I rebooted and now when I log in, nothing but the wallpaper shows up.

I don't recall doing anything but installing Vivaldi lately, but I don't think that's it, so I don't know where to start.

  • I know this is basically the same I posted on Google+ already, but without a terminal there is not much you can do except using a live USB stick / CD to access your system. My answer is marked as community wiki, so anyone can edit and try to improve it.
    – quassy
    Jul 19, 2015 at 12:59
  • Do you know if Gala (the window manager) is running? Press super+↓ and see if the multitasking view (workspace switchter) comes up. If gala is running, then it means that Wingpanel and Plank (the dock) are not being started, or are failing to start for some reason.
    – RolandiXor
    Jul 20, 2015 at 3:08
  • Same issue, Gala is running though. Any fix for this? May 31, 2021 at 7:45
  • I figured it out by now. I had an old export of XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP set to GNOME from when I used i3 on Ubuntu. Wrapping that in an if-test to see if the variable is unset fixed it for me. May 31, 2021 at 11:03

2 Answers 2


I know it's pretty late already but I had the same problem and I solved it by uninstalling and reinstalling pantheon. You can access terminal at login screen by pressing ctl+alt+f1. Then login.

Uninstall pantheon:

sudo apt-get remove pantheon


sudo apt-get install pantheon

and the reboot

sudo reboot

  • Not working for me
    – Max N
    Apr 8, 2017 at 22:26

I just tried installing Vivaldi and had unmet dependencies, so maybe it is the cause of problems after all?

Use command line

Depending on where you are, you should be able to get to a terminal (called tty2 in this case) by pressing CtrlAltF2 or just AltF2. Login with your username and password.

To remove Vivaldi type sudo apt-get remove vivaldi-preview. Then reboot with sudo shutdown -r now and check if it works now.

As there is not much else known, you can also take a look in the log files by typing dmesg -l emerg,alert,crit,err | less and post the output here. (There are also quite a lot of log files in /var/log/.)

Live system

If there is no way to access the command line from your installed system an alternative is to use a live system, which will allow you to view, modify and delete the files on your harddrive. And also to make a backup of important data (especially /home/) before trying anything dangerous.

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