Invisible Unity bars

Bug #1028543 reported by Ken Sharp on 2012-07-24
This bug affects 4 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
metacity (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

Randomly, my Unity bars end up invisible! (See attached screenshot)

A reboot solves the problem, but logging out rarely works. It's not clear where I'm clicking anyway.

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 12.04
Package: unity 5.12-0ubuntu1.1
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 3.2.0-26.41-generic 3.2.19
Uname: Linux 3.2.0-26-generic x86_64
NonfreeKernelModules: fglrx wl

ApportVersion: 2.0.1-0ubuntu11
Architecture: amd64
CompizPlugins: [core,bailer,detection,composite,opengl,decor,mousepoll,vpswitch,regex,animation,snap,expo,move,compiztoolbox,place,grid,imgpng,gnomecompat,wall,ezoom,workarounds,staticswitcher,resize,fade,unitymtgrabhandles,scale,session,unityshell]
CompositorRunning: None
Date: Tue Jul 24 17:08:51 2012
DistUpgraded: Fresh install
DistroCodename: precise
DistroVariant: ubuntu
 Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] nee ATI RS880M [Mobility Radeon HD 4200 Series] [1002:9712] (prog-if 00 [VGA controller])
   Subsystem: Acer Incorporated [ALI] Device [1025:036e]
InstallationMedia: Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal" - Release amd64 (20110427.1)
 xorg:fglrx_updates - ATI/AMD proprietary FGLRX graphics driver (post-release updates) (Proprietary, Disabled, Not in use)
 kmod:wl - Broadcom STA proprietary wireless driver (Proprietary, Enabled, In use) [auto-install]
 xorg:fglrx - ATI/AMD proprietary FGLRX graphics driver (Proprietary, Disabled, Not in use)
MachineType: Acer Aspire 5551
 PATH=(custom, user)
ProcKernelCmdLine: BOOT_IMAGE=/boot/vmlinuz-3.2.0-26-generic root=UUID=bcf30c65-9b6f-492c-896c-332ab1682c02 ro
SourcePackage: unity
UpgradeStatus: No upgrade log present (probably fresh install) 07/27/2011
dmi.bios.vendor: Acer
dmi.bios.version: V2.14
dmi.board.asset.tag: Base Board Asset Tag JE50_DN
dmi.board.vendor: Acer
dmi.board.version: Base Board Version
dmi.chassis.type: 10
dmi.chassis.vendor: Acer
dmi.chassis.version: V2.14
dmi.modalias: dmi:bvnAcer:bvrV2.14:bd07/27/2011:svnAcer:pnAspire5551:pvrV2.14:rvnAcer:rnJE50_DN:rvrBaseBoardVersion:cvnAcer:ct10:cvrV2.14: Aspire 5551
dmi.product.version: V2.14
dmi.sys.vendor: Acer
version.compiz: compiz 1:
version.fglrx-installer: fglrx-installer N/A
version.ia32-libs: ia32-libs 20090808ubuntu36
version.libdrm2: libdrm2 2.4.32-1ubuntu1
version.libgl1-mesa-dri: libgl1-mesa-dri 8.0.2-0ubuntu3.1
version.libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental: libgl1-mesa-dri-experimental 8.0.2-0ubuntu3.1
version.libgl1-mesa-glx: libgl1-mesa-glx 8.0.2-0ubuntu3.1
version.xserver-xorg-core: xserver-xorg-core 2:1.11.4-0ubuntu10.6
version.xserver-xorg-input-evdev: xserver-xorg-input-evdev 1:2.7.0-0ubuntu1.2
version.xserver-xorg-video-ati: xserver-xorg-video-ati N/A
version.xserver-xorg-video-intel: xserver-xorg-video-intel N/A
version.xserver-xorg-video-nouveau: xserver-xorg-video-nouveau 1:0.0.16+git20111201+b5534a1-1build2

Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :
Ken Sharp (kennybobs) on 2012-07-24
summary: - Invisble Unity bars
+ Invisible Unity bars
Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

Although I cannot see what I'm typing, if I ALT+F2 and "unity --replace" the whole things comes back.

Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

Okay, that's not strictly true: the menus are still invisible and there appears to be two bars running one on top of each other.

Sadly rebooting is not possible when uploading a huge amount of data where resuming is not possible.

Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :

Please try this as a workaround:
1. Install CCSM (compizconfig-settings-manager)
2. Run ccsm and go to: Utility > Workarounds > Force full screen redraws (buffer swap) on repaint = ON

Also note, the Unity repaint logic changed dramatically in Unity 6.0. You can try it out if you have a spare machine to test Ubuntu 12.10 on (

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Incomplete
Changed in unity:
status: New → Incomplete
Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

Okay I will try that the next time it occurs. This will dramatically increase my GPU usage, which isn't great on a laptop.

I don't see what's incomplete about this bug report...

Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :

Although, it looks like your compiz process may have crashed. When the problem occurs, could you please log into a VT (Ctrl+Alt+F1) and run "pidof compiz"? Do you get a result?

If not, then compiz/unity has crashed. In that case my response would be...

Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

"pidof compiz" doesn't show a PID as expected (and just to confirm following "unity --replace" it does).

However, there is nothing at all in /var/crash

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → New
Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

Scrub that - it showed up once Unity was relaunched.

I followed the instructions in your link but a new bug has not been opened.

Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :

Still incomplete until some crash details and a usable stack trace is generated. Though that may come in a new bug.

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Incomplete
Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

I still have the .crash log in /var/crash. Is this no use?

Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :


Please attach the .crash file here. Although, the correct way to get it processed automatically (I think) is to push it into a new bug using this command:
    ubuntu-bug <.crash file>

Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

I've tried using the reporting tool but it doesn't do anything. Meanwhile this bug continually occurs.

.crash file attached (lzma compressed).

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → New
Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :


That .crash file is from /usr/lib/unity/unity-panel-service which has nothing to do with Unity rendering or this bug.

Please look for a .crash file from /usr/bin/compiz instead.

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Incomplete
Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :
Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

Given how utterly unreliable the whole of Unity is, I find it impossible to figure what is crashing all the time.

Hopefully this .crash will do you.

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → New
Daniel van Vugt (vanvugt) wrote :


Do you usually use Unity or Unity2D?

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: New → Incomplete
Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

Unity 2D but the bars vanish no matter what I'm using.

Changed in unity (Ubuntu):
status: Incomplete → New
affects: unity → unity-2d
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

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

Changed in unity-2d (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed
affects: unity (Ubuntu) → unity-2d (Ubuntu)
Changed in unity-2d:
status: Incomplete → New
Changed in unity-2d (Ubuntu):
status: New → Confirmed


I experience similar problem on Dell Inspiron M5030 with Mobility Radeon HD 4200 Graphic.

Ticket raised with all logs:
Raport for this laptop:

To summarise:
 * laptop doesn't boot with ubuntu 12.04.1 disk
 * laptop boots fine Ubuntu with "acpi=off"
 * jockey supplied proprietary drivers don't work
 * driver from AMD website ( solves problems and makes this laptop usable
 * as an extra info, Linux Mint Debian boots this laptop fine into Mate environment



Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

The bars can become invisible when loading SlingPlayer through Wine, which seems to fail the first time after boot (don't know why yet). Killing the application is necessary and the bars become invisible.
At this point I'm not sure how else to trigger it, but it is fairly random. Not a great example as you need a Slingbox, but an example nonetheless.

An easier way to restore the visibility of the bars is to do:
$xrandr -s 800x600 ; xrandr -s 0
Of course this relies on a bash shell already being open, and if Unity crashes it's often not possible to bring the window up.

Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

The xrandr workaround no longer works. Killing and restarting metacity brings back visibility.

Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

Killing and restarting metacity is the key every time. Got to be a metacity bug.

affects: unity-2d (Ubuntu) → metacity (Ubuntu)
Changed in unity-2d:
status: New → Invalid
Ken Sharp (kennybobs) wrote :

I have not seen this seen moving from Precise to Trusty. Also not seen this on Xenial.

I can think of no reason for going backwards to Precise so you can close this unless someone else is still seeing this on Precise (and Precise is still supported).

Changed in metacity (Ubuntu):
status: Confirmed → Invalid
no longer affects: metacity
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