Long story short: I installed Ubuntu 18.04 Desktop on my home server (because Ubuntu server kept failing on install.) I configured Grub to load directly to command line. I would really like to uninstall GUI interface--make it lean and have less programs to update.

If I uninstalled gnome, will that affect any other functionality? What's the best way to uninstall Gnome to avoid any unintended consequences?

(I've reviewed a few other posts, but most seem to be about using Unity after uninstalling Gnome.)

  • What do you mean by "Ubuntu server kept failing on install?"
    – user535733
    Dec 26, 2018 at 2:51
  • See my other answer - you may consider to have MATE instead of GNOME.
    – N0rbert
    Dec 26, 2018 at 19:49
  • @user535733 I believe I was only able to install the desktop version when I checked the 'install third party software' option. Jan 8, 2019 at 4:17
  • I know this is a bit late, but for anyone else reading this, OP seems to be confusing between a "Desktop Minimal Install" and an install from a minimal image. If you are trying to setup a server, you need to download a minimal ISO and start the installation from there instead of using a desktop ISO and trying to use the minimal option during desktop install, they are not the same thing.
    – Jim Walker
    Jul 12, 2020 at 17:51

2 Answers 2


The problem with starting from a Desktop install is that hundreds of desktop packages were apt-marked specifically to prevent users from accidentally removing their GUI. Removing the top-level Gnome packages WON'T autoremove hundreds of libs underneath, and definitely won't accomplish what you want without a lot of tedious effort.

Users who wish to convert should either:

1) Use the Server installer, Minimal Image, or Cloud Image (not for bare metal), or

2) Embrace the package overhead.

Since you said that #1 doesn't work for you, then seems like #2 is your preferred alternative. If #2 bugs you, then revisit your assumptions about #1.

  • So I tried the minimal installation, but it wouldn't finish installation unless I selected the "install third-party software" option. Jan 8, 2019 at 4:19
  • Then you were not using the Minimal installer. The third-party option is part of the Desktop installer. Big difference.
    – user535733
    Jan 8, 2019 at 12:31
  • This was the way. Although I had to install desktop version to get Grub and partition the drives. Then I erased the partitions and installed the Ubuntu server. Which has been just what I wanted. No GUI programs to mess with. Aug 13, 2020 at 15:50

Remove xorg, wayland and related packages. This will effectively take down any graphical application as these all depend on the xserver. Do an autoremove after this (sudo apt autoremove). Then install the metapackage ubuntu-server. This will install any package that is considered a part of the ubuntu server installation as seen by the Canonical developpers. If removing xserver ever removed packages you need for a server (which I am pretty convinced it won't), this command will pull them back in.

  • Thanks for your reply. Should I remove gnome-shell as well? Also,I was able to remove xorg but not wayland. Jan 8, 2019 at 4:22
  • I assume you are working from a recovery terminal before trying to remove the graphical stack? You can't just remove a chair while you are sitting on it. Removing both wayland and xorg will automaticallyremove all packages that depend on them.
    – vanadium
    Jan 8, 2019 at 7:54

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