The purpose of this guide is to install a desktop environment on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa, whether you already have a GUI installed and wish to use a different desktop environment, or if you are only using the command line and would like access to a GUI.
You can also use these instructions to install a GUI on Ubuntu Server 20.04, which doesn’t have a desktop environment installed by default. Follow along with the step by step instructions below to install a GUI on Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa Server and Desktop.
In this tutorial you will learn:
- How to install
- How to select GUI from
- How to install GUI
- How to login to newly installed GUI
Software Requirements and Conventions Used
|Category||Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used|
|System||Installed or upgraded Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa|
|Other||Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the
|Conventions||# – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user
Ubuntu 20.04 Install GUI step by step instructions
There are numerous ways to install a GUI on Ubuntu 20.04. One of the easiest ways is with a tool called tasksel, which streamlines the process for us by automatically installing the correct window manager and other package dependencies.
- Start off by updating the apt package index and installing the
taskseltool with these Linux commands.
$ sudo apt update $ sudo apt install tasksel
- Next, select the GUI you wish to install. Below table shows main desktop environments available for installation via
Main available Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) installations using tasksel’s tasks Task Description kubuntu-desktop Kubuntu desktop ( KDE Desktop ) lubuntu-desktop Lubuntu Desktop ( LXQt desktop ) ubuntu-budgie-desktop Ubuntu Budgie desktop ubuntu-desktop Ubuntu desktop ( default GNOME ) ubuntu-desktop-minimal Ubuntu minimal desktop ( default GNOME ) ubuntu-mate-desktop Ubuntu MATE desktop ubuntustudio-desktop Ubuntu Studio desktop ( Xfce-based desktop ) ubuntustudio-desktop-core Ubuntu Studio minimal DE installation ( Xfce-based desktop ) xubuntu-desktop Xubuntu desktop ( Xfce desktop )
For additional GUI selection execute the below command:
$ tasksel --list-tasks
- Once you have selected the GUI you wish to install on Ubuntu, execute the following
taskselcommand. As an example, we will install the default Ubuntu desktop environment, which is GNOME. But you may change this command to match your own selection.
$ sudo tasksel install ubuntu-desktop
taskselwill now begin to download and install all of the packages required for the desktop environment you have chosen. Depending on which GUI is being installed, you may be prompted during installation on whether or not you wish to change the default window manager for the system.
- After installation, reboot your system.
- At this point, the GUI should start. You may need to select your desired desktop flavor on the login page before you login. In case the GUI is not starting at all, make sure your system boots into the graphical target. To do so execute:
$ sudo systemctl set-default graphical.target
In this tutorial, you saw how to install a variety of different desktop environments on Ubuntu 20.04 Server and Desktop. This is made easier by the
tasksel command, so that we don’t need individual instructions for each GUI available. If you decide to switch GUIs again in the future, these same instructions can be used.