Unity Getting Started Guide

Don’t forget to download Unity before you start the guide.

Download Unity




This guide was written with the intent to get users started in using the Unity Linux Command Line ISO.  Getting started means getting to a desktop of your choice within a few minutes.  This guide is NOT a troubleshooting guide…it assumes that you’ve been able to install Unity and have internet connection.

Please Note:  Since this release of Unity is a command line only release, getting network connectivity may be a challenge if you have a wireless connection.  While it is not absolutely impossible, this cli only release assumes that you have a wired connection…and a secondary release of Unity with LXDE that is more wireless friendly will land after 2011 is released.  For now, this release is intended for developers to work with and remaster as they see fit.  It can also serve as a core (appx 120MB for releases before 2012 and appx 100MB for 2012 and above) for a server.

Applies To

  • Unity Linux 2012 Alpha
  • Unity Linux 2011 Alpha
  • Unity Linux 2011 RC 1
  • Unity Linux 2011

Getting Started Guide


After you boot Unity Linux, you’ll be presented with a login prompt.  The username is root and the password is root.  After logging in, you can start the command line installer by executing the command unity-installer.

The installer is wizard based and matches the GUI installer exactly.  The main thing to keep in mind for the text based installer is that you won’t be able to use your mouse to select items.  The rule of thumb is that in substitution of mouse clicks, use your space bar.  In substitution for using your mouse to move from menu to menu, use your tab button.

Please note that there is a bug in the installer on 2011 Alpha 2 where it cannot find and install acpi…it will ask you if you’d like to install and your only recourse is to do so.  There will be a long pause where nothing shows while the acpi install is attempted…don’t cancel the installation, just wait for the finish screen to come up. This happens at the END of the install just after bootloader installation.  You’ll have to reboot into your freshly installed environment to move to the next section titled “base packages”.

This guide assumes that you’ll be able to use the wizard (unity-installer previous to 2012, cli-install in 2012 and above) to make it through basic installation.  Please note that this guide also assumes you have a ethernet connection and wireless will prove to be problematic unless you are using a remastered version such as Humanity, Samity, or Orvitux which provide wireless drivers installed by default for you.


After install, please login again with the user: root and password: root.  Change your password immediately by using the passwd command.  Once you have finished changing of your root password, you can begin installing some core packages.  Before we do that though, let’s set up your Smart Package Manager mirrors and update the system.


Choose mirrors closest to you for the best speed.  If you don’t want to bother and would rather have smart try to do it automatically for you, use the command smart-setup-auto instead of smart-setup.  Next, download the package listing from the mirrors you chose with the following command:

smart update

Now let’s install any updates that have come out since the release with the following command:

smart upgrade

Allow the updated packages to install.  We’re now ready to begin installing our base packages for a desktop.

smart install task-x11 smart-gui unity-control unitylinux-desktop

The above command will install X, X default drivers, the GUI for the Smart Package Manager and the Unity Control Center which will allow us to select default driver used for X as well as the default login manager.  The unitylinux-desktop package is new for all 2012 ISO’s and will install a minimalistic GUI environment based on openbox to give you something graphical to remaster with.  Replace unitylinux-desktop with task-x11-extras if you are using any ISO older than 2012.  Next up, install proprietary video drivers if you’d like to:

smart install nvidia


smart install ati

Now you can install the desktop you’d like to use:

smart install task-xfce-minimal
Substitute any of the following for task-xfce-minimal above

  1. task-gnome
  2. task-kde4
  3. task-lxde
  4. task-xfce
  5. task-e17

Now install a login manager.  Please note that for Alpha 2, LXDM and LightDM are installable but currently do not work as needed.  We recommend Slim, GDM, or KDM for Alpha 2.

smart install gdm

If you are using Virtualbox for this installation, add guest additions:

smart install virtualbox-guest-additions

If you’ve installed virtualbox additions, ati, or nvidia drivers…reboot now so that DKMS can rebuild the needed portions.  DKMS rebuilds during the bootup process.  Once you’re back to a command line, login as root using the new password you set and we’ll continue by configuring X.


There are 2 ways of configuring X:  Configuration via command line or configuration once you’ve started X.  We recommend using the first way as it sets up X before you start it.  We leave it up to you and will include both ways of configuration in this guide. 

If you are using virtualbox, you MUST use the command line version to configure X to tweak the vbox driver before X starts.

Initiate the following command as root to configure X:








Choose the driver you will use for X using tab to toggle through the top selection area and the < Ok > and < Cancel > selections.  Use arrow keys (up, down) to navigate and select a driver to use with X.  You can select with the spacebar (spacebar is like a mouse click while the tab button is like moving the mouse) [see drakx1]









Choose specifics of your X configuration on the next screen.  You can toggle your selection of checkboxes by using the spacebar.  Make sure that “Automatically start the graphical interface (Xorg) upon booting” is checked and then select < Ok >. [see drakx2]









Select your resolution…it’s best to select one that you know your monitor can handle…you’ll be able to adjust it later once booted into your desktop. [see drakx3]










The next screen is for selecting the display depth as measured by bpp’s (bits per pixel…higher is better).  Choose the setting you desire and select < Ok >. [see drakx4]







The next screen will ask if you’d like to test the configuration…you may elect to do so if you wish…if not, select < No >.   If you’ve performed the actions noted above in the COMMAND LINE section,  Skip the GUI XCONFIG section (next) for now.


WARNING:  Do NOT open a web browser or login to IRC while you are root!  This is dangerous and can result in a compromised system.  When you visit our forum or log into IRC using our online location, please do so on another PC or create another user besides root and login as that user.

This configuration section assumes that you have installed Unity Linux and went through the beginning portions of this guide.  It also assumes that you are now sitting at a command prompt, logged in as root.  From there, initiate the command:


If the above command results in a failure, something else may be wrong.  You can visit our forum and ask for help OR visit us on IRC and ask your question there.  If you are now looking at your desktop, proceed to the next step.




Open Unity Control Center by using the application launcher >> Tools >> System Tools >> Configure your Computer. [see configx1]











Choose Setup Graphical Server, select your driver for your CURRENT hardware.  Check the box “Automatically start the graphical interface (xorg) upon booting”.  Click Ok.  Run through the rest of the wizard. [see configx2]








You will need to logout in order for the changes to take place.  This will drop you back down to a command line.  The reason for this is that we haven’t setup your login manager to start automatically yet.  Let’s set that up next.  Go ahead an initiate the command to start X again:






Open Unity Control Center by using the application launcher >> Tools >> System Tools >> Configure your Computer.  choose ‘Boot’  and then  choose “set up display manager” [see configboot1].   Make sure slim (or whatever login manager you chose) is selected.  Click Ok and click Yes twice.  You’ll need to restart X for the changes to take place.  I usually reboot to make sure things work as they should.  If for any reason, X does not start automatically, you may have forgotten to check “automatically start X” previously when configuring the X server either via command line or GUI.  Backtrack to the previous 2 sections (whichever applies to you) and go through them again.






Please note at this time that LightDM and LXDM are installable but will not run the ‘finish install’ wizard and in some cases, not allow session choosing.  We’re aware and working on fixing this issue.  We recommend GDM, KDM, or SLim.




After the reboot or X restarting:  Follow the first runtime wizard to verify your ntp server, change your root password, and setup a new user.  Login, and go back into the Unity Control Center by hitting Application Launcher >> Tools >> System Tools >> Configure your Computer.  Choose System.  Choose manage date and time. [see configntp1]








Click enable network time protocol and allow smart to install the needed package then select your time server pool [see configntp2].  Change your time zone as well before clicking OK [see configntp3]















That’s it, you’re pretty much set up.  This guide will change with feedback but it should get you to your first graphical desktop.  Please refer all feedback to the forum post for feedback.