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During April 2021 the Maths faculty upgraded all the workstations to the latest release of Xubuntu: 20.04 focal.

If you encounter any issues with using this operating system please let us know at and we will add the answers on this page.


Frequently asked questions

Where did my scratch files go?

If you had previously kept files in scratch that you now require - please let us know and we'll try to retrieve them.

NB. Our ability to retrieve anything from old scratch directories will decay over time - please ask sooner rather than later.

My desktop looks very different

Linux offers people a choice between multiple desktop environments. The most common of these are Gnome, KDE and XFCE.

Xubuntu defaults to a version of XFCE - but you can change this each time you login using the small icon near the clock on the login page.

We generally recommend the 'Xubuntu Desktop' option as this gives a good user experience and is optimised for remote working.

Where is xxxx software?

In general we have provided the same suite of software as was available on the previous operating system.

In some notable cases software has been discontinued and an alternative should be used. For example:

  • rdesktop: remmina
  • xv: display; gimp; okular

If you do require some specific other software that is missing please email

Thunderbird/Firefox can't find profile

"profile missing or are now inaccessible".

This could mean you had previously redirected part of the profile to the /local/scratch folder. If so you would need to recreate that folder on any new machine (including anything upgraded).

My display is only showing text on black background

If your screen is only displaying some text on a black background instead of the graphical interface; this could be caused by a few different states.

  • login username - if the screen is requesting login then most likely the installation hasn't quite finished - please leave it for 45 minutes and it should have rebooted itself.
  • SSSD error - the installation is not quite finished - please leave it for 45 minutes and it should have rebooted itself.
  • subiquity error - the installer has failed: please email
  • grub error - this will require help from IT: please email

My keyboard layout is wrong

By default, the keyboard after upgrading is something not quite English and not quite US. You will notice it the first time you use a " (double quote). Here's how to fix it:


  1. You need to locate the Keyboard setting window. There are several ways, try a right-click in the desktop background and then Applications->Settings->Keyboard
  2. Once there, select the layout tab.
  3. Select the current keyboard layout and press Edit.
  4. Find, and select, English(UK)

Alternatively, from the command line, type:

setxkbmap -layout gb

How do I log in? Why does it say "Maths IT"?

Maths IT is the default login after the upgrade. If you see the name of a human being then that just means that person logged in before you (possibly an IT person testing it). Click the little triangle to the right and then select Other. You will then see the normal username and password boxes that you are familar with.

If you get a password error then it is likely the install didnt finish 100% correctly. Please email help@maths and we will rectify that.