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Ubuntu Server vs Desktop Version

What is the difference between the server version of Ubuntu and the desktop version?


Copied as is from the Ubuntu documentation:

  • The first difference is in the contents of the CD. The "server" CD does not include what Ubuntu considers desktop packages (such as X, Gnome, or KDE), but does include server-related packages (Apache2, Bind9, etc. Using a desktop CD with minimal installation and installation, such as apache2 from the network, you can get the same result that can be obtained by inserting the server CD and installing apache2 from the CD.
  • The process of installing Ubuntu Server Edition is slightly different from Desktop Edition. Since by default the Ubuntu server does not have a graphical user interface, this process is controlled by a menu, which is very similar to the process of installing from an alternative CD.
  • Until 12.04, ubuntu server installs a server-optimized kernel by default. Starting from 12.04, there is no difference in the kernel between Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Server, as linux-image-server is combined with linux-image-generic.
  • For versions of Ubuntu LTS prior to 12.04, Ubuntu Desktop Edition is only supported for 3 years. In Ubuntu LTS 12.04 this period has been extended to 5 years. In contrast, all editions of Ubuntu LTS Server Edition are supported for 5 years.

It's worth noting that apart from the Ubuntu Desktop and Server kernel settings, it's essentially the same distribution, only with a different selection of default packages. Both use the same packages and repositories. If you run , you will get the functional equivalent of Desktop Edition. apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

This also means that any package designed for Ubuntu Server will work just as successfully on your desktop computer.

 
 
 

It's worth noting that apart from the kernel settings, the Ubuntu desktop and server are essentially the same distro, just with a different selection of default packages. Both use the same packages and repositories. If you run , you will get the functional equivalent of Desktop Edition. apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

This also means that any package designed for Ubuntu Server will work just as successfully on your desktop computer.


Whether you install using a server CD or a desktop CD, you'll get the same Ubuntu. The difference is what set of packages it installs by default, i.e. what software selection you will get at the end of the installation process.

You can switch from a desktop to a server system and vice versa on an already installed copy of Ubuntu. Ubuntu even simplifies this task with tasksel utilities or metapackages such as and (available through the standard apt package manager at at least 16.04). You can even mix and match — by installing a desktop environment on a server or server software like ssh_server or apache2 — on a primary desktop computer. ubuntu-desktop ubuntu-server

But chances are that you probably already know during the installation whether you'll want a desktop system with a desktop environment or a server system. So, having different installation CDs for the server and desktop is just a convenience factor that makes choosing software a little easier.

Installers also behave differently, in the sense that only the "desktop" version is installed from a graphical Live CD. Other versions are installed using a menu-based installer similar to the Debian installer.

 
 
 
 

Whether you install using a server CD or a desktop CD, you will get the same Ubuntu. The difference is what set of packages it installs by default — that is, what software choice you'll get at the end of the installation process.

You can switch from a desktop to a server system and vice versa on an already installed copy of Ubuntu. Ubuntu even simplifies this task with tasksel utilities or metapackages such as and (available through the standard apt package manager at at least 16.04). You can even mix and match — by installing a desktop environment on a server or server software like ssh_server or apache2 — on a primary desktop computer. ubuntu-desktop ubuntu-server

But chances are that you probably already know during the installation whether you'll want a desktop system with a desktop environment or a server system. So, having different installation CDs for the server and desktop is just a convenience factor that makes choosing software a little easier.

Installers also behave differently, in the sense that only the "desktop" version is installed from a graphical Live CD. Other versions are installed using a menu-based installer similar to the Debian installer.


I will never mess up the desktop version with the server version and vice versa.

This 5 cent tip is based on real experience and lessons I paid for after spending a couple of days trying my best to use the server version only as a terminal.

It's true that you can always add Desktop packages to the Server version or vice versa. But the result is very different from the corresponding versions, it has many problems and troubles.

Most people have noticed that there is a difference in packages in the Server and Desktop versions, but no one pays attention to the fact that these two versions have completely different configurations. Unused version issues caused by a different configuration are omitted or ignored.

The Server version is designed for the server. Here are at least two things that affect you when you use the server version as a daily terminal console window: It's optimized for the server, assuming there's always a wired network, always on (it doesn't reboot often). That way, your box will have a lot more load time. If you only use a machine with Wi-Fi (most new-style laptops do this), the server version of ubuntu's boot procedure can hang for 3 to 5 minutes because a lot of the modules on the server depend on the network when it boots, but at this point the Wi-Fi network is not yet available, indeed, the default setting for the server version does not come with the entire Wi-Fi package.

These are just two little things that can infect you and cause a headache. Try searching the internet that Ubuntu hangs when booting.... The solution for this is cumbersome and not clean. oh, I didn't mention that the users you created in the Server version of the terminal console will not appear in the Desktop GUI if you add desktop packages later, nor will the GUI users manage the utilities. .... just another problem on the list.

So, I will say that the server and desktop versions are different enough that you don't miss them, although you can add packages to get certain features from a different version, you will encounter problems caused by a different configuration.

Although, in saying this, I'd suggest using the PC version in most cases, adding server packages to the PC version won't affect much of your day-to-day use. You can easily change the setting to disable the GUI and use it as a terminal console. Use the Server version exclusively for the server.

What we're really missing is the Ubuntu terminal version: a lightweight version, but optimized only for daily use of the laptop terminal.

 

 
 
 

I will never mess up with the desktop version with the server version and vice versa.

This 5 cent tip is based on real experience and lessons I paid for after spending a couple of days trying my best to use the server version as a terminal.

It's true that you can always add Desktop packages to the Server version or vice versa. But the result is very different from the corresponding versions, it has many problems and troubles.

Most people have noticed that there is a difference in packages in the Server and Desktop versions, but no one pays attention to the fact that these two versions have completely different configurations. Unused version issues caused by another configuration are omitted or ignored.

The server version is for the server. Here are at least two things that affect you when you use the server version as a daily terminal console window: It's optimized for the server, assuming there's always a wired network, always on (it doesn't reboot often). That way, your box will have a lot more load time. If you only use a machine with Wi-Fi (most new-style laptops do this), the server version of ubuntu's boot procedure can hang for 3 to 5 minutes because a lot of the modules on the server depend on the network when it boots, but at this point the Wi-Fi network is not yet available, indeed, the default setting for the server version does not come with the entire Wi-Fi package.

These are just two little things that can infect you and cause a headache. Try searching the internet that Ubuntu hangs when booting.... The solution for this is cumbersome and not clean. oh, I didn't mention that the users you created in the Server version of the terminal console will not appear in the Desktop GUI if you add desktop packages later, nor will the GUI users manage the utilities. .... just another problem on the list.

So, I will say that the server and desktop versions are different enough that you don't miss them, although you can add packages to get certain features from a different version, you will encounter problems caused by a different configuration.

Although, in saying this, I'd suggest using the PC version in most cases, adding server packages to the PC version won't affect much of your day-to-day use. You can easily change the setting to disable the GUI and use it as a terminal console. Use the Server version exclusively for the server.

What we're really missing is the Ubuntu terminal version: a lightweight version, but optimized only for daily use of the laptop terminal.