Okay my question is that, I want to run a heavy application, on a Virtual Machine (VirtualBox) with just 2 GB RAM (Windows 7 32Bit Host has 4 GB, 3.5 GB effective). Initially I thought of installing Ubuntu Server 12.04.1, which doesn't come with a GUI, so I thought it would be efficient in performance, but I have only Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop.

My question is, is it possible to remove the GUI parts in Ubuntu 12.04 Desktop (Not Server), keeping only the core OS, after installation in a virtual machine?

Or, is there anyway to improve the performance of the OS?

If you need more information, I am ready to provide.

I don't want the GUI or anything, even a small terminal window is fine for me, I can access files through FTP.


3 Answers 3


It is not needed to remove the GUI (unity, lightdm, compiz, etc.) from the system.

You can leave it and just make your default boot as a text mode and if once you need a GUI you can restore it easily.

open /etc/default/grub as root in your favourite text editor, for example sudo vi /etc/default/grub And change the line GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash" To GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="text" and update Grub.sudo update-grub Your system will then always boot to text mode.

If you once want to use GUI you can easly start lightdm, the GUI:

sudo service lightdm start

Here are some hints that you may use to increase performance of your system.

  • 1
    +1 for quick reply. Let me try it out and see if that works! :) Also, will this perform better than having GUI and running it? Oct 5, 2012 at 6:06
  • take your time and post results please
    – user61928
    Oct 5, 2012 at 6:10
  • I have GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash". Should I use "text" or just text? Oct 5, 2012 at 6:42
  • 1
    You are welcome.use command line sudo shutdown -h now or sudo halt
    – user61928
    Oct 5, 2012 at 7:28
  • 1
    @maythux Though halt and poweroff are usually equivalent, arguably it is preferable to use sudo shutdown -P now or sudo poweroff to shut down and power off the system. Oct 6, 2012 at 1:08

None of these answers answers the user's question.

  • Advising how to disable the GUI is not removing it.
  • Advising how to use a different GUI is not removing it.
  • Advising to use a different Linux distro is not removing it.

The commands to remove the GUI are:

sudo apt-get remove ubuntu-desktop
sudo apt-get autoremove

This will remove the Ubuntu Desktop meta-package and all associated packages.

If you're going to answer the question, answer the question.

  • 4
    The accepted answer gives pointers in a recommended direction. Just answering sudo apt-get remove stuff could cause more harm to the OP than you might think. Please avoid adding reasons to why you've added the answer, that is off-topic and is better off as comment.
    – edwin
    Aug 23, 2013 at 19:37
  • I agree with @edwin. :) Aug 24, 2013 at 1:49
  • if i want to enable it what should i do?
    – bugZero
    Jan 22, 2014 at 12:50
  • 3
    This method may or may not work: often packages that provide the GUI are depended on by other packages, such that the ubuntu-desktop metapackage is not always the root of their "dependency tree." Aug 9, 2014 at 11:56
  • 4
    Majik still has a VERY valid point! When someone asks how yo remove the gui, any other answer than how to actually remove the gui is per definition off topic. If someone asks "do i have to remove the gui?", feel free to elaborate on the pros and cons of the gui and/or different versions of it.
    – CalMo
    Dec 17, 2015 at 5:50

Alternatively you can install openbox, one of the most lightweight window managers available:

sudo apt-get install openbox openbox-themes obconf obmenu

This automatically adds an openbox session to the login menu. And this is its GUI:

enter image description here

Yep, that's it. Nothing more but a right-click menu. A GUI with an incredibly low RAM footprint, just like you want it.

  • Looks cool, but I am more and more interested in removing the interface itself, coz, I wanna run some huge heavy app, which I can access using my Windows host. :) Oct 5, 2012 at 6:44
  • @PraveenKumarPurushothaman if your problems is not ROM space but rather RAM+CPU, the correct question to ask is "How do I log into linux without a GUI", not how to uninstall it.
    – Vorac
    Sep 19, 2020 at 22:14
  • @Vorac Yea, sure... Now we have Vagrant and Docker, rendering this question totally useless. 😅 And I have got a machine that's Intel Dual Xeon with 64 GB RAM. So... 😅 Sep 20, 2020 at 6:05

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