Now treat me gently, I'm already a brusied noob! I thought I was "reasonably" OK with computers, having built my own 8 bit 4K (yes, 4000 bytes) computer a few [ahem] years back, and am not afraid to dive into PCs. And yes, I grew up on DOS, so some basic text commands on the Pi had me in tears (of nostaglia). Never been a Unix guy, tho. Never needed it!

New Raspberry Pi 3, set up with everything set as defaults. I've had it working fine, written HelloWorld Python3 program and flashed an LED, etc., through the gui on an HDMI screen. I can even talk to the Pi via SSH on my PC. All good.

Then this evening, the GUI screen goes fully black after a reboot, BUT the mouse pointer is still there, and still moves. Nothing else on screen. Same results with two different monitors. I can Ctrl/Alt/F3 to another login, or get in via SSH, so the Pi is alive and well, and the monitor is OK, too. It's just the damn blank GUI!

I did make some changes to the Config file, trying to fill the screen better, but I'm pretty sure I put all that back (mostly commented the options out). Where to from here - any ideas? I did look about, found references to (utterly) blank GUI screens, but I don't think that's where I am with this one.

5 Answers 5


To anyone still following this - looks like I had hardware problems. A complete new Raspberry pi3 from Pimorini (in double quick time) and the problem has gone away. All works - happy now! :)

  • Could you accept your own answer? This should stop the flood of low quality one-line guesses people post as answers here. Sep 27, 2016 at 11:57
  • This is a bit of a shame because what the question describes is what you get if you run the X server with no window manager and/or desktop environment on top -- which can happen with a misconfigured GUI stack.
    – goldilocks
    Apr 3 at 16:46

Since it's a new install, just reflash the SDcard. Make sure to shut it down properly each time, with sudo shutdown -h now as opposed to just pulling the power.

  • Hi - thanks for your answer. It may yet come to (yet another!) reflash, as I've been in a similar situation before, when my Pi lost the plot. I am, therefore, particulalry carefull when I shut down (mostly, the machine is on 24/7 anyway). I have subsequently installed web services, etc. since the last reflash, so I didn't REALLY want to go through the whole thing AGAIN unless there are no other options! So still looking... ?
    – Laurence
    Apr 19, 2016 at 20:57

Did you expand the file system? I didn't on my pi, and suffered from similar symptoms. You'll need to re-flash, and once you have, expand the file system via raspi-config.


I have same issue with Raspberry Pi 4B.

Just press Ctrl + Alt + F7 to switch back to desktop screen. To get back to blank screen with mouse pointer you can press Ctrl + Alt + F8.

I'm using HDMI switch which allows me to connect multiple HDMI devices to single monitor. When I'm switching sources and back to RPi it randomly shows "second" desktop screen with mouse pointer only.


Maybe installing tightvncserver. The documentation on the Raspberry Pi website has a great guide on installing it. tightvncserver will allow you to control the GUI on another computer with this.

  • 1
    Hello and welcome. Could you please explain how this is supposed to be relevant to the question?
    – Ghanima
    Jul 29, 2016 at 6:56

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