Black Screen with Cursor after Login in Ubuntu 13.10

Posted on 2014-01-17
Last Modified: 2014-01-19
I'm having an issue with my Ubuntu machine that I can't seem to find the cause of.  

After I login to Ubuntu with my password the screen goes black for 3 to 8 seconds or so before displaying the Ubuntu desktop.  I can still see my cursor but that's it.

This started happening when I stopped using the IGP and put in a low end video card (Nvidia 310) and switched to using the proprietary drivers from the software and updates section of Ubuntu.  The card had some issues so I removed it, and replaced it with a AMD 7770 I had.  Again I instead the proprietary drivers for AMD but I still got the same issue.  Black screen for a few seconds after log in.  I decided to go back to using the IGP.  I uninstalled all NVidia and AMD drivers by using "apt-get remove --purge" but the problem persisted.

I've tried uninstalling and reinstalling unity, and xserver-xorg, but the problem persists. I'm still a novice when it comes to Linux.  Any help on how to fix this would be appreciated.
Question by:RyanHartwick
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LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 39790133
Try sshing into the system and see if there is a similar delay. The computer is doing something for these 3-8 seconds, and you shouldn't assume it has anything to do with X

anything show up in dmesg or /var/log/messages  ?

Certainly wrong drivers can't help, but I would expect it to not work at all rather than have a 3-8 second delay.
LVL 35

Expert Comment

by:Duncan Roe
ID: 39790166
My system starts in console mode and I always get a black screen for a few seconds when I type startx. I just thought it was normal. But that is actually starting X. Is X started when you get your Login prompt?

Author Comment

ID: 39791010
I'm sorry I'm a bit of a Linux novice.  I'm not sure which switch to use in conjunction with dmesg in order to get the info you are looking for, and I don't see a folder or file named "message" in the var/log folder.

I'm not sure if x is started before or after I log in.  The login page is graphical though if that helps.
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LVL 47

Accepted Solution

David earned 250 total points
ID: 39791061
type in dmesg from the console (no options), and then also type in
cat /var/log/messages

Open in new window

The techniques at least I would use would require looking at startup sequences, edit the startup daemon shell scripts and add checkpoint timestamps to append to end of a /tmp/startupprogress.log, when they begin and end, and you'd have to make some modifications to your .profile and X files.   As these can change depending on the flavor of LINUX, and I have no idea the specifics of your config, I can't walk you through it.

My suggestion, if this information doesn't give you enough to go on to identify where things are hanging, then find a local linux person and offer them $50 to swing by some time and fix it.

The problem is that there are so many possibilities it is just impractical to attempt this sort of problem solving without a solid foundation. There is no magic command to figure out what problem is or fix it.  Sometimes there is, but not in this case.  So my formal answer is if you want it fixed pay somebody to spend 30 mins to an hour to just go on your system and try to solve it.
LVL 35

Assisted Solution

by:Duncan Roe
Duncan Roe earned 250 total points
ID: 39791313
If the login page is graphical then X is started. Did you actually mean you have a black screen or a blank screen? (Mine is black, although there is sync from somewhere (monitor power light stays blue)).
It sounds as though your new login process is taking a long time. Speculating as to why that should be is almost pointless. Until you have gained more Linux experience, you could either pay someone to look at the delay as dlethe suggests, or live with it for now. After all, how often do you log in?
LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 39791344
... or to even be more blunt, get some perspective.  I'm betting you've spent hours on this in an effort to save 2 seconds a day.  

You've probably spent 10 years worth of 2 second delays and still have nothing to show for it.

Author Comment

ID: 39792113
Thanks for the input.  I did do some searching using Google with this topic in conjunction with making this thread.  Seems to be an issue others are reporting as well with Ubuntu 13.10.  

I assumed perhaps I had done something wrong when installing/removing the NVidia and AMD drivers as that is when the issue surfaced and it wasn't happening before but there were some system updates that happened during that time as well, so it may just be the norm right now given what I have running on that machine.

While I understand that it can be frustrating for veterans of Linux to attempt to help someone with very little experience, I still don't appreciate being told that maybe I should just pay someone to help. Especially on a forum where I do pay a subscription.  I wasn't looking for anyone to hold my hand, just some guidance to get me going in the right direction.

Since I am new to using Linux, I want to understand why and how things are happening.  I could have easily put a Windows machine in its stead, but specifically chose not to in order to learn.  The issue isn't major, but more something that peaked my curiosity. Since I do pay for this tool I thought, why not take a quick check over here to see if it is something simple I'm missing?

I will take a look at the information you provided and I do appreciate the time taken to read and respond.   Thank you.
LVL 47

Expert Comment

ID: 39792239
I understand Ryan, but here is the cold truth.  Some things can be fixed by a few commands, other things require deep diagnosic work.  All your startup procedures are SPECIFIC to your hardware, your version of linux, your patch level, and the programs you install.

Unless somebody with the proper skills and experience is logged onto your machine, then it just won't happen.  The log files alone are several megabytes long, and I can't tell you what to look for, it is more like I will know it if I see it.

Your problem is basically, "My computer is slow, please tell me how to fix it", using a configuration that is unique to you.

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