After installing Ubuntu how do I get rid of unity and go back to gnome?

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Problem :

After I have installed the newest Ubuntu LTS release (12.04) I am greeted with an unfamiliar and difficult to use desktop environment. I believe it is called unity. However I have used gnome for a decade and a half and I would not like to move to this new and (for me) unusable desktop environment.

What is a quick and easy way to remove (most) of unity and bring back gnome, as well as configure my display manager to load gnome by default with the environment as close as possible to the way it was before?

Solution :

A quick and effective way is to install gnome, remove a bunch of packages related to unity and run lightdm-set-defaults to change your session. I am sure there are other ways and I may have forgotten a few packages, but that’s not so important. I have found this to work great for my purposes:

sudo apt-get -y install gnome

sudo apt-get -y remove unity unity-2d-places unity-2d unity-2d-panel unity-2d-spread unity-asset-pool unity-services unity-lens-files unity-lens-music unity-lens-applications gir1.2-unity-4.0 unity-common indicator-sound indicator-power indicator-appmenu libindicator7 indicator-application evolution-indicator indicator-datetime indicator-messages libnux-2.0-0

sudo apt-get -y install tomboy transmission

/usr/lib/lightdm/lightdm-set-defaults -s gnome-classic

We use gnome-classic since it’s closest to what you were used to in previous Ubuntu releases such as 10.04 and 8.04. It appears you need to install tomboy and transmission because they might have been removed in the earlier apt-get remove stage.

This works for Ubuntu 12.04 last time I tried, which was a week or two ago. In earlier versions of 12.04 some package names changed, for example libindicator7 was called libindicator6 before. However I believe that since 12.04 is closer to being released the package names should have become stable.

You could also use their gnome2 emulation by doing the following:

sudo apt-get install gnome-panel

It does a pretty good job from what I’ve seen so far. Yes, it’s still Unity, but it looks and acts like the gnome2 you’re used to seeing.

After it’s installed, you’ll need to logout, and then select “Gnome classic” for your session before you log back in again.

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