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Old 04-02-2012, 10:02 AM   #1
Chris.Bristol
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Missing title bars and other desktop problems


I have several odd problems with the desktop.
  • Print Screen doesn't work
  • There are no title bars, I have to run "metacity -- replace &" every time I switch on.
  • I can't add to or delete programs in Menu Editor
  • If I click on Places/Desktop etc I get the message "No application is registered as handling this file" [now sorted]
  • If I use Software Centre to install programs some do not appear on the menus.
  • I have no way of changing startup applications *
I tried doing various things to Ubuntu to get something like a Gnome 2 interface because I couldn't stand Unity, and since then tried a few distributions before deciding that Debian suited me best, and that is what I'm running now. Is it possible that this has caused the problems by leaving my configuration files in a mess? I'm assuming it is something in my home directory as reinstalling doesn't make any difference. I also assume it is something to do with Gnome or Metacity. Is there anything I can run which will clean up my configuration files for those two programs?

Since writing the above, I have discovered this file /home/chris/.gnome2-private/.xsession-errors, which contains stuff that seem to suggest a config file problem
/etc/gdm3/Xsession: Beginning session setup...
gnome-session[1983]: WARNING: Could not parse desktop file /home/chris/.config/autostart/xfconf-migration-4.6.desktop: Key file does not have key 'Name'
gnome-session[1983]: WARNING: could not read /home/chris/.config/autostart/xfconf-migration-4.6.desktop
[KEYRING LINES REMOVED]
GConf Error: Type mismatch: Expected `int' got `string' for key /desktop/gnome/peripherals/touchpad/scroll_method
GConf Error: Type mismatch: Expected `int' got `string' for key /desktop/gnome/peripherals/touchpad/scroll_method
Unable to find a synaptics device.
gnome-session[1983]: WARNING: Could not launch application '[CODE REMOVED].desktop': Unable to start application: Failed to execute child process "icedove-bin" (No such file or directory)

(polkit-gnome-authentication-agent-1:2093): GLib-GObject-WARNING **: cannot register existing type `_PolkitError'

(polkit-gnome-authentication-agent-1:2093): GLib-CRITICAL **: g_once_init_leave: assertion `initialization_value != 0' failed
Unable to open desktop file /usr/share/applications/pcmanfm.desktop for panel launcher: No such file or directory
Unable to open desktop file /usr/share/applications/google-chrome.desktop for panel launcher: No such file or directory
..
..
..

The file referred to in bold contains only:
[Desktop Entry]
Hidden=true
I have saved the whole file in case it is relevant.
-----------------------------------------------------------
*The app I am missing appears like this in Software Centre:
Window manager
The GNOME Session Manager - GNOME 2 Session

Sessions Preferences
Startup Programs/Current Session/Session Options

Last edited by Chris.Bristol; 04-06-2012 at 06:28 AM.
 
Old 04-03-2012, 08:07 PM   #2
ShadowCat8
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Well,

As long as you know that the Debian install is complete and doesn't have any broken dependencies and/or missing apps, what you can do is try creating a new user on the system, log in as that new user and see what the behavior is on that user's desktop.

If it's the same, then there definitely is an issue with the way the desktops are being configured by the system. If it works without issue, then you could try backing up all the directories in your home directory that contain any configs for the desktop (e.g. ~/.gconf[d], ~/.gnome*, ~/.config and perhaps even ~/.cache) and then clear them all by logging into the console and remove them and then log back into the desktop and let the system reconfigure your desktop for you.

HTH. Let us know.

Last edited by ShadowCat8; 04-03-2012 at 08:08 PM.
 
Old 04-04-2012, 05:44 AM   #3
Chris.Bristol
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowCat8 View Post
an issue with the way the desktops are being configured
Thanks for reading my post thoroughly and considering it properly before posting, I think you are definitely on the right track. I realise that if it works I would probably lose some of my settings - but that is a minor problem as I can easily enough redo them.

Quote:
log in as that new user
I logged in as a guest user and the problem had gone.

Quote:
backing up.....configs for the desktop.....then clear them all
I did this one at a time, afterwards replacing the originals, then I removed them all at once. Surprisingly it did not solve the problem.

I am still convinced that you are on the right track though, because logging in as a guest works, it's just that we haven't found the rogue configuration files. Have you any more suggestions of directories to experiment with?

Last edited by Chris.Bristol; 04-11-2012 at 05:41 PM.
 
Old 04-11-2012, 06:11 PM   #4
ShadowCat8
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Greetings and I apologize for the delay,

Got a bit swamped at both work and home.

But, at this point, let's stop shooting in the dark on this one and have the system tell us exactly what it is changing with that "metacity --replace" command. And, in answer to your question, I am not sure if it is a direct grab of control by another WM or if it's still just remnants of a previous configuration that metacity is *trying* to run/setup and perhaps that is what is blowing out the critical sections of the desktop. (Yes, to me, the title bars of application windows are critical components for interacting with and administrating them.)

Either way, it's time to get answers, so let's try this:
  1. As long as you can get to a terminal after logging into the desktop (either by opening one of the xterms from the desktop or from hitting 'Ctrl+Alt+F4' to get to one of the standard ttys), log into the desktop and open a terminal before doing anything else.
  2. Run the following command:
    Code:
     ~ $ ls -ldt ./.[A-z]* > ~/20120411_ls-ldt_b4--replace.txt
  3. Go ahead and run the metacity command:
    Code:
     ~ $ metacity --replace
  4. Now, run this command:
    Code:
     ~ $ ls -ldt ./.[A-z]* > ~/20120411_ls-ldt_after-replace.txt
  5. Okay, you should have 2 text files with lists of all the hidden files and folders in your home directory, sorted by "last modified" times. Check what files/folders are at the top of each of the lists. The ones at the top in the "after" list that weren't in the same (general) position as the "b4" list should be the ones that the "metacity --replace" command changed. You can double-check by the times in the listing. Those are likely the folders/files that may have the legacy configs.
To give you an idea of what this should look like, here is the top of the listing from my current Sabayon system:
Code:
 ~ $ ls -ldt ./.[A-z]*
-rw-------  1 dauser dauser 2041731 Apr 11 15:09 ./.xsession-errors
drwxr-xr-x  2 dauser dauser    4096 Apr 11 14:24 ./.gconfd
-rw-r-----  1 dauser dauser       0 Apr 11 14:24 ./.gksu.lock
-rw-r--r--  1 dauser users    14032 Apr 10 16:36 ./.viminfo
drwxr-xr-x  4 dauser users     4096 Apr 10 15:51 ./.gnupg
drwxr-xr-x  4 dauser dauser    4096 Apr 10 14:33 ./.java
-rw-------  1 dauser dauser   15183 Apr 10 14:17 ./.bash_history
-rw-r--r--  1 dauser dauser       4 Apr  4 17:09 ./.magneto.lock
drwxr-xr-x  4 dauser dauser    4096 Apr  4 17:09 ./.gconf
drwx------  2 dauser dauser    4096 Apr  4 17:09 ./.pulse
dr-x------  2 dauser dauser       0 Apr  4 17:09 ./.gvfs
drwxr-xr-x  4 dauser dauser    4096 Apr  4 16:52 ./.wine
drwxr-xr-x 12 dauser dauser    4096 Apr  4 15:50 ./.cache
drwxr-xr-x  2 dauser dauser    4096 Apr  2 17:36 ./.fontconfig
drwxr-xr-x  2 dauser dauser    4096 Apr  2 14:41 ./.gstreamer-0.10
...<snip>...
Well, I hope that will get it for you. Let us know.

Last edited by ShadowCat8; 04-11-2012 at 06:13 PM.
 
Old 04-12-2012, 09:51 AM   #5
Chris.Bristol
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowCat8 View Post
I am not sure if it is a direct grab of control by another WM or if it's still just remnants of a previous configuration that metacity is *trying* to run/setup and perhaps that is what is blowing out the critical sections of the desktop. (Yes, to me, the title bars of application windows are critical components for interacting with and administrating them.)
Agreed.

Quote:
Run the following command:
~ $ ls -ldt ./.[A-z]* > ~/20120411_ls-ldt_b4--replace.txt
I ran:
Code:
ls -ldt ./.[A-z]* > before.txt
Quote:
Go ahead and run the metacity command:
~ $ metacity --replace
I ran
Code:
 ~ $ metacity --replace &
Quote:
Now, run this command:
~ $ ls -ldt ./.[A-z]* > ~/20120411_ls-ldt_after-replace.txt
I ran:
Code:
ls -ldt ./.[A-z]* > after.txt
I then ran:
Code:
diff before.txt after.txt
The result was nothing, so the files were identical. These are the first few lines of before.txt:

drwx------ 2 chris users 4096 Apr 12 15:35 ./.gconfd
-rw------- 1 chris chris 3518 Apr 12 15:34 ./.xsession-errors
-rw-r----- 1 chris users 0 Apr 12 15:34 ./.gksu.lock
drwx------ 6 chris users 4096 Apr 12 15:34 ./.gconf
-rw------- 1 chris users 452922 Apr 12 15:34 ./.ICEauthority
-rw-r--r-- 1 chris chris 92 Apr 12 15:34 ./.dmrc
-rw------- 1 chris chris 6405 Apr 12 15:33 ./.xsession-errors.old
-rw------- 1 chris chris 99497 Apr 12 15:25 ./.recently-used.xbel
drwx------ 20 chris users 4096 Apr 12 14:47 ./.gnome2
drwxr-xr-x 69 chris users 4096 Apr 11 23:29 ./.config
-rw------- 1 chris users 11679 Apr 11 23:18 ./.bash_history
drwxr-xr-x 8 chris chris 4096 Apr 11 22:17 ./.cache
-rw-r--r-- 1 chris chris 110 Apr 11 17:52 ./.gtk-bookmarks
drwx------ 2 chris chris 20480 Apr 11 15:25 ./.pulse
drwxr-xr-x 2 chris chris 4096 Apr 4 11:59 ./.nautilus
drwxrwxr-x 2 chris users 4096 Apr 4 10:12 ./.gstreamer-0.10
 
Old 04-12-2012, 01:43 PM   #6
ShadowCat8
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Hmmmm...

Well, then let's focus on getting the answers. At this point, I can think of a few possibilities on what we can do:
  • On another shot in the dark, you can do the removal of both the .gconf and .gconfd directories again.
  • You can also check another directory; /tmp. See if the timestamps of the directories that you own under there fall in that time frame of 'Apr 12 14:47' to 'Apr 12 15:35'.
  • You can try running the 'metacity --replace' under 'strace' to see what files it is interacting with. This will give you a *lot* of output to sift through, but it will tell you every file that the command interacts with and what it is trying to do until it exits. The actual command would look something like this:
    Code:
     ~ $ strace -e trace=file -o 20120412_metacity-replace.trace metacity --replace
    What that is saying is we want to see every operation (e.g. open,stat,chmod,unlink,lstat,etc.) that takes a filename as an argument and put the results into the file "20120412_metacity-replace.trace".

At this point, I am leaning towards that last one since we know there is *something* that the replace command is changing that we are not seeing.

HTH. Let us know.
 
Old 04-12-2012, 02:12 PM   #7
Chris.Bristol
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowCat8 View Post
On another shot in the dark, you can do the removal of both the .gconf and .gconfd directories again.
No difference.
Quote:
You can also check another directory; /tmp. See if the timestamps of the directories that you own under there fall in that time frame of 'Apr 12 14:47' to 'Apr 12 15:35'.
Nothing that looks significant (I can't do a print screen remember) mostly about 'sockets'
Quote:
You can try running the 'metacity --replace' under 'strace
The output of this looks interesting - the main story seems to be "no such file or directory". There are a lot of lines so I have attached a file, note that it changes continually as the command is still running so the sample here may be different to the attached file.

execve("/usr/bin/metacity", ["metacity", "--replace"], [/* 37 vars */]) = 0
access("/etc/ld.so.nohwcap", F_OK) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
access("/etc/ld.so.preload", R_OK) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/etc/ld.so.cache", O_RDONLY) = 3
access("/etc/ld.so.nohwcap", F_OK) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/lib/libcanberra-gtk.so.0", O_RDONLY) = 3
access("/etc/ld.so.nohwcap", F_OK) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/lib/libcanberra.so.0", O_RDONLY) = 3
access("/etc/ld.so.nohwcap", F_OK) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/lib/libgtk-x11-2.0.so.0", O_RDONLY) = 3
access("/etc/ld.so.nohwcap", F_OK) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/lib/libgdk-x11-2.0.so.0", O_RDONLY) = 3
Attached Files
File Type: txt mc.txt (53.0 KB, 2 views)

Last edited by Chris.Bristol; 04-12-2012 at 02:21 PM.
 
Old 04-12-2012, 02:32 PM   #8
odiseo77
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Hi,

Have you tried renaming (or removing) the Gnome config directories from outside your Gnome session (not logged in to Gnome)? I used to have similar issues when I used Gnome and the solution was to log out to the display manager (GDM, KDM, or whatever other DM you're using), then going to a virtual console (ctrl-alt-F1) and renaming .config, .gnome* and .gconf*, so the system couldn't find them, then logged into Gnome again and started with a clean config.
 
Old 04-12-2012, 07:36 PM   #9
ShadowCat8
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Okay,

I took a look at the strace file and I notice that you are logging into the desktop as 'root'? Or was that an edit for security?

I'm just curious, since, in my book, you should never be doing much from root's desktop. I know there are a number of safety features built into many packages in linux to stop bad things from happening by making sure that root can't interact directly with them. This is why when you need root privileges/permissions, you open a new terminal and 'su -' or 'sudo'

As an example, take a look at xscreensaver. If you have a global setting to start xscreensaver, and you are under a root-controlled display (which includes the xdm login screen), xscreensaver won't start automatically and will pop-up a warning if you try to start it manually.

That having been said, though, there are a number of entries in that strace file that *do* give us some answers:
Quote:
Originally Posted by mc.txt
access("/root/.gtk-2.0/2.10.0/i486-pc-linux-gnu/modules/libcanberra-gtk-module.so", F_OK) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
...
access("/root/.gtk-2.0/i486-pc-linux-gnu/modules/libcanberra-gtk-module.so", F_OK) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
...
access("/root/.gtk-2.0/modules/libcanberra-gtk-module.so", F_OK) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
...
access("/root/.themes/Default/gtk-2.0-key/gtkrc", F_OK) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
...
open("/root/.orbitrc", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
...
chown32("/tmp/orbit-root/linc-949-0-70ee9e73945ca", 0, -1) = 0
open("/root/.themes/Clearlooks/metacity-1/metacity-theme-2.xml", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
...
open("/root/.icons/default/cursors/left_ptr", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/root/.icons/default/index.theme", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/icons/default/cursors/left_ptr", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
...
open("/root/.icons/DMZ-White/cursors/left_ptr", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
...
open("/root/.pangorc", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
...
open("/root/.icons/default/cursors/left_ptr", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/root/.icons/default/index.theme", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/icons/default/cursors/left_ptr", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/icons/default/index.theme", O_RDONLY) = 16
open("/usr/share/pixmaps/default/cursors/left_ptr", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/root/.icons/DMZ-White/cursors/left_ptr", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/root/.icons/DMZ-White/index.theme", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/icons/DMZ-White/cursors/left_ptr", O_RDONLY) = 16
open("/root/.icons/default/cursors/bottom_side", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/root/.icons/default/index.theme", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/icons/default/cursors/bottom_side", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/icons/default/index.theme", O_RDONLY) = 16
open("/usr/share/pixmaps/default/cursors/bottom_side", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/root/.icons/DMZ-White/cursors/bottom_side", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/root/.icons/DMZ-White/index.theme", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/icons/DMZ-White/cursors/bottom_side", O_RDONLY) = 16
...
So, from the previous question of what else we need to get rid of, I would think if we are having it rebuild the desktop config, the next files/directories to remove (if they exist) would be; ~/.icons, ~/.pangorc, ~/.orbitrc, ~/.themes, ~/.gtk-2.0 and /tmp/orbit-<user>.

Now, it looks like while the DMZ-White theme is there and installed, root is having an issue configuring it for it's own home directory.

At this point, I might recommend trying out LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment) for root's desktop sessions. Still has the GNOME 2.XX look and feel, but without a lot of the overhead that GNOME comes with. It's based on Openbox.

And @odiseo77: IIRC, we already went over that at the beginning with:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowCat8
If it's the same, then there definitely is an issue with the way the desktops are being configured by the system. If it works without issue, then you could try backing up all the directories in your home directory that contain any configs for the desktop (e.g. ~/.gconf[d], ~/.gnome*, ~/.config and perhaps even ~/.cache) and then clear them all by logging into the console and remove them and then log back into the desktop and let the system reconfigure your desktop for you.
HTH. Let us know.
 
Old 04-12-2012, 08:39 PM   #10
odiseo77
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowCat8 View Post
And @odiseo77: IIRC, we already went over that at the beginning (...)
You're right. I misread the thread and thought that you had suggested to rename/remove the settings directories from within Gnome (in which case the settings would have been saved at the end of the session, all the same). My bad

Cheers.
 
Old 04-13-2012, 10:11 AM   #11
Chris.Bristol
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Quote:
Originally Posted by odiseo77 View Post
Have you tried renaming (or removing) the Gnome config directories from outside your Gnome session (not logged in to Gnome)?
I can't logout - that menu option is missing and (see above) I can't add menu options. Instead I started in protected mode, removed the directories then carried on to finish the startup. It did not make any difference to the title bars.
 
Old 04-13-2012, 10:26 AM   #12
Chris.Bristol
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowCat8 View Post
I took a look at the strace file and I notice that you are logging into the desktop as 'root'?
Just dealing with this point first. You are correct, in fact I always login to a terminal as root*. Now you mention it I can see that it might make a difference to what happens because of the difference in permissions. I tried the ls again using the terminal as myself and on this occasion it did show a difference in the 'before' and 'after' files. The only difference was in the .gconf directory, the saved-state file, which is mostly incomprehensible hex. I'm not sure it helps much.


*IMHO. I can't be bothered with using the terminal as a normal user since I usually find I have to use sudo anyway. Since I have power to do an enormous amount of damage in the terminal just as myself I take great care with what I do and can't see that being root makes it a lot worse. Although because of the issue of file ownership it might be a better tactic for me not to have an ordinary user atall and to always login as root even if I'm using a GUI. No need to use sudo and no confusion about file ownership either. Linux can't be blamed for any of this since it was originally aimed at rather more important computers than my PC!

I know everybody will disagree with me on this so no need to rub my nose in the reasons why it's a bad idea!

Last edited by Chris.Bristol; 04-13-2012 at 10:41 AM.
 
Old 04-13-2012, 10:39 AM   #13
Chris.Bristol
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowCat8 View Post
the next files/directories to remove (if they exist) would be; ~/.icons, ~/.pangorc, ~/.orbitrc, ~/.themes, ~/.gtk-2.0 and /tmp/orbit-<user>.
The only ones present were .icons and .themes, removing them did not make any difference.
 
Old 04-13-2012, 10:58 AM   #14
Chris.Bristol
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShadowCat8 View Post
I took a look at the strace file and I notice that you are logging into the desktop as 'root'? Or was that an edit for security?
I've now done the strace as myself instead of root (atached). There are a few lines which look relevant.

open("/home/chris/.themes/Clearlooks/metacity-1/metacity-theme-2.xml", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/locale/en_GB.UTF-8/LC_MESSAGES/glib20.mo", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/locale/en_GB.utf8/LC_MESSAGES/glib20.mo", O_RDONLY) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/locale/en_GB/LC_MESSAGES/glib20.mo", O_RDONLY) = 16
open("/usr/share/gnome/themes/Clearlooks/metacity-1/metacity-theme-2.xml", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/gdm/themes/Clearlooks/metacity-1/metacity-theme-2.xml", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/local/share/themes/Clearlooks/metacity-1/metacity-theme-2.xml", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/themes/Clearlooks/metacity-1/metacity-theme-2.xml", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/themes/Clearlooks/metacity-1/metacity-theme-2.xml", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/home/chris/.themes/Clearlooks/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/gnome/themes/Clearlooks/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/gdm/themes/Clearlooks/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/local/share/themes/Clearlooks/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = -1 ENOENT (No such file or directory)
open("/usr/share/themes/Clearlooks/metacity-1/metacity-theme-1.xml", O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE) = 16

Last edited by Chris.Bristol; 04-15-2012 at 06:32 PM. Reason: To remove unnecessary uploaded file
 
Old 04-13-2012, 01:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
I might recommend trying out LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment)
I installed this with
Code:
sudo apt-get install lxde
I logged on and chose LXDE and the title bars were back. I also noticed that there was an option Gnome/Openbox and decided to try that and the menu bars were back, since I seemed to be on a winning streak I then tried Gnome, and the menu bars were back! (I had also tried Openbox as well.)

Using Gnome now, the title bar is thinner than before (not a problem) presumably because its size comes from a different configuration file. Print-Screen key also works.

The only remaining problem was getting the Menu Editor to work properly. I've just found this on Ubuntu Geek: right click your applications menu and hit “Edit Menus”. That works fine so I'll use that and abandon the Debian Menu Editor.

All working - thanks odiseo77 for a rational approach!

Last edited by Chris.Bristol; 04-13-2012 at 03:17 PM.
 
  


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