Fix “Failed To Start Session” At Login In Ubuntu 14.04

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I was trying to log in to Ubuntu as usual. I entered my password and it did not log me in even with the correct password. Instead it showed me failed to start session in red colors. I could not even log in to guest session.

Fix failed to start session error in Ubuntu 14.04

In this quick post we shall see how to fix failed to start session issue in Ubuntu 14.04 and earlier versions.

Fix failed to start session in Ubuntu

The reason here is that somehow your Unity desktop has been messed up. You can try several way to recover it. Let’s see how to do it.

When you are at login, press Ctrl+Alt+F1. It will take you to command line interface from the GUI. In here, type your username and password. Now, you can try the following command to install Unity Desktop:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

If it is already installed, try reinstalling:

sudo apt-get install --reinstall ubuntu-desktop

Once it is installed or reinstalled. Use the following command to reboot the system:

sudo reboot

It will reboot and bring you back to login screen. Try login now. You should be able to log in. If you are still unlucky, try to use the alternative below:

Alternative method:

As an alternative you can use the command below to reconfigure the packaging:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure -a

At times, this should fix the failed to start session issue in Ubuntu. But it was not that easy for me. I used another approach which is slightly dirty. When I saw that reinstalling Unity and reconfiguring the packages dis not make any difference, I installed Gnome instead using a command like this:

sudo apt-get install gnome-shell ubuntu-gnome-desktop

This time at reboot, I was able to boot in to Gnome desktop or even choose to boot in to Ubuntu default i.e. Unity. A word of warning, Unity may seem broken after installing Gnome. Change the theme and icons to that of Ambiance, instead of default (Adawita).

That helped me fix “failed to load session” error in Ubuntu 14.04. Did it work for you? Do let me know if you have questions or suggestions.

  • Paulo Schilling

    You have a typo here:
    > sudo apt-get install *****–resinstall***** ubuntu-desktop
    “resinstall” to “reinstall”

    Also thank you for the tip, if I see this message now I know exactly what to do. :)

    • Abhishek Prakash

      Thanks… just corrected.. I should be more careful, at least with commands ;)

  • Christopher_T.

    Another note: When logging into the terminal via Alt+Ctl+F1, you may get your login refused. Keep trying “Alt+Ctl+F1″ a few times. The tty’s are fussy, I guess.

    • Abhishek Prakash

      Thanks for the tip Christopher

  • Anon.

    This happened to me a few weeks ago! Installing gnome then reconfiguring dpkg worked for me. Great article.☺

    • Abhishek Prakash

      thanks Anon….

  • dpanter

    Another typo, see if you can spot it ;)

    sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktp

    • Abhishek Prakash

      Argghhh…. the keyboard of my new laptop sucks big time… it just skips they key if not pressed hard :(
      Thanks.. I am editing it…

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  • clueless1

    Hi there
    I’ve tried “Alt+Ctl+F1″ several times to no avail. Is there another way to access the CLI? Thanks in advance!

  • Maike Grimm

    Hey, that sounds simple but i can’t even log in to the GUI. :/ Any suggestion what i can do?
    Thanks in advance!!!

  • bramwaas

    Installing gnome worked for me. Thanks for the great article.

  • nandinibhaduri

    Thanks a lot. Saved my day.

    • Abhishek Prakash

      Welcome Nandini

  • Vamshi Sandhireddy

    I have tried all the options suggested by you..But nothing worked for me..Any Other Options left ?

  • Divyessh Nitrixs Rathod

    None of the solutions works for me the biggest issue is that even in shell terminal (Ctrl+Alt+F3) my login is not getting done it displays(displayed for less then a second) about my last login with a welcome then again beings me back to login even in recovery mode I have tried everything non seem to work at all

  • suchs

    I just had a problem where elementary refused to start gnome and went text based. startx did not work but I got the error message failed to start gnome. after a restart it worked again. the world o nix.