I have installed gnome-session-flashback and I love my new Gnome desktop, and I am sure that I do not want to go back to Unity, and as unity stuff takes up a lot of space on my machine, is there a safe way of fully removing it? So that perhaps there isn't even an option at login to go back to it?

Do I just run?:

sudo apt-get purge unity*

Or is there something else that I need to do? I also understand that as @Seth said, it is very well baked into the system. So it may be problematic to remove. Is there any danger of this? Are there any measures I can take to prevent anything going wrong? And what sort of impact could this have on my system if it went wrong?

OS Information:

Description:    Ubuntu 15.04
Release:    15.04
  • Start with sudo apt-get purge unity unity-2d, and see how much that removes. See also this question. Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 17:15
  • I have only 3 Unity-related packages installed, only because I have Pidgin installed (which I can probably remove). I'm also running a KDE system, so I have no need for Unity. The only downside of removing Unity is that you won't be able to boot into the Unity DE, and might not be able to use applications that depend on Unity. Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 17:30

1 Answer 1


Warning: This is for when the ubuntu-desktop was Unity. Uninstalling ubuntu-desktop now will uninstall GNOME in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS or later.

With the gnome-session-flashback, there are parts of it that use parts of Unity. So, not every part of Unity should be removed. LightDM is the Display Manger for Unity, where GDM is the Display Manager for the GNOME Desktop Environment.

To install GDM it is:

sudo apt-get install gdm

Note: If you already have GDM installed, run the following command to bring up the following setup:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure lightdm

During the install, you should see some screens like below:


Press Enter for OK and on the next screen, select the Display Manager you want:


Press Enter to select the Display Manager.

After it is selected, reboot your system for changes to take effect:

sudo reboot

After the host is rebooted, you should be in a gnome-session or gnome-shell from the terminal window, you should be able to start removing parts of Unity. I do not recommend removing all of Unity as there are still applications that rely on parts of Unity to work. One example I can think of in applications that rely other parts of desktops is k3b. k3b is a very good disc burning application that relies on parts of the KDesktop Environment, so parts of KDE would be installed for k3b to work.

It is safe to remove Unity itself:

sudo apt-get remove unity

it is also safe to remove LightDM:

sudo apt-get remove lightdm

it is also safe to remove the Ubuntu Desktop, which is the Unity Desktop itself.

sudo apt-get remove ubuntu-desktop

If you are removing any of the above and you see an application that it wants to remove that you are unsure of, do not remove it until you find out more information about the application.

  • 1
    This answer is to a version 15.04 question. Is it possible to update answer with 16.04 reference too? ie does or does not work. Commented May 21, 2017 at 16:53
  • 2
    I have followed instructions these instructions on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. It worked, but generated error related to plymouthd crashing (very similar if not the same is here: <bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/ubuntu-gnome-default-settings/…) The solution was to execute the line at the end of the bug report: sudo dpkg-reconfigure Plymouth
    – Sergei G
    Commented May 22, 2017 at 17:49
  • 1
    I followed without errors just now on 'Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS', '4.4.0-79-generic #100-Ubuntu SMP Wed May 17 19:58:14 UTC 2017'
    – sage
    Commented Jun 17, 2017 at 16:56
  • 1
    Followed in 17.04 and works perfectly
    – iiqof
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 14:07
  • 1
    Removing ubuntu-desktop uninstalled other packages which I then had to reinstall manually, so be careful.
    – Caumons
    Commented May 3, 2023 at 16:41

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