With that said, I have a a bit of an ax to grind with Canonical. After first booting up my brand new Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy Heron) desktop/development server and logging in and starting the Gnome desktop, the Update Manager indicated I should upgrade some software. I was of course expecting this. What I wasn’t expecting was 500+ pairs of language packs—some I’d never even heard of. There are a number of reasons this annoyed me. For one, other than my native English and perhaps some languages I’m at least familiar with (Spanish, French, German, etc.) there was no need to waste CPU or my time, god only knows how much disk space, and, worst of all, I knew that in certain applications if you selected a menu (the Firefox spell checker came to mind) you’d end up with and option list from here to Auckland. So I spent the better part of half an hour unchecking all these language pack updates and ran the updater on the rest. That seemed reasonable, if a tad bit tedious.
But oh no, the next day Update Manager was back with a vengeance, once again suggesting I install all these language packs. This time I relented, but waited until just before bed to run the damn thing. I know what you’re thinking, I’ll get to that in a moment.
Call me a n00b, but it wasn’t until after all of this and doing some research that I realized I could use the Language Support tool to disable all of these obscure (at least to me) languages. If you’re wondering why Maori is checked in the screenshot, well, a weak attempt at humor I suppose.
The Agony of the Desktop
Okay, now comes the really strange, and by far the most frustrating part. After all of this was said and done, at least in my mind, I wanted to move the new machine from its temporary digs to my office and add it to the network. This of course entailed shutting the server down, which I am loathe to do with any Unix-like machine. I would prefer the sucker to hum along nicely for a good long while barring any catastrophies like a power outage that lasts longer than a UPS. But it needed to be done, so move it I did. With everything ready to go, I booted it back up, got my Gnome login screen, and then nothing. Just a blank screen, save for the default butternut squash colored background. No menu panel, no Hardy Heron desktop background image, nothing. I sat there and stared at it, dumbfounded.
It Gets Stranger
Finally, after a bit a gray rectangle, that was obviously the beginnings of a window of some kind, appeared in the upper left corner of the screen. Only no window, just the metrics of one. I assumed this was X11 trying to tell me something, but what it was at first remained a mystery. So I tried C+A+B to restart the display manager—same thing. Then I tried C+A+F1, waited for a bit, then C+A+F7, and waited at the squash screen a little longer staring at the gray box. Finally, an error window appeared:
There was an error starting the GNOME Settings Daemon
WTF? Even stranger, after I dismissed this error dialog my panel icons mysteriously had changed, but after a few minutes, poof! They changed back. So, naturally, it was time to fire-up Firefox and visit good old Uncle Google. After searching and reading I found the page I was looking for and it made perfect sense in hindsight. I, of course, had shot myself in the foot when I was configuring my network interfaces.
Always, always, make sure you have the loopback (lo) configured properly and you can ping yourself. In /etc/network/interfaces:
# loopback interface auto lo iface lo inet loopback
127.0.0.1 localhost lo [hostname]
Where [hostname] makes you happy. Restart networking:
$ sudo /etc/init.d/networking restart
$ ping -c4 lo PING localhost (127.0.0.1) 56(84) bytes of data. 64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.030 ms 64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.027 ms 64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.027 ms 64 bytes from localhost (127.0.0.1): icmp_seq=4 ttl=64 time=0.028 ms --- localhost ping statistics --- 4 packets transmitted, 4 received, 0% packet loss, time 2997ms rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 0.027/0.028/0.030/0.001 ms
Finally, restart the display manager aka Gnome desktop to make sure…problem solved. Phew!