How to install GNOME 40 on Ubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo for testing [PPA]

This article describes how to use a third-party PPA to install GNOME 40 on Ubuntu 21.04 (Hirsute Hippo) for testing.

GNOME 40 includes a new “Activity Overview” design, which has a horizontally arranged work area, and has a Dash at the bottom of the screen, updates to GNOME applications, etc. You can Read here. The recently released Ubuntu 21.04 continues to use GNOME 3.38, so unless you use something like the PPA mentioned in this article, you have to wait 6 months to get GNOME 40 on Ubuntu.

Please be careful PPA Neither official nor unstable. It should only be used for testing purposes. Below, you will find instructions on reverting changes and clearing the PPA, but this does not always work!

For example, I have a PPA for a few days, and when I tried to clear it this morning, it wanted to delete half of the GNOME packages installed on the Ubuntu 21.04 desktop. I was able to solve this problem, but if you don’t know how to do this, it will eventually cause damage to the desktop.

Many PPA packages have been updated recently (until a few days ago it did not have a stable version of GNOME Shell, etc.), and the PPA can now be cleared correctly, but it may change in the future.

In addition, some i386 packages cannot be built in PPA. If these packages are installed on the system, they need to be deleted to upgrade all packages from PPA correctly. Therefore, you need to understand how to use APT in order to be able to use this PPA in this situation. For me, this happened to a desktop machine upgraded from an older Ubuntu version, not a brand new Ubuntu 21.04 installation. But please pay attention!

The PPA description also mentions “This PPA is only for testing. Sometimes it will be interrupted, especially when I upgrade the software package.”

You have been warned!

In addition to what I have already mentioned, you should also know:

  • After upgrading to GNOME 40 on Ubuntu 21.04, the desktop icon extension will not be available
  • After the upgrade, the Ubuntu Dock extension will not work because it does not yet support GNOME40.What you see in the screenshot at the bottom of the screen is not Ubuntu Dock, but the default GNOME Dash, which is now displayed at the bottom
  • After upgrading to GNOME 40, the “Appearance” section in “Settings” will be unavailable because it is specific to Ubuntu and was not built with Ubuntu patches in the PPA. Therefore, you will not be able to switch between light, standard and dark themes from there, and you will not be able to change the Ubuntu Dock settings (but I have already mentioned that you will not have an Ubuntu Dock anyway)
  • Other things may not work

Below, you can find some screenshots of running GNOME 40 on Ubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo (using both Yaru and GNOME sessions-see the instructions below for more details):

Ubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo Gnome 40Ubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo Gnome 40GNOME 40 Ubuntu 21.04 Hirsute HippoGNOME 40 Ubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo screenshotGNOME 40 Ubuntu 21.04 Hirsute Hippo screenshot

Except for the last two using GNOME sessions (using the Adwaita theme), all screenshots were taken under Yaru sessions (the Yaru GNOME 40 branch needs to be built, see below).

1. By adding “GNOME 40 PPA”mg‘.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:shemgp/gnome-40

2. Upgrade to GNOME 40 by installing all available updates.

sudo apt full-upgrade

When upgrading, the Ubuntu Dock extension will be removed. It doesn’t matter, it should be deleted, because it is not yet available for GNOME40. But make sure that no other packages have been deleted, and you do not have any remaining packages.

If you have installed the i386 version for some packages, and these packages cannot be built for i386 in GNOME 40 PPA (you can see them) Here, They have a red X icon followed by i386), you will have the package, and the installation will not proceed properly.In order to solve this problem, what I have to do is to delete the i386 version of the saved package (for example sudo apt remove libpango-1.0-0:i386). For me, this happened when trying to install GNOME 40 on my Ubuntu 21.04 desktop. It was not a fresh installation (I have been upgrading from Ubuntu 19.10, 20.04 and 20.10), but it did not work on the fresh Ubuntu 21.04 occur.

3. Use GNOME or Yaru session.

Yaru, the default Ubuntu theme, does not yet support GNOME 40, at least the version available in the Ubuntu 21.04 repository. Therefore, you have 2 options:

  • Install and use GNOME session (with Adwaita theme)
  • Install the GNOME 40 branch of the Yaru theme and use the Yaru session

From below, select only one of the 2 available options (a and b).

a) Install GNOME session (with Adwaita theme).

To use GNOME sessions, you need to install gnome-session Package, and adwaita-icon-theme-full Otherwise your “File (Nautilus)” application will use symbolic icons for folders. You can also install the Cantarell font to get the correct font weight in the GNOME session.

Use the following commands to install these 3 packages:

sudo apt install gnome-session adwaita-icon-theme-full fonts-cantarell

b) Install the GNOME 40 branch of the Yaru theme.

First install (from Git) to obtain, build and install the packages required for the Yaru theme:

sudo apt install git meson sassc libglib2.0-dev libxml2-utils

Now you can get Yaru from Git, switch to gnome-shell-40 Branch, build and install the theme:

git clone

cd yaru

git checkout gnome-shell-40

meson build

sudo ninja -C build install

4. Restart and select the correct session from the login screen.

GDM session list GNOME 40 Ubuntu 21.04

After restarting, when you get to the login screen, click on your username. Next, click the gear icon in the lower right corner of the screen and select the session you want to log in:

  • If you want to use a GNOME session, select GNOME (If you want to use Wayland) or GNOME on Xorg
  • If you want to use the Yaru theme, please select Yaru session (For Wayland) or Yaru session on Xorg

Don’t use the Ubuntu option on the login screen because it continues to use the old Yaru theme (I’m not sure how to use it).

Additional features:

  • Do you want a dock? If you use Xorg, you can try Plank. Dash to Dock or Dash to Panel does not support GNOME 40 yet, but if you need, you can try some GNOME 40 ongoing branches: Sprint to the panel | Sprint to the pier.
  • In my case, using a Yaru session, the GTK and GNOME Shell themes were set to Yaru, but the icon theme (set to Adwaita) was not set to Yaru. To switch to using the Yaru icon, install GNOME Tweaks (sudo apt install gnome-tweaks) And from Appearance Label, set the icon theme to Yaru.
  • With GNOME sessions, you will not have AppIndicators (tray icons). For the indicator icon to work properly, install the GNOME extension application (sudo apt install gnome-shell-extension-prefs), and then enable the Ubuntu AppIndicators extension from here
  • Want to disable the tracker? Now, this can be done with the new Tracker3.For instructions, see this updated article
  • Looking for a theme that supports GNOME 40? Check out Orchis and WhiteSur, they have been updated to support GNOME 40
  • Do you want to use GNOME software applications (DEB, Flatpak and Snap packages can be installed) instead of Snap Store (only DEB and Snap packages can be installed)? Install it using the following command: sudo apt install gnome-software gnome-software-plugin-flatpak

How to undo changes by clearing the PPA

So, do you want to undo the changes and clear the PPA? This can be done with PPA Purge, which will attempt to downgrade all packages available in the repositories installed from PPA. You can install PPA Purge using the following methods:

sudo apt install ppa-purge

After ppa is cleared, you can use the following methods to clear PPA:

sudo ppa-purge ppa:shemgp/gnome-40


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