Ubuntu MATE Desktop Loads HUNDREDS of Folders After Install & Keeps Going!

Hi. I just installed ubuntu-mate-desktop into my Ubuntu 20.04 (64-bit) system, and up on reboot chose to try out MATE. However, I have 3 folders load at startup in all my DEs (via the usual Startup Applications), but upon logging into MATE, it just goes berserk loading those 3 folders non-stop, till the point the taskbar has a series of dots within about 10 seconds. And it just keeps on going. When I manage to get Alt+F2 up to caja -q, and the folders are killed, it just starts all over again, non-stop. I've never seen anything like this. If I try to get anywhere, try to get in to the system menu, bring the run dialogue up, anything, the folder just cover them. The furious disk activity during this does not cease when I manage to log out, and is still going when at the greeter, so I am forced to reboot. I've done this 3 times, and it just keeps happening.

I can't see what the issue is - it's only 3 folders opening in Caja upon login, and does exactly that in KDE or Gnome - but MATE is stuck in this loop, and even restarts it when I manage to kill Caja.

Any ideas what is going on, or how I can fix it? Obviously, I can't do it in MATE, as it is totally unusable, but if there are config files I can edit or something, I can do that from within KDE. Actually, I suppose I can disable those folders from loading at startup in KDE before I log out to try MATE, but still need some guidance on how to rectify this bizarre behaviour when logging in. Hope you can help, as I would really like to give this DE a try.

WORKAROUND UPDATE: I edited the .desktop file for each of the folder launchers in ~/.config/autostart to specify the following:


Now, the MATE desktop loads without that bizarre behaviour (because MATE is not trying to launch Caja), and I can continue to load those folders in KDE and Gnome. It's a small price to pay to have to manually load those folders in MATE, but I have to say MATE having such a problem with it's own file manager, when other DEs don't, is pretty disappointing. i Would still like someone with some expertise to shed some light on this, because I fear this will probably start all over again if I create autostart entries for Caja within MATE.

It is beyond me but I think it would help others if you told how you put these folders on your desktop. Did you make the folders there? Are the folder actually shortcuts? Did you create a script to load the folders?

The easiest simplest thing I can think of is booting into recovery mode, which generally doesn't load all your settings and see what happens. During boot keep pressing esc until you get the recovery menu. From there you can try to troubleshoot.

It's just the standard Startup Applications I've used for aeons, available in all desktop environments, which loads all the same things in Gnome, KDE, all the other DEs I've got. All being on the same Ubuntu system, they just look to what to load on startup, and just do it. So, to be clear, I have 3 startup entries, each being for the file-manager to load a specific folder (it used to be Nautilus, but a week back I switched to Caja, changed my startup entries to Caja, and they all load fine in KDE, my usual desktop). MATE is loading all the programs specified, and the 3 instances of Caja, but on that score just keeps going and going and going, without an end in sight. So nothing fancy here - just opening my Downloads folder and a couple of others, which don't cause any issues in any other DE, but MATE just seems intent on loading hundreds of instances of each.

No need for recovery mode - Ubuntu boots fine, I can log into KDE and all is exactly as it should be, and I can log into MATE, but the latter just has this freaky obsession with loading those 3 folders non-stop. So, to be clear: nothing wrong with my system at all, but MATE is another thing.

Can we come up with a test case so I can test this ...

What do I need to install and how do I load folders from Startup Apps?

Recovery mode is not just about boot.

Jymm, the thing is nothing is wrong with Ubuntu. I can get into it, with any DE, including MATE - except that with MATE this happens. I'm in the KDE desktop right now, and everything is as it always is. If I log out and then into MATE, that frenzied loading of folder will occur again. Ergo: something is seriously messed up in MATE.

Pavlos, nothing exotic: as outlined, I merely installed ubuntu-mate-desktop, which installed all the required packages. The loading of folders is done simply through Startup Applications (each DE has that, but the wording may vary - in KDE, it is System Settings > Startup and Shutdown > Autostart). Been autostarting apps - including having specific folders load - for the 15 years I've been using Ubuntu, and this is the first time anything like this has ever happened.

Apparently the MATE way to autostart apps is via Control Center > Startup Applications. But while other DEs like Gnome-Shell and KDE have no problem loading 3 folders in Caja upon boot, MATE is caught in a loop of loading over and over again. And considering Caja is a native MATE app, that's disappointing.

Comparing ~/.xsession-errors (being currently generated while in KDE) and ~/.xsession-errors.old (from last night in MATE) I can see the following that relates to Caja. In the new log it is repeated once or twice, then goes onto something else, then comes up again, etc, but in last night's log that is just repeated ad-infinitum, to the point that the log file is almost 1Mb after only a couple of minutes, while the current log is only around 500k (and I've been logged into KDE for 3 hours):

**(caja:2324): Gtk-WARNING : 22:00:49.623: Undo: missing action Undo

**(caja:2324): Gtk-WARNING : 22:00:49.623: Redo: missing action Redo

**(caja:2324): Gtk-WARNING : 22:00:49.623: Delete: missing action Delete

**(caja:2324): Gtk-WARNING : 22:00:49.623: Empty Trash: missing action Empty Trash

**(caja:2324): Gtk-WARNING : 22:00:49.623: Properties: missing action Properties

**(caja:2324): Gtk-WARNING : 22:00:49.623: New Folder: missing action New Folder

Now, not sure if that has anything to do with custom toolbar buttons I made for Caja - I've made buttons for each of the items listed, plus more - but once again stressing that even with those "errors" mentioned in the current log, KDE loaded 3 folders in Caja absolutely fine, and it's working as expected. Hopefully that info sheds more light on what is going on in MATE compared to KDE, and that someone can point me in the right direction to rectify this.


Because there is some confusion as to how I am starting these folders upon boot, here is an image of the folders in question being specified to autostart. This is in KDE, but is the same as in the standard Gnome Ubuntu, and I am guessing no different to how it is done in MATE via Control Center > Startup Applications (so while that might look different in each DE, they all do the same thing). Note that I actually went to the extreme of deleting those entries, made sure the .desktop files in ~/.config/autostart were deleted as I did so, then recreated them from scratch - but MATE still wants to load each hundreds of times, whereas when I reboot and log into KDE, I have the 3 folders sitting there. (The only issue I have in KDE since installing ubuntu-mate-desktop is that the Magnus Screen Magnifier automatically loads - even though I can't find how it is being auto-started - but that is no issue, as I can just uninstall it).

OK, found a workaroud, which I will outline here, and append to my original post. I edited the .desktop file for each of the folder launchers in ~/.config/autostart to specify the following:


Now, the MATE desktop loads without that bizarre behaviour (because MATE is not trying to launch Caja), and I can continue to load those folders in KDE and Gnome. It's a small price to pay to have to manually load those folders in MATE, but I have to say MATE having such a problem with it's own file manager, when other DEs don't, is pretty disappointing. Would still like someone with some expertise to shed some light on this, because I fear this will probably start all over again if I create autostart entries for Caja while in MATE.

it is actually probably related to having multiple desktop environments on the same install, sometimes they work out , other times when I have tried it they become a big mess, it is recommended to only have 1 desktop environment installed. As that behavior has not been reported on Ubuntu MATE itself that I am aware of, if I were to guess it would be due to the interaction with Gnome due to both Gnome and MATE desktops being Gtk desktops, and if you look at the warnings they are Gtk warnings

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Bernie, thanks for your reply, and maybe that is an issue, BUT I have had multiple DEs installed on various machines over the last 15 years, and I have never seen anything like this. And the fact MATE had such a problem with it's own file manager is simply bizarre, when Gnome and KDE don't. Maybe having the launchers in ~/.config/autostart (the location for user-defined autostart programs for other DEs) instead of /etc/xdg/autostart (the system location, where MATE seems to keep its startup programs) is part of the issue, but it's still beyond strange.

As for GTK, well considering MATE is built on Gnome 2, GTK is going to be a big part of its base (but correct me if I am wrong). So, seeing GTK mentioned in error messages is not something I find surprising.

Anyway, as outlined above, I found a way around it, and that's to exclude MATE from loading it's own file manager during startup, while KDE and Gnome can continue to load those 3 folders. I might try creating those 3 entries in Startup Applications within MATE, and see what happens, but erring on the side of caution, I've just created a launcher on the panel to open those 3 folders at once, so no big deal.

However, I'm still open to anyone with the knowledge of what the hell happened to fill me in - just out of curiosity (and then I can mark this as [SOLVED]). And I will probably fill out a bug report on this soon.

Maybe a race condition ?
Have you tried adding 1 or 2 seconds of delay to 2 of the 3 folders you want to launch at startup ?

About the multiple DEs, it's generally not a good idea to run thousands of them on the same install as they're mostly painful to remove properly without damages and can induce instability. There's been numerous users here with weird bugs happening because of that situation. Giving a desktop environment a try is usually best done in a virtual machine. QuickEmu does that easily and with hardware acceleration. Just my 2 cents.

And now with a GUI

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Well, if I was going to do a clean install I'd certainly consider it being Ubuntu MATE, but it's too late for that. But to me having more than one desktop environment I actually see as essential for an important reason: if one DE is broken, especially to the point I can't even get to the desktop, I can log out and then log in with another, which not only lets me get on with my daily business, but lets me search for remedies, which I can then easily apply. Since 2006 I've had this happen a few times with both Gnome and KDE, sometimes through tinkering, other times merely by allowing a system update, and being able to fix one DE while inside another has been crucial.

So I do get that line of thinking, but when I see post titles with "Ubuntu is BROKEN!", most of the time I can see it isn't the whole system, but just the DE, that is broken, and that could be fixed by logging into another DE and finding and applying the remedy there.

PS: The reason I was able to fix what was happening with MATE starting was because I was able to log into KDE. I dread to think what a pain it would have been if MATE was my only DE. So each to their own, but having at least 2 DEs in the same system is essential for me.

The thing is: what happened to you in MATE might have been due to the very fact you're using several DEs on the same install. And if it was a race condition, you could have fixed this using a live CD and edit your startup applications entries to add a delay of one or two seconds to the problematic entries to solve the problem.
No need to turn your install into a dependency hell with tons of duplicate programs achieving the same thing (for instance, does one need Nautilus + Caja + Thunar + Nemo + Dolphin ?)

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OK, it might have - but I doubt it. KDE and Gnome totally fine with the startup entries for years, and MATE immediately can't handle loading 3 simple folders - so I'm going with it being a bug. So if it was a race condition, then it's MATE not being able to handle something very simple the others never had a problem with, not because of a mix of DEs on the same system (I mean, we're talking about it loading its own file manager). I've been using Ubuntu for 15 years now, and I've rarely had issues with multiple DEs. I mean this isn't voodoo - the worst I've had is some GTK theming bleeding into KDE. Or maybe a keyboard shortcut I set in one DE getting overridden in another. Minor stuff.

As for using a Live DVD, well besides the fact my approach is easier, quicker, I can still get my email etc, and very easily edit settings and files, I would have to have a Live DVD lying around. So, for the risk of something maybe going wrong with having 3 or so DEs (it rarely does), the benefits far outweigh that.

And I respect your take on DEs, and I get that minimalism is big these days, but apart from the benefits described above, not everyone thinks like that. Part of the reason I left Windows in 2006 was the choice available, that for the cost of a few megabytes of HD space I could have choice, and backup options when I needed them. I mean, I've had the occasional problem with Nautilus after an update, and all I had to do is carry on in Nemo. And when the devs removed yet another feature, like type-ahead find, I could use another FM while someone patched it (I finally gave up - I moved to Caja 3 weeks ago and can assign keys to my scripts and all - I love it!).

And I get fear of dependency hell, but that's rarely an issue. I my experience, everything usually coexists peacefully. So some want one app for each task, others prefer to have options, and if going for the latter it rarely presents problems in Linux. And what's a few megabytes in space these days?

OK, so last night I decided to try autostarting my 3 folders, but rather than individual entries with their own .desktop files, I used a script which launches those 3 folder from a panel launcher. I even set a delay of 10 secs. Still a rapid machine-gun firing of folders opening. Then I tried 20 secs, then 40 secs, then finally a 60 sec delay (one would assume that's enough, yes?). No change. So even when everything has well and truly loaded, MATE cannot handle loading 3 windows of its own file manager a minute later, if it is an autostart entry. Yet if I disable that entry, I can click my launcher to open those folders while MATE's still loading everything and all is good.

So one simply must conclude this is a SERIOUS bug in MATE, so I should go file a report. But if anyone knows of a fix, or even why this is happening, please enlighten me. (But please: no trying to blame this on other DEs - that's just bordering on superstition and doesn't help)

All right, I wasn't going to get involved in this, but I'm tired of reading this seemingly endless thread every time I log on. So let me try to help, if I could please.

I want to see the full contents of each of the three .desktop files that are giving you grief. And please enclose the contents of the files in code markers -- highlight the file contents you paste into a post and click the </> button above the post editor. I'm not accusing you of not having done this in the past, but dozens of people around here don't do so and the result is post text that is nearly impossible to read.

Thank you in advance!