Although GNOME is the default GUI, there are many different desktop environments available for Ubuntu. If you want to try a different desktop environment, or need to install a GUI because you don’t have one yet, we’ll show you how in this guide.
These instructions will also work for Ubuntu Server, which doesn’t have a GUI by default and only uses the command line.
Install GNOME on Ubuntu
GNOME is the default desktop environment for Ubuntu. The following commands will install GNOME on Ubuntu:
GNOME full version comes with all of the default GNOME applications and will take the most space:
$ sudo apt install ubuntu-gnome-desktop
GNOME minimal version only comes with essential applications to get up and running:
$ sudo apt install ubuntu-desktop-minimal
GNOME vanilla version comes without the Ubuntu themes, icons, and wallpapers:
$ sudo apt install vanilla-gnome-desktop
Install KDE on Ubuntu
KDE Plasma is another popular desktop environment, and a good alternative to GNOME. The following commands will install KDE on Ubuntu:
KDE full version comes with all of the default applications preinstalled:
$ sudo apt install kde-full
KDE standard version only includes the most essensial applications:
$ sudo apt install kde-standard
KDE Plasma desktop version is the most lightweight install of the KDE choices:
$ sudo apt install kde-plasma-desktop
Install LXQt on Ubuntu
LXQt is a very lightweight and no-frills desktop environment good for minimalists.
LXQt full version comes with all the default apps installed, but is still considered lightweight when compared to other GUIs:
$ sudo apt install task-lxqt-desktop
LXQt minimal comes with even less, just what is essential to do the most basic tasks:
$ sudo apt install lxqt
Install Budgie on Ubuntu
Budgie is a sleek and modern desktop environment that utilizes the lightdm display manager.
Budgie desktop environment:
$ sudo apt install ubuntu-budgie-desktop
Install MATE on Ubuntu
MATE is based off an older version of GNOME, so maintains a lot of the look and feel from old GNOME.
MATE desktop environment:
$ sudo apt install ubuntu-mate-desktop
Install Xfce on Ubuntu
Xfce strikes a nice balance between simplicity and a modern feel.
Xfce desktop environment:
$ sudo apt install task-xfce-desktop
After installation, reboot the system and you will load into your new GUI.
To make the GUI start by default on Ubuntu Server, you will also need to execute the following command to make
graphical.target the default target.
$ sudo systemctl set-default graphical.target