I accidentally installed ubuntu-gnome-desktop (initially with lightdm, and later switched to gdm3) on my heavily customized Ubuntu (Unity) 16.10 environment. Yikes! Now a bunch of stuff in Unity doesn't work as it did before. I need help fixing some unresolved problems. Can you please help?

  1. Desktop problems

    • In Unity, I can't set desktop background
    • In Unity, the superkey doesn't bring up dashboard unless another application is in the foreground
    • In Unity, the desktop files and folders are gone
    • In Unity, I can't right-click on the desktop and bring up the contextual menu
  2. Font problem

    • In Unity, the default fonts have changed
  3. Touchpad problems

    • In Unity, the touchpad-indicator crashes, looking for Synaptics touchpad driver
    • In Unity, the touchpad "tap to single-left-click" no longer works
    • In Unity, the touchpad preferences are missing in System Settings/Mouse & Touchpad panel
    • In Gnome, the touchpad preferences do show up in System Settings

I believe that this is because xserver-xorg-input-libinput got installed, thereby disabling the Synaptics touchpad driver. Can I safely uninstall this, and hopefully re-enable the Synaptics driver, without breaking anything in the Unity desktop, or the Gnome desktop?

  1. Login screen problem

    • The main login screen background is black. How do I get any background to show again?
  2. Default DE problem

    • The login area always shows "Gnome (Default)" in the list of desktop environments. How do I change the default to "Ubuntu (Default)"?
  3. Boot/shutdown screens problem

    • Boot and shutdown screens are Gnome animation/text screens. How do I bring back normal Ubuntu/Unity boot/shutdown screens?
  • @ElderGeek thanks for your input. I haven't tried to remove ubuntu-gnome-desktop for fear of creating more Unity problems. I figure that now that it's installed, I might as well try it (I was going to install it into a Virtualbox environment to test it) since we're all going to it next year. By pristine 16.10 I meant a long-running, clean, problem-free, installation with a ton of apps and customizations.
    – heynnema
    Apr 10 '17 at 23:22
  • @ElderGeek I'll go and change "pristine" in my question to something else. No, I meant that we'll all be going to Gnome in 18.04... if plans stick to schedule. That's why I wanted to play with Gnome... but in a VB environment... not my normal Unity machine.
    – heynnema
    Apr 10 '17 at 23:50
  • In stock Ubuntu, setting the session background image also sets the login screen background image. Is that no longer working? Apr 10 '17 at 23:59
  • @OrganicMarble thanks for your input. Let me see if I get this straight... my lock screen is the same as my desktop background, but my login screen is black with the normal username/password login area.
    – heynnema
    Apr 11 '17 at 0:02
  • 1
    @OrganicMarble only one problem left to solve!
    – heynnema
    Apr 12 '17 at 14:48

Fixes for my ubuntu-gnome-desktop post-installation problems...

  1. Desktop problems: Use the Gnome Tweak Tool, and set "Icons on Desktop" to ON

  2. Font problem: Use the Unity Tweak Tool, and set the fonts back to Ubuntu default fonts

  3. Touchpad problems: Fix taken from How to invert touchpad scrolling on Ubuntu 16.04

If you use libinput, then add a config file to /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/ such as 20-touchpad.conf with this content:

Section "InputClass"
    Identifier "libinput touchpad catchall"
        MatchIsTouchpad "on"
        MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
        Driver "libinput"
        Option "NaturalScrolling" "off"
        Option "MiddleEmulation" "on"
        Option "Tapping" "on"
        Option "DisableWhileTyping" "on"
        Option "PalmDetection" "True"
  1. Login screen problem: User desktop must be set to display a desktop picture, not a solid color

  2. Default DE problem:

In terminal...

gksudo gedit /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf

add in this text snippet under [SeatDefaults]...


don't duplicate [SeatDefaults] if it's already there.

  1. Boot/shutdown screens problem: Partially taken from How do I revert the Plymouth theme back to default after purging Kubuntu?

In terminal...

ls -al /etc/alternatives/*plymouth*
sudo update-alternatives --config default.plymouth
sudo update-alternatives --config text.plymouth
  • FYI: Regarding 6 my testing indicates that sudo update-initrams -u isn't required. Simply choosing the correct option from sudo update-alternatives ... and rebooting is sufficient.
    – Elder Geek
    Apr 12 '17 at 21:50
  • @ElderGeek and the boot screen (not the shutdown/reboot screen) is correctly changed to the desired type? It would be interesting to see if the mod date of /boot/initrd.img* changes after the update-alternatives... can you check your mod dates?
    – heynnema
    Apr 12 '17 at 21:59
  • If by boot screen you mean ubuntu with the 5 dots, then as opposed to the weird u's on the gnome boot screen, then yes. If you mean something else can you define it for me?
    – Elder Geek
    Apr 12 '17 at 22:03
  • @ElderGeek yes, you have it right... the Ubuntu/Unity 5 dots boot screen vs the Gnome interlocked U's boot screen. Assuming that you didn't do the update-initramfs command, do a ls -al /boot/initrd* and see if the most recent one has todays date for a mod date.
    – heynnema
    Apr 12 '17 at 22:06
  • Why not try it yourself? Switch back to the gnome boot screen and don't update-initramfs and there;s your proof. When done, simply change it back! :-)
    – Elder Geek
    Apr 12 '17 at 22:09

The Touchpad problem could be resolved by removing the xserver-xorg-input-libinput package.

sudo apt remove xserver-xorg-input-libinput

I had the same problem and removing package solved it without making any other problems. Note: I have removed Gnome Shell completely before removing this package.

Source: this Ubuntu Forums post

  • This was a part of my original question. Further research is required, as I read one post where the user had removed this package, and it broke their system. In the mean time, I have proposed an elegant solution that works.
    – heynnema
    Apr 26 '17 at 12:31
  • I had the same problem, removed the package and everything is working now.
    – Hamed
    Apr 27 '17 at 5:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.