Black Screen On Logout On Ubuntu 11.10

About 2 weeks ago I started noticing something different with Ubuntu 11.10 on my laptop. During shutdown none of the ugly boot messages were showing. I was elated. Since the days when boot splash was introduced into Linux nothing much has developed over the course of, more or less, a decade. Sure the names are different and they keep coming up with something new – bootsplash, usplash, plymouth – but these apps have one thing in common in that it never truly hides the boot messages. Always there are remnants of the these ugly text during logout and on shutdown. These graphical boot splash apps are kind of clunky, inconsistent,  and lacks the finesse when compared to the Windows 7 and prior Windows OS versions.

So over the course of the past 2 weeks no ugly boot messages were showing and I wondered if there was a plymouth update I didn’t know about. Sometimes I just let the Ubuntu Update Manager run without looking at the list. I was like, “Maybe they finally fixed the stupid thing?”. The only caveat is that the default Ubuntu plymouth splash animation does not show on shutdown. During the shutdown process there was only a blank, black screen.

At first I did not bother with it. However I logged out of the desktop one time and was greeted with nothing but a blank, black screen too. I waited for several minutes for LightDM to show up but that never happened. I could not even transfer to another console after hitting CTRL + ALT +F* keys (or ALT + F* keys). I had to force reboot Ubuntu so I could log back in. I tried this about 3 times to make sure it was not a random occurrence, and it was not.

I ran update manager again to see if there were updates that may help this problem, but there weren’t any. All my system files were up to date. As far as 2 weeks back, I cannot remember doing anything to the system by hand that could have caused this problem.  So once again I headed out to the Internet to get answers.

There were lots of suggestions and answers I found regarding this matter but the one that worked on my end was a very simple one. It was all about the screen display resolution. My laptop has a standard 1366 x 768 (16:9) resolution. For some reason this was changed to 1360 x 768. I believe some application modified the resolution but did not change it back to the original after exiting. Running games on Linux are known to do this a lot, because game handling on Linux literally suck. The change is very minor but this, in fact, was the cause on why I get a black/blank screen when I logout and also the same reason why Plymouth animation on shutdown did not show. After restoring to the original resolution, everything is now back to normal and working as it should be.

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Notice: This article was published on March 25, 2012 and the content above may be out of date.