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A desktop version of Ubuntu shows the desktop environment (gnome) running.

What about ubuntu-server. Does the display remain completely blank or does it show some status etc...

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Ubuntu Server provides a login screen, with a number of text terminals available on default (configurable to allow more, or less as required). Most servers though are used headless (no displays attached).

For help with Ubuntu Server, some resources are

Yes you could add a GUI desktop to a server, but GUI desktops use resources so the machine will be less efficient (RAM/cycles used by GUI unavailable for serving tasks) which is why it's not there by default. There are loads of questions on this site about adding that (eg. How do you run Ubuntu Server with a GUI?) however note some desktops are heavier than others, so I'd suggest a light desktop that meets your needs, and only if you absolutely have to have one.

  • Note also that technically you could run a program in the server which could display some server stats on the text console. Not seen it much used as the servers are usually headless, but nothing prevents one from doing that. – Gnudiff Sep 22 at 21:28

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