I have just installed the final version of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS desktop system from ubuntu-20.04-desktop-amd64.iso.
After two days of testing I completely do not like its graphical interface - the GNOME Shell.
Even installation of GNOME Flashback does not help either.

So I want to completely remove the GNOME Shell with all its trails from my system without re-installation.
Just want to start from scratch like it was approximately if I have installed Ubuntu from minimal network boot ISO.

  • 2
    Best NOT to try and uninstall GNOME Shell, as you'll probably break your system. Just install a different DE, and choose it at your login screen.
    – heynnema
    Apr 29, 2020 at 17:18
  • 3
    @heynnema the solution below is tested on clean VM, and it is proven to work as expected. Tested all paths by myself before posting an answer :)
    – N0rbert
    Apr 29, 2020 at 18:22
  • 3
    I didn't notice that the OP was you :-) Your answer may be proven, but if somebody else tries it, and has even ONE typo, or misplaced "\", it'll break the system, hence my comment. I'd recommend just doing the 2nd half of your answer. Much safer. Plus, if you spend just a tad more time with GNOME Shell, you might find that it's workable, even if you have to add a couple of GNOME Shell extensions to make it work better for you. That'll take more than two days of testing it. A new car never drives the same as the old car :-)
    – heynnema
    Apr 29, 2020 at 18:31
  • 1
    I removed gnome and installed kde (kubuntu-desktop) on my system and it works fine. I wanted to use the desktop installer for the zfs option. I forgot how I did it which is why I'm back here. One thing I do remember is the gnome-shell snap also has to be removed. Sep 3, 2020 at 0:07
  • Why not start with Ubuntu Server instead, and then just install whatever desktop environment you want? Seems like what you're describing is installing Ubuntu Desktop, only to reduce it to Ubuntu Server - or am I missing something? Mar 6, 2021 at 8:42

2 Answers 2


The set of long commands below for GNOME Shell removal is below

sudo apt update
sudo apt purge adwaita-icon-theme gedit-common gir1.2-gdm-1.0 \
gir1.2-gnomebluetooth-1.0 gir1.2-gnomedesktop-3.0 gir1.2-goa-1.0 \
gnome-accessibility-themes gnome-bluetooth gnome-calculator gnome-calendar \
gnome-characters gnome-control-center gnome-control-center-data \
gnome-control-center-faces gnome-desktop3-data \
gnome-font-viewer \
gnome-initial-setup gnome-keyring gnome-keyring-pkcs11 gnome-logs \
gnome-mahjongg gnome-menus gnome-mines gnome-online-accounts \
gnome-power-manager gnome-screenshot gnome-session-bin gnome-session-canberra \
gnome-session-common gnome-settings-daemon gnome-settings-daemon-common \
gnome-shell gnome-shell-common gnome-shell-extension-appindicator \
gnome-shell-extension-desktop-icons gnome-shell-extension-ubuntu-dock \
gnome-startup-applications gnome-sudoku gnome-system-monitor gnome-terminal \
gnome-terminal-data gnome-themes-extra gnome-themes-extra-data gnome-todo \
gnome-todo-common gnome-user-docs gnome-user-docs-ru gnome-video-effects \
language-pack-gnome-en language-pack-gnome-en-base language-pack-gnome-ru \
language-pack-gnome-ru-base language-selector-gnome libgail18 libgail18 \
libgail-common libgail-common libgnome-autoar-0-0 libgnome-bluetooth13 \
libgnome-desktop-3-19 libgnome-games-support-1-3 libgnome-games-support-common \
libgnomekbd8 libgnomekbd-common libgnome-menu-3-0 libgnome-todo libgoa-1.0-0b \
libgoa-1.0-common libpam-gnome-keyring libsoup-gnome2.4-1 libsoup-gnome2.4-1 \
nautilus-extension-gnome-terminal pinentry-gnome3 yaru-theme-gnome-shell
sudo apt purge gnome-getting-started-docs gnome-getting-started-docs-ru

# 21.04 and 21.10 specifics
sudo apt purge libreoffice-style-yaru yaru-theme-icon yaru-theme-sound

# 21.10 specifics
sudo apt purge libgdm1 libgjs0g rygel librygel-core-2.6-2 librygel-db-2.6-2 librygel-renderer-2.6-2 librygel-server-2.6-2 \
plymouth-theme-spinner plymouth-theme-ubuntu-text branding-ubuntu

sudo apt autopurge

Note: if one have previously installed Vanilla GNOME desktop manually by sudo apt install vanilla-gnome-desktop and/or Ubuntu GNOME desktop by sudo apt install ubuntu-gnome-desktop and/or GNOME FlashBack by sudo apt install gnome-flashback gnome-panel and/or full GNOME by sudo apt install gnome - one have to execute extra removal commands below:

sudo apt purge adwaita-icon-theme geogebra-gnome gir1.2-gtd-1.0 \
gnome-accessibility-profiles gnome-applets-data gnome-audio gnome-backgrounds \
gnome-cards-data gnome-common gnome-desktop-testing gnome-dvb-daemon \
gnome-extra-icons gnome-flashback-common \
gnome-humility-icon-theme gnome-hwp-support gnome-icon-theme \
gnome-icon-theme-gartoon gnome-icon-theme-gartoon-redux \
gnome-icon-theme-gperfection2 gnome-icon-theme-nuovo gnome-icon-theme-suede \
gnome-icon-theme-yasis gnome-mime-data gnome-nds-thumbnailer \
gnome-packagekit-data gnome-panel-control gnome-panel-data \
gnome-pkg-tools gnome-recipes-data gnome-remote-desktop gnome-settings-daemon-dev \
gnome-shell-pomodoro-data gnome-software-common gnome-software-doc \
gnome-theme-gilouche gnome-video-effects-extra gnome-video-effects-frei0r \
guile-gnome2-dev guile-gnome2-glib libgnome-autoar-doc libgnomecanvas2-common \
libgnomecanvas2-doc libgnomecanvasmm-2.6-doc libgnome-panel-doc libgnome-todo-dev \
libopenrawgnome7:amd64 libopenrawgnome-dev libreoffice-gnome libxine2-gnome:amd64 \
nautilus-sendto pidgin-gnome-keyring plymouth-theme-ubuntu-gnome-logo \
plymouth-theme-ubuntu-gnome-text ubuntu-gnome-wallpapers \
ubuntu-gnome-wallpapers-trusty ubuntu-gnome-wallpapers-utopic \
ubuntu-gnome-wallpapers-xenial ubuntu-gnome-wallpapers-yakkety
sudo apt purge gnome-exe-thumbnailer
sudo apt purge slim openbox geoclue-2.0

sudo apt autopurge

Then one can install any desktop environment of interest with commands like:

  • Cinnamon - sudo apt install cinnamon-desktop-environment
  • KDE as in Kubuntu - sudo apt install kubuntu-desktop^
  • MATE as in Ubuntu MATE - sudo apt install ubuntu-mate-desktop^
  • Unity - sudo apt install ubuntu-unity-desktop
  • Xfce as in Xubuntu - sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop^

then reboot, select newly installed desktop session and login to it.

Note: this method is applicable for Ubuntu 21.04 and 21.10 too.

  • 2
    It might be helpful to point out how and why this is a great departure from the traditional method of using: sudo apt-get remove ubuntu-gnome-desktop as documented in: How To Uninstall ubuntu-gnome-desktop On Ubuntu 15.04 Others may also appreciate a short summary of why Ubuntu departed from the easier method. Jun 7, 2020 at 13:52
  • 2
    I just posted an answer there. I can't test your answer but have concerns it may be too complicated for many users. I did upvote both your Q+A for the hard work that went into them. Jun 7, 2020 at 15:28
  • 2
    @0xC0000022L I did not know about apt autopurge, thanks! It is very new - it introduced in apt 1.9.11 so it is included into 20.04 LTS. I have installed desktop from ubuntu-20.04-desktop-amd64.iso, but may be I'll add vanilla GNOME removal later.
    – N0rbert
    Jun 30, 2020 at 12:51
  • 1
    Why sudo apt install kubuntu-desktop^, instead of sudo apt install kubuntu-desktop ? Apr 19, 2021 at 7:19
  • 1
    ^ means task package. It will install only really needed packages for Kubuntu.
    – N0rbert
    Apr 19, 2021 at 8:18

After a former minimal-install followed by just 'lxde' [/usr/sbin/lightdm entry in file /etc/X11/default-display-manager] I unfortunately got 'gdm3' when performing a full upgrade from 18.10 to 19.04 and this persisted till 20.04. Eventually I removed 'gdm3'. Furthermore I had to sudo apt-get remove ‘gnome-shell‘ and ‘ubuntu-session‘. After this I got rid off all left free gnome-stuff with a simple sudo apt-get-autoremove.

  • I really prefer unity lightdm over gdm. It seems so much less buggy.
    – simgineer
    Jun 5, 2021 at 18:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .