How to install the most famous desktops in Ubuntu

Popular Ubuntu Desktops

One of the most interesting features of Ubuntu, like practically any other Linux-based operating system, is that we can change any part of its interface. Sometimes we can change something of the interface installing some software such as the famous Plank dock. But if we want the change to be greater, the best we can do is install a whole graphical environment in Ubuntu or in any of its official flavors from among the many Desktops that are available.

In this article we will show you how to install several of the desks or most famous environments that are available for Ubuntu. The graphical environments that will be added in this post are already very popular at the moment, but they will certainly become more so as time goes by. A perfect example of the above is a Budgie graphical environment that will gain popularity when Ubuntu Budgie is officially released, at which point I will test it again to see if I keep it as the default environment.


MATE 1.16 on Ubuntu MATE 16.10

I am convinced that many of you will not agree that I start this list with the graphical environment MATE. But, what do you want me to tell you, from the moment Martin Wimpress decided to go back to the roots so that his relatives could continue using what they had been using for several years, more and more of us are still in love with Ubuntu MATE.

What does the MATE graphical environment offer us? If you tried Ubuntu in its first versions, surely you realized that it did not use a very attractive interface, but it was fast and reliable. That is exactly what this graphical environment offers us, something especially interesting if we use a discrete computer.

To install MATE on Ubuntu 16.04, we will open the terminal and type one of the following commands:

  • To perform a minimal installation (interface only): sudo apt-get install mate-core
  • To install the entire environment (includes applications): sudo apt-get install mate-desktop-environment

KDE Plasma

KDE Plasma 5.4 Image

If you asked me which graphical environment I like the most, I honestly wouldn't know what to answer, but KDE Plasma would be among them. If I'm still honest, I don't have it installed on my PC because I see more error messages than I would like to see (on my PC, mind you), but its image is very attractive and allows us to modify practically everything. For me, it is the more complete desktop that exists.

To install KDE Plasma in Ubuntu we will have to type one of the following commands:

  • To perform a minimal installation: sudo apt install kde-plasma-desktop
  • To install the entire graphical environment: sudo apt install kde-full
  • And if we want the Kubuntu graphical environment: sudo apt install kubuntu-desktop



Elementary OS It is one of the Linux distributions that has caught my attention the most since I have known it. It has a very neat image, a dock at the bottom and a top bar that is very reminiscent of macOS. It has its own applications that add even more attractiveness to this Ubuntu-based operating system, but in my opinion it has some flaws: its operation is very different from everything that Ubuntu users are used to using, not to mention that to get some things we will have to take a walk. Of course, if you do it, you may not use another graphical environment again.

To install Pantheon in Ubuntu we will have to open a terminal and type the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:elementary-os/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install elementary-desktop


illumination 20

If you are looking for a Linux experience of a lifetime, perhaps what you are looking for is called Enlightenment. This graphical environment is very customizable, one of the most customizable we know, and has an image that we could classify as "old school." It is currently transitioning to Wayland, which may translate into a promising future for this graphical environment. It is likely to gain a lot of popularity when I migrate to Wayland, which is why I have decided to add it in this post.

To install Enlightenment in Ubuntu, we open a terminal and type the following:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:niko2040/e19
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install enlightenment

Other desks of interest

Other very famous desks that cannot be missing in any list of this type are:

  • GNOME: sudo apt install ubuntu-gnome-desktop
  • Xfce: sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop
  • LXDE (Lubuntu): sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop

What is your favorite desktop for Ubuntu?

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  1.   Eugenio Fernandez Carrasco said

    That you don't even name Cinnamon (even in "Others") seems worrisome to me

  2.   Lalo Munoz Madrigal said

    Oscar Solano

  3.   Oscar Solano said

    Mmmmmmm nope

  4.   ጣገፎሀቺራ ኢᎅፎቹይ ጧእዳፐገᎅቺን said

    Be careful when playing to install desktops makes the system unstable sometimes the shit remains!

  5.   Ernesto slavo said

    that version of mate can I install it in Ubuntu 12.04? I have a netbook with 2 gb of ram and 1.6 ghz processor…. Is there any other desktop lighter than xfce and lxle?

    1.    Paul Aparicio said

      Hello, Ernesto. Regarding your first question, I would recommend that you make a backup of all your important information and install 0 Ubuntu MATE. It has everything the desktop has on its own and is worth it because it uses the Ubuntu interface from before Unity. In fact, I have used Ubuntu MATE on my PC again because standard Ubuntu slows me down many times.

      Regarding the second question, the theory says that LXLE is lighter, but much less customizable than Xfce. The most I have "gone down" to, speaking of the use of resources, is Xfce just for that.

      A greeting.

      1.    joshua linux said

        you don't know

    2.    José said

      If you want a lighter desktop than Xfce or LXLE, I recommend Trinity. Only it has an XP flavor that you can take away by customizing it.

      1.    hiviter said

        Trinity was created with the idea that it is similar to Windows XP, and that Windows XP users feel familiar, for example, when installing Linux Q4OS you have Trinity by default.

  6.   Ernesto slavo said

    Dear Pablo Aparicio ...
    Thank you for your prompt response…. I have that netbook that I have mentioned to you with Ubuntu 12.04 and gnome classic as desktop (it does not support unity or compiz) and I am already thinking that I am going to install it in April (when the maintenance of 12.04 is finished) and I am between Ubuntu Mate 14.04 and LXLE 14.04 (on a pendrive it works very well and even connects to the internet (it has the Wi-Fi, audio and video drivers already in the iso and they work perfectly)… .. I'm from the time of Ubuntu 8.04 and Unity has not dropped me Nice .... I have used both, ubuntu mate 14.04 and lxle 14.04 from a pendrive and both are going very well ... I think that mate does a good job: it is a ubuntu classic and from what I read it only spends 10% more ram than xfce and lxle .

    1.    Paul Aparicio said

      Hello again, Ernesto. I have used Lubuntu and I don't like it because it has very few options. I used Xubuntu not long ago, but I didn't quite like it. Now I am with Ubuntu MATE, after a couple of months with the standard version of Ubuntu, because I do not notice that it is worse than Xubuntu and the experience seems "more Ubuntu" to me. I would recommend using Ubuntu MATE 16.04, which is also LTS. If you wanted to use an older version of Ubuntu MATE, I think the first was Ubuntu MATE 15.04, but it was not yet official Ubuntu flavor.

      You also have to keep in mind that as of 17.04 Unity 8 will start working fine. If we take into account that it is an environment that should work on tablets and mobiles, we cannot rule out that it works relatively well.

      A greeting.

  7.   Ernesto slavo said

    Dear Pablo…. thanks for your prompt reply again.
    I have looked at the Ubuntu Mate website and there is a version 14.04.2 (and it is LTS), I will install that one and if I see that it is slow (according to the websites I read, in this small netbook with 1.6 ghz of processor and 2 gb of ddr2 of Ram would go ok and also 14.04 has support until 2019) or I will install LXLE 14.04 which is a modified Ubuntu with desktop LXLE but, unlike Lubuntu which only has 3 years of support, it has LTS for 5 years.
    Budgie is a lightweight desktop that can be talked about in a few years. They have just started their journey in the Ubuntu world. I have tried it in Solus (in pendrive I clarify) and in the first Budgie Ubuntu and it works very well. Bodhi and Linux Lite too. But, I prefer stable support: that's why I think I'll make Ubuntu Mate or LXLE.

    1.    Paul Aparicio said

      It is another option and I find it very interesting. To tell you the truth, I don't like to touch many things that are not by default in the settings of a system, I tried Budgie Remix and I did not like it because there were a couple of things that could not be changed (by default), but I confess that I will try it again in April when the Zesty Zapus brand is launched.

      Of course, probably the first thing I try is the standard version of Ubuntu and its Unity 8. Yesterday I tried the Daily Build and it seems to be moving quite well, although it seems that it still has work to do and maybe we will have to wait until October.

      All the best

      1.    Ernesto slavo said

        Dear Pablo Aparicio ...
        At the moment my option will be to install Ubunt Mate 14.04.2 or LXLE 14.04.2 on this netbook ... If this version of Ubuntu Mate is slow for me, I will install that LXLE (which is an Ubuntu without Unity with LXLE and is LTS with 5 years of support ).
        Budgie promises but is still green. Same Bodhi, Enlightment and Lxqt…. The issue is that I only use, like most, the LTS versions ... the middle ones and I don't even test them beyond a pendrive.

  8.   Gregory di mauro said

    Hello greeting, I'm new to this, I wonder can I install how many desktops or can you only install one?

    1.    Paul Aparicio said

      Hi Gregory. Several can be installed, but be careful and see if you experience problems due to many components being installed.

      All the best

  9.   Daniel said

    hello i can't install elementary. It does not let me. that happened after installing and uninstalling xfce. In other words, when I couldn't with Pantheon, I tried xfce ... I took it out and then tried again with Pantheon. nothing ……. I get an error in the terminal. now I'm testing with plasma .. it's getting off at the terminal. We'll see, but I want elementary. Now I have the ubuntu mate 14.04. Excellent. Greetings

  10.   Juan Pablo said

    I have been dragging a problem that I do not know how to solve. It was after I updated Ubuntu to 16.04 and my desktops disappeared, I have no menu or status bars, I only have some folders and text files on the main desktop. I access most programs through the terminal, just as I use the "shutdown now" command to shut down the system. I have installed several desktops and I just downloaded the MATE, but there is no case, it only modified some folders and the appearance of the file browser.
    I hope someone comes up with an idea, because I will have to format and reinstall a distro that presents everything as it should. Thanks in advance

  11.   jovix said

    Hello, I installed the Enlightenment, apparently the installation was correct, no error message appeared, but when I rebooted the system I did not see the option to choose it. I don't know how to access this environment. I would appreciate some advice. Thanks!

    1.    hiviter said

      Actually, you should log out of your session, select the new environment in the session manager, and log in again and you will see the changes.

  12.   Manuel Mariani T. said

    hello I can't install elementary it gives me the following error
    The repository " artful Release" does not have a Release file.

  13.   adomate said

    Regards: I cannot access my encrypted drive on ubuntu mate. Can anybody help me?

  14.   kdefren said

    I have done it for example I have feren and I am going to install the kde and deepin script but what I do not like is that the programs for example kate de kate are mixed with deepin programs and vice versa

  15.   George said

    but, what is the repository or the command to put it (eg sudo apt-add repository ppp (something) ppp and I don't know that it goes in (something) which leads me to ... what is the repository?

  16.   Jesus Pereira said

    Che know how to eliminate Elementary Os bone Pantheon tell me thank you very much

  17.   Edward Lomas said

    Install Mate in Lubuntu and sometimes, very rarely it gives me errors, any ideas? It may not uninstall the desktop that comes in Lubuntu well.