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I am new to to Ubuntu and I wanna learn UNIX/Linux commands. For that which Ubuntu version is better to install desktop or server?

Can I install server within Windows OS? Or try by live CD mode?

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install the desktop, yes you can try it via a live cd/USB. Then learn about different commands. –  Alvar Jul 15 '13 at 14:45
    
You should also know that the server version don't come with a desktop environment pre-installed and is only recommended for enterprise usage, in any other case you should use the desktop version which contain everything you will need to learn Linux commands. –  Zignd Jul 15 '13 at 14:51

4 Answers 4

The difference is mostly in getting a graphical environment extra. All versions have a terminal you can start with.

The advantage of 'server' would be that you will not be tempted to do anything with the graphical interface, as you have none. This is when you really have no discipline :)

The advantage of the desktop (or live) CD, would be you can use a browser to find yourself some hints/howtos.

In the end you can do anything you want in the command line on both types. For desktop you can either use ctrl-alt-T to get a terminal window, or use ctrl-alt-f1.

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I'd go with the desktop but only because I can surf the web while learning to find tutorials etc. –  Warren Hill Jul 15 '13 at 14:57

If you are only interested in learning how to use the command line, then the Desktop version is all you need. Once installed, login and type Ctrl-Alt-T to open a terminal.

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You better install the graphical version, but take care of using mainly command line and console tools. Learn the complete basic unix-like tools like ls, cat, grep, man, less, top, etc. You must practice the full basic stack, and man will be your best friend.

A local ssh server can be interesting too, to practice before getting connected to a distant server, your local desktop machine can be transformed to a server.

Learn how to use console editors like Vim or Emacs.

For more ease of use I recommend strongly to take a look at a Terminal Multuplexer like GNU Screen or Tmux.

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Virtualize your Ubuntu

If it is only for learning terminal commands you may want to consider installing Ubuntu in a virtual machine.

Parallel OS

You might not need a graphical desktop as you will have full access to your host Windows for surfing, looking up tutorials, printing etc.. Most virtual machines even have an implementation for a bidirectional clipboard to further ease things. Both operating systems will run in parallel.

No performance drop from graphics

The server edition will give you a more genuine Unix-like experience, and you will not suffer from performance drops due to heavily demanding graphics (which is an issue in all virtual machine applications).

Networking included

In addition your virtual machine can be connected to the host OS very much then same we would do on a real network. This gives you freedom for networking, and server application experiments.

Snapshots

But most importantly you will have the invaluable option to make snapshots of your machine before you do possibly destructive experiments on your virtual machine. Your previous installation then is only a mouse-click away in case you messed things up.

Cross platform

Choose a cross platform vitualization software (e.g. Virtual Box, VMWare) to be able to carry your VM on a pen drive to wherever you want it to be.

Sadly no Unity

The only disadvantage I can think of when running Ubuntu server in a virtual machine is the lack of Unity desktop experience.

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