How to reset Linux desktop environment

As you transition between systems running different versions of Linux, you may experience desktop misbehavior that is a consequence of hidden configuration files in your account imposing old settings and preferences. A solution is to eliminate old configuration files, thereby starting over with defaults.

Note: By following the procedure given below, you will lose preference customizations, such as changes to your desktop background color and image, the list of icons that appear on the desktop, and which icons appear in your panel.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Log out of the graphical desktop environment. (It is crucial that the following steps not be performed from within the graphical environment. Merely opening a Terminal window is insufficient. You must exit the graphical environment by logging out.)
  2. Press Ctrl-Alt-F1 to reach a text-only login screen.
  3. Log in to the text-only environment.
  4. After logging in, type ssh julia, and enter your password again.
  5. At the julia prompt, type lsumath-restore-desktop-defaults.
  6. Type exit to log out from julia.
  7. Type exit to log out from your local machine.
  8. Press Ctrl-Alt-F7 (or try Ctrl-Alt-F8) to return to the graphical login screen.
  9. Log in. You should have a brand new desktop.

If you're curious what the script does, log in to julia and take a look at the file /opt/bin/lsumath-restore-desktop-defaults.