I tried installing gnome 3 from the ppa, but it broke Unity and I had to reinstall Natty from scratch.

Does anyone know if there is a way to install Gnome 3 without breaking Unity?


There is currently no easy way to do this, GNOME 3 requires a major transition to the GTK+ stack (from 2 to 3) that has not been done in Ubuntu yet.

This is a goal for 11.10, but currently I'm afraid trying GNOME3 on Ubuntu is more of a one-way upgrade.

  • 1
    I was going to mention the same thing since i read somwhere Jorge Castro mention that Gnome 3 could not be installed while using Unity since both would break each other and then he comes and posts here hehe. +1 Apr 12 '11 at 20:32
  • Is this answer still up to date? I'd like to repost the question but I fear the communities down votes ;D
    – deviolog
    Oct 16 '16 at 12:29

I used the instructions at the attached link to install Gnome Shell on 11.04 without breaking Unity.

"By compiling Gnome Shell using the instructions in this post, all the packages the Gnome >Shell script will download and compile will not replace any existing libraries and it >will install in your home folder, so you don't have to worry about breaking stuff on your >system (excluding here the build dependencies of course, which are usual packages from >the Ubuntu repositories and will install just like any other package)"



From what I know, Gnome-Shell is based on Gnome 3 which has a different ABI and Unity is based on Gnome 2, because of this you can't install Gnome-Shell without breaking Unity.

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot will be based on Gnome 3, this way Gnome-Shell will not be a problem to install.

  • gnome3 installs fine on 11.10, apt-get install gnome-shell is all that's needed, and after a reboot you can select which shell you want to log into. Jan 31 '12 at 14:35

I installed it from the ppa and it dosen't really "break" Unity, it just adds GNOME 3 interface, which overwrites the Gnome 2 interface, which is quite different. Except after, I decided I would like to use the Ambiance and Radiance themes again, So I upgraded to Ubuntu 11.10.

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