How to Install GNOME 40 Desktop on Ubuntu 20.04

GNOME 40 introduces many changes from visual changes, new apps, and overhaul back-end changes to improve performance. Overall, it is vastly different from what previous Gnome versions have looked before.

In the following tutorial, you will learn how to install the new GNOME 40 on your Ubuntu desktop.

Warning on GNOME 40

The tutorial is designed to upgrade your Ubuntu system to the latest GNOME 40 using an untrusted PPA. The PPA that will be installed is well known and is genuinely safe from anything malicious. However, this isn’t to say it’s safe to use without the possibility of unstable updates breaking your system.

Be prepared and have backups when installing and updating any future packages relating to GNOME 40 from this PPA or any alternative installation method you may choose.

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Prerequisites

  • Recommended OS: Ubuntu 20.04
  • User account: A user account with sudo or root access.

Update Operating System

Update your Ubuntu operating system to make sure all existing packages are up to date:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

The tutorial will be using the sudo command and assuming you have sudo status.

To verify sudo status on your account:

sudo whoami

Example output showing sudo status:

[joshua@ubuntu ~]$ sudo whoami
root

To set up an existing or new sudo account, visit our tutorial on adding a User to Sudoers on Ubuntu.

To use the root account, use the following command with the root password to log in.

su

Install Required PPA for GNOME 40

First, you will need to install two PPA’s to install GNOME 40 successfully. The PPA’s are all from the same maintainer Taha Nouibat.

First, install the “x11” repository to fix gnome-shell dependencies.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:devacom/x11 -y

Secondly, install the GNOME 40 PPA, which is needed for some of the required dependencies.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:devacom/gnome-40 -y

Note, you may see error pop-ups. You can ignore these as they will disappear once you install the new GNOME 40.

Example:

How to Install GNOME 40 Desktop on Ubuntu 20.04

Once you have finished importing, run an update to reflect the new additions.

sudo apt-get update
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Install GNOME 40 Desktop Environment

With the three separate PPA’s installed and updated in your repository list, the first step is to install gnome-shell.

sudo apt install ubuntu-desktop gnome-shell gnome-control-center

Example output:

How to Install GNOME 40 Desktop on Ubuntu 20.04

Type “Y,” then press the “ENTER KEY” to continue.

Next, the repositories have added extra dependencies that need updating. Before rebooting, you should update these packages.

sudo apt upgrade

Example output:

How to Install GNOME 40 Desktop on Ubuntu 20.04

Type “Y,” then press the “ENTER KEY” to continue.

Note this may take a while. There are lots of packages to upgrade and install. If you cannot see any packages to update, you may have skipped the apt update command re-run, and they should appear.

Once done, you need to reboot your system for the changes to take effect fully.

sudo reboot

First Look GNOME 40 Desktop Environment

Once you have restarted your Ubuntu system, you will first come to a new login screen entirely different from a lovely new theme.

Example:

How to Install GNOME 40 Desktop on Ubuntu 20.04

DO NOT LOG IN STRAIGHT AWAY.

First, you need to change the display manager. This is done by clicking the configuration button in the top right-hand corner of the login window, to the right of your username, and selecting either “Ubuntu on Wayland” or “Ubuntu on Xorg” instead of “Ubuntu.”

The summarise Xorg is tried and true. The choice is optional between Xorg and Wayland. However, being very stable with applications, Xorg can be more unsafe and lower in performance. Wayland has increased performance when applications are tuned for it and is much safer. However, given its new and still being adapted, many instabilities occur, leading many to use Xorg still instead.

Example:

How to Install GNOME 40 Desktop on Ubuntu 20.04

Once logged in, you will notice quite a few UI changes to the taskbars and icons.

Example:

How to Install GNOME 40 Desktop on Ubuntu 20.04

The Applications have had a major facelift along with many of the default applications installed with GNOME.

Example:

How to Install GNOME 40 Desktop on Ubuntu 20.04
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Verify GNOME 40 Desktop Environment

Typically, you can go to the “About” in the GUI settings to find system information.

Alternatively, you can confirm the installation. A handy package to install is Neofetch.

To install this package, use the following command in your terminal.

sudo apt install screenfetch -y

Once installed, run the following command in your terminal.

screenfetch

Example output:

How to Install GNOME 40 Desktop on Ubuntu 20.04

Congratulations, you have installed the latest GNOME 40 on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa.

How to Update GNOME 40 Desktop

Run the standard apt command for future updates for the GNOME 40 desktop environment and Ubuntu 20.04 default packages.

sudo apt update

When updates are available, it is the same process to upgrade.

sudo apt upgrade
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Comments and Conclusion

In the tutorial, you have learned how to install the latest GNOME 40 Desktop Environment using the PPA provided by Taha Nouibat.

Overall, GNOME 40 will look very different once you change from the default GNOME 38. Some of the noticeable changes are rounded window corners, smoother animations which give it a more modern look amongst many other changes.

Another question is should you upgrade to this? Possibly the work is already started on GNOME 41, which is very unstable. Still, GNOME 40 from this PPA has matured and looks semi-stable, but make sure to have backups when working with any alternative desktop environment.

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Fabulous instructions !! Many thanks and successfully installed.

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