Earth is missing after Google Earth Linux Installation

August 16, 2008 at 9:15 pm 9 comments

Recently, I helped out a friend with a Linux installation. One of the application installed was Google Earth. I followed Google’s instruction to run the bin file. After the installation, I was asked if I want to start Google Earth. I selected the option to start Google Earth and test it to make sure that it was working. However, when I launch Google Earth later, I notice that the entire Earth was missing. All I see is an empty star field. The earth was not displayed no matter which address I entered. Has Earth become a victim of mass alien abduction?

My first clue was that Google Earth worked when I tested it during installation. When you install an application, you have to run it as root. As a result, I run the installation using sudo. When I am prompted to start Google Earth during installation, I probably ran it as root. To test this theory, I ran google earth by typing “sudo googleearth”. Sure enough,  Google Earth launched without a problem. Obviously, the issue is permission related.

One quick fix would be to edit the menu so that it launch google earth as “sudo googleearth”. This will work but is not a secured solution. There’s no reason to run google earth as root. In addition, your user may to have permission to sudo.

Poking around the home directory, I discovered that Google Earth installed .googleearth in the home directory. When I did a “ls -la”, I notice that the .googleearth is assigned to the owner of root and group of root. As a result, the user is unable to write to the .googleearth. To make things worse, this was probably installed when I answered yes to start Google Earth during installation. If I had not decided to start Google Earth during installation, I would not have encountered this problem.


  • When you install Google Earth, do not start Google Earth during installation. Exit the installer and run Google Earth under your own account.
  • If you failed to do this and now you have a .googleearth permissioned to root, go to your home directory and run “sudo rm -rf .googleearth”. Now run Google Earth again under your own account. Note that all settings will be lost.
  • Alternatively, you can use chown and chgrp to reassign the owner and group of .googleearth to yourself (make sure you use -R so that the permission change is made to the subdirectories).

Entry filed under: googleearth, linux.

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. pascal  |  August 19, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Ah, thank you! I thought it was some kind of proxy problem and nearly got mad after poking through megabytes of wireshark-logs 🙂

  • 2. Twofish  |  August 24, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    One other thing, if you have run it as root you may have to also remove ~/.config/Google to get everything to work.

  • 3. luke  |  September 1, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Twofish: a simple chown -R user:usergroup .config/Google does the trick.

    I installed as root initially, realized my mistake, removed, re-installed as user and nothing appeared – it’s because it can’t access the server config information in that director 🙂

    so, cheers guys

  • 4. robert  |  November 26, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Though if you do a chown you will initially get complaints (when you restart google earth) about not being able to write to the cache – as the config file has it under/root/. Get past the couple of complaint dialogs and restart and you’ll then be ok

  • 5. ma boorman  |  January 16, 2009 at 11:22 pm

    With 4.3 I found the .googlearth permisions were right.
    The .config/Google dir has the wrong permisions AND also had seetings pointing into the root users home directory.
    Simply delete the directory and restart to fix it.

  • 6. jared  |  January 27, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Yeah, had the same problem here. Had to delete my $HOME/.googleearth and $HOME/.config/Google. After this, restarted fine.

  • 7. Susie  |  April 29, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks, this seemed to fix that problem, but does anyone know about how to stop all the dialog boxes, etc from disappearing behind the map? Also there is a white strip that flashes on and off constantly near the right side of the screen while Google Earth is running.


  • 8. Edward  |  June 16, 2012 at 11:48 am

    I found this page but had a slightly different problem. I installed as root but found a dead link in ~/.googleearth/instance-running-lock that referenced a non-existent file in /proc. Deleting that file was sufficient to fix a problem whereby google-earth would exit immediately after displaying the splash screen, but would run fine as root.


  • 9.  |  November 6, 2012 at 2:53 am

    I’m having the same problem with version but, here, it doesn’t seem to be related to permissions: neither rm -rf ~/.googleearth/ ~/.config/Google nor running it as root made the textures appear.


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