Ubuntu – Unity problems after installing GNOME desktop (ubuntu-gnome-desktop)


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?

Best Answer

  • 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
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