I think I know what is clobbering my Gnome
- From: John Jason Jordan <johnxj@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 4 Dec 2009 11:16:00 -0800
Resending because I hit Ctrl-Enter by mistake which sent the mail before I was
I have Gnome 2.26.3 on Fedora 11 x86_64, fresh install on reformatted hard disk
three days ago, and up to date via Update Manager.
Yesterday evening I rebooted and logged in. When Gnome came up I had no window
manager; that is metacity failed to start. However, gnome panel was working, so
I opened a terminal and launched metacity. Since then I have rebooted a couple
times, but invariably metacity does not start. Everything else is fine, but I
always have to start metacity manually after logging in.
This is the fifth time this has happened. (1) and (2) were Debian Testing, (3)
was Fedora 12, (4) was OpenSuse 11.2. Typically it happens during the second
day when I am still installing the apps I need and setting things up the way I
want them. Debian Testing, Fedora 12 and OpenSuse 11.2 all use the recently
released version of Gnome. Therefore, I assumed that my problem was a bug in
the new version, which is why I installed Fedora 11 instead of 12. However,
the events of last night lead me to a different suspect.
It is extremely difficult to pin this down. After installing a distro you spend
several days installing apps and configuring things. There are thousands of
things that happen during that time. I'd have to log out and back in again
after every single little thing in order to nail the culprit definitively. But
now I have a strong lead.
Because I hve been bit by this several times I now reboot every couple
hours, or after making enough changes that I want to be sure Gnome is still
working properly. Last night I was trying to get Rhythmbox to see the playlist
file from Rhythmbox on my desktop computer (unsuccessfully). Someone told me
that Banshee had a feature that would import a Rhythmobx playlist, so installed
Banshee. I had rebooted just before doing this, and Gnome was fine.
Several hours earlier I had installed Virtualbox from Sun, but I could
not get it to open any of my virtual machines. That is, I had three virtual
machines installed in Virtualbox on my previous distro (Jaunty), and I knew
that all I needed to do was to copy the ~./Virtualbox folder from my backups.
After installing Virtualbox it would automatically see the virtual machines and
they will just work exactly as before. However, the Sun version would not
start any of my virtual machines because it needed its own headers for my
kernel, and I couldn't get the issue resolved. So last night I
uninstalled Virtualbox from Sun and installed Virtualbox OSE 3.0.10_OSE
r5409 from the fusion repos. Virtualbox OSE would not start any guests until I
rebooted. So I rebooted, and then I landed without a window manager.
It sure looks like Virtualbox OSE is the culprit, because installing it is the
main thing I did since the previous boot. I'm pretty sure I never installed
Banshee on the previous four distro installs where the same problem popped up.
It is very likely it is one of those two, and I know I always installed
Virtualbox on the other distros.
Virtualbox OSE does start my guests and gives me no hassles about missing
kernel files. But since I really suspect it of being the cause of all my grief,
I uninstalled it and rebooted. Sadly, I still have no metacity until I launch
it manually. But that doesn't prove that Virtualbox OSE is not the culprit. Its
very possible that installing Virtualbox OSE and its dependencies messed up
something that uninstalling it did not repair.
Some additional information:
Here is the .xsession-errors file right after logging in. All I did before
opening this file was open a terminal and start metacity.
gnome-session: WARNING: Could not parse desktop
file /home/jjj/.config/autostart/xfconf-migration-4.6.desktop: Key file does
not have key 'Name' gnome-session: WARNING: could not
MCS->Xfconf settings migration complete
** (gnome-panel:3959): WARNING **: panel-applet-frame.c:1288: failed to load
applet OAFIID:TomboyApplet: (null)
Initializing nautilus-gdu extension
** (nautilus:4169): WARNING **: Unable to add monitor: Not supported
I opened the ~/.autostart/xfconf-migration-4.6.desktop file. Here are its
The word "migration" may lead people to incorrect assumptions. This is a brand
new installation of Fedora 11 after reformatting the hard disk. The only config
files I copied from old disks were .openoffice.org, .claws-mail,
mozilla, .easytag, .scribus, and .Virtualbox. I did not "migrate" any other
configurations from previous distro installations.
Shortly after installing Fedora 11 I removed the Tomboy notes icon from the
panel. I have no idea why gnome-panel is throwing a warning about it. I have
rebooted dozens of times since removing the icon without issue.
That's all I know. If anyone has any ideas, I'd sure like to hear them.
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