How to install the Pantheon desktop on Ubuntu

Jack Wallen walks you through the process of installing the Pantheon desktop on Ubuntu 17.10.

Image: Jack Wallen

If you've read my ramblings long enough, you know that Elementary isn't just my favorite take on the Sherlock Holmes story. For many reasons, Elementary OS is, hands down, my choice of Linux desktop distribution. One of the "whys" is the Pantheon desktop. This particular desktop was created specifically for Elementary OS and offers a somewhat macOS UI feel. It's clean, incredibly user-friendly, performs splendidly, and looks great.

If you happen to make use of Ubuntu, or one of its derivatives, you're in luck as Pantheon is easily installable. Why not just install Elementary OS? Simple. You might have already been running Ubuntu, or another flavor, and want to give the Pantheon desktop a try without having to install an entire OS. This way you can switch back and forth between your desktop default and Pantheon.

With that said, I'm going to walk you through the installation of Pantheon on Ubuntu 17.10. Let's get to work.

Installing the repositories

There are a few repositories that must be set up. Fortunately, these can all be done through commands, so you don't have to manually create apt list files. Open up a terminal window and issue the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:elementary-os/daily
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:elementary-os/os-patches
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:elementary-os/testing
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:philip.scott/elementary-tweaks

Before you attempt the installation, you must update apt with the command sudo apt update. Once that completes, you're ready to install.

Installing Pantheon

The installation of Pantheon is handled via a single command. Go back to your terminal window and issue:

sudo apt-get install elementary-theme elementary-icon-theme elementary-default-settings elementary-desktop elementary-tweaks

During the running of that command, you will be asked to set up a default display manager. Depending upon the flavor of Ubuntu you are using, you'll have a couple of choices. For example, if you're running Ubuntu 17.10, not a derivative such as Xubuntu, you'll have two choices (

Figure A

Figure A

Figure A

Gdm3 is the official GNOME display manager and lightdm is the display manager used in Ubuntu.

Once you've made that selection, the installation will complete.

Reboot and login

You'll want to reboot the desktop, so the display manager can restart and the new Pantheon desktop will become an available choice. When the display manager starts up, click on your username, click the gear icon, and then select Pantheon (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

Selecting the Pantheon desktop from the display manager.

Should you want to go back to your original desktop, all you have to do is log out and select it from the drop-down.

Your new installation of Pantheon is ready (Figure C). Enjoy this amazingly user-friendly desktop experience.

Figure C

Figure C

The default Pantheon desktop.

A gateway to Elementary OS

Once you start using Patheon, you'll probably come to understand why Elementary OS is my desktop distribution of choice. If you enjoy Patheon, I highly recommend you give its associated distribution a go, so you get this outstanding desktop without having to go through the hoops of installation.

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About Jack Wallen

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

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