In this quick tutorial you’ll learn how to install the vanilla GNOME session on your Ubuntu PC alongside the default Ubuntu session.
By default, Ubuntu comes with its own modified GNOME desktop environment that resembles the look and feel of Canonical’s deprecated Unity interface. This is called the Ubuntu session or simply “Ubuntu” when you select the session from the login screen.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with the Ubuntu session. In fact, I actually like it very much as of lately. But if I want to use the vanilla GNOME session to experience the real GNOME desktop environment and make my own changes to it, I have to install some packages.
Nowadays, installing the vanilla GNOME session is quite easy and painless. No terminal needed. All you have to do is fire up Ubuntu Software, search for Synaptic Package Manager and install it. Once installed, launch it from within Ubuntu Software.
Now, in the Synaptic Package Manager, search for the
gnome-session package and install it by clicking the small checkbox in front of it. You’ll be prompted to install some additional packages, so accept the changes and click the “Apply” button to install the vanilla GNOME session.
That’s it! The vanilla GNOME session is now installed and you can access it from the login screen.
You can see it below in action running on the development version of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa). Please note that by default, the vanilla GNOME session on Ubuntu will run on X11, so if you need it to run on Wayland you’ll also have to install the
gnome-session-wayland package in Synaptic.