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Re: Lost window manager and gnome-panel

On Tue, 24 Nov 2009 20:05:43 -0500
Chris Jones <cjns1989@gmail.com> dijo:

> On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 06:23:16PM EST, Rob Owens wrote:
> [..]
> > Somebody else mentioned it already, but I'll second it:  it is important
> > to remove/rename the .gnome, .gconf, etc. files while not logged into
> > Gnome.  In my experience they are written at logout from your Gnome
> > session, so your problems will not go away if you are in Gnome when you
> > remove/rename those files.
> Yes, I'm pretty sure of that.
> But there's also a distinct possibility that gnome keeps some user
> specific data around across sessions.
> To be on the safe side and dispel any lingering doubts as to whether
> gnome recreates your user's configuration from scratch, that's what I
> would do:
> 1. boot into Squeeze for a 'fresh start'
> 2. as soon as you see the GDM screen, drop to a linux console via an
>    Alt+Ctrl+Fn
> 3. Log in as your regular user and rename/delete your config files
> 4. Alt+F7 back to GDM and login to gnome as your regular user
> Maybe I'm paranoid, but I think that this procedure should ensure that
> gnome will no chance to tamper with the config files behind your back.
> The alternative is to mount the Squeeze partition from another system, or
> use a rescue CD - now, that's really paranoid :-)
> To the OP: I read the entire thread online, and it appears you come from
> the Ubuntu world. I've never installed Squeeze, only did a dist-upgrade
> on a sacrificial clone of lenny.. but does the install guide you through
> setting up sudo for your regular user, or do you use /bin/su? 
> Hopefully, you don't log in to gnome as the superuser?

I installed Squeeze from the netinst CD. Other than answering the
typical questions like what my time zone is, I pretty much let it take
the entire hard disk and do as it pleased.

Later, while installing things, I discovered that sudo gave an error
message that jjj (that's my regular username) was not a member of the
sudoers list. The install utillity did ask me to set up an account and
password for root, so I could always be root if I wanted. I decided to
add myself to the sudoers list rather than always having to become root
to do something. Like, for example, in the process of trying to fix the
missing window manager and gnome-panel I need to copy config files from
the account of the new user I created. 

I note that the Squeeze method is different from the Ubuntu method. The
Ubuntu install utility does not set up a root account or password, but
does automatically add the user to the sudoers list. Having used sudo a
lot over the years I have to say that it is not necessarily a bad way
to set a new user up. In Ubuntu once you give your sudo password at a
command line you can continue to give sudo commands without having to
reenter the password. But if you don't use a command with sudo for a
while eventually the system "forgets" and you have to reenter the
password. Being root or using sudo both have their place, I guess.

The only time I ever log in as root is when I use the Recovery Mode
boot option. Recovery Mode automatically leaves you at a command line,
and then I would log in as root. After all, I booted to Recovery Mode
because I needed to fix something. If I know I'm going to be doing a
lot of apt-getting and editing system config files, then it's easier
just to be root where the system is not going to forget and make me
reenter my password.

Regarding all the suggestions: There are quite a few that I am going to
try; enough that it's going to take some time. Unfotunately, I
unexpectedly had to work 10 hours today and I'm going to have to work
10 hours or more tomorrow, so I may not get back to this problem
immediately. I am currently functional as jjj logged in to Xfce4. 

I should also add that apparently I gave some people in this thread the
idea that after installing Squeeze I just copied my entire home folder
over. That is not what I did. Squeeze installed numerous programs that
I would have installed anyway had they not been part of the default
install - OOo, Inkscape, inter alia. Before launching any of them I
copied over the config file for just that app, and for any other apps
that I installed myself manually, e.g., Scribus. But the only config
files that I copied were application config files.

Then I copied over all my data files. There are no config files in any
of my data folders. 

Then I modifed the desktop manually. I never copied my old Gnome config
files. Before discovering and working on the problem I didn't even know
what the Gnome config files were. I started modifying the desktop by
adding/removing things from the panel, and I deleted the bottom panel.
Then I selected my favorite screensaver, and I selected the background
that I wanted for the desktop. I had everything looking the way I
wanted it, except for Nautilus. I tried to change the Preferences in
Nautilus only to discover that there is a bug that causes Nautilus to
crash if you click on Preferences. So I changed the Nautilus settings
with gonf-editor.

Once I had the desktop and Nautilus configured the way I wanted I
proceeded to install more apps. Each time I copied over the config file
for the app, if it had one. But I only copied the config files one at a

I got to the point where I had almost everything installed and
configured, and then I rebooted. That's when I discovered the missing
metacity and gnome-panel.

I just want to make it clear that the problem was not caused by using
one of Gnome's config files from an Ubuntu installation. 

Thanks again for all the suggestions. As soon as I have time to work on
the problem some more I'll report back, so stay tuned!

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