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Ubuntu Unity

Introduction to Ubuntu Unity

Ubuntu Unity can be described as a distribution of Linux based on Ubuntu along with the Unity interface that is the replacement for the GNOME Shell of Ubuntu. On 7 May 2020, the initial publication was 20.04 LTS. It had many working names of Ubuntu Unity Remix and Unubuntu before the first release.

History of Ubuntu Unity

Originally, the Unity interface was integrated by Canonical Limited and initially added as the default interface within the 11.04 version of Ubuntu which was published in April 2011. Ubuntu Unity was integrated as a replacement to the GNOME Shell which substituted the GNOME 2 interface. Canonical had planned for converging the tablet, cellphone, and desktop interfaces into Unity 8 (the project that was dropped in 2017 when Ubuntu shifted to the GNOME 3 desktop rather, ending the development of Unity at the 7th version, the 8th version being incomplete.

In April 2017, the 17.04 version of Ubuntu released the GNOME 3 desktop but it wasn't universally approved by the developers and users of Ubuntu. Several forks were also proposed along with UBPorts taking over the development of Unity 8 for its value as the cellphone interface and re-titling it Lomiri in 2020 February. Canonical provided its approval for the trademark uses for the Unity 7 Ubuntu remix in 2019.

The Foundation of Linux certified Ubuntu team member and developer Rudra B. Saraswat, who is based near India and Bangalore, began Ubuntu Unity. He surveyed users and applied a stock interface of Unity 7 with the Ubuntu backend and the least modifications otherwise. He added a file manager, which is called Nemo, as a replacement to the GNOME files and selected the LightDM X display manager for replacing the GNOME Display Manager of Ubuntu.

Previously, Saraswat had created many other distributions of Linux including Krob Linux (server-focused). Saraswat stated his encouragement to start Ubuntu Unity, "I have used Ubuntu 17.04 back when I was 8 years old and I really loved Unity 7, so when Unity 7 was discontinued by Canonical, I wasn't happy and wanted to bring it back. I created this project to give Unity 7 a new life". In 2020, Saraswat was 10 years old when he initially published Ubuntu Unity. He has represented that his aim is to eventually have a distribution approved as an official "flavor" of Ubuntu.

Applications of Ubuntu Unity

By default, a few applications included in the Ubuntu Unity are mentioned as follows:

  • Unity Tweak Tool
  • GNOME Software (or Ubuntu Software) package management system
  • Transmission bittorrent client
  • Thunderbird email client
  • gedit (text editor)
  • Startup disk Creator
  • Shotwell
  • Rhythmbox
  • Remmina
  • PulseAudio
  • Nemo
  • LibreOffice suite
  • Image viewer (also called Eye of GNOME)
  • GParted
  • Totem (GNOME videos)
  • GNOME Terminal
  • Nautilus (GNOME files)
  • GNOME Disks
  • GNOME Calendar
  • Geary email client
  • Firefox browser
  • Document scanner (optical scanner)
  • Evince (Document viewer)
  • CUPS printing system
  • Cheese webcam application
Ubuntu Unity

Releases of Ubuntu Unity

Ubuntu Unity

20.04 LTS Version

This version was the initial release of Ubuntu Unity as well as the initial long-term support version. On 7 May 2020, it was published 2 weeks after the publication of the Ubuntu 20.04 LTS version. It applies the default Yaru theme using the Papirus icons with high contrast, Radiance, Ambience, and Adwaita themes available. This first release attracted the tech press's attention and was reported widely.

On 6 August 2020, the initial point release was established on a similar day as the other flavors of Ubuntu and added fixes for several small issues.

21.04 Version

Ubuntu Unity 21.04 version is a standard release, established on 22 April 2021. This version applies Linux Kernel 5.11 version and added a new Yaru Unity 7 theme with a new clear launcher icon. Also, it added new wallpapers and a fresh theme of Plymouth for boot-up along with some bug fixes.

21.10 LTS Version

Ubuntu Unity 21.10 release is a standard version and was published on 14 October 2021. This version added an updated Unity user interface from the 7.5.0 version to the 7.5.1 version, combining updated indicators and transferring to the gsettings-ubuntu-schemas from the glib-2.0 schemas.

This release of Ubuntu Unity applies a Snap release of Firefox browser which is the replacement of the old Deb release, a move that is the same as Ubuntu 20.10 version. A new artwork and splash screen of Plymouth was introduced along with the Indri-themed wallpaper (default).

Installing Unity Desktop Environment in Ubuntu

In this article, we will explain how we can install Unity Desktop in Ubuntu. Also, we will restore the nice-looking login screen of Unity, in case we do not like the login screen of GNOME. Here is why:

  • GNOME is attempting to delete functionalities that we love to apply over the years.
  • There is too much movement if switching between many programs, which is disturbing.
  • If we insert any USB stick, then the icon is displayed on the desktop. We require to minimize our current window to use it. In Unity, we can simply press on the USB icon within the left launcher bar. We cannot understand why the icons are displayed on the desktop when there is a room inside the left bar.
  • The menu bar of a program is not shown on the top bar which wastes the real estate of the screen in GNOME.
  • We prefer control buttons of the window (close, maximize, minimize, etc.) on the title bar's left side as if we press one of the three buttons, we are likely for switching to other programs which need us to press the screen's left side.
  • We sometimes wish to cover the clock over the top bar so as for focusing on our task and not worry about deadline and time. It could be easily implemented in unity but is hard to implement in GNOME.
  • Since the 17.10 version of Ubuntu, GNOME is the default desktop environment along with a few Ubuntu-made changes but still, we cannot bring ourselves to like it. We may argue that users could install extensions for customizing the desktop but we are not the people who will spend so much time on changing appearance when there is already a desktop environment that we like out of the box.

Installation Process

We need to open our Terminal window and run the below two commands for installing the Unity 7 desktop using the default software repository:

Ubuntu Unity

Ubuntu Unity
  • It will install several packages. We need to press the Enter button to continue.
  • We will be promoted to select a display manager during the installation process.
    Ubuntu Unity
  • We can select the lightdm display manager that will provide us with the Unity login screen. The default display manager is gdm for the GNOME desktop.
    Ubuntu Unity
  • We need to reboot our Ubuntu system once the installation process is completed.
  • We are now welcomed by the Unity login screen.
  • Now, the default desktop environment is Unity. We can press the Ubuntu icon to select other desktop environments if we wish to.
    Ubuntu Unity

If our Ubuntu system is upgraded from Ubuntu 18.04 or Ubuntu 19.10 and the login screen was substituted with the one through the GNOME desktop, we can restore the login screen of Unity by executing the below command:

Checking the version of Unity

We can use the tool, i.e., screenfetch for checking the desktop version of Unity:

Ubuntu Unity

Also, we can acquire the version of Unity by executing the below command Unity version:

Ubuntu Unity

How to Delete GENOME Desktop from Ubuntu System?

If we do not wish to keep GNOME on the available desktop environment's list, we can uninstall it using the below command:

Then, we need to reboot the Ubuntu system.


If our screen is not showing anything after rebooting the system it is possibly because lightdm did not start successfully. We can press the Ctrl + Alt + F2 shortcut keys, login to the system, and then execute the below command for restarting lightdm:

Reasons why we should stop regret using Ubuntu Unity

Ubuntu Unity
  • Touch is what it is all about
    Developers had to find out how users can use these input devices because the previous designs were not efficient at managing touch. That is where Unity comes into a role, more particularly, Unity 8 Mir which would be used with the Ubuntu Touch release.
  • Convergence
    Convergence will not have been possible in the old-school KDE or GNOME interfaces. Why? Because KDE will not work well on either tablets or smartphones, GNOME 3 can be problematic on several smartphones. Unity is almost ready for rocking around every device.
  • Efficiency
    We would be hard-pressed to detect a more efficient interface of the desktop as compared to Unity. Two essential elements are the HUD and the Dash.
    The HUD is the most essential UX element to have been integrated in a long time. We enter the hotkey and enter a search string for locating the app menu item we need with this aspect. No more requirement for switching back and forth between the mouse and the keyboard. That's pure efficiency.

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