Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 11:34

As you might know, I like Unity Desktop Environment and wrote about it every time Ubuntu released new version. Thanks to Unity Developer Team, this desktop still alive safe and sound even today. Now it is the time to install it once again on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and see that it's still okay just like before. Bring back the enjoyably familiar, smooth, faster and simpler to use user interface!

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  • Install unity session
  • Install lenses
  • Install compiz and tweak tools
  • Install the themes
  • Install the display manager
  • Enable things
  • Reboot
  • Login

1. Install Unity Session

$ sudo apt-get install unity-session

This will install our beloved Unity desktop environment once again to Ubuntu.

2. Install Unity Lenses

$ sudo apt-get install unity-lens-applications unity-lens-files 

Without this, the start menu ("Dash") will not search for applications.

3. Install Compiz and Tweak Tools

$ sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool compizconfig-settings-manager

This is needed to control the Unity appearance back to its golden age.

4. Install Light Themes

$ sudo apt-get install light-themes

This will install the legendary Ambiance and Radiance desktop themes.

5. Install LightDM

$ sudo apt-get install lightdm

This will install the most beautiful login screen ever which known after Unity.

6. Enable Things

Run Unity Tweak and go to Themes section and enable Ambiance.

Run System Settings and go to Appearance and enable Workspace Switcher.

Run CCSM and make sure Animation is enabled, and Ubuntu Unity Plugin is also enabled.

Still at CCSM, enable Expo, and go to its Behavior > Animation > switch it to Zoom.

7. Restart

Reboot your system and once landed on login screen, you should see that screen is now changed back to the Unity's login screen we all know but with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS version. Click on the circle button and select Unity (Default) among other session of choices.

8. Login

Now your Ubuntu Focal Fossa will look Unity once again. Faster, lighter, simpler, with HUD and global menu. Congratulations!


First you will notice your dash changed from the slow GNOME's into the fast Unity's unique translucent one with lenses selection on bottom. This full screen dash can be resized.

(Ubuntu 20.04 showing its dash to start applications with smooth translucent appearance (also notice the top and left panel) over LibreOffice Writer windows)

Second you will notice your Global Menu comes back once again for every application with menubar. For example, here is global menu of LibreOffice Writer.

(Global menu: the Edit menubar of LibreOffice Writer with its items opened from the top panel separated from its own window (notice the vertical area of Writer is slightly larger thanks to it))

Third you will live once again with heads up display (HUD) innovative feature unique to Unity. You call HUD by pressing Alt button until you see Type your command message on top and type a keyword then select and press Enter. HUD is the search for whole menubar of an application that helps you quickly find a menu item. Here is example of calling Save menu from HUD instead of clicking the menubar on LibreOffice Writer.

(HUD: pressing Alt allows you to go to an option, a menu, a configuration, or anything under menubar of an application)

Workspace switching works as beautiful as always with 2x2 screens and still with Super+S hotkey.

Window switcher aka Alt+Tab works also as pretty as before without problem.

System Settings goes back to the simpler better one like before yet still powerful. Even the name does not change, it is still System Settings, not changed into mere Settings unlike GNOME's.

My Gratitude

Thank you and congratulations to Khurshid Alam and Dale Beaudoin from Ubuntu Unity Team who continue the development of Unity Desktop up to today since the day Unity was abandoned. Without them, we will certainly find it difficult or impossible to use Unity once again today.

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.