How to Install GNOME 40 on Ubuntu 21.04

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 21.04 operating system.

Warning on GNOME 40 for Ubuntu 21.04

The tutorial is designed to upgrade your Ubuntu 21.04 operating system to the latest GNOME desktop offered by the creator of this Reddit post. GNOME 40 is not stable and is quite unstable given the frequent rebuilding that is done and can often break. To get a peak or use a system, you do not mind re-installing Ubuntu if things go pear shape. Be warned!


  • Recommended OS: Ubuntu 21.04 Hirsute (Cannot use any other version)
  • User account: A user account with sudo or root access.

Install PPA for Gnome 40

The first step before installing Gnome on Ubuntu is to import the PPA ppa:shemgp/gnome-40. It must be noted this is not an official PPA and is maintained for upstream, which can break as described at the start of the tutorial.

To install the PPA, use the following command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:shemgp/gnome-40

Example output:

How to Install Gnome 40 on Ubuntu 21.04

Press the enter key to proceed.

Once imported, update your repository list to reflect the newly added PPA.

sudo apt update

Even on an up-to-date Ubuntu 21.04 operating system, you will find that after installing the PPA and using the apt update command, many packages will need to be updated.

Example output:

126 packages can be upgraded. Run 'apt list --upgradable' to see them.

Before installing Gnome 40, you should upgrade these mostly dependency packages:

sudo apt upgrade -y

Next, remove and clean up unused dependencies that are leftover:

sudo apt autoremove -y

Installing Gnome 40

To install or upgrade Gnome is pretty straightforward. First, you must install the Gnome Window manager mutter using the following terminal command:

sudo apt install mutter

Example output:

How to Install Gnome 40 on Ubuntu 21.04

Next, install the gnome-shell and gnome-session packages:

sudo apt install gnome-shell gnome-session

Example output:

How to Install Gnome 40 on Ubuntu 21.04

Type Y, then press the enter key to proceed with the installation.

To verify the installation once complete, use the following:

gnome-shell --version

Example output:

GNOME Shell 40.3

Once everything is installed, you must restart your operating system for changes to take effect as follows:

sudo reboot now

Logging into Gnome 40

Once you are back in the login screen, which you will notice is quite different now, you will first need to click the little cog settings icon in the right-hand corner and select GNOME on Xorg. By default, it will have Ubuntu select, you must change this, or your desktop will not operate correctly.

Note, you can try GNOME, but it can still be unpredictable with Wayland. The worse case, go back to GNOME Xorg.


How to Install Gnome 40 on Ubuntu 21.04

Once logging in, you will notice the Activities screen look has changed:

How to Install Gnome 40 on Ubuntu 21.04

Now open the Applications Menu, you will notice even more improvements and changes. Doesn’t it look more pretty?

How to Install Gnome 40 on Ubuntu 21.04

You can find more information about GNOME that was installed in the About Graphical UI on your Ubuntu 21.04 operating system:

How to Install Gnome 40 on Ubuntu 21.04

Or another alternative you can use the screenfetch tool to check the GNOME desktop version and other details around your desktop.

sudo apt install screenfetch -y

Example output:

How to Install Gnome 40 on Ubuntu 21.04

Comments and Conclusion

In the tutorial, you have learned how to install the PPA with the latest upstream modules of Gnome 40 and in future 41+ and upgrade dependencies, then install the latest desktop software. Some of the most noticeable changes are rounded window corners, smoother animations which give it a more modern look amongst many other changes that GNOME 40 brings.

Overall, GNOME 40 will be incorporated into Ubuntu. For those wanting to see a peak, definitely check this out; however, make sure to take system backups as this can defiantly break.


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