Upgraded to Wheezy and Desktop is crippled.

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Upgraded to Wheezy and Desktop is crippled.

Postby bear » November 23rd, 2011, 5:19 pm

Hi. I recently updated from Squeeze to Wheezy, and now my desktop manager appears to be crippled.

All of the desktop applets (trash can, browser launcher, home folder shortcut, everything else that was on the desktop) disappeared. And I can't seem to put any icons on the desktop to replace them.

There used to be a menu that came up when you right-moused on the desktop that would allow you to configure things like your screensaver or background image. That's gone too.

The bar at the top, which used to show a bunch of menu items, now just has "applications" and "places". By dragging from "applications" and its submenus, I was able to put some launchers up there (for Terminal, Icedove, Iceweasel, Rhythmbox), and they work. So, I was encouraged and I tried to make launchers for the trash applet and the character picker by dragging from /usr/lib/gnome-applets. These don't work. So I right-moused on them to delete them (used to be on the right-mouse menu for those things) and there's no option to delete. Also, no response to the delete key when they are selected. There's just "Launch" (which works on the items I created by dragging menu items and probably doesn't work here because I made the shortcut to the wrong thing) and "properties" which brings up a dialog that does not have "delete" as an option.

The bar at the bottom, which shows running programs, used to be dockable, so that I could, eg, move it to the side of the screen if I wanted more vertical space. It isn't dockable anymore. Also, it's no longer responsive to left-mouse or right-mouse buttons, unless you click it in one of the areas it uses to show a particular application.

I figured that Wheezy might be using some not-ready-for-primetime desktop manager, so I went and installed xdm, fwvm, and a couple others and tried those. These change the look of running apps slightly but don't fix my desktop woes.

So.... I am frustrated. Something is wrong with my desktop configuration and I can't figure out what. And I'm not going to be able to put a bookmark to this forum on my desktop, so I'm going to have to put it in the browser's "Bookmarks" menu instead.

Has anybody seen these symptoms before? More importantly, does anybody know how to fix them?

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Re: Upgraded to Wheezy and Desktop is crippled.

Postby jheaton5 » November 23rd, 2011, 5:51 pm

You did not say what Desktop Environment (DE) you are using, but it appears that you are using gnome. There are others here who are using squeeze and maybe some are using gnome. But I think gnome3 is still migrating into squeeze and the migration is not complete. You may want to change to a different DE such as Xfce or Lxde.

Edit: I meant wheezy instead of squeeze.
Last edited by jheaton5 on November 23rd, 2011, 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Upgraded to Wheezy and Desktop is crippled.

Postby traveler » November 23rd, 2011, 5:56 pm

Not that it helps you now, but apt-listbugs might have helped you avoid such breakage. The gnome transition is going to be a bumpy ride.
I just got kicked out of McDonalds...
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Re: Upgraded to Wheezy and Desktop is crippled.

Postby bear » November 23rd, 2011, 6:29 pm

Got it in one.

Yes, in the process of upgrading to Wheezy, I upgraded from Gnome2 to Gnome3.

And it looks like Gnome3 is not ready for prime time. Maybe I will try KDE instead.

On the plus side? I have a Gateway laptop with a particular hardware buffer at an address different from most, and this is the first Debian that has picked it up automatically instead of requiring me to patch the hardcoded-and-wrong address in the binary of the driver. So the default sound config (and things that depend on it like, say, displaying flash applets in browsers) work right out of the box now.

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Re: Upgraded to Wheezy and Desktop is crippled.

Postby bear » November 23rd, 2011, 8:52 pm

Okay, after some more investigation, I found it. And since this thread is going to come up on searches when people have this problem in the future, I'm going to post the workaround.

The reason all these things went away is because they are, by default, disabled in the new version of Gnome I've just upgraded to. The "bug" can't be fixed, because evidently it's not a bug at all, but rather an intended interface change. IOW, much of this stuff is disabled, not actually broken.

Apparently there's some plan to provide the functionality in another way, but whatever it might be it doesn't seem to be obviously working yet. So until then, for your sake and the sake of all the people who are going to find this bug report when they search for the bug after experiencing the same unexpected and undesired change in desktop behavior....

To enable icons on the desktop, and right-click desktop configuration,

1. Press alt-f2.
2. In the dialog box that appears, type 'dconf-editor'
3. In the application that then appears, navigate to
org -> gnome -> desktop using the list in the left

4. Now in the right panel, there'll be a list of options.
One of them, next to an unchecked box, will be
'show desktop icons'. Click on the box.

This should make your 'home', 'trash', and 'computer' icons reappear.

Beyond that, you can now use a right-click on the desktop to make launchers for various applications. So you can restore your familiar working environment to that extent.

There's still a lot of stuff in the new dconf that isn't implemented yet, but this much anyway is working.

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Re: Upgraded to Wheezy and Desktop is crippled.

Postby CiaW » November 24th, 2011, 12:00 am

I know you have this showing as solved, but I thought I'd throw this out for you. While looking at some gnome-related threads a while back on the forum for another distro, I saw mention of something called 'gnome-tweak-tool'. It looks like the current (candidate) version for wheezy is 3.0.4-2 and the overall gnome version is 3.2 I think, so the current tweak tool may not do much good at the moment. But It's supposed to help with some of the issues you mentioned.

I tried KDE for a few days, but it did weird things to some of my application windows, like turn them completely black. :? And the xfce weather widget has been fixed (though the gnome panel plugin thingy is still no good...), so I'm back to xfce. I tried the Fedora 16 live cd in Virtual Box, just so I could take a look at gnome 3.2; but it did some fallback thing when it launched, so I couldn't enjoy the full gnome 'experience'. 8-)
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Re: Upgraded to Wheezy and Desktop is crippled.

Postby terry » May 11th, 2013, 6:31 pm

In step 3 above, drill down to "background" in the left panel:

3. In the application that then appears, navigate to org -> gnome -> desktop -> background

keywords: desktop files disappeared, desktop files not showing
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To delete an item from the top bar <alt>-<rightclick>k

Postby baskooning » June 13th, 2013, 2:45 am

On wheezy, fallback gnome2:
To delete an item from the top bar: <alt>-<rightclick> on it,
then choose 'Remove From Panel"

You can also get into the properties of the top and bottom bars (like autohide and such) by <alt>-<rightclick>ing on them.
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