Linux, empty menus

If, after a successfull login, the menus appear without text or do not appear at all you can still login on a text-console and perform some commands that can remedy the most common problems:

  • Quota expired
  • Locks not released by gconfd

You will probably not be able to start a browser for this page but you may do so at the public PC's at the helpdesk or remember having read this page.

Using a text-console

You will not be able to open a shell-session so you will need to open a text-console. To open a text-console, press


and login with your Unix-account.


Check your quota with

dur -q

If the output indicates that your home-directory quota is expired, you will have problems starting Gnome. To find the biggest files and directories, use commands

dur -f > /tmp/dur.f
dur -d > /tmp/dur.d

and inspect the temporary files. If you cannot create enough space by removing files you can ask more quota at the helpdesk.

gconfd and locking

The nice thing about gconfd is that changes in settings apply immediately to all applications that depend on them, that is, without restarting those applications. See also the gconf homepage.

The disadvantage is that gconfd depends on lockfiles in homedirectories, that is, over NFS, which does not always work after gnome or your PC has crashed.

The files involved are:


.gconf/%gconf-xml-backend.lock/ior .gconf/%gconf-xml-backend.lock/.nfsXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

that is, the ior files are the locked files and the .nfs-files are needed to implement locking.

You can remove these files manually or restart gconfd using:

gconftool-2 --shutdown
gconftool-2 --spawn

You may find it easier to remember:


which does the same thing.


If gconfdrestart does not help you will need to restart your gnome-session.

This will kill all your applications without warning.

Remember that you can login using a text-console after typing


To kill your gnome-session:

pkill -x gnome-session

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