I have some some problems with my notebook (RAM is 4 GB, so it works VERY slowly as I am a developer and use some applications that require high RAM which I currently don't have) and as I am new to Linux, I think that I have too many unnecessary applications and packages.

Because of my notebook's low specs, I am thinking of using Ubuntu without GUI. But in that case will I be able to use applications such as text editors like (Atom, VsCode, Sublime text) and browser (Google chrome, Yandex, Firefox) in Ubuntu with no GUI?

  • 1
    4Gb should be enough for xUbuntu or lUbuntu.
    – Rinzwind
    May 30, 2019 at 10:16
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    For the text editors, there are lighter alternatives to Atom and VSCode (that are indeed known for high RAM consumption): Gedit, Kate, Bluefish, Geany or even Brackets will run smoother than Electron based applications. For web browsers, I imagine you need all of them for testing your code but you could just try to avoid launching all of them at the same time. Again there are lighter alternatives such as Falkon, Luakit or Epiphany, maybe good for most of development job... And as said by the others, Lubuntu will make miracles on a low spec machine ;-)
    – FloT
    May 30, 2019 at 11:26
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    There is a Q&A here that should help: askubuntu.com/questions/1047169/make-ubuntu-18-04-lighter May 30, 2019 at 12:11

3 Answers 3


No. If you want to run GUI apps, you need a GUI. Any Linux system is completely usable without a GUI, but only if you don't require GUI apps. Of course, there are command line alternatives (vim or emacs for text editing, links2 or w3m for browsing), but if you want to run the specific tools you mentioned, you will need a GUI.

That said, there are several graphical environments that should work fine with 4G of RAM. In the Ubuntu world, try Xubuntu or Lubuntu which come with the Xfce and LXQt desktop environments respectively. If that's still too heavy for you (which I doubt), you can try a tiling window manager like i3.


Using GUI is basically making use of display server/protocol such as X.Org, Wayland.

I am thinking of using Ubuntu WITHOUT a GUI

That's the basic difference between Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Server, i.e. Ubuntu Desktop have Desktop environment installed by default such as GNOME while Ubuntu server has none. If you really want Ubuntu without a GUI, you can install Ubuntu server.

I have too many unnecessary applications and packages

You can either use a minimal installation of Ubuntu which will install necessary packages only or install Ubuntu server and then a Desktop Environment such as GNOME, LXQt, Budgie, Cinnamon, Mate, etc. For installation and further reading, see What kinds of desktop environments and shells are available?

In that case will I be able to use applications such as text editors like (Atom, VsCode, Sublime text) and browser (Google chrome, Yandex, Firefox) in Ubuntu with NO GUI?

No, you won't. They require some display server to function. But you can use command line alternatives for that. For Text editors: nano, vim, pico, etc. For browser: ELinks, Lynx, etc. For their installation, see Browsing the internet from the command line.


If you want to run Linux with lower spec, You can try running Xubuntu. The minimum spec is 512MB memory and 7.5GB disk space. Even with lower spec machine, it runs pretty well.

Although the reasonable thing to do is to run it without X, very light weight X11 + window manger is pretty practical, even for running just a headless server. You can set the window manger to not start at boot, and if you need X-server, you can then start from console, or you can run VNC serve on it, and you can remote access using VNC client.

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