Black Screen with a blinking cursor in Upper Left in Ubuntu 13.10

I found myself with a black screen with a blinking cursor in the upper left corner in my Ubuntu 13.10 yesterday.  I know what caused it.  There was a distribution upgrade or something similar and I clicked something about configuration for my video drivers.  After a reboot I was just getting the “You are running in low graphics mode”.  I think I wasted 2 hours on this.

First I want to tell everyone what worked for me.  Well, I would tell everyone if I remembered my exact steps.  There were lots and lots of answers on the Internet but they didn’t work for me – sans the last hit I got.  I had to uninstall the Nvidia video drivers ( sudo apt-get remove --purge nvidia*).  Deleted the config files in /etc/X11/ and then created a new xorg file with this command: sudo X -configure.  I rebooted and then it worked.

I tried switching from LightDM to GDM, I tried different Nvidia drivers.  I used the recovery in GRUB.  Actually, I tried just about every option in Grub.  I tried lots of stuff.  I also had some trouble getting into terminal to run these commands.  I was clicking through the low graphics mode window and then nothing would work!  I didn’t know I was suppose to hit Ctrl-Alt-F1 right at that screen to get the login screen.

I’m glad I got it up and running again but that was a 2 hr time frame on a Sunday that I would have preferred to have done something else.

Lastly, things like this can’t be fixed by a normal computer user.  This was a rock-steady Ubuntu install and I got this awful issue with an automatic update.  The flashing cursor would freak a normal user out.  Plus, do you really want an average user using the command line?  I don’t.  Unless the computer user has a person like me on call or has an IT department to fix things like this I would be worried about selling  a Linux computer without a support contract for the user.