Linux Gnome: gconf-sanity-check-2 Exited With Status 256 Error and Solution

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When I try to login into my Linux Gnome based desktop system, I get the following error from GDM :


gconf-sanity-check-2 exited with status 256

How do I fix this problem?

If you see an error about gconf-sanity-check-2, apply the following solutions (note you may need to apply all the solutions):

Fix #1: /tmp permission

You need to make sure /tmp permissions are with the sticky bit mode. An access-right flag on /tmp can be set as follows.
# ls -ld /tmp/
Sample outputs without sticky bit:

drwxr-xr-x 27 vivek users 12288 Jul 18 15:20 /tmp/

Set the correct permission and stick bit as follows (run it as root user):
# chown -R root:root /tmp
# chmod 1777 /tmp

Verify new permissions:
# ls -ld /tmp/
Sample outputs:

drwxrwxrwt 27 root root 12288 Jul 18 15:25 /tmp/

Fix #2: /home permission

Make sure /home has correct permission set. A typical set of permission looks as follows on /home
$ ls -ld /home/
Sample outputs:

drwxr-xr-x 4 root root 4096 May  5 16:29 /home/

If permisions are not as above set it as follows (run it as root user):
# chown root:root /home
# chmod 0755 /home

Try rebooting the system after applying above two solutions. If you still getting the message, empty the gdm home. Run it as root (this for gdm3):
# rm -rf /var/lib/gdm3/.*
For older gnome version (gdm 2) try:
# rm -rf /var/lib/gdm/.*



Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

16 comment

  1. I had a hard crash on a Centos 6 VM under VirtualBox.
    Fix #1 worked for me and also found that my .ICEAuthority file in /var/lib/gdm was corrupted. It was the most recent file that changed since the crash. So I moved it to .ICEAuthority.tmp and rebooted. Everything came up great and my desktop settings were intact. I also had the error about the gnome power manager failing so I ran:
    yum remove gnome-power-manager
    yum install gnome-power-manager


  2. Another problem is one of your directories under /etc/gconf may be missing some entries that are cached under /var/lib/gdm. The sanity check compares the settings under etc with the cached values, and if they are different will throw this error.

    Example: manually removing /etc/gconf/gconf.xml.mandatory folder will cause that exact error as well; especially if you had settings in this folder prior to the error.

    Running gconftool-2 to update/unapply the current config should help as well.

  3. Thanks for the fixes. I was knockng out my RHEL with a rm -rf /tmp/. Because of your solution everything is fine without reinstallation.

  4. Hello,

    While I was working with my oracle linux image (under virtual box). I changed permissions of root by mistake. (I typed chmod -R 777 / ).since then my imag is not opening and I’m unable to find a solution to fix it. Can you please help me.

    1. Please try and run this command # restorecon -v / (this should restore all the settings in the root). I hope it helps

  5. I received the same error as well after logging into my graphical desktop, and found that my ~/.gconf had a different UID than the one displayed when running the ‘id’ command. I understand what caused the UID mismatch; changing my ~/.gconf using chown -R login_id ~/.gconf fixed it.

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