How to Fix Ubuntu Can’t Open the Terminal Issue

Ubuntu not letting its users open the terminal on it is a pretty common issue these days. If you are receiving a similar issue and don’t know what to do next, learn the five fixes on how to fix this “Ubuntu Can’t Open the Terminal” issue on Linux devices. Without any further ado, let’s dive into the reasons causing it and the available solutions for it. 

Fix Ubuntu Can’t Open the Terminal Issue

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Why can’t Ubuntu open the terminal on it?

This mostly happens when you install some buggy software, or when you modify the terminal’s configuration. Apart from this, a new app or game interacting with the locales and corrupting them may also result in similar issues. 

A few users reported fixing this issue when they search for the terminal in Ubuntu’s activities menu. This suggests how often this problem occurs in Ubuntu and how careful one should be to apply any tweaks to resolve this issue. 

Fix Ubuntu Can’t Open the Terminal 

To solve the “Ubuntu can’t open the terminal” issue, attempt the below fixes one after another. Though you may apply these workarounds in any order, we suggest following these fixes in the same order as they were put in – 

1] Get back the Missing Terminal icon

Ubuntu not letting you open the terminal and the terminal icon missing on it are two different things. If you are not able to launch the terminal just because you can’t find its icon, follow these steps – 

  • Press the Windows key and start typing “terminal” in the search field. 
  • When a matching result pops up in Ubuntu’s activities menu, click on it.
  • Doing so will launch the terminal on the display screen. 

Alternatively, you may also right-click on the terminal icon and select the “Add to Favorites” option. This way, you get a shortcut to start the terminal right on your desktop’s dock. Click on it to start the Ubuntu terminal whenever you want. 

Note: There’s also a hotkey to launch the terminal on Ubuntu. Press and hold Ctrl + Alt + T keys altogether, and you will find the terminal popping up on your display screen. 

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2] Uninstall the conflicting software

If you have tried the above solution and still can’t open the terminal, there must lie some conflicting software on your Ubuntu OS. The faulty programs are somehow blocking the terminal from launch. Although it is very rare to install such buggy applications in Ubuntu, however, it can happen. 

If you remember installing some new apps on your Ubuntu and this problem started occurring just afterward, you should uninstall those applications from your operating system. 

Several users reported fixing the terminal not opening issue after they uninstall Python from their devices. In case you have recently installed Python on your computer, it’s most likely to cause the “Can’t open the terminal” issue. This happens only when the terminal is not configured to use, while Python is installed on your Ubuntu device. 

It’s not essential to uninstall Python from your system if there are updates available for your Ubuntu device. Here’s how to upgrade the reference to Python in Ubuntu – 

  • Press Ctrl + Alt + F3 to launch the failsafe TTY terminal first. 
  • Log in to this and then execute the following code on it – 

sudo nano /usr/bin/gnome-terminal

  • Next change #!/usr/bin/python3 to #!/usr/bin/python3.8.

Note: To check which Python version is currently running on your computer, run this code on the same TTY terminal – 

python3 --version

As of now, Python 3.8 is the latest version of Python for the Ubuntu Operating system. However, this can change as time spends by. Well, in that case, you should adequately upgrade Python to its latest available version. 

Try restoring Ubuntu using the recent backup available on it

In case you are still not able to open the terminal on your Ubuntu OS, and you do have a recent backup available on your device, consider using that. 

3] Check and repair the Terminal’s configuration

The “Ubuntu can’t Open the terminal” issue may also arise if you have edited the terminal’s configuration. If that’s the case, you must undo the recent changes made to your terminal. Follow the below instructions on how to proceed with this task – 

  • Launch the TTY failsafe terminal by pressing Ctrl + Alt + F3. 
  • Log into your account and undo the changes that you have recently made to the terminal’s configuration.

If you want to perform this task through GUI, install Dconf-Editor in Ubuntu by running this code on the failsafe TTY. 

sudo apt install dconf-editor

Wait for the installation to complete and once it is over, acknowledge the warning that says – “I’ll be careful.” Next, go to “/org/gnome/terminal/legacy” and undo all recent changes made to your Ubuntu device.

If this problem persists even after this, you should reset your profile’s settings to their default values. To do this, open the failsafe TTY, and run this code on it – 

dconf reset -f /org/gnome/terminal/legacy/profiles:/

That’s it, when you execute the above command, the GNOME terminal’s profiles will delete as well. Restart your device and check if you can open the Terminal without getting into some error messages. 

4] Regenerate the Locales

Sometimes when you install a new program, it interacts with the system files and corrupts your locales. As a result of this, you are struggling to launch the terminal in Ubuntu. The locales are very important files in Ubuntu since they decide how to display text in whatever language you use on your system. 

In the absence of this information, the terminal will simply refuse to start or crash, if opened already. To overcome this issue, one must clear the existing locale and generate new ones. Here’s what you must do next –

  • Open the failsafe TTY by pressing Ctrl + Alt + F3. 
  • Copy/paste the below command on the terminal and press Enter

sudo locale-gen --purge

Now that you have purged the existing locale and regenerated new ones, use the shortcut – Ctrl + Alt + T. Check next if the terminal starts this way. 

5] Reinstall the Terminal or Use an alternative

If none of the above solutions help to fix the Terminal not opening issue, you better reinstall the Terminal or switch to an even better command-line program. Here’s how to perform this task –

  • Press Ctrl + Alt + F3 to launch the failsafe TTY terminal.
  • On it, copy/paste the below command and press Enter – 

sudo apt remove gnome-terminal

  • Doing so will remove the default GNOME terminal from your system. To install it back, run this code – 

sudo apt install gnome-terminal

Close the failsafe TTY and press Ctrl + Alt + T. The terminal should launch soon afterward on your Ubuntu device. If not, you better go for an alternate tool like Guake or Tilix. 

Depending on which terminal you like the most, execute any one of the available two commands –

sudo apt install guake

sudo apt install tilix

After you install an external emulator on your Ubuntu PC, use the following shortcuts to open them –

  • F12 – Pressing this key will by default launch the Guake terminal. 
  • Tilix functions more like a conventional terminal and it offers more personalization features.

Make the lately installed emulator the default terminal on your Ubuntu PC. Do note that you will always have the failsafe TTY running as a backup on your device. 

What is a TTY in Ubuntu?

Teletypewriter (TTY) is a terminal device that lets you run input and output on a character-by-character basis. This basically controls all the communication occurring between the terminal devices and the installed programs. 

Ubuntu’s terminal is developed to mostly perform jobs related to your desktop. However, if you are willing to perform some advanced jobs, you better use TTY applications like GNOME, Alacritty, Guake, or any other advanced emulator. 

To open the default terminal, use the hotkey – Ctrl + Alt + T. Whereas if you want to access the available TTY, use this combination instead – Ctrl + Alt + F3

Terminal’s Alternatives in Ubuntu

The terminal is by default the main command-line program in Ubuntu and it handles all basic as well as complex tasks fairly easily. And, as we discussed above, it is quite easy to fix the terminal issues and get it back in no time. 

Still, if you want to use a more advanced tool on Ubuntu, there is a large pool of software available for this. For example, if you want to have a fast terminal emulator, go for Alacritty. This software lets you perform all complex tasks that are not easy to run on Ubuntu’s terminal. 

R Aryan

R Aryan

Ranvijay Aryan, a Windows expert has been writing for howtoedge since 2018. He has worked at different websites, including howtoconnect, ilovefreesoftware, WindowsOutline, and other tech sites. He has also produced several articles in the SEO niche on Kunnectus and WpressSeo.