I tried to install gnome-shell on Ubuntu 16.04 and when configuring I choose gdm as my default desktop but after I reboot I didn't see the login screen , only the black screen with Ubuntu logo and the red dots, so I have reinstall Ubuntu again.

My question How can I install gnome-shell on Ubuntu 16.04?


5 Answers 5


The easiest way is to install ubuntu-gnome-desktop This will give you the same system as if you were to install Ubuntu Gnome. You could also just download the Ubuntu Gnome ISO but it will be a much smaller download to just install the desktop.

Doing it this way, will pull in the needed dependencies for Ubuntu and avoid any issues.

One caveat: When you install Gnome, it will make the Unity top bar black and the icons will be different but it should work if you would need it.

I would advise that you only install Gnome if you don't want to use Unity because of the above mentioned caveat.

  • 4
    My case caveat was that unity background went black, menu sidebar vanished, and I need to logout and login again after each reboot in order to properly use unity
    – chefarov
    Aug 15, 2016 at 22:01
  • 5
    Moreover purging gnome-shell and reinstalling unity didn't help to revert the situation
    – chefarov
    Aug 17, 2016 at 15:59
  • 1
    So... one cannot actually try gnome on Ubuntu 16.04 then revert back if one does not like it, it seams. Bummer. Dec 13, 2016 at 18:10
  • 1
    If your system is on a Btrfs (or a similar snapshot enabled FS) creating a snapshot and rolling back later is a matter of a couple commands and a reboot.
    – koloman
    Feb 15, 2017 at 21:19
  • 1

+1 for Umayanga Sandeepa!

Also if you need to change the login manager later on you can do that with

dpkg-reconfigure gdm3


dpkg-reconfigure lightdm



Try this:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-gnome-desktop

Then choose gdm3 or lightdm Recommend to reboot.

Worked for me.

  • 8
    But don't forget that gdm3 is meant to be used with the Gnome Desktop. If you choose Lightddm you might get problems like not being able to lock your screen. Other than that the rest should work as usual. Oct 12, 2016 at 4:32
  • I got more problems than that when I accidentally chose lightdm. Be sure it's what you want before selecting it, since it can be a hassle to fix it. Apr 27, 2017 at 23:57

You can always choose Ubuntu Gnome and install it. In case, you are using Unity and want to switch to GNOME since it will be the default Desktop Environment from 18.04, you can use the command mentioned above.

sudo apt install gnome-shell

Choose gdm3 over lightdm, and you will get the option of login in to Ubuntu GNome session next time you start.

Install GNOME in Ubuntu

  • I was confused of the difference between this and ubuntu-gnome-desktop, this answer is a much more light weight version (which is exactly what I want). The gnome desktop installs a ton of other stuff like Evolution, see: askubuntu.com/a/171393/8989
    – icc97
    Jun 17, 2018 at 21:30
  • Actually I just spotted that the question states that the original poster has already tried gnome-shell, never the less I found this answer useful as I didn't spot that in the question.
    – icc97
    Jun 17, 2018 at 21:39

For the best Gnome experience on Ubuntu, get the official ISO.

  • 3
    Ubuntu Gnome uses wayland instead of x. If you don't know what that means, the tl;dr; drivers and software may not be compatible yet. This will change w/ ubuntu 18.04 but until then, I'm using ubuntu and installing gnome as specified above. Sep 16, 2017 at 20:04

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