Install Unity on Arch Linux

Some might wonder, why would you do something like that? Install Unity on Arch Linux? Absolutely blasphemy. But really, I have fallen in love with this combination. Till a couple weeks back, I had been using Ubuntu for close to 4-5 years without experimenting with any other Linux distros. I usually resist the urge to install the alpha releases, but by the time the beta releases start coming out, I’m just itching to get hold of it, irrespective of how catastrophic it has turned out sometimes from the work perspective. So when Ubuntu 12.10 beta2 came out, I installed it. But I was sorely disappointed. Unity kept crashing for no good reason, generally not a very stable system. I know ‘beta’ versions aren’t supposed to be stable etc, but it shouldn’t crash as often as it did.

So I figured, if I want to live my life on the precipice of beta releases, why not use Arch Linux? If there’s such a thing as a stable bleeding edge distribution, then Arch Linux comes closest to that description. So I installed Arch Linux on my spanking new Thinkpad T430s (highly recommend T430s btw). But neither Gnome 3 nor KDE are my preferred desktop environments and I wanted Unity! I really do prefer Unity over Gnome and KDE these days (read more about it here). Thankfully somebody had already done all the hard work. And somebody and beautifully packaged it.

EDIT: So the above repository hasn’t been updated in a while, so I created one for myself. I’m hoping to keep it upto date with the packages on github. Troll me if I don’t.

So to install Unity, add the following lines to /etc/pacman.conf

Server =$arch 

Server =$arch 

and then

 # pacman -Suy # pacman -S $(pacman -Slq unity) 

Thats the core. Additionally if you just installed a fresh system, then you will need a display manager (gdm, lightdm). If you prefer the old fashioned way i.e. startx, then you could use the following xinitrc.

# ~/.xinitrc
# Executed by startx (run your window manager from here)

if [ -d /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d ]; then
  for f in /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d/*; do
    [ -x "$f" ] && . "$f"
  unset f

exec unity

Have fun using Unity and Arch Linux!


  1. For me there are package conflicts:

    looking for inter-conflicts…
    error: unresolvable package conflicts detected
    error: failed to prepare transaction (conflicting dependencies)
    :: qt4 and qt-ubuntu are in conflict

    This is a just installed system with nothing but base and base-devel and no extra sources.

        1. Really don’t want to nag, but when is ASAP? 😉

          Just asking because I wanted to try Unity the day before yesterday and it didn’t work because of this error. Saw your post and been refrshing the Repo-Page since then 🙂

  2. Great job! It’s also my favorite combination.

    Btw, chenxiaolong has created a branch for gnome 3.6 which solves the annoying windows decoration bug. Are you also going to package it? if so, I will just wait instead of recompiling all of the packages:)


  3. I may certainly give this a try. Hopefully it’s as good as Unity on Ubuntu!? 🙂
    Arch+Unity is the best combo I can think of. Since leaving Arch+KDE I haven’t really missed KDE much, but certainly have missed Arch.

      1. I’ve just tried this and I must thank you for your hard work. This runs really stable on my machine and Unity is faster and more responsive running on Arch than on Ubuntu.

        1. Hi Pratik,

          I tried what you suggested but its giving out this error…

          error: mirror ‘$arch’ contains the ‘$arch’ variable, but no ‘Architecture’ is defined.
          error: could not add mirror ‘$arch’ to database ‘unity’ (unexpected error)

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