I am trying to figure out what the exact difference is between the 3 different install Disks.

Like what packages are different and such.

For Example:
- The server disk doesn't install gnome by default and has the non-pretty install wizard.
- The Alternate Install gives options for encryption.

Are there any other differences?

1 Answer 1


(just for the sake of doing it I have also included Ubuntu Netbook Edition here)

Similarities between all versions

  • All versions support encryption of the home folder.
  • All versions use the same application repositories, so that you can for instance install web and mail servers on Ubuntu Desktop or Ubuntu Desktop on a Ubuntu Server or Ubuntu Netbook system (by installing the ubuntu-desktop package), and any other combination.

Ubuntu Desktop

  • The installer is called Ubiquity, which is written specifically to be a GUI installer for the Desktop/Live CD.
  • Includes the Wubi installer for installation for Windows systems
  • Installs the basic Ubuntu system, in addition to the ubuntu-desktop package and all its dependencies, including GNOME and various applications, such as Firefox and Empathy.
  • You can try the system directly from the CD, and it has a graphical installation.

Ubuntu Server

  • The installer is debian-installer, which is text based and is shared with Debian.
  • It basically is just the base Ubuntu system, but during the installation you can optionally install services such as a web or mail server by using tasksel.
  • Ubuntu Server does not include a graphical user interface so it does not install the applications included in the ubuntu-desktop package, such as GNOME.

Ubuntu Netbook

  • Installs the basic Ubuntu system, in addition to the ubuntu-netbook package and all its dependencies. It also uses the Unity interface instead of the default GNOME interface.
  • The installation method is very similar to Ubuntu Desktop

Ubuntu alternate installer

  • The installer is debian-installer, which is text based and is shared with Debian.
  • The alternate installer installs the ubuntu-desktop package, just as Ubuntu Desktop does.
  • It is mostly intended for installing or upgrading Ubuntu on machines where this cannot be done in other ways. For instance, I had to use this CD when installing Ubuntu on my machine, because none of the LiveCDs would work.
  • Allows setup of LVM and LUKS encrypted file systems
  • Has an option for an "OEM Install", which allows you to install the OS but leave the personalization like username and password as part of the first boot.
  • Option to install an LTSP Server.
  • 2
    Does this still hold true for 14.04? For once, there's no alternate installer anymore :( Also, does Ubuntu Server not allow setting up LVM and LUKS encrypted file systems at install time? May 31, 2014 at 2:20

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