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I am hoping to take my desktop computer, which is currently running the desktop version of Ubuntu, and instead run Ubuntu server. Once the server is setup and running properly, I should be able to follow this tutorial, which I believe allows me to connect securely with my windows-based laptop. So if anyone can tell me, which server I should install, and how to install it that would be awesome.

I am assuming there is already a tutorial on these forums already saying how to do this, but unfortunately, after trying 3 different searches, I was unable to find it. So feel free to add a link to this thread, which tells me how to take my Ubuntu desktop and make it a Ubuntu server.

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Ok so this is really 2 questions here, you should split this up, I've modified this one to be about openvpn. – Jorge Castro Jul 10 '12 at 21:30
The question is not about OpenVPN but about how to install Ubuntu Server. The OP already has a tutorial to install OpenVPN on a Ubuntu Server. – laurent Jul 10 '12 at 21:38

OpenVPN and all packages found in the server version of Ubuntu are also found in the Desktop one. Not only that but you can even find more info here: What is the difference between 12.04 Desktop & 12.04 Server images and here: What's the difference between the server version and the desktop version?

With this knowledge you can save valuable time setting up your server.

When you have all the prerequisites you need you can then install OpenVPN in your desktop PC since... it ALSO comes in Ubuntu Desktop ^^.

The 3 points mentioned in the file in the link you provided are already met with the Desktop version:

  1. You will need to be able to install and configure software on your server.
  2. You will need to be able to copy files from your server (i.e. scp, mounting a USB drive, etc)
  3. You will need to be able to set up a port forward on your router.

The rest of the VPN configuration is easier since you have a GUI environment but you can also work on it via the terminal.

So in general you are better off working with the desktop in your case.

Just in case you are wondering, the performance will be the same but the configuration will be faster.

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The guide you referred to may be a little old and today you should use ubuntu server 12.04 and not 10.04 but it should work the same.

You can download Ubuntu Server from Ubuntu site. Choose 64 or 32 bits version depending on your machine, Burn the ISO on a CD, boot the machine with it and follow the instructions. Here you can find a nice tutorial on how to install Ubuntu Server. It will guide you to install a full server but you can stop at the end of the base install and configuration (end of page 3).

Anyways, as other answers are saying, you don't need to use Ubuntu server, Ubuntu desktop will work the same for the installation of OpenVPN. They are the same with small kernel optimization differences and a different stack of default software. The main difference is that Server has no graphic environnement.

The result for your day to day use is that Ubuntu Server will have a LOT less updates to do and will use a LOT less memory while running. I consider it won't need a monitor or a mouse too, at least most of the time and is easier to manage using SSH connections from a GUI machine (at least because you can use many terminal on the same screen and look at other files or Internet at the same time... and you can't do that while in front of the Ubuntu Server machine...).

PS: That's another topic but the guide shows how to install OpenVPN client on Ubuntu machines and not Windows. There is a GUI client on OpenVPN site that works very well and is very simple to install on Windows.

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