Ubuntu 11.04: How To Enable the Unity Desktop Interface

By Jamie Pert - May 9, 2011

Lots of people are still unsure as to whether the Unity user interface which was rolled out with Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal is an improvement when compared to Gnome, one thing which we recently realised upon installation of the latest Ubuntu release is the fact that for lots of people it is not available upon installation.

Because the Unity UI is more demanding on your computer hardware you may need to install additional drivers to allow it to work, this is a very simple process thanks to Ubuntu’s built in “Additional Drivers” menu option.

All we had to do was go to System, Administration and then select “Additional Drivers”, here we found that Ubuntu had found some propriety Nvidia drivers which we could install, they had not been enabled as standard as they were not open-source.

Hopefully you will see a driver which is recommended by Ubuntu, simply click on it and then click Activate, the driver will now download and install itself. Once complete click on the power button in the top-right hand corner of the screen and then select restart and apply updates. Once your PC restarts you should see the new Unity UI.

We are still not convinced about the Unity desktop interface, therefore we switched back to Gnome, this can be done simply logging off, clicking on your name to log in and then at the bottom you will see some options, click on “Ubuntu” and then click on “Ubuntu Classic”, now you are permanently using Gnome again (Thanks Tom).

Do you like the new Unity desktop interface?

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Also See: Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 survive Ubuntu Touch exodus

  • tomdwright

    I am sorry but your final suggestion of removing your graphics driver to get back to classic gnome is clearly the wrong way to do it and may well cause issues for any users who try it (unity is not the only application which uses the third dimension). The correct way is just to select classic desktop when you log in.

    • Jamie Pert

      Thanks, I was just saying what worked for me… I will update the post once I have tried your suggestion out.