Blank screen at startup - intermittent

This has happened twice now, once a few weeks back, and today which took three goes to log in.

  • GRUB menu: OK
  • The trip-hammer animation: OK
  • HDD light and blank screen with flashing cursor - this is normally followed after a while by the login screen, but on these occasions the HDD light goes out and the cursor keeps flashing. The mouse pointer is present and moves.
  • Ctrl/ALt/F2 brings up a login, which gets me a command line.
 $ sudo shutdown -r now


A) Is this an OS problem or do I have a lurking hardware fault?

B) Rather than rebooting, can I fire up the desktop from the command line? Research suggests that the startx command might do the job.

It might be a lurking hardware problem, but I’d not start by making any such assumption. Startx might be up to task, but first try restarting the display manager:

systemctl restart xdm

You might need to login as root or use sudo for it to work. Before that, check to see if the system thinks the display manager is running, and if so, its reported status, as root:

systemctl status xdm

Thanks. I’ll note (and print) your advice ready for the next time it happens.

Thanks, that works perfectly. The problem is no worse, maybe a couple of times a month. It might be temperature related, as it is a hot time of year here. I’ll see what happens when Autumn arrives.