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[I am a Linux n00b.] I know that it is POSSIBLE to do this, and from my research, the drawback is just that your system is bogged down from the GUI.

All I want to use my server for is hosting pictures/videos on my home network. It is really just for experimentation. I ALSO want to experiment with the Ubuntu GUI I have, and I have only one machine to do this with.

So my actual question then: Would the GUI bog down the server so much that it's not even worth it? The machine has 1GB RAM and a 1.66Ghz processor.

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The minimum requirements listed in the documentation include:

  1. 700 MHz processor (about Intel Celeron or better)
  2. 512 MiB RAM (system memory)
  3. 5 GB of hard-drive space (or USB stick, memory card or external drive but see LiveCD for an alternative approach)

You are well clear above that.

I have tried Ubuntu/Unity on an old laptop with 1 Gb of RAM and it is pretty usable; at start up Ubuntu takes up little over 300 Mb of RAM. But if you start loading heavy programmes that free memory goes away quickly.

I would say that if it is just to store videos and pictures firing up an Unity session should not be a problem. If you really need a desktop environment but the server more free memory then you can try a lighter option such a LXDE.

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For what you want, a GUI is not going to sow down your server. You can use one of several protocols, I advise samba. Alternates would be http, ftp, nfs, ssh (sshfs) to name a few alternates.

The advice that a Desktop has no role on a server is not due to performance. It is due to the fact that on dedicated servers, desktop interfaces do not add much. Most of running a server can all be done from the command line.

If you "need" a graphical interface for a server, use a web based option such as webmin. There are again several to choose from depending on what you need.

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