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Trying to run a Ubuntu server for the first time.. But everything is in a terminal, is there a way to switch to a Gui? Also, the server doesn't have direct access to the internet.. So, is there a way to share it from a laptop?

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9 Answers 9

There's no specific distribution called “Ubuntu server”, it's all Ubuntu. There are different installation media for Ubuntu desktop and server, but the difference is only in the initial installation program and the set of packages included. The server installation media doesn't install a GUI by default, but it's just a package installation away.

To install a desktop environment, you'll need to enable package installation from the Internet (the desktop packages aren't on the server installation CD). The installation program should have done that for you if it found an Internet connection, but apparently it didn't.

Then run these commands to install a desktop environment:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

You should get a graphical login prompt at that point (I'm not completely sure; if you don't get one, reboot).

Once you have a GUI, you should go and enable a few more software sources, at the very least security updates and the universe repository. Click on the Ubuntu button, and search for "Software Sources”, and check the “restricted”, “universe” and “multiverse” boxes (in addition to “main”) in the first tab, and check at least “-security” and “-updates” (and you might as well check the others) in the “Updates” tab.

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If you want to administer locally

You can install the default Ubuntu desktop by executing the following:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

There are many desktop alternatives which you may install and use, like:

  • Gnome 3 installation: sudo apt-get install gnome-shell
  • KDE see Kubuntu installation: sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop
  • XFCE installation: sudo apt-get install xfce4
  • LXDE installation: sudo apt-get install lxde
  • Openbox installation: sudo apt-get install openbox
  • Gnome Classic a Gnome 3 desktop that looks like Gnome 2 installation: sudo apt-get install gnome-session-fallback

Local and or remote administration

Except from the above you can administer your server by using a web based solution using less resources:

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A traditional graphical interface, such as gnome or kde or fluxbox, adds very little to a server as almost everything you do is from the command line anyways (editing files, starting stopping services, installing services). If yoy "need" a graphical interface, use a web based solution such as Webmin. –  bodhi.zazen Apr 23 '13 at 16:09
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Nowhere in the question is asked a GUI for administrative purposes. The OP clearly asks how to enable a GUI to his server. The answer provides various possibilities from a full desktop environment for general usage to more administration oriented solutions. –  Stef K Apr 23 '13 at 16:15
    
Very helpful answer for the different GUI's. Thanks! –  Ian Jan 22 at 19:43
    
Great list - is there an 'official' overview of alternatives somewhere? –  Reinier Post Jun 16 at 9:18
    
I am not aware of a report - post mentioning all solutions, Google is your friend... –  Stef K Jun 16 at 10:07

Ubuntu Server never comes with a GUI. All activities that you need to do on a server can to be done through terminal. Even if you download the GUI, you will probably be able to access internet and get online support via forums or through chat. But there are no server / activities management tools for linux as yet which need a GUI for management.

If you are looking for some GUI similar to Windows Server, then such GUI does not exist for Linux Server. But you can download a Ubuntu desktop on a server to get the UI...All server related activities will still be required to be done through the terminal. You can download the desktop GUI on the server through the following command...

Following are the options

  1. To install the default Unity desktop: sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

  2. To install graphical interface without addons like (Email, Openoffice): sudo aptitude install --without-recommends ubuntu-desktop

  3. To install a very light weight desktop environment, just the basic GUI (xfce): sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

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Ubuntu Server has no GUI, but you can install it additionally. Simply login with the user you created during installation and install the Desktop with.

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

Afterwards type

reboot

and you are done.

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but it says that : Unable to locate package ubuntu-desktop –  CIRK Jul 18 '11 at 11:27
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According to packages.ubuntu.com/natty/ubuntu-desktop the package exists. Maybe you have to update the package database first. Please begin with "sudo apt-get update" and follow afterwards the steps mentioned. –  ddeimeke Jul 18 '11 at 13:26

The reason why it's called "Server" is because it's lightweight (no GUI or extra packages) to run the machine as lean as you possibly can. Adding a GUI to it defeats the purpose of a Server installation.

However, installing as Server then using apt-get install/aptitude install your choice of a desktop can help to weed out unnecessary applications than from doing a direct installation of a Ubuntu Desktop release. If you're going this route, I personally like

sudo aptitude install --without-recommends ubuntu-desktop

EDIT: However, if you're using it as a real "Server" (ftp, web hosting, DNS, etc.), it is highly recommended to learn how to navigate Ubuntu via its shell instead of the GUI.

And what UbuntuIngrained said about the necessity of knowing the shell isn't necessarily true. There are packages that install GUIs for different server functions.

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Install gnome package via sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop. You might additionally need to install: x-window-system-core, xserver-xorg, gnome-desktop-environment, gdm but apt-get will probably do that.

As to the internet thingy: You can set up a bridge or emulate a router. How to do that depends a bit on your hardware. There is a myriad of forum posts and howtos available on that subject. Use Google.

Packages of interest: bridge-utils OR dnsmasq. The hostapd package is for WLAN access point if you want your laptop to be one. But frankly I don't see, why you don't connect your sever to the internet. A WLAN card is cheap and easy and I suppose your internet laptop is connected through a router already.

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How can I setup forwarding? –  James Litewski Jul 20 '11 at 7:34
    
How do I install those packages without being connected to the internet..? –  James Litewski Jul 20 '11 at 7:45
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To be correct, ubuntu-desktop do not install the package gnome (and not even gnome-core), but a series of other gnome-$something packages. –  enzotib Jul 20 '11 at 8:04
    
@James Litewski: Forwarding must be installed on the machine with internet! But generally this is Howto install packages offline. Also you can search and download all packages using Ubuntu package search. Though possibly the easier way is to connect the machine to the temporarily. –  con-f-use Jul 20 '11 at 9:07

Gathering from what you are saying I assume you would like one of two things:

  1. Re-install MacOS
  2. Install a GUI on the (already cleanly wiped) system.

Am I correct in this?

If it's the first, you should mark this and ask a Moderator to move it the "Ask Different" section, if it's the second you once again have two choices:

  1. Download the Ubuntu 11.04 Desktop installation DVD and install all the required packages on the server, or
  2. Simply install the Desktop Edition on the system from scratch (my suggestion, since you have already wiped everything of interest anyways) and then install any needed server components on top of that using Ubuntu's package manager, Synaptic, or the CLI.
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well I would like to re install everything. but I don't know how to boot my DVD? –  CIRK Jul 18 '11 at 11:20
    
If it's a Mac, insert the new Linux DVD and press "c" during startup. Refer to Startup key combinations for Intel-based Macs for more; anything more than that would no longer belong here (arguably neither does this, but since you're trying to re-install Linux... /grin) –  Eugéne Jul 18 '11 at 12:30

If you look very closely at the official Ubuntu Server Guide. Chapter 6 Remote Administration you will find that the last article would be of extreme interest. Trust me you do not want to install a DeskTop environment on a server, it uses up too many resources up to 50 to 60% if you go bananas and you don't get any benefit to control your server from a GUI standpoint.

Read and digest chapter 6.3 Zentyal. That is what you would need. I can't believe I overlooked that myself. So don't be afraid to install it, this is a full blown web interface that my first impression of installing the zentyal-core and zentyal-common was "AWESOME" look no further for anything other than the sanctioned web interface by Ubuntu creators.

However looks like this software might cost you money, but if you are serious about using a GUI, I'm sure the fees might be affordable for light use. Not everything in life is free if you want it bad enough. However I am sure home use might be fee free, depends on what services you need. This software comes with lots of modules, I dare say you should only install the ones you need.

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The thing is, there is no GUI included with the server edition. You can install and use Webmin - a web based graphical interface, or, if you want desktop-like GUI, you'll need to pick and install the packages manually. The bare minimum would be Xorg, a window manager and probably a file manager.

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Webmin has been removed form the package list. It can lead to a severely damaged system. It edits configuration files in a non debian/ubuntu conform manner. –  con-f-use Jul 20 '11 at 9:29

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