GNOME not loading solution

The GNOME desktop environment is a popular graphical interface for just about any Linux system. When using GNOME, you may run into an error where it does not load. There can be many causes for this, such as a bad desktop extension, conflicting package or software update, etc.

These errors most commonly manifest as a blank, black screen, with the mouse cursor visible. Regardless of the cause, there are a few solutions that users can try in order to get their GNOME desktop loading again. In this tutorial, we will show several methods to fix a GNOME desktop environment installation that is refusing to load.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • Several solutions for the GNOME desktop not loading
GNOME not loading solution
GNOME not loading solution
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Linux distro
Software GNOME desktop environment
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

GNOME not loading solutions

The methods below assume that your desktop environment is not loading, and instead showing a black screen. However, many of these methods can also be used to fix other kinds of GNOME issues, such as one where your GUI commonly becomes sluggish or unresponsive. The solutions below can cover a wide variety of errors, so you should run through these methods to try and find the right one for your system.

Typically, these should work on any Linux distro, but there is potential for some varying results, depending on your distribution, display manager, and system hardware.

  1. The first method to try is to access a different TTY console. This can be achieved by using the Ctrl + Alt + F2 keyboard combination. You should also try different function keys like F3 and F4 to access other TTY consoles. This may not offer a permanent solution, but could be a temporary workaround to at least make the GNOME login prompt appear. It also may allow you to access a command prompt so you can try some of the commands below.
  2. Another solution is to access a command prompt from another TTY session and execute one or both of the following commands to restart logind and the GNOME display manager.
    $ sudo systemctl restart systemd-logind
    $ sudo systemctl restart gdm

    However, if you have deployed LightDM display manager, in that case execute:

    $ sudo systemctl restart lightdm

  3. In case a faulty setting or desktop extension is causing the problem with GNOME loading, you can reset all of GNOME’s settings with the following dconf command. Note: only execute this command if you are okay with having ALL of your GNOME desktop settings reset, including wallpapers, icons, shortcuts, etc.
    $ dconf reset -f /org/gnome/
  4. If you are receiving an error regarding your GNOME session, you can try reinstalling the gnome-session package. This should reset all associated settings. The following command is for the apt package manager, but you can adapt it if you are running a different distribution.
    $ sudo apt install --reinstall gnome-session
  5. On Arch Linux and derivative distributions, editing the mkinitcpio.conf configuration file has helped some users. Open the file below with nano or your preferred text editor:
    $ sudo nano /etc/mkinitcpio.conf

    And add the following line to the file:

  6. If the above solutions have not worked for you, there is always the nuclear option. That is, to reinstall GNOME completely. For example, the following two commands would do the job on Debian-based distributions, including Ubuntu.
    $ sudo apt purge gnome-session gdm3
    $ sudo apt install gnome-session gdm3


If you have no luck with the above solutions, check out our troubleshooting guide on Ubuntu black screen solution.

Closing Thoughts

In this tutorial, we saw several solutions for the GNOME desktop environment not loading on a Linux system. One method that should always work, at least as a temporary solution, is to use another TTY session. When all else fails, reinstalling GNOME will give you all fresh settings and should get things working again. Hopefully, though, one of the simpler and less-invasive options above can get your GNOME loading in again.

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