I am running Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (32-bit). Now I want to install Gnome Desktop Environment (without removing unity). I know I can install by following command:

  1. sudo apt-get install gnome-shell

  2. sudo apt-get install ubuntu-gnome-desktop

But I don't know exact difference between them. (may be i've misunderstanding with them)

So, What is difference between installing Gnome by gnome-shell and ubuntu-gnome-desktop?

And Which should I use to install Gnome Desktop Environment?

  • Gnome Shell, would be installing a vanilla Gnome3 desktop whereas Ubuntu-Gnome-Desktop is the pre-configured DE that come installed in Ubuntu Gnome 14.04. In the end, they both install a pretty vanilla experience, but both should install Gnome3 DE, then just switch to it at the login screen.
    – Jbuch14
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 10:45

2 Answers 2


ubuntu-gnome-desktop will install a full GNOME desktop environment (including gnome-shell), along with a few standard applications and optimizations for Ubuntu.

gnome-shell will only install the GNOME shell, and its dependencies. In contrast to ubuntu-gnome-desktop, it won't install the package gnome-session (among others) automatically, which you need to actually use the GNOME desktop.

So, to get the desktop environment, you should install ubuntu-gnome-desktop.

Following will cleraly show that ubuntu-gnome-desktop depends on gnome-shell so it includes the package gnome-shell:

$ apt-cache depends ubuntu-gnome-desktop | grep gnome-shell
  Depends: gnome-shell
  Depends: gnome-shell-extensions
  • 1
    What good is the gnome-shell package if it does not work without gnome-session?
    – Startec
    Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 22:33

gnome-shell only installs the desktop enviorment, while ubunut-gnome-desktop is a group of packages that contains gnome-shell and all of the basic ubuntu gnome application like totem, rhytmbox, firefox....

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