Impossible to open Empathy contact list window if already started with '-h' option

Bug #1179180 reported by Sah Lee on 2013-05-12
This bug affects 52 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
empathy (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

If I add Empathy to 'Startup Applications' to start it with '-h' option, I'll never be able to open the contact list window.

- If query with 'ps -ef | grep emapthy', I can see empathy is running.
- If run 'empathy' from command line, the command exits without any output, but nothing happens after that.
- If choose 'Empathy Internet Messaging' from Unity Dashboard, nothing happens.
- If choose from the locked lens, I can see the icon "blinks slowly" (if you know what I mean, I'm not native speaker of English), and then it stops blinking, nothing happens after that.

However, if I didn't start Empathy with '-h' option, everything seems normal.

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 13.04
Package: empathy 3.6.4-0ubuntu4
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 3.8.0-19.30-generic 3.8.8
Uname: Linux 3.8.0-19-generic x86_64
NonfreeKernelModules: nvidia
ApportVersion: 2.9.2-0ubuntu8
Architecture: amd64
Date: Sun May 12 18:27:52 2013
InstallationDate: Installed on 2012-08-12 (273 days ago)
InstallationMedia: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS "Precise Pangolin" - Release amd64 (20120425)
MarkForUpload: True
 PATH=(custom, no user)
SourcePackage: empathy
UpgradeStatus: Upgraded to raring on 2013-04-26 (16 days ago)

Sah Lee (leesah) wrote :
Sah Lee (leesah) wrote :

Just tried start Empathy with 'empathy -h' but without 'Startup Applications', to make sure it is Empathy's bug.

Command 'empathy -h' didn't exit as I thought it would. I'm not sure if this is the expected behavior.

tags: added: start-hidden
tags: added: hang
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in empathy (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
PJSingh5000 (pjsingh5000) wrote :

I'm able to reproduce this...

1. Make sure Empathy is not running. If it is running quit it, or kill it from the system monitor.
2. In a terminal, start empathy using the "start hidden option, as follows:
    $ empathy -h
3. Notice that empathy is now running in system moitor.
4. From the messaging menu indicator applet, select Empathy.
5. The Empathy Contact List window does *not* appear, as expected.
6. Now try to start Empathy from the Unity Dash.
7. Again, the Empathy Contact List window does not appear, as expected.
8. Notice that empathy is still running in the background in system moitor.

Guillaume F (marsguo) wrote :

Same here. I am running Raring 32bits, upgraded from Quantal. Empathy starts and people see me online: I can receive messages and answer then from the messaging menu, but I can't open the main window with the contact list. I tried replacing "empathy -h" by "empathy --start-hidden" in Startup Applications but the behaviour remains exactly the same. The recent update on Empathy did not change anything.

Chris Boyle (chris-boyle-1978) wrote :

I just did a fresh install of Raring today on both my Desktop (64bit) and Laptop (32bit). I also installed all available updates on both. I can confirm that this is an issue in both and is extremely easy to reproduce. I tried to use dconf-editor to enable the "Hidden Window" option and it does nothing at all. The only way to get Empathy to start hidden is the use of one of the two command line options and both cause you to lose access to the contact list permanently, even while everything else runs fine in the background. I can receive messages fine, for example. When I click on them, I can see the chat window and respond like normal.

PJSingh5000 (pjsingh5000) wrote :

I just posted a work-around on Ask Ubuntu, until this gets resolved. (See

Daniel Kessel (dkessel) wrote :

Confirmed on Ubuntu 13.10. This makes it very hard to use Empathy comfortably for me.

Thanks for the workaround PJSingh5000!

Lalo Martins (lalo.martins) wrote :

And if you don't want to kill you because you're in the middle of a chat…

dconf write /org/gnome/empathy/ui/main-window-hidden true
dconf write /org/gnome/empathy/ui/main-window-hidden false

It would be nice if somebody having it could send the bug to the developers of the software by following the instructions at

Changed in empathy (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Incomplete
Changed in empathy (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → New
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in empathy (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
Changed in empathy:
importance: Unknown → Medium
status: Unknown → New
Mirko Ce (mirkoce) wrote :

Seriously, this bug still hasn't solved after more than a year.

Stefan Pappalardo (sjuk) wrote :

The issue is still there in trusty (14.04). So I will use pidgin again :-(

Michael (mnichau) on 2014-09-19
tags: added: trusty
Changed in empathy (Ubuntu):
importance: Undecided → Medium
Jan Kaláb (pitel) wrote :

Also still in Utopic. :(

Sb (sb56637) wrote :

Bug still present in Vivid.

Ilonka (ilonka-o) wrote :

Bug is also still present in Trusty Tahr

Changed in empathy:
status: New → Confirmed
Changed in empathy:
status: Confirmed → Invalid
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