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I have had this problem so many times it is not even funny. It is my biggest complaint about rviz. What's happening is the last time you ran rviz with some configuration, it remembers it. And that can cause problems if you try to load it later for lots of reasons. Best way around this is to load an empty.vcg file. THEN do the step above where you manually load whatever you want or afterwards go load some new vcg file. The visualization stack has a nice one that worked for me. You can find it at /opt/ros/electric/stacks/visualization/rviz/test/old_configs Then run rosrun rviz rviz -d ./empty.vcg

Good luck. Hope this helped. -Scott