how to install the GUI on Ubuntu Server

How to Install GUI on Ubuntu Server?

The Ubuntu Server distribution kit is an excellent choice for server tasks due to appropriate optimization, including the absence of unnecessary ones and the presence of the necessary software components by default. But far from always the load on the server stably reaches the limits of its capabilities, and remote access to it is by no means mandatory. In such cases, you can put a graphical interface on the system for more convenient management. This article will discuss how to install the GUI on Ubuntu Server.

Of course, using a graphical interface slightly reduces server performance. But in the case when it serves a small house or a small company with 10‒15 computers, the usual task of which, for example, is the exchange of text or media data, the change in productivity will be practically not noticeable. However, with such tasks, even a greater number of computers connecting to the server at one time will not have a serious load with sufficient RAM and a powerful processor.

The only noticeable drawback of the Desktop Environment is the increase in the server startup time.

Preparing the System

Immediately you need to update the list of repositories and check + install updates on the system:

apt update ; apt dist-upgrade

If the execution of this command produced an error, enter one of the following commands (depending on what the error was about; however, they are both safe and can be entered at least in a row):

apt install -f


dpkg --configure -a

You can also download the tasksel console utility, which facilitates the installation of various components using pseudographics. It is located in standard repositories.

apt install tasksel

Install a Display Manager

Starting any desktop environment is accompanied by the inclusion of Display Manager. Most commonly used DMs:

  • GDM3;
  • Lightdm;
  • Slim.

By default, they are automatically installed when the corresponding DE is loaded. But at any time you can use any of them. The following commands are used for their manual installation:

apt install gdm3


apt install lightdm


apt install slim

To enable Display Manager, run:

sudo /etc/init.d/DISPLAY_MANAGER start

where DISPLAY_MANAGER is the package you installed.

Select and Install a Desktop Environment

Ubuntu Server has the ability to install different GUIs, including at the same time, with the ability to switch between them. Most popular:

  • GNOME;
  • KDE;
  • Xfce.

The choice of a specific graphical shell practically does not affect the functionality of the server. This is a matter of taste and preference. However, different DEs have different software tools, so you will have to get used to them and learn how to work with them.


This desktop environment is characterized by expressive elements of user interaction, less flexibility in editing the appearance of windows and panels, as well as good tools created specifically for GNOME to manage the server.

To install this DE, execute:

apt install ubuntu-desktop

A large list of installation packages that GNOME is associated with will be offered. For consent, just press Enter.

ubuntu server gui

As already mentioned, Display Manager for GNOME will also be loaded and enabled by default. The whole process will take some time, depending on the speed of your Internet connection.

After that, restart the computer. Now you can manage the server through GNOME DE.

ubuntu server install gui

ubuntu server install gui


This graphical shell differs from GNOME in all aspects, provides greater flexibility in configuration and consumes less resources.

To install it, use the command:

apt install kde-plasma-desktop

Confirm the download of all the necessary packages and wait for the process to complete.

Then, after rebooting the PC, a new DE will be launched.

ubuntu server web gui


This GUI is even simpler, but provides even more customization tools. The cost of resources is comparable to KDE.

Installation is being performed by the following command:

apt install xfce4

It is also convenient to do this through the previously downloaded tasksel utility:

tasksel install xubuntu-core

This will install the Xfce shell.

install gui on ubuntu server

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