Ubuntu – UI elements become completely unresponsive


Many of my UI elements become completely unresponsive. This happens in both Unity and GNOME Classic.

There are lot's of examples of this, but usually only some of the UI elements are unresponsive (e.g., I can't move a window, but I can click a menu somewhere else). The system is not lagging, the UI simply doesn't work. Sometimes I can get it to work by doing something unrelated (e.g., closing one window with Alt-F4 might allow me to move another frozen window).

This begins to happen immediately after I login. The behavior is repeatable, but there are so many UI elements that turn on and off that it can get very unpredictable.

I can usually press super to get the dash and Alt-F2 to get a command prompt. Also Alt-Shift-T seems to usually work to bring up a working Terminal (at least one that accepts commands, even if I can't move the window).

Does anyone have any ideas on what might be causing this? The behavior is highly unpredictable and extremely frustrating. I should note that key commands don't always work, even though they seem to in my examples. So I don't think it's just a mouse issue.

Thanks for any help.

  • Distro 11.04. Update Manager has no available updates for my system, so I assume I'm up to date.

  • Someone on launchpad suggested checking other accounts. In fact, making a new user and logging into that account, fixes the problem there and on my original account. Deleting the user makes the problem come back.

  • There's no change when I add the edd=on parameter on boot.

Also, I have to login to the new user before the problem stops on my usual user. This works as a temporary solution, although I'd really prefer to know what's going on (now I'm really confused). Also, I don't particularly want a second account if it's unnecessary.

Does anyone know what's causing the problem and making it come back when I delete the second account?

System info:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 950
  • RAM: 8GB
  • GPU: nVidia GTX460 SE
  • Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth X58
  • Free Disk Space: 650 GB (64%) (two 2GB drives which are in a RAID 1 array)

Some other things I've tried are:

  • unity --reset
  • gconftool-2 --recursive-unset /apps/compiz-1
  • rm -rf .compiz .gnome .gnome2 .gnome2_private .gconf .gconfd .metacity

Also, I've discovered that having another user account is not enough. If I restart or even suspend my system, I need to login to the other account first before my own.

Also also, the unity --reset command segfaults when I run it through a tty. The line in the syslog concerning it is

Aug 14 11:26:43 Ubuntu-Desktop kernel: [ 217.921661] compiz[2539]: segfault at 58 ip 00007f674f345c51 sp 00007fffdfc43508 error 4 in libnvidia-glcore.so.270.41.06[7f674e3b3000+144e000]

I don't know if that will be helpful or not, but I thought it was weird.

I seem to have the same problem as poster #9 here. That is, I have the nvidia advanced graphics drivers installed, but the additional drivers pane says they aren't in use. I'm confused by this though, since the driver description says they're needed to run Unity. So either the description is wrong, or they are indeed in use. I still don't know if this is related to my current issue, particularly because I didn't change the drivers at all, and the same configuration exists on the new user account where things are fine.

Edit: I deleted a compiz-1 folder from ~/.config/ to no avail. There was no compiz folder there.

I don't think the nvidia issue is related. I've updated my graphics drivers to version 280.13, which is the latest from nvidia. On fossfreedom's suggestion I uninstalled those and installed the 173 drivers despite not supporting my graphics card. Predictably, I got no graphics and used single user mode to update my graphics again.

More pressingly, I've discovered that the secondary user doesn't solve the problem as I previously thought. The first user to log in (no matter which user it is) has the issue. The second user to log in fixes the problem for both users. Previously I had always logged into my own account and then logged into another, so I never noticed this.

This new development means that I can't carry out my previous plan of switching to a new user account. At this point, I'm pretty close to reinstalling. I have another harddrive in the mail that will be large enough to back up all my data completely.

But please, if anyone has any more ideas, tell me. I don't really want to reinstall if I don't need to do so.

Best Answer

I would consider doing a memtest and maybe a badblocks scan on your drive. The processor and memory are what draw your desktop or GUI items. Therefore I'd rule those out before we start pionting fingers at your desktop managers. Since both Gnome and Unity are acting up I find hardware a much more likely factor.

Sorry for posting an answer, but I do not have the ability to post comments yet.

Anyway, there is a memtest86+ test on any Ubuntu install cd or usb drive. I'd go with that first.


Seems like migrating to a new user account would be the best test as of right now. Something could just be corrupt from install and reverting when you delete the new user, I don't really know. But you can try this:

usermod -m -d /home/jerry -l jerry tom
### gone ###
ls /home/tom
### as it moved to ###
ls /home/jerry

This command gets rid of the user "tom" and moves everything to the user "jerry". The ls commands are just to double check your work, listing the new available directory, and the first one should give you an error as it no longer exists.

source: http://www.cyberciti.biz/faq/ubuntu-linux-howto-rename-user-account/

Hopefully if you move everything from your current account to a new one, you can have just one account without all the problems.