Linux

How to Install the GUI/Desktop on Ubuntu Server

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Usually, it’s not advised to run a GUI (Graphical User Interface) on a server system.  Operation on any server should be done on the CLI (Command Line Interface). The primary reason for this is that GUI exerts a lot of demand on hardware resources such as RAM and CPU. However, if you are a little curious and want to try out different light-weight Desktop managers on one of your servers, follow this guide.

In this tutorial, I am going to cover the installation of 7 desktop environments on Ubuntu.

  • MATE core
  • Lubuntu core
  • Kubuntu core
  • XFCE
  • LXDE
  • GNOME
  • Budgie Desktop

Prerequisites

Before getting started, ensure that you update & upgrade your system

Next, install tasksel manager.

Now we can begin installing the various Desktop environments.

1) Mate Core Server Desktop

Installing the MATE desktop use the following command

Once the GUI is up and running launch it using the following option

install mate-core desktop server

install mate-core desktop on ubuntu 18.04

2) Lubuntu Core Server Desktop

This is considered to be the most lightweight and resource friendly GUI for Ubuntu 18.04 server
It is based on the LXDE desktop environment. To install Lubuntu execute

Once the Lubuntu-core GUI is successfully installed, launch the display manager by running the command below or simply by rebooting your system

Thereafter, Log out and click on the button as shown to select the GUI  manager of your choice

In the drop-down list, click on Lubuntu

Log in and Lubuntu will be launched as shown

install lubuntu on Ubuntu server 18.04

3) Kubuntu Core Server Desktop

Xubuntu is yet another light-weight desktop environment that borrows a lot from Xfce desktop environment.

To get started with the installation of Xubuntu run the command below

Once it is successfully installed, start the display manager by running the command below or simply restart your server

Once again, log out or restart your machine and from drop the drop-down list, select Kubuntu

install kubuntu on Ubuntu server 18.04

4) XFCE

Xubuntu borrows a leaf from the Xfce4 environment. To install it use the following command

After the GUI installation, use the command to activate it

This will prompt you to select the default manager. Select slim and hit ENTER.

install xfce on Ubuntu 18.04

Log out or reboot and select ‘Xfce’ option from the drop-down list and login using your credentials.

Shortly, the  Xfce display manager will come to life.

install xfce4-slim on ubuntu server 18.04

5) LXDE

This desktop is considered the most economical to system resources. Lubuntu is based on LXDE desktop environment. Use the following command

To start LXDE, log out or reboot and select ‘LXDE’ from the drop-down list of display managers on log on.

install lxde on ubuntu 18.04 server

6) GNOME

Gnome will take typically 5 to 10 minutes to install depending on the hardware and software requirements your server has. Run the following command to install Gnome

or

To activate Gnome, restart the server or use the following command

install gnome on ubuntu server 18.04

7) Budgie Desktop

Finally, let us install Budgie Desktop environment. To accomplish this, execute the following command

After successful installation, log out and select the Budgie desktop option. Log in with your username and password and enjoy the beauty of budgie!

installed budgie desktop on ubuntu

fresh install budgie desktop on ubuntu

Sometimes you need the GUI on your Ubuntu server to handle simple day-to-day tasks that need quick interaction without going deep into the server settings. Feel free to try out the various display managers and let us know your thoughts.

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