I am trying to install Xubuntu on a fairly fresh install of Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS. I want to avoid reinstalling my whole system.

While I know about xfce4, instead of xubuntu-desktop, I want to completely replace GNOME, and therefore haven't tried to install only xfce, in risk of half-installing something.

Mostly any tutorial will tell you to install it with sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop, but this doesn't work out-of-the-box for me. I get the following error:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
 xubuntu-desktop : Depends: xorg but it is not going to be installed
                   Depends: xubuntu-core but it is not going to be installed
                   Recommends: xserver-xorg-input-synaptics

By following the instructions in these posts: How do I resolve unmet dependencies after adding a PPA?, and I can't install XFCE ( xubuntu desktop), I am pretty sure I don't have any broken dependencies nor unupdated/obsolete repositories.

Universe is installed and activated by default on my version of Ubuntu, which I have also confirmed.


  • What are these packages?
  • Why won't they be installed?
  • How do I replace GNOME with Xubuntu?
  • What should I learn about desktop managers/X/window managers, and their relationship with distros?
  • Yeah I installed Ubuntu-MATE 18.04(.2 i think) only recently & had the same error when I tried addding xubuntu-desktop, but a sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop xorg xubuntu-core worked (going by my history). Try it
    – guiverc
    Mar 23, 2019 at 22:03
  • Feel free to add it as an answer, @guiverc . It does answer the main problem at hand, and works. Nevertheless I would like to understand the insight of it.
    – mazunki
    Mar 23, 2019 at 22:10
  • Note on my prior comment: I started with Ubuntu-MATE meaning I had 'universe' already enabled, Ubuntu does not have 'universe' repository enabled by default - so it must be enabled first. Refer help.ubuntu.com/community/Repositories/Ubuntu if you don't understand repos
    – guiverc
    Mar 23, 2019 at 22:10
  • Universe was already enabled on my system, and I'm fairly sure I never touched it.
    – mazunki
    Mar 23, 2019 at 22:16

1 Answer 1


I installed Ubuntu-MATE 18.04(.2 i think) only recently & had the same error when I tried adding xubuntu-desktop. My history (command history) on that box shows I then used

sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop xorg xubuntu-core

before moving onto different things. I was surprised by the error, but sorry i didn't explore why (it was a x86 tablet with crap keyboard; I was going to ssh into the box later from a real desktop & look but forgot).

Please note: I started with Ubuntu-MATE meaning I had 'universe' already enabled, Ubuntu does not have 'universe' repository enabled by default - so it must be enabled first. Refer https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Repositories/Ubuntu if you don't understand repos, but Ubuntu 18.04 LTS contains all 5 year supported code from 'main', where as flavors contain community-supported code (3 years support generally for LTS) from 'universe' too.

With both desktops loaded, you can select at the login screen which you want to use today. There are pro's & con's with multiple desktops (multiple programs that do the same thing, larger updates, more complex menu) but I use it very often and like it.

  • Can I have multiple instances of desktops running simultaneously; and if so, what benefits/cons does it bring over having multiple users?
    – mazunki
    Mar 23, 2019 at 22:23
  • You login to a desktop, and only a single desktop is running at the same time (using your display manager). I have no idea if you can run multiple, but the idea to me is risky (why?) so I'd not want to explore it. Both GNOME, & XFCE allow multiple workspaces - that's what I'd use. Under wayland would make more sense (with multiple users), but I'd not want under X or a pc. You can run multiple X sessions (aka older minicomputer/unix with startx, late 80s/early 90s) but given everyone has pc's I don't see the need today.
    – guiverc
    Mar 23, 2019 at 22:27
  • Understandable. Any tips to completely make use of workspaces? Sharing windows on multiple workspaces, setting a workspace per monitor... (think about chats/spotify; while mainly using workspaces to swap between work and games)
    – mazunki
    Mar 23, 2019 at 22:37
  • I prefer using official doco if possible, so help.ubuntu.com/stable/ubuntu-help/shell-workspaces.html.en (and help.ubuntu.com/stable/ubuntu-help/…) may be helpful (esp. for GNOME). Recent XFCE/Xubuntu starts with only one-workspace (19.04, I think 18.10 but can't recall before then) so I adding others is pretty much first thing I do maybe before changing wallpaper. How workspaces work vary between desktops (but with XFCE & GNOME both being GTK+ they will similarities).
    – guiverc
    Mar 23, 2019 at 22:44
  • Another official [community] reference I'll provide is ubuntu-manual.org (Ubuntu Manual Project), but please note not enough people offered to help amend it to 18.04 LTS, so it's still currently written assuming Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (which used Unity). I didn't check to see if it has workspaces in it, but I'd expect it to be there (it's user-intended) even if some of the keystrokes have changed due to Unity->Gnome change.
    – guiverc
    Mar 23, 2019 at 22:45

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