Hardware

DIY: Replace Ubuntu Unity with a different desktop

If you're not a fan of the new Ubuntu Unity interface, learn how simple it is to replace the desktop with Classic GNOME, XFCE, or KDE.

The question "How can I replace Ubuntu Unity with another desktop?" has been filling up my inbox. Why? Because users who have tried Unity don't like what Ubuntu has decided will be the default desktop going forward. When Unity first became available, I thought it would be a logical evolution to the desktop, but it turns out I was wrong. Unity might fare well on a tablet, but it does not on a desktop.

To that end, users who want to stick with Ubuntu (I'm one of those users) are wondering how to install a different desktop on their system. I will discuss three possible replacement options: Classic GNOME, XFCE, and KDE.

Classic GNOME

With Classic GNOME, no installation is necessary. You log out and then, after selecting the user to log in with, select Ubuntu Classic from the desktop drop-down. Now, enter your user password and log in. You should be greeted with the familiar GNOME goodness.

XFCE

XFCE should please the majority of users, especially ones who prefer a lean, fast, and highly flexible desktop. To install XFCE on Ubuntu, follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Issue the command sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop.
  3. Type your sudo password and hit Enter.
  4. Accept any dependencies and allow the installation to complete.
  5. Log out and log in, choosing your new XFCE desktop.

KDE

KDE is not nearly as lightweight as XFCE, but it is powerful and offers a number of features other desktops do not. Here's how to install KDE on Ubuntu:

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Issue the command sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop.
  3. Type your sudo password and hit Enter.
  4. Accept any dependencies and allow the installation to complete.
  5. Log out and log in, choosing your new KDE desktop.

Choices

There are a lot of desktops available, and no one is forced to use Ubuntu Unity. So choose your desktop wisely, and then if you don't like what you've chosen, try another option! Linux will always be about choice.

If you decide to stick it out with Unity at least a little longer, read these tips:

Ask Jack: If you have a DIY question, email it to me, and I'll do my best to answer it. (Read guidelines about submitting DIY questions.)

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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