Tutorial: Switch Desktop Environments : Gnome <> Budgie

Linux is enormous, especially when it comes to choices.

Many of us have gone through the process of jumping distros (distributions) to look at that different outlook. However, there are ways to stay within our current setup and shift to another Desktop Environment. In several scenarios, this is not recommended, as you may end up with a bit of a - dirty structure!

In other scenarios, some of the settings applications may conflict with each other. However, a few of them don’t. This little tutorial is for those who installed the original Ubuntu and wish to see how the often-mentioned Budgie looks and feels like.

The positive about the Gnome (Ubuntu’s Default Desktop Environment or DE) happens to be the base for the Budgie implementation. Therefore, you can jump from one to the other without any issues.

The only difference between the two is the log-in screen, also known as Greeter. Gnome uses the GDM (Gnome Desktop Manager), while Budgie utilizes the LightDM (Light Desktop Manager). The latter also happens to have the capacity to handle Gnome, but it’s advised to go with things that work natively. :slight_smile:


The process is surprisingly simple. The first thing you will need to do is make sure that your repository databases are updated and that your system is up to date. Hit your Windows or Command key to bring up the search bar and type in terminal. Open it up and type in:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

Once everything is done, you can input:

sudo apt install --install-recommends ubuntu-budgie-desktop

This will create a rather long list of pending installations. Select Y when asked and press Enter. The process should not take long.

While the Budgie DE is set up, you will be prompted to select your Desktop Manager. Your options are:

  1. GDM, and
  2. LightDM

To run Budgie, I would recommend you select LightDM and press Enter.

That should do it!

The next thing you should do is reboot. Once you reach your log-in screen (Greeter), you will immediately see the difference. Note that next to the clock at the menu bar, there is a small icon which - when clicked on - will show you the available sessions (the Desktop Environments available). This means that when you input your password, you can select if you want to enter Gnome or Budgie.

Returning to Gnome

If for some reason, you miss the Gnome setup, you can always return to it simply by logging out and hitting the “Gnome” session at the selection icon.
In that scenario, you might want to restore the GDM for the log-in process. This can be achieved - in the terminal - by typing:

sudo apt disable lightdm
sudo apt enable gdm

This will restore all the options of the Gnome interface.

Last but not least, GDM is also perfectly capable of handling Budgie - just as LightDM is capable of handling Gnome. At the end of the day, it’s all about preference!