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Can I choose between GNOME Shell and Unity on login?

If I install the Gnome desktop will I be stuck with it or will I be able to switch back and forth between Unity and Gnome? (Running 11.10 32bit)


4 Answers 4


You will be able to switch between Gnome-Shell and Unity in the login screen.


How to log in to GNOME Shell

Ubuntu’s new login manager LightDM makes switching between sessions super easy:

LightDM login screen

Note that GNOME Shell requires 3D acceleration – so be sure that your computer is capable of running it or you’ll enter the ‘fall back’ version of GNOME 3.

  • At the login screen click the ‘cog’ icon to the right of your user name.

  • Choose the session you want to log into from the menu. For GNOME Shell you’ll want to select ‘GNOME’.

  • Enter your password and login as normal.


Since I have Ubuntu 11.10 with installed Unity, Gnome Shell (its provide Gnome Shell and Gnome Classic) and KDE and all works fine (really not so fine) - I can tell You, that: Yes, You will be able to change session in LightDM.



1) Every user can choose their preferred environment at the login by pressing the right mouse button and choosing Gnome for Gnome Shell or Ubuntu for Unity.

If you have the list of user names hidden (there are some LightDM options to do that), then you first type the user name, and then before entering the password choose the desktop environment.

2) Moreover, once a user has chosen some desktop environment, she will log in into that desktop afterwards. Every user can choose the preferred one, so that their choice is remembered and does not change the desktop for others.

It is, by the way, a good way to test both Gnome-Shell and Unity within one installation -- just create two different users.

P.S. But remember, that the power of Gnome-Shell is in extensions! But they are not available (for some reason) in repositories. So, at least, add webupd8 gnome3 PPA and install extensions available there. They recently have even added some Mint MGSE extensions that will definitely make you feel at home...

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