Ubuntu 12.04: “No Screens Found”

I just spent about three hours fixing my computer. Ok, a great deal of the time was spent backing up my photos, but still. Anyway, I thought I’d share.

Last night, when I just wanted to quickly check something on the internet, X froze. I restarted, and it wouldn’t boot to a graphical login anymore.

This is the tail end of the Xorg.0.log:

Fatal server error:
[ 56.973] no screens found
[ 56.973]
Please consult the The X.Org Foundation support
at http://wiki.x.org
for help.
[ 56.973] Please also check the log file at "/var/log/Xorg.0.log" for additional information.
[ 56.973]
[ 56.980] ddxSigGiveUp: Closing log
[ 56.981] Server terminated with error (1). Closing log file.

At the same time, I got the following error message at the login prompt:
mountall: disconnected from Plymouth
mountall: Event failed

I don’t know if the two were related or not, but I did fix the latter one first. After some googling, I found that someone else had this problem after modifying the swap partition. That prompted me to compare actual UUIDs to the ones in /etc/fstab. Turns out that for some reason the UUID of the swap partition hat changed; as to why, I don’t have the slightest idea. I didn’t make any changes to the system. But replacing the one in /etc/fstab with the one from ls -l /dev/disk/by-uuid fixed at least the one error.

As for the X server problem, before I went to sleep last night, I posted the problem to Google Plus. When I checked this morning, some helpful soul had posted a comment saying the problem might be a hard disk problem. That scared me right out of bed to back up my latest photos to my external hard disk — nothing like a good scare to wake you up 😛

I don’t want to detail all the little things I tried that failed, so here’s what solved it:
sudo apt-get purge xserver-xorg*
That also removed ubuntustudio-desktop, which was convenient because to re-install everything all I needed was
sudo apt-get install ubuntustudio-desktop

So, I have a working system again, but I also got a friendly reminder to back up more often.

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