Log In Problems

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This page assumes that you have the password for the user account. For instructions on resetting the password to a known value, see Lost_Password.

Login Problems

This page is about problems that can arise after your user password is accepted. The problem discussed here will have all or most of the following symptoms:

  • An abnormally long log-in time
  • Error dialog popups such as:
    • Could not update /home/USER/.ICEauthority
    • gconf-sanity-check-2 exited with status 256
  • No panels (but alt+ctrl+t and alt+F2 work)
  • No sound and inability to change sound preferences
  • Very few (if any) files beginning with . in /home/USER (check with ls -la /home/USER)

If you have only a few of these symptoms, check the section below for your actual problem (however using the fix on this page won't harm anything).

Login Looping

Exhibits as returning user to the login screen after they have logged in, exhibits across all accounts.
1. Access a Terminal screen (ctrl-alt-F11), or login via Root Shell (shift on boot, select Recovery Mode).
2. Login in as user. (If it asks for a password change, change it to "freegeek")
3. Run the command :


4. Go to system -> Administration -> Login Screen, make sure "Auto-login" is unchecked. Change it to "show the screen for choosing who will login"
5. Reboot
6. Login via normal login.

Other Related Problems

  • If there is literally no space left on the drive (or root partition), log in will complain that it can't access the user's home folder or create certain files then fail. Free some space on the drive.
  • Bad hard drive. Do you hear clicking from the drive? Did it also take a very long time to start ubuntu? Is nothing at all happening for a very long time after log in before the process resolves normally? Back up and replace the drive.
  • No /home/USER folder or /home/USER folder manually created as root or user is not in the right groups. From a root shell, create a new user:
adduser NEWUSER

and copy over the contents of the /home/OLDUSER directory:

cp -Rv /home/OLDUSER/* /home/NEWUSER/
  • Problems with individual daemons or programs. You might want to try reinstalling gdm or pulseaudio, as these are complex programs that are harder to configure than they are to use.
  • If your problem is not listed here or you find an additional solution, please add to this page!


The permissions and/or owner of the /home/USER directory are preventing programs and daemons from creating per-session configuration files. Check with:

ls -la /home

The user folders should all look like:

drwxr-xr-x USER:USER someDate USER

If they do, check the section above for your actual problem (however using the fix below won't harm anything).

Make sure each user's home folder is owned by that user:

sudo chown USER:USER /home/USER

and that it has read and execute permissions for its own user and other users:

sudo chmod 755 /home/user

Related Resources

More information on Startx[[1]].