a terminal Ctrl + T

[for me i had to choose terminal from applications on top menu…. but maybe this keyboard short cut works for you?]

  • $ dconf reset -f /org/compiz/
  • $ setsid unity
  • Reboot again

[I used this command: sudo reboot now]

After that I could enter in ubuntu default login normally


NOTE: after all this is done, you might want to uninstall gnome-panel because you don’t need it anymore with:

sudo apt-get remove gnome-panel

But if you are too busy like me, you just have to remember that when you hit your login screen at the reboot at the end, that you have to switch back to unity or it will be ugly again.


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12 thoughts on “How to Fix Lost Launcher and Desktop on Ubuntu 14.04

    1. Glad it helped, man. I try to post anything and everything that might spare someone my pain. That’s the one benefit of the worldwide webs

  1. After Trying many solutions in other threads and posts, this did the trick.
    Install old gnome and then resting compiz actually works, Thanks!

    1. Although I’m glad you found a solution I must boldly disagree with your course of action. I had an old laptop and basically was forced to use Ubuntu MATE (gnome) and it felt like the biggest step backwards in Ubuntu that I had taken in 10 years. I will *never* go back to gnome nor would I recommend anyone go back to gnome unless you have an old computer that cannot support the excellent advancements of unity.

  2. Ubuntu xfce desktop initially not responding. After boot it went totally missing. Following instructions from net and installing fixes led to configuration changes but no improvement. Booted into emergency mode and with lots of guessing and luck got it back with desktop not working.

    Searched for hours through App manager and found the app I needed was already installed.

    TRY this FIRST: (xfdesktop 4)

    terminal command: xfdesktop

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