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For the last bit, unity (and perhaps other things?) would crash after something like 20-30 minutes of use. First my launchbar would disappear, all of the upper right hand icons disappear and then all my programs freeze.

If I press my power button, the login/shutdown/restart screen shows up but all the text is squares. Then the entire GUI freezes. If I manage to open up a terminal before everything stops and I type in 'unity', it says that the command isn't recognised.

Any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

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You could try reinstalling Unity.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install --reinstall ubuntu-desktop
sudo apt-get install unity
sudo reboot

If you can, don't ever do a hard restart. Better to restart lightdm

Ctrl+Alt+F1 and then login [everything must be lower case] then

sudo lightdm restart

or to restart the computer safely at another time

Sysrq + Alt and type REISUB

I would also suggest keeping a pen and paper notebook of terminal logout, restart and troubleshooting commands so that if things crash, you'll know how to resume safely.

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