Install GUI on Ubuntu server 14.04 Trusty Tahr

Now let us see how to install a GUI on Ubuntu Server 14.04 Trust Tahr. Is it necessary to do a Ubuntu server GUI install? Server administrators would say a strong NO for security reasons. But for home servers, it does not have to have a lightweight desktop manager to login once in a while to perform administrative work on-demand. It saves a lot of time. I recently compared the memory used by some server desktop environments. In this post, I will show you some examples to install GUI on Ubuntu server 14.04 Trusty Tahr.

Install GUI on Ubuntu Server

As you may or may not know, Ubuntu Server edition by default does not come with a GUI. This makes performing server tasks tough for people who are not comfortable working in commandline environment.

Ubuntu Server – Commandline Environment

Having a lightweight desktop on Ubuntu Server helps me out once in a while. Some options presented below are lightweight and some are heavy on resources and you may choose what works for you.

1. Minimal Gnome Core Desktop

This is my favorite and he is presented first. I started using Ubuntu in a era where Gnome was the default desktop. So for whatever reason, I feel like home on Gnome. You can install full Gnome desktop using the command sudo apt-get install ubuntu-gnome-desktop. But I run a home server based on Intel Atom dual core processor on which running full Gnome can be taxing. So I prefer a lightweight minimal Gnome desktop on which I add software I need as I go. To lightweight desktop manager based on Gnome use the following command:

sudo apt-get install xorg gnome-core gnome-system-tools gnome-app-install

I like Gnome core so much that I made a video on how to install GUI on Ubuntu Server. You may watch the above video and follow along. Notice how simple and minimal the desktop environment is. But to some this may look boring. Again, let us remember that the purpose is to have a simple server GUI to use only when needed. If you still prefer to non-Gnome desktop environment, then read on for a few more options.

2. Unity Based Ubuntu Server GUI

If you are used to Unity desktop by now by all means go for it. It does use quite a bit more RAM but if you are going to login only once in a while then this shouldn’t be an issue day-to-day.

Ubuntu Unity Desktop

To install Unity desktop use the command sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop. But on a server I dought that you will be using Libre Office and other software that come included with the full desktop. So I suggest installing lighter version of Unity desktop using the following command, and then building on it as you go.

sudo apt-get install –no-install-recommends ubuntu-desktop

You could use the above command with desktop environment to leave out the extras that come with the desktop. When you install GUI on Ubuntu Server, just replace ubuntu-desktop withkubuntu-desktop>, lubuntu-desktop, xubuntu-desktop, or others.

3. Lubuntu or LXDE Desktop

Lubuntu, is my next favorite desktop. It is based on LXDE and is a lightweight desktop manager by default. So you may install the full Lubuntu desktop using the command sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop or as explained above you can leave out the extras and install the minimal Lubuntu.

sudo apt-get install –no-install-recommends lubuntu-desktop

Lubuntu Core Desktop Environment

Or if you prefer the raw LXDE then use the command sudo apt-get install lxde or sudo apt-get install lxde-core for the lighter version of already lightweight LXDE desktop. If you like the Windows start menu style look then you will feel right at home with Lubuntu or LXDE desktop.

Which Ubuntu Server GUI to Install?

If you are looking for the lightweight desktop environment for Linux, then go for Lubuntu or LXDE desktop. I prefer the Gnome look so I went with minimal Gnome core for my Ubuntu Server GUI install. Either way, I recommend that you keep it as minimal as possible because more software packages equals more potential security holes to hack into your home server, which in most likely will have personal files as well.

If you must have a Ubuntu Server GUI installed, then I recommend that you disable X Server and boot to commandline by default. Alternatively, you could choose not to install a GUI desktop environment and install Webmin for web-based server administration.

So go ahead, if you need it then install GUI on Ubuntu server and simplify your administrative tasks.