Unity Desktop Environment is a graphical shell for the GNOME desktop environment created and maintained by Canonical for Ubuntu operating systems. As time has passed and Ubuntu is now officially using GNOME as the default desktop environment, it is maintained and developed by the Unity7 Maintainers and UBports.
In the following tutorial, you will learn how to install Unity on Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Jammy Jellyfish.
Table of Contents
- Recommended OS: Ubuntu 22.04 Desktop.
- User account: A user account with sudo or root access.
- Internet Access.
The tutorial will utilize the terminal interface, which can be found in the show applications menu.
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:
Example output showing sudo status:
[joshua@ubuntu ~]$ sudo whoami root
To set up an existing or new sudo account, visit our tutorial on How to Add a User to Sudoers on Ubuntu.
Important Notice Before Installation
New users to Linux and novice users, create backups or plans if you do not like it and want to roll back before installing the desktop environment. Removing any Desktop Environment is challenging and will lead to system instabilities, and there are typically always remnant applications to remove, among other things.
Unless you have minimal system resources, having multiple desktop environments will not hinder your system. Often people have several and switch between, and it is advised to keep all the alternative desktop environments you install or reformat your system altogether.
Do not install the following desktop environment on your PC if this sounds too difficult or risky.
Install Unity Desktop Environment
The Unity Desktop has three installation choices minimal, standard, or complete. Each one has pros and cons depending on what you are looking to get out of the desktop. A brief explanation will be explained with each option.
sudo apt install ubuntu-unity-desktop --no-install-recommends
The minimum installation is suitable for testing, and having the bare minimum, older hardware would benefit from this version. Overall, the size is 76MB to download, and 280MB additional space is required afterward.
sudo apt install ubuntu-unity-desktop
The standard Unity installation is the most recommended for the average desktop user that wants a balance system. Overall, the size is 250MB to download, and 820MB additional space is required afterward.
sudo apt install ubuntu-unity-desktop --install-suggests
This comes with everything naturally being a complete installation, but it will add bloat, affecting older systems without enough resources. However, newer systems will probably not enjoy this installation since it will add many applications they will not use, such as firebird, jackd2, and others which should be installed one by one.
Overall, you will need to download a whopping 2GB, with 15GB of additional space required. Unless you need this installation expressly, it is advised to stick with the standard installation.
The tutorial will install the full package. The process is pretty much the same for all installation options.
Next, during the installation, you will see the following prompt window.
As the above output has stated, this message informs you about which display manager to choose.
For Unity Desktop, this will be “lightdm”.
Press the “TAB” key to select <Ok> and press your “ENTER KEY” to proceed.
Once complete, you will need to reboot your system for the new changes to take effect.
Restart by typing the following command:
First Look & Verifying Unity Desktop Environment
Once you have restarted your desktop, you will arrive at your login screen.
Proceed to log in, “Unity” session should be selected already as default in the top right-hand corner.
Once logged in, you will notice quite a few UI changes besides the apparent color and background changes which can be changed by going into the Appearance menu.
Example (Click Image Expand):
The taskbar is designed on the top, which can be modified. Unity is sleek and straightforward, backgrounds and colors can be adjusted, but it’s more about the performance and overall functionality that keep many users still wanting to use this desktop environment.
But you be the judge if this style of desktop environment suits you or not.
To see the system specs in your terminal, install the neofetch package.
sudo apt install neofetch -y
Next, print the specs with the following command.
And that is it, and you have successfully installed the Unity desktop environment.
Switching Default Display Managers
In the future, if you want to change the default display manager back to GDM to use GNOME and so on from the Unity and LightDM display manager.
Open your terminal, then re-run the pop-up to configure the default display manager using the following command.
sudo dpkg-reconfigure sddm
Removing (Uninstall) Unity Desktop Environment
Use the following command for users who want to try and attempt to remove Unity.
sudo apt autoremove '^unity' --purge
Next, reboot your system.
As per the start of the tutorial, this may be easier for advanced users but difficult for Linux beginners as quite often, additional packages are installed and will need to be cleaned up.
Comments and Conclusion
In the tutorial, you have successfully learned how to install Unity Desktop. Overall, this distribution is cleanest, well-managed, and community-driven. It strikes similarities with some other DE’s and is worth checking out.