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Ubuntu 12.04 – How to Completely Uninstall / Remove GNOME Shell

These instructions are for Ubuntu 12.04 running the Unity desktop on which GNOME Shell was installed using either the Ubuntu Software Center or sudo apt-get on the command line.

The instructions may be the same for other versions of Ubuntu, but no guarantee is made.

When GNOME Shell is installed in Ubuntu 12.04, it installs several packages and libraries it requires as well as some optional packages. Not all these packages and libraries are uninstalled when you uninstall GNOME Shell.

Quick Uninstall

This is not recommended because it will remove all packages normally installed with GNOME Shell. This may include packages you previously installed or packages previously installed by other applications.

Note: this uninstall command assumes GNOME Shell was installed on a fresh Ubuntu 12.04.

1) Open a terminal (instructions can be found here).

2) Enter the following command (it is very long and a single line):

sudo apt-get purge --auto-remove alacarte cups-pk-helper gir1.2-accountsservice-1.0 gir1.2-caribou-1.0  gir1.2-clutter-1.0 gir1.2-cogl-1.0 gir1.2-coglpango-1.0 gir1.2-folks-0.6  gir1.2-gdesktopenums-3.0 gir1.2-gee-1.0 gir1.2-gjsdbus-1.0 gir1.2-gkbd-3.0  gir1.2-json-1.0 gir1.2-mutter-3.0 gir1.2-networkmanager-1.0  gir1.2-panelapplet-4.0 gir1.2-polkit-1.0 gir1.2-telepathyglib-0.12  gir1.2-telepathylogger-0.2 gir1.2-upowerglib-1.0 gir1.2-xkl-1.0 gjs  gnome-applets gnome-applets-data gnome-contacts gnome-icon-theme-full  gnome-panel gnome-panel-data gnome-session-fallback gnome-shell  gnome-shell-common gnome-themes-standard indicator-applet-complete  libcaribou-common libcaribou0 libclutter-1.0-0 libclutter-1.0-common  libcogl-common libcogl-pango0 libcogl9 libgjs0c libmozjs185-1.0 libmutter0  libpanel-applet-4-0 mutter-common python-gmenu

It is easiest to copy the line and paste it into the terminal (right-click on the terminal and select Paste from the popup menu).

Preferred Uninstall

The better way to uninstall it is to follow the directions on this page.

This will show you on how to uninstall only the packages that were installed when GNOME Shell was installed. The instructions are generic and work for any installed package.

It involves:

  1. identifying which packages were installed and
  2. creating a command to uninstall only those packages

It leaves intact any packages you may have installed or that were installed by other packages instead of blindly assuming that they were installed along with GNOME Shell.

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