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How To Set GNOME as Default Desktop Environment in Ubuntu

Ubuntu 6

In this article, we will guide you through the process of setting GNOME as the default desktop environment in Ubuntu. This guide is applicable to most versions of Ubuntu, but it’s always recommended to check the official Ubuntu documentation for the most accurate information for your specific version.

Quick Answer

To set GNOME as the default desktop environment in Ubuntu, you need to install GNOME by running the command "sudo apt-get install gnome-shell ubuntu-gnome-desktop" in the terminal. Then, install or reconfigure gdm by running "sudo apt-get install gdm" or "sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm". Finally, restart your computer and select GNOME from the login screen.

Understanding GNOME and Ubuntu

Before we dive into the technical details, let’s briefly discuss what GNOME and Ubuntu are.

Ubuntu is one of the most popular Linux distributions. It’s free, open-source, and boasts a user-friendly interface. Ubuntu uses a desktop environment to provide a graphical user interface for its users. By default, Ubuntu uses the Unity desktop environment, but it also supports several others, including GNOME.

GNOME is a highly intuitive and user-friendly desktop environment. It’s the default environment for many Linux distributions, and it’s known for its simplicity and ease of use.

Why Set GNOME as Default?

You might wonder why you would want to set GNOME as the default desktop environment. The answer is simple: personal preference. Some users find GNOME’s interface more intuitive and easier to navigate. Others might prefer its aesthetic over Unity’s. Whatever your reasons, setting GNOME as your default desktop environment is a simple process.

Step 1: Installing GNOME

First, you need to install GNOME. Open a terminal and run the following command:

sudo apt-get install gnome-shell ubuntu-gnome-desktop

This command does two things:

  • sudo gives you superuser permissions, allowing you to install software.
  • apt-get install gnome-shell ubuntu-gnome-desktop installs the GNOME shell and the Ubuntu GNOME desktop.

Enter your password when prompted, and wait for the installation to complete.

Step 2: Installing GDM

Next, you need to install gdm, the GNOME Display Manager. This is the program that manages graphical display servers and handles user authentication. In the terminal, run:

sudo apt-get install gdm

If gdm is already installed, you can reconfigure it by running:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm

This command will prompt you to choose the display manager you want to use. Select gdm.

Step 3: Setting GNOME as Default

After installing gdm, restart your computer. When you reach the login screen, click the gear icon and select “GNOME” from the dropdown menu. This sets GNOME as your default desktop environment.


Setting GNOME as your default desktop environment in Ubuntu is a straightforward process. It involves installing the GNOME shell and desktop, installing or reconfiguring gdm, and selecting GNOME at the login screen. Remember to consult the official Ubuntu documentation for the most accurate and up-to-date information.

By following these steps, you can customize your Ubuntu experience to better suit your preferences and needs. Enjoy exploring the GNOME desktop environment!

Can I install GNOME on any version of Ubuntu?

Yes, you can install GNOME on most versions of Ubuntu. However, it’s always recommended to check the official Ubuntu documentation for the specific version you are using for any compatibility issues or specific instructions.

Can I switch back to Unity after setting GNOME as the default?

Yes, you can switch back to Unity or any other desktop environment after setting GNOME as the default. Simply log out of your current session, click the gear icon on the login screen, and select the desktop environment you want to switch to.

Can I have both Unity and GNOME installed on my system?

Yes, you can have both Unity and GNOME installed on your system. However, having multiple desktop environments installed may consume additional disk space. You can switch between the desktop environments at the login screen by selecting the desired option from the gear icon dropdown menu.

Will installing GNOME affect my existing files and applications?

Installing GNOME should not affect your existing files and applications. However, it’s always a good idea to back up your important files before making any major changes to your system, just to be safe.

Can I customize the GNOME desktop environment?

Yes, GNOME offers a high level of customization. You can change the appearance, add extensions, and configure various settings to personalize your GNOME experience. There are many online resources and communities dedicated to GNOME customization that can help you explore different options.

Will setting GNOME as the default desktop environment improve system performance?

The impact on system performance may vary depending on your hardware and specific configuration. Some users may find GNOME to be more resource-intensive compared to other desktop environments. However, modern hardware should be able to handle GNOME without significant performance issues. If you have an older or low-spec system, you may want to consider lighter desktop environments for better performance.

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