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.


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.

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    +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? – Praveen Kumar Purushothaman Oct 5 '12 at 6:06
  • take your time and post results please – user61928 Oct 5 '12 at 6:10
  • I have GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash". Should I use "text" or just text? – Praveen Kumar Purushothaman Oct 5 '12 at 6:42
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    You are welcome.use command line sudo shutdown -h now or sudo halt – user61928 Oct 5 '12 at 7:28
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    @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. – Eliah Kagan Oct 6 '12 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.

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    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 '13 at 19:37
  • I agree with @edwin. :) – Praveen Kumar Purushothaman Aug 24 '13 at 1:49
  • if i want to enable it what should i do? – bugZero Jan 22 '14 at 12:50
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    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." – Eliah Kagan Aug 9 '14 at 11:56
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    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 '15 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. :) – Praveen Kumar Purushothaman Oct 5 '12 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 '20 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... 😅 – Praveen Kumar Purushothaman Sep 20 '20 at 6:05

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