Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

How To Restart GNOME Shell When It Freezes or Becomes Unresponsive

Ubuntu 16

In the realm of Linux desktop environments, GNOME Shell stands as one of the most popular and widely used interfaces. However, like any software, it can occasionally freeze or become unresponsive. In such situations, knowing how to restart GNOME Shell can be incredibly useful. This article will guide you through several methods to do just that.

Quick Answer

To restart GNOME Shell when it freezes or becomes unresponsive, you can use the Alt + F2 command and type ‘r’ to restart the shell. If that doesn’t work, you can try sending the SIGQUIT signal to the gnome-shell process using the terminal command ‘killall -3 gnome-shell’. If the shell is completely unresponsive, you can force restart it with ‘killall -9 gnome-shell’. Another option is to use the D-Bus interface with the command ‘dbus-send –type=method_call –print-reply –dest=org.gnome.Shell /org/gnome/Shell org.gnome.Shell.Eval string:’global.reexec_self()’. If you’re using a display manager like GDM or LightDM, you can restart it to restart GNOME Shell. Lastly, if you’re unable to access the shell or terminal, you can switch to a different TTY and run the appropriate command.

Using the Alt + F2 Command

The simplest and most straightforward method to restart GNOME Shell is by using the Alt + F2 command. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Press Alt + F2 on your keyboard. A small command dialog should appear on your screen.
  2. Type r into the dialog.
  3. Press Enter.

This command will attempt to restart the shell if it is still responsive. The r stands for ‘restart’, instructing the shell to reboot.

Using the Terminal to Send SIGQUIT Signal

If the Alt + F2 command doesn’t work, you can try sending the SIGQUIT signal to the gnome-shell process. This can be done through the terminal with the following command:

killall -3 gnome-shell

The killall command is used to terminate processes, -3 sends the SIGQUIT signal, and gnome-shell is the process we want to terminate. This method is a bit more forceful but will only terminate the shell, not your applications.

Using the Terminal to Force Restart

If the shell is completely unresponsive, you might need to use a more forceful method. Be aware, this will close all applications. Here’s the command:

killall -9 gnome-shell

In this command, -9 sends the SIGKILL signal, which forcefully terminates the gnome-shell process.

Using the D-Bus Interface

Another option is to use the D-Bus interface to restart GNOME Shell. This can be done with the following command:

dbus-send --type=method_call --print-reply --dest=org.gnome.Shell /org/gnome/Shell org.gnome.Shell.Eval string:'global.reexec_self()'

Here, dbus-send is a utility to send signals over D-Bus, --type=method_call specifies the type of message to send, --print-reply prints the reply to stdout, --dest=org.gnome.Shell specifies the destination of the message, /org/gnome/Shell is the object path, and org.gnome.Shell.Eval string:'global.reexec_self()' is the method to call.

Restarting the Display Manager

If you’re using Ubuntu GNOME with the GNOME Display Manager (GDM), you can restart it to restart GNOME Shell:

sudo service gdm restart

If you’re using a different display manager like LightDM, you can restart it with:

sudo service lightdm restart

The sudo command is used to run commands with root privileges, service is a utility to start, stop, and manage services, gdm or lightdm is the service to manage, and restart is the action to perform.

Switching to a Different TTY

If you’re unable to access the shell or terminal, you can switch to a different TTY (Teletypewriter) by pressing Ctrl + Alt + F2 (or F3 to F6). Log in and run the appropriate command mentioned above. Then switch back to the graphical interface with Ctrl + Alt + F7.

Conclusion

While GNOME Shell is a robust and reliable desktop environment, it can occasionally freeze or become unresponsive. Fortunately, there are several methods to restart it, each with its own advantages and potential side effects. Always remember to save your work before attempting to restart GNOME Shell, and use these methods with caution.

Can I use these methods to restart GNOME Shell on any Linux distribution?

Yes, these methods can be used on any Linux distribution that uses GNOME Shell as its desktop environment.

Will restarting GNOME Shell cause me to lose any unsaved work?

Restarting GNOME Shell may cause you to lose unsaved work in open applications. It is always recommended to save your work before attempting to restart the shell.

What should I do if none of these methods work?

If none of these methods work, you can try restarting your computer or contacting technical support for further assistance.

Can I use these methods to restart other desktop environments?

These methods are specifically for restarting GNOME Shell. Other desktop environments may have different methods for restarting or may not require a restart at all.

Will restarting GNOME Shell affect my system settings or configurations?

Restarting GNOME Shell should not affect your system settings or configurations. However, it is always a good idea to backup any important files or configurations before making any changes.

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