Why and How to Install Unity 7 Desktop on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

This tutorial shows you how to install Unity Desktop on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. We will also restore the nice-looking Unity login screen, in case you don’t like the GNOME login screen. I personally don’t like GNOME. Here’s why.

  • There’s too much movement when switching between programs, which is distracting.
  • I also don’t like the fact that GNOME is trying to remove functionalities that I love to use over the years.
  • If you insert a USB stick, the icon is shown on the desktop. You need to minimize your current window to access it. In Unity, I can simply click the USB icon in the left launcher bar. I can’t understand why the icons are shown on the desktop when there’s room in the left bar.
  • In GNOME, a program’s menu bar isn’t displayed on the top bar, which wastes screen real estate.
  • I prefer the window control buttons (minimize, maximize, close) on the left side of title bar because when you click one of three buttons, you are likely to switch to another program, which requires you to click on the left side of the screen.
  • Sometimes I want to hide the clock on the top bar so as to focus on my task and not worry about time and deadline. It can be easily done in Unity but difficult to do in GNOME.

GNOME becomes the default desktop environment since Ubuntu 17.10 with some Ubuntu-made modifications. But still, I can’t bring myself to like it. You may argue that users can install extensions to customize the desktop, but I’m not a person who would spend much time modifying appearance when there’s already one desktop environment I like.

If you want an out-of-the-box Unity experience, you can download Ubuntu Unity Edition ISO image. For those who have already installed Ubuntu 18.04 GNOME, follow the instructions below to install Unity Desktop.

How to Install Unity Desktop on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

Open up a terminal window. Then run the following two commands to install Unity 7 desktop from the default software repository.

sudo apt update

sudo apt install ubuntu-unity-desktop

This will install a lot of packages. Hit Enter to continue.

ubuntu 18.04 unity desktop

During the installation, you will be asked to choose a display manager. You can choose lightdm display manager, which will give you the Unity Login screen. gdm is the default display manager for GNOME desktop.

ubuntu 18.04 lightdm display manager

ubuntu 18.04 restore unity login screen

Once the installation is complete, restart your Ubuntu 18.04 computer.

sudo shutdown -r now

Now you are greeted by Unity login screen. What a warm feeling to have it back!

ubuntu 18.04 unity login screen

The default desktop environment is now Unity. You can click the Ubuntu icon to choose another desktop environment if you want to.

ubuntu 18.04 desktop environment options

If you upgraded from Ubuntu 16.04/17.10 to Ubuntu 18.04 and the login screen was replaced with the one from GNOME desktop, you can restore Unity login screen by running the following command.

sudo dpkg-reconfigure lightdm

And here’s the good old Unity desktop.

install unity 7 desktop ubuntu 18.04

Checking Unity Version

You can use the screenfetch tool to check Unity desktop version.

sudo apt install screenfetch

screenfetch

As you can see, we have installed Unity 7.5.0.

ubuntu 18.04 unity 7

You can also acquire Unity version by running the following command.

unity --version

ubuntu 18.04 install unity

Since we installed Unity, why not install the Unity tweak tool?

sudo apt install unity-tweak-tool

How to Remove GNOME Desktop from Ubuntu 18.04

If you don’t want to keep GNOME on the list of available desktop environments, uninstall it with the following command.

sudo apt remove gnome-shell

If you now restart Ubuntu 18.04 OS, there will be no GNOME desktop in the login screen options.

ubuntu 18.04 uninstall gnome shell

I hope this tutorial helped you install Unity 7 desktop on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. As always, if you found this post useful, then subscribe to our free newsletter to get more tips and tricks. Take care.

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8 Responses to “Why and How to Install Unity 7 Desktop on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS

  • Vincent Claessens
    4 months ago

    Thanks for help, my friend !

  • Thanks so much for your tutorial I “upgraded” to 18.04LTS a week ago and tried to use the Gnome desktop but I have given up. The docker does not scroll properly, no lens and much of the screen is not usable. Have used Unity since Ubuntu 8.04 netbook and love it.
    Thanks again

  • Robin S. Hicks
    2 months ago

    I tried real hard to use the Gnome version of Ubuntu, but it’s just not for me. There’s just no logic to the layout. I found these commands off of https://discourse.ubuntu.com/t/how-to-install-ubuntu-unity-ppa/2090 The only difference from yours is that it includes a ‘ppa.’

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:unity7maintainers/unity7-desktop
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install ubuntu-unity-desktop

  • GeoDosch
    1 month ago

    I’m glad to see that I’m not alone in hating the Gnome desktop. I’ve been struggling with it since upgrading to 18.04 (in conjunction with a hardware upgrade) and am going to be switching to Unity.

    One thing that bugs me is that Gnome seems to be trying too hard to be Windows-like (window control buttons on the right, ‘Start’ button at the lower-left. And the launcher mimics the horrible Win7 taskbar behavior (more below on that.)

    But other things make zero sense, especially if the aim is to appeal to Windows users. Why would the clock default to a “ddd hh:mm” format? Showing the day of the week, but not the date? But what’s far worse is that it cannot be changed via the native GUI tools. In what world does that make any sense? (and I hate that it’s centered.)

    I had a heck of a time finding the ‘Suspend’ button. Long-press the “Power” button, and wait for it to change? And is the keyboard repeat control under keyboard settings? Why no– far too obvious! Let’s bury it under the Accessibility settings. Finding basic controls shouldn’t require a hint book.

    Probably my biggest gripe is the behavior of the launch bar when multiple windows are open in the same application. In Unity, if I had, for example, 2 or more FireFox windows open, and switched to another application, clicking on the FF launch bar icon would take me back to my most recent window. With Gnome, after clicking the icon, I’m presenting with thumbnails of all the open FF windows, and must select the one I want. And since their order keeps changing, unless I can discern from the tiny thumbnail which one I want, it’s pretty much hit-and-miss as to whether I pick the right one. In Unity the second select click only occurred if a FF window already had focus, and I clicked the LB icon again (and the displayed thumbnails where big enough to tell which one I wanted!) And Unity also had the delightful feature of letting me mouse-over the LB icon, then use my scroll wheel to flip through the open windows.

  • really helpful article. i am new in ubuntu, & i have a question. do i need any back up for changing the gui?

    • No. If you want to switch back to GNOME, just install the gnome-shell package and select the desktop environment at the login screen.

  • Hei,

    Thank you for this article !

    Like many ‘silent’ happy unity users, still shocked by the seemingly fall of unity and convergence, I am refusing to use gnome in my desktop.

    From being used to a professional user interface we are now back 10 years ( in my humble opinion ), and I hope a miracle happens and Unity keeps moving forward.

    I have followed the tutorial and installed unity this way on my desktop.

    For my laptop I found there is an ISO ready for Unity on 18.04, so you get pure Unity no gnome.
    It works amazingly good.. I recommend it!

    Here it the iso’s link:
    https://people.ubuntu.com/~twocamels/

    Some other nice Articles about Unity on Ubuntu 18.04:
    https://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/ubuntu-beaver-beta.html
    https://openschoolsolutions.org/why-i-will-use-unity-ubuntu-18-04/
    https://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/ubuntu-beaver-unity.html

    Cheers

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