How to Fix Ubuntu Can’t Open the Terminal Issue

Ubuntu Cant Open Terminal Featured

You can’t get the terminal in your Ubuntu machine to open. What can you do? While this issue seldom happens, it is a fact that the problem exists and can happen to you at anytime. Read on to learn what to do when your Ubuntu machine can’t open its terminal.

Are you missing the icon?

If you’re only missing the icon from which you used to run the terminal, that doesn’t mean the actual terminal itself is gone. You can find it among the rest of your installed apps, through Ubuntu’s activities menu.

Press the Win and start typing “terminal” in the search field to find it. Click on it to run it.

To re-add it to your desktop’s dock, right-click on the icon and select “Add to Favorites.”

Ubuntu Cant Open Terminal Add To Favorites

Maybe, though, it’s even better to memorize the combination Ctrl + Alt + T on your keyboard. If you try it, you’ll see your terminal popping up.

Is there a software conflict?

If the problem appeared after installing a new piece of software, maybe you’re dealing with a software conflict. It’s rare, but it happens, and there can be millions of reasons, depending on each unique combination of installed software. The easiest solution is to undo our last steps.

Start by uninstalling anything you installed just before the problem reared its ugly head. Hopefully, the problem will be solved.

Ubuntu Cant Open Terminal Uninstall Software

If the problem persists, you can try more drastic measures, like restoring your whole system from a recent backup. If you’re using the latest version of Ubuntu installed with ZFS, you can easily restore a ZFS snapshot. You can then proceed to re-implement those changes one by one until you find the culprit and then undo this problematic step.

Ubuntu Cant Open Terminal Revert To Past Snapshot

It’s worth noting that one of the most common conflicts has to do with the installation of Python. If the problem appeared after upgrading to the latest version of Python, maybe it’s because the terminal isn’t configured to use it.

To solve the problem, try updating the reference to Python within the terminal. Move to one of the failsafe TTY terminals by pressing Ctrl + Alt + F3 at the same time. Re-log in there, and then enter:

Then, change:


Of course, if you’ve installed an even newer version of Python, you’ll need to update the above and tweak accordingly.

Is the terminal’s configuration mangled?

If the problem appeared after trying to tweak something in the terminal’s configuration, and you know what the problem is, you can use the failsafe terminal to try to undo the damage.

To access the TTY failsafe terminal, press Ctrl + Alt + F3 at the same time. Log in and then try to undo the changes you applied to your regular terminal through it.

For more user-friendly tweaking of your terminal’s configuration through GUI, install Dconf-Editor with:

Ubuntu Cant Open Terminal Install Dconf Editor

After it’s installed, run Dconf-Editor and acknowledge the warning that appears by clicking “I’ll be careful.”

Ubuntu Cant Open Terminal Use Dconf Editor

Move to “/org/gnome/terminal/legacy” and revert the settings you changed.

If the problem appeared after tweaking your profile’s settings in your terminal, you can easily reset them to the defaults. Move to one of the TTY terminals (use Ctrl + Alt + F3) and enter:

Note, though, that this will delete all of gnome-terminal’s profiles and revert the default profile to its original settings.

Re-install or use an alternative

Although this is closer to how you’d solve the problem if you were using Windows, you can try uninstalling and re-installing your terminal. Move to the failsafe TTY terminal with Ctrl + Alt + F3 and enter:

After, re-install it with:

Finally, if nothing worked, you can always use an alternative terminal emulator, such as Guake and Tilix:

You can then use those instead of the default terminal, and you’ll always have the TTY failsafe as a backup.

Ubuntu Cant Open Terminal Install Guake

Without the terminal, you won’t be able to search the web and find package info, and that can be very frustrating. Have you ever met such a problem with the default terminal that rendered it unusable? Tell us in the comments section below.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox