How do I Remove the KDE Plasma Environment in Ubuntu

Want to remove the KDE Plasma environment from your Ubuntu machine and revert back to the default GNOME desktop environment, you just need to follow a few simple steps. 

GNOME is the default desktop environment that comes pre-installed on Ubuntu distributions. After using it for a couple of months, the UI feels outdated compared to KDE.

However, GNOME can be styled and used in a variety of ways, but no offense WhiteSurTheme KDE is the only theme that looks like you’re using Big Sur, and GNOME Desktop lacks many other features, which drew me to KDE Plasma, but things didn’t work out.

While installing KDE Plasma over GNOME, I made some mistakes that made the system unstable to use, so I thought to revert back and use the stock GNOME environment.

The reason you want to uninstall KDE Plasma and switch to Ubuntu’s default GNOME desktop environment may be the same as mine or completely different, but our end goal is the same.

If we’re both aiming for the same result, then we should jump to step 1 of this article.

Steps to Remove KDE Plasma Desktop Environment

In seven easy steps, you can get rid of KDE Plasma. These steps include turning off the plasma desktop, removing the splash screen, upgrading the initramfs, and turning on GDM3.

Step 01Auto remove the plasma-desktop and kubuntu desktop

Assuming you can still get to the terminal, you can open it with the keys Ctrl + Alt + T, or whatever you’ve set it up to be. Unfortunately, I couldn’t use the terminal, so I had to use Step 1 of this article to change the run level through the boot menu, which gave me access to the shell to run further commands.

After that, execute the below command to remove plasma-desktop:

$ sudo apt remove plasma-desktop --autoremove

Step 2Remove all the remaining files

Next, you should delete any leftover files that won’t be used anymore, especially anything that begins with KDE or Plasma, because some of the unneeded dependencies and configuration files may still exist even after uninstalling the desktop environment.

So, all you have to do is run the following command, which has the --autoremove flag. This will get rid of all the dependencies that are not needed anymore.

$ sudo apt remove kde* --autoremove
$ sudo apt remove plasma* --autoremove

Once it’s done, go to the next section to reset the splash interface.

Step 3Reset the Splash Interface

Maybe you didn’t notice, but it looks like the GNOME splash screen has changed from how it appeared before.

To restore the default splash screen, simply copy and paste the following command into the terminal:

$ sudo update-alternatives --config default.plymouth

Upon entering the above command, you’ll see a splash interface selection screen like the one in the screenshot, so you can easily pick the correct option by reading its filename.

For me, it was the number 1, and it may be different in your case, so just enter the selection number and press enter to save your choice.

Remove the KDE Plasma environment from your Ubuntu machine and  revert back to the default GNOME desktop environment: Change Default Splash Interface in Ubuntu
Change the Default Splash Interface in Ubuntu

If you are reading the command, then you may be wondering, “What is Plymouth?” A Plymouth is used to hide all the details (dmesg) while the system boots up with a lovely splash image.

This command may give you output like “update-alternatives: error: no alternatives for default.plymouth.” Simply ignore it and move on to the next steps.

Step 4Update initramfs and grub

You are about to update the initramfs file that was already loaded. After that, you will run the update-grub commands to get back to the default menu. To do this, just run the following command:

If you don’t use the -u parameter with update-initramfs, initramfs won’t be updated.

$ sudo update-initramfs -u
$ sudo update-grub

Read this: How to check the Ubuntu version using GUI and CLI?

Step 5Disable the Simple Desktop Display Manager (SDDM)

KDE uses Simple Desktop Display Manager, which is also known as SDDM, so you have to first disable it to get the default lock screen that ships with Ubuntu.

Open a terminal and type the following commands to turn off the Simple Desktop Display Manager:

$ sudo systemctl disable sddm
$ sudo systemctl stop sddm

And after that, you can execute the following command to remove SDDM from your system:

$ sudo apt remove --auto-remove sddm
$ sudo apt purge --auto-remove sddm

Step 6Enable the GNOME Display Manager (gdm3)

You’ve almost undone it completely. Now, all you have to do is enable the GNOME Display Manager (gdm3) with the following command:

The first command will start GDM3 right away once the system boots, and the second command starts the GDM3 services.

$ sudo systemctl enable gdm3
$ sudo systemctl start gdm3

Step 7Reboot your system

After executing the first and second commands, you must reboot your system for the changes to take effect and so that GDM3 can start up properly.

$ reboot

Upon rebooting your system, GDM3 will be started and its services will be enabled, allowing you to log into your computer with a graphical user interface.

Wrap up

Voila! You have successfully taken the KDE Plasma environment out of Ubuntu. You can now use the GNOME Desktop Environment to manage the system and its apps.

Here is the recap of the command that we have used to remove KDE plasma from Ubuntu desktop

  • Remove KDE and Plasma desktop environment
    • $ sudo apt remove plasma-desktop --autoremove
    • $ sudo apt remove kde* --autoremove
    • $ sudo apt remove plasma* --autoremove
  • Reset Plymouth and Update grub
    • $ sudo update-alternatives --config default.plymouth
    • $ sudo update-initramfs -u
    • $ sudo update-grub
  • Disable SDDM and Enable GDM3
    • $ sudo systemctl disable sddm
    • $ sudo systemctl stop sddm
    • $ sudo systemctl enable gdm3
    • $ sudo systemctl start gdm3
  • Restart
    • $ reboot

By following the steps in this article, it’s easy to get rid of the KDE Plasma Environment on Ubuntu and replace it with the GNOME Desktop Environment and other apps. Feel free to let us know in the comments if you found this article to be informative.

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. moharam

    Hello every one!
    when I tried to disable sddm I encountered an error message : permission denied. what should I do?

    1. Rishikesh

      Try with super user permissions : sudo

  2. Mdpe

    Thanks. My problem was solved .👍👍👍

  3. Ben

    Maybe it’s just me, but stopping sddm dropped me into a shell. Could be good to add a step about loading this page on a different pc or remembering the next few instructions

    1. A

      If you are in a shell, continue with the steps. After you enable gdm3 and reboot, it will work as expected.
      If you are dropped anywhere else, force reboot the system. The login must be done in a shell, typing in the username and password. Then continue with the steps.

  4. anonymous

    Awesome! Should have found this before spending hours recovering my system.

  5. Kelly Painter

    I also dropped into a shell. I found another article that said to press Alt + F2 and log in. Then it instructed to sudo service start gdm3. That allowed me to log back in to gnome and continue.

    1. Gagan Mishra

      Yes, it is also possible, but it will not remove KDE from your machine.

  6. Kelly Painter

    Sorry, I should have been more clear. I was still in Plasma because gdm3 wouldn’t launch from the log in screen for some reason. So when I disabled sddm, it dropped me into a shell. I had to hit Alt + F2 to log in and manually start gdm3 and then I was able to follow the rest of your guide to remove KDE. I also had to reinstall gdm3 to get it to auto start again. I am not sure what went wrong with gdm3 when I installed KDE desktop.
    Thanks for the guide!

  7. Ant

    I dropped into a shell and started gdm3, but Ubuntu is displaying errors now. I tried restarting from the desktop, and now my monitor is blank, although my computer is still running.

  8. someone

    When I did sudo systemctl stop sddm, my laptop shutdown abruptly and now it is not booting and showing grub failed boot detection.

    1. Gagan Mishra

      Can you recall the command that you executed?

      1. Vivek

        I can not access my download folder and other files after installing kde.. gagan bhai apna koi social bta dijiye.. i want to talk .

        1. Gagan Mishra

          Let me know you are able to access you’re screen?

  9. someone

    yes, I did “systemctl stop sddm”,
    after this the problem occurred and the laptop was stuck at the boot screen with grub failed boot detection

    Although, I was able to restart the gdm3 from the recovery but it is not permanent solution, I have to do this every time I restart the laptop

    1. Gagan Mishra

      Check whether gdm is enabled by running the below code
      sudo systemctl is-enabled gdm3

      1. someone

        it is showing “static”
        I was also not able to enable it

        1. Gagan Mishra

          It’s been a long time since I faced this issue, let me check on my side!

        2. Gagan Mishra

          I assume you want to get back to the default Ubuntu desktop so to get run
          $ sudo apt install ubuntu-desktop
          Most probably your problem will get sorted out.

          1. someone

            thanks for your guidance 🙂

          2. Jake Redfield

            It was our pleasure, Dhruv. Thanks for the feedback.

  10. C. Gouedard

    Very useful for me!
    Very synthetic revue for this “return to basics”, even for going back to KDE later.
    I suppose I can also erase all k* in the .config folder.
    Thanks again.

    1. Gagan Mishra

      Of course, you can delete the k* .config file unless you don’t want to go back.

  11. Rafael

    Thank you” this solved the problem for me and I’m back but the theme and colors and fonts are messed up, any idea how to fix that?

  12. Purpl3_YT

    Thank you!

  13. alalogtek

    This tutorial could be also be inverted. As in re-install your kde desktop if you have a foul-up.

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