XFCE window manager misbehaving after system upgrade

After performing an upgrade to my laptop (including a kernel upgrade), I rebooted and found my window manager misbehaving. Let me describe the symptoms:

  • Login screen shows up fine
  • After logging in, I get a totally black screen with a mouse cursor
  • Keyboard shortcuts work (like Ctrl-Alt-T to open a terminal), but opened applications show up in the top-left corner without a border

I rebooted, and got different behavior

  • After logging in, I get a background image and desktop icons, but no panel and keyboard shortcuts (such as Ctrl-Alt-T) no longer work. But I can right-click on the desktop and click "Open terminal here".

Rebooting again and logging in then resulted in the black screen.

I tried searching for solutions, and most I found suggested to open a pty and call startx or startxfce4. These do not help me as windows are able to be launched, just not with borders.

I am not exactly a linux newbie, but I kind of am when dealing with window manager and graphics problems. Any pointers in which log files to review or commands to try would be appreciated.

I also tried looking into reverting my kernel version and it seems that it may be a complicated process because a non-trivial amount of packages depend on the kernel and would also need to be downgraded. I would feel more comfortable going that route with some guidance.

Thank you!

Why the need to downgrade the kernel you're running when you can pick (or install) a different one? What kernel are you running?

uname -a

inxi -Fxxxza --no-host | curl -F 'f:1=<-' ix.io

(share the link :wink:)

As of now, I'm not certain that it is a kernel problem. I don't know how to find out.

$ uname -a
Linux yoga-manjaro 4.9.218-1-MANJARO #1 SMP PREEMPT Thu Apr 2 16:34:49 UTC 2020 x86_64 GNU/Linux
$ inxi -Fxxxza --no-host | curl -F 'f:1=<-' ix.io
http://ix.io/2hih

(that's some pretty black magick cscs :slight_smile:)

4.9 is pretty old though.
Might as well attempt with one of the newer LTSs (4.19 or 5.4)
(and lets make sure of updates first - sudo pacman-mirrors -f && sudo pacman -Syyu )

mhwd-kernel -i linux419

[ ah the ix.io stuff was just in case it was difficult to post output here .. you can see a list of similar ones at these threads;
No-Install public command-line pastebin services , No-Install public command-line file sharing services ]

Thanks cscs. I followed that step, rebooted, and it still says kernel 4.9. I redid that step (reinstalling that kernel), and saw messages saying things like "updating grub". You can see the output below

:: Synchronizing package databases...
downloading core.db...
downloading extra.db...
downloading community.db...
downloading multilib.db...
downloading arch4edu.db...
resolving dependencies...
looking for conflicting packages...

Packages (3) linux419-4.19.114-1  linux419-bbswitch-0.8-104  linux419-headers-4.19.114-1

Total Installed Size:  165.42 MiB
Net Upgrade Size:        0.00 MiB

checking keyring...
checking package integrity...
loading package files...
checking for file conflicts...
checking available disk space...
:: Processing package changes...
reinstalling linux419...
reinstalling linux419-bbswitch...
reinstalling linux419-headers...
:: Running post-transaction hooks...
(1/4) Arming ConditionNeedsUpdate...
(2/4) Updating module dependencies...
(3/4) Updating linux initcpios...
==> Building image from preset: /etc/mkinitcpio.d/linux419.preset: 'default'
  -> -k /boot/vmlinuz-4.19-x86_64 -c /etc/mkinitcpio.conf -g /boot/initramfs-4.19-x86_64.img
==> Starting build: 4.19.114-1-MANJARO
  -> Running build hook: [base]
  -> Running build hook: [udev]
  -> Running build hook: [autodetect]
  -> Running build hook: [modconf]
  -> Running build hook: [block]
  -> Running build hook: [keyboard]
  -> Running build hook: [keymap]
  -> Running build hook: [resume]
  -> Running build hook: [filesystems]
  -> Running build hook: [fsck]
==> Generating module dependencies
==> Creating gzip-compressed initcpio image: /boot/initramfs-4.19-x86_64.img
==> Image generation successful
==> Building image from preset: /etc/mkinitcpio.d/linux419.preset: 'fallback'
  -> -k /boot/vmlinuz-4.19-x86_64 -c /etc/mkinitcpio.conf -g /boot/initramfs-4.19-x86_64-fallback.img -S autodetect
==> Starting build: 4.19.114-1-MANJARO
  -> Running build hook: [base]
  -> Running build hook: [udev]
  -> Running build hook: [modconf]
  -> Running build hook: [block]
  -> Running build hook: [keyboard]
  -> Running build hook: [keymap]
  -> Running build hook: [resume]
  -> Running build hook: [filesystems]
  -> Running build hook: [fsck]
==> Generating module dependencies
==> Creating gzip-compressed initcpio image: /boot/initramfs-4.19-x86_64-fallback.img
==> Image generation successful
(4/4) Updating Grub-Bootmenu
Generating grub configuration file ...
Found background: /usr/share/grub/background.png
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-4.19-x86_64
Found initrd image: /boot/intel-ucode.img /boot/initramfs-4.19-x86_64.img
Found initrd fallback image: /boot/initramfs-4.19-x86_64-fallback.img
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-4.9-x86_64
Found initrd image: /boot/intel-ucode.img /boot/initramfs-4.9-x86_64.img
Found initrd fallback image: /boot/initramfs-4.9-x86_64-fallback.img
Found Windows Boot Manager on /dev/sda1@/efi/Microsoft/Boot/bootmgfw.efi
Found Manjaro Linux (17.1.10) on /dev/sda8
Found memtest86+ image: /boot/memtest86+/memtest.bin
done

However, when I look at the entries in my grub menu, I do not see the 4.19 entry. I only see an entry for 4.9. While I wait for a response, I'll be searching what could cause that and perhaps browse my generated grub config. It might be related to my problem, or it might be some totally new problem.

Thanks

I think I have an idea of what's happening with the kernel versions. I have another partition of Manjaro that I abandoned a while back when I couldn't get it working right. I decided to try another reinstall (on a separate partition for safety), and have forgotten about it since this new install worked so well for over a year.

I believe the first Manjaro is the one that manages the grub menu. I'll try booting into it and updating the grub menu there (even if it doesn't boot all the way, I hope I can get to a terminal). If that solves the problem, I'll look into how to move to this new partition for the system's grub menu, and finally rid myself of that old manjaro installation.

It seems to find both.
At grub you should be able to select .. maybe by hitting Shift or Esc during boot if you dont see it.

Well, I booted into my other Manjaro partition (which actually was a newer Manjaro), and updated grub. I rebooted and voila, the 4.19 kernel was visible. I rebooted and everything seems to be working.

For documentation sake, I did the following in the other Manjaro partition:

sudo update-grub

Now I'm going to do some research on how to get this Manjaro installation to manage the grub menu (instead of the other one). Then I can nuke that other partition.

This was a weird problem. Thank you so much for pointing me in the direction of trying a new kernel. That was key to finding out it was a grub problem (I think).

Cheers!

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