After installing Ubuntu server how do I install the desktop environment?

5 Answers 5


Depending on which desktop you wish to install, you install the the meta-package that installs all the necessary packages. You can use apt-get or aptitude to do this.

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

installs the Unity desktop

sudo aptitude install kubuntu-desktop

would install the KDE desktop

Other desktop meta-packages are xubuntu-desktop, ubuntu-gnome-desktop, lubuntu-desktop, and edubuntu-desktop .


If you wan to install a graphical desktop manager without some of the desktop addons like Evolution and OpenOffice, but continue to use the server flavor kernel use the following command

sudo aptitude install --without-recommends ubuntu-desktop
  • 3
    dam... started the install from the answer and scrolled down to this. :( Jun 11, 2014 at 8:29
  • my version of aptitude doesn't have that option. It does have --without-recommends
    – JHowIX
    Feb 3, 2016 at 17:09
  • @JHowIX try using apt-get instead, that one worked for me.
    – AZhu
    Feb 6, 2016 at 3:53
  • 7
    sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends ubuntu-desktop or sudo aptitude install --without-recommends ubuntu-desktop
    – Hover Ruan
    Apr 21, 2016 at 2:31
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

If you just need to run virtual GUI (GUI exsists but you dont need to see it) on the computer for testing or other purposes.

sudo apt-get install xvnc4viewer

Is a setup I have.


  • 2
    So, the server isn't running the desktop, but you can still VNC from a client machine and get a desktop? That would be perfect for my needs (dunno about the OP).
    – Scaine
    Oct 16, 2010 at 8:34
  • yeah you see a graphical shell.
    – hookenz
    May 8, 2014 at 3:42

From Ubuntu 20.04, we could use sudo apt install ubuntu-desktop-minimal to minimal install ubuntu-desktop, it removes around 80 packages (and related cruft) from the default install, including Thunderbird, LibreOffice and so on.

The command could replace the old command sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends ubuntu-desktop or sudo aptitude install --without-recommends ubuntu-desktop.

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