The Unity 8 Desktop (Preview)


The Unity 8 Desktop Preview is the new Unity 8 desktop shell running on the Mir display technology. It's called a preview, because it's a pre-release view of technology and designs that are not yet ready for general consumption as a full desktop experience. It's there for developers, and anyone else who is interested, to test and review how the Unity 8 stack works in the desktop experience with an eye to full Ubuntu convergence.

Getting the Unity 8 Desktop Preview

The Unity 8 desktop preview is available either as an add-on package to a regular Ubuntu or derivative image or as a separate ISO that can be run as a live filesystem without affecting your currently installed OS.

Your choices are as follows.

  1. This is the recommended choice. It can be easily uninstalled after testing if desired, or kept up to date as unity8 develops. Run unity8 as a separate session on your local machine. It will be installed in a container, keeping your current installation safe.

  2. Download and install the latest preview image, burn it to a USB stick or DVD, and use it to boot your system.

If you happen to be running the development version of ubuntu, you can also choose to install the unity8 package directly.

  1. From a development version of ubuntu, install the unity8-desktop-session-mir package, log out, then select the Unity 8 session at the LightDM prompt.

What to test

Try installing applications, using things, check out the store and scopes, etc.

Windowed Mode

You can also obtain a more desktop like experience by testing out windowed mode. Note this flag might disappear in the future, or not work on phone/tablet but as of Feb 2015 it is current and working. From the terminal (or an ssh/adb session) run:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity8 usage-mode Windowed

Note, a terminal app is available in the store so you can run this command on device. To reset back to the default run:

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity8 usage-mode Staged

This is an early preview, expect breakage when using this mode!


Unity 8 uses Mir display technology. Proprietary video drivers do not yet offer the required level of support for Mir, so your experience if you're using the binary block nVidia or AMD drivers will be somewhat disappointing.

Reporting issues

Issues should be reported on launchpad, using the appropriate component. In doubt of what component is to blame for the issue, file the bug against unity8-desktop-session.

See Also

Unity8Desktop (last edited 2015-02-05 16:27:56 by nskaggs)