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I've recently installed ubuntu-gnome-desktop on my Ubuntu 12.10 32 bit system. It all worked, but now I would like to remove it again, since I like Unity better. This includes undoing all changes like getting GRUB back to a purple background and having the original Unity login screen.


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In my experience, removing an added-on desktop environment damages my previous installation. It seems that some apps are in common with both and while not installed with the 2nd desktop, they are removed with it. – Buck Aug 21 '15 at 12:01
Maybe you can do it with aptitude, since aptitude fixes your dependencies. – lapisdecor Feb 24 at 14:45
up vote 24 down vote accepted

The bad thing about installing other Desktop environments is they install a lot of extra packages and it is sometimes hard to find and remove all of them.

Start by running this command:

sudo apt-get purge abiword abiword-common abiword-plugin-grammar abiword-plugin-mathview alacarte argyll cups-pk-helper epiphany-browser epiphany-browser-data evolution evolution-common evolution-plugins fonts-cantarell fonts-lyx gdm gir1.2-accountsservice-1.0 gir1.2-caribou-1.0 gir1.2-clutter-gst-2.0 gir1.2-evince-3.0 gir1.2-gck-1 gir1.2-gconf-2.0 gir1.2-gcr-3 gir1.2-gdesktopenums-3.0 gir1.2-gkbd-3.0 gir1.2-gnomedesktop-3.0 gir1.2-gst-plugins-base-1.0 gir1.2-gstreamer-1.0 gir1.2-ibus-1.0 gir1.2-mutter-3.0 gir1.2-networkmanager-1.0 gir1.2-panelapplet-4.0 gir1.2-polkit-1.0 gir1.2-telepathyglib-0.12 gir1.2-telepathylogger-0.2 gir1.2-upowerglib-1.0 gir1.2-xkl-1.0 gjs glchess glines gnect gnibbles gnobots2 gnome-applets gnome-applets-data gnome-color-manager gnome-desktop-data gnome-dictionary gnome-games gnome-games-extra-data gnome-icon-theme-extras gnome-mahjongg gnome-packagekit gnome-packagekit-data gnome-panel gnome-panel-data gnome-search-tool gnome-session-fallback gnome-shell gnome-shell-common gnome-software-manager gnome-sushi gnome-tweak-tool gnome-update-viewer gnotravex gnotski gnumeric gnumeric-common gnumeric-doc gstreamer1.0-alsa gstreamer1.0-plugins-base-apps gstreamer1.0-pulseaudio gstreamer1.0-tools gtali iagno itstool libabiword-2.9 libaudit0 libcaribou-common libcaribou0 libcolamd2.7.1 libcolord-gtk1 libedataserverui-3.0-4 libevolution libgdict-1.0-6 libgdict-common libgdome2-0 libgdome2-cpp-smart0c2a libgjs0c libgoffice-0.8-8 libgoffice-0.8-8-common libgtkmathview0c2a libicc2 libimdi0 libiptcdata0 liblink-grammar4 libloudmouth1-0 libmail-spf-perl libmozjs185-1.0 libmutter0 libnetaddr-ip-perl libots0 libpst4 libtidy-0.99-0 libtracker-extract-0.14-0 libtracker-miner-0.14-0 libtracker-sparql-0.14-0 libwv-1.2-4 libytnef0 lightsoff link-grammar-dictionaries-en mutter mutter-common packagekit packagekit-backend-aptcc packagekit-tools plymouth-theme-ubuntu-gnome-logo plymouth-theme-ubuntu-gnome-text python-cloudfiles python-packagekit quadrapassel re2c simple-scan spamassassin spamc swell-foop tracker tracker-extract tracker-gui tracker-miner-fs tracker-utils ubuntu-gnome-default-settings ubuntu-gnome-desktop xsltproc yelp-tools  

It will purge most of the extra packages you installed.

Then run sudo apt-get autoremove to remove extra packages and dependencies no longer needed on your system.

You might (or might not, depending on if gdm was removed already) need to use these commands to change your login screen back to Unity's default (which is lightDM) run

sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm

Hit enter at the prompt and then select lightdm from the options. After that you can purge gdm with

sudo apt-get purge gdm  

Finally run:

sudo apt-get install --reinstall ubuntu-desktop

In case the removal of gnome grabbed any bits of the main desktop.

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Yes Thank you. It helped, and I don't see any leftovers. – flameNugget Jan 19 '13 at 6:28
Great answer, this removed all traces of gnome desktop however it also removed my system settings in Unity. I assume this is because it removed some packages used by Unity. To fix this I ran sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop which re-installed any dependencies removed by the purge command above. – Andy Feb 24 at 11:44
@Andy that's a good idea! I think I will add it to my answer. Sometimes it is hard to tell what gnome installed and what it didn't.. Thanks! – Seth Feb 24 at 14:30

a short one liner command:

sudo apt-get purge ubuntu-gnome-desktop
sudo apt-get autoremove
sudo reboot
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protected by Community Sep 12 '14 at 6:50

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