Kubuntu 13.04 Black Screen After Login Fix

Kubuntu 13.04 Black Screen After Login Fix

Recently I upgraded my Kubuntu 12.10 install to Kubuntu 13.04. I had been told this was a fairly smooth upgrade and since I waited a couple of months after the release to do the upgrade, I figured I was in pretty good shape. I was wrong. The upgrade went smoothly enough, but after rebooting I ran into issues. I reached the LightDM login screen with no issues and logged in as normal. I got the pretty Kubuntu splash screen with all the pretty icons. Then I got nothing but a black screen and a cursor. Obviously the graphical components were working, but the desktop was not loading correctly. After some searching online I found that this had become a common problem. It wasn’t necessarily due to the upgrade either. It seems like many other people are having this issue after a more recent update.

After spending a few hours trying various fixes all the way from reinstalling the kubuntu-desktop package to reconfiguring which desktop manager was in use to reinstalling various packages and drivers, I finally tried something quite a bit simpler and met with success.

While looking for answers I stumbled upon a relatively unrelated topic about restoring the default KDE desktop in an older version of Kubuntu. I figured I might as well try that and see what happened even though none of the information I’d come across concerning the particular problem I was having mentioned this as a possible fix. It turned out to be the fix for me though. The problem was a corrupted, or at least an incompatible, desktop configuration. The solution was to simply delete my desktop configuration and let Kubuntu restore the default desktop. This is relatively simple to do and only takes a few minutes. I’ll walk you through the process in the following mini-guide.

1) Once you log in and get to the black screen with a mouse pointer you’ll be at a stand still. You need to get to a text shell instead of the GUI. To do this press Ctrl+Alt+F2. Login with your username and password. You’ll then be at a command line.

2) Lets try the least invasive approach first, removing just the configuration files that concern the KDE appearance settings. Type the following:

sudo rm -rf .kde/share/config/plasma-*

You’ll need to enter your password again for this first command using the sudo prefix. This command should have deleted the configuration files involving the KDE appearance settings.

3) To see if this resolved your problem type the following at the command line:

sudo reboot

4) Once you are back to the login screen, login as normal and see if you have a functional desktop. If so then your problem is fixed. You will have to redo any customizations you had on your desktop as you are now using a fresh default desktop.

5) If the above did not work then you can try removing the entire set of KDE configuration files. Return to the command line with Ctrl+Alt+F2 again and type the following command:

sudo mv ~/.kde ~/.kde.old

This command will rename the directory containing your configuration files. This will allow KDE to recreate fresh files but also provide a backup of the configuration in case you need to restore them. To restore the files you would type the following commands:

sudo rm ~/.kde
sudo mv ~/.kde.old ~/.kde

6) Once again reboot the machine with the following command and login to see if it worked.

sudo reboot

Hopefully one of these methods will work for you. If not, then your problem lies with something other than the desktop configuration files.

Thanks for reading.

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    • Mark
    • July 3, 2013

    Good stuff! I ran into this issue this morning after rebooting, the first part of your suggested fix worked like a charm! Thanks again!

    1. Reply

      I’m glad it helped. It drove me crazy for a few hours.

    • John
    • September 22, 2014

    Removing the appearnace configuration worked for me. However, I still seem to get the black screen anytime I make changes to the task manager panel (at the bottom of the screen) and reboot. So I’m forced to remove the appearnace configuration each time. I’m going to try to delete all of the configurating files to see if it works, as I haven’t tried that yet.

    One thing worht noting is I installed the Kubuntu desktop alongside the full Ubuntu install which used Unity. Maybe that’s related? I noticed there was also a change in coloring in Unity that shouldn’t be there. I also noticed problems with my trash bin which I had to fix by changing permissions.

    I wonder if a fresh install of Kubuntu without it being alongside Unity would fix this?

    I really like Kubuntu more than Unity but I can’t suffer these problems I’m having.

    1. Reply

      Sometimes a fresh install can work wonders. I had Ubuntu Studio originally and they forked away from the desktop they were using when I did the 13.04 upgrade. That made a real mess of everything. I installed the KDE desktop afterwards and it cleared up most of my problems except for this one. I’ve since upgraded the Kubuntu 14.04 and that went pretty well flawlessly, plus it’s an LTS version so if you are doing a fresh installed that is the version I’d recommend.

    • asd
    • September 25, 2014

    Thank you very much, I’ve spent two days searching for a solution, and yours worked!!! You’re great 🙂

    1. Reply

      Glad it helped.

    • Winchy
    • October 6, 2014

    Thanks for the post. The first solution worked for me. You failed to mention I was going to loose everything my workbench had. Took all the icons and background away. Just so everyone else knows if it is important to them. I can live with it.

    1. Reply

      Sorry for the confusion, but that’s what I meant by a fresh desktop. Deleting the config file puts you to a fresh desktop with nothing but the defaults on it.

    • Andrey Zloy
    • April 4, 2015


    • yeah
    • July 27, 2015

    Second method worked as charm. Thanks

    • Nate P.
    • April 9, 2016

    Thank you so much! I have just wasted the last 7 hours of my day trying to fix this problem. Your solution worked the first try.

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