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 and 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 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


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 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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