I'm currently attempting to set up an Ubuntu VM for development. All I need is the core OS with a gui, a file manager, web browser and text editor. I'd then be installing tools like git, a JDK and eclipse. I don't need things like libreoffice so would rather not have them to keep the VM size small.

I'm NOT keen on unity and while I've been attempting to do this I've found I rather like default the desktop environment of Ubuntu Studio. But i understand that version of Ubuntu is mainly for media creators, not a programmer.

I'd like to know if there's a way of configuring Ubuntu as I'm installing it so It'd only have the components I need as well as a desktop environment that isn't Unity or LXDE.

I've currently got a minimal install with just a command line, but that's it and would need to know how to install the GUI and the utilities I need, but I get the feeling I missed a step in the minimal installer which would have done this. That is unless I'm mistaken and Ubuntu studio is usable for what i need.

I've used Ubuntu a bit but not had to do this amount of fiddling about so I've no idea how to accomplish what I'm after. Can anyone help?

1 Answer 1


If all you have is a command line, run the command:


and select your desktop environment from there. I would suggest a minimal XFCE interface if you don't need all the bells and whistles of UbuntuStudio (XFCE is the desktop used).

For an even more minimal desktop you can install xfce4 using apt-get like so:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install xfce4 lightdm


It should be noted that tasksel should not be used to uninstall packages. Only use tasksel for installing a set of packages. Also, newer versions of UbuntuStudio (22.04+) use KDE Plasma instead of XFCE.

  • if xfce is the one used, how come Xubuntu doesn't look like Studio? the main application menu looks rather different. Xubuntu's resembles Windows 7's while the Ubuntu studio one looks a lot more simple. Not being a Linux native I'm probably missing something
    – Force Gaia
    May 4, 2015 at 22:35
  • @ForceGaia That is one of the differences UbuntuStudio applies to the basic xfce interface. I believe you can install that by running sudo apt-get update and then sudo apt-get install ubuntustudio-menu in an open terminal.
    – mchid
    May 4, 2015 at 22:48
  • @ForceGaia also, you may want to learn to use (if you don't already know how) text editors such as nano and vim so that you won't even need a GUI for text editing.
    – mchid
    May 4, 2015 at 22:51
  • @ForceGaia Actually, the Ubuntustudio menu more resembles the traditional xfce menu which I myself prefer. If you don't like it you can remove it from the panel by right clicking on the panel, scroll to panel, then to panel preferences, click on the Items tab and search for and remove "whisker menu" from the list. The old menu is "application menu" and more resembles Ubuntustudio menu. Also, don't forget there is a launcher panel at the bottom of the desktop you can also customize that is set to autohide so you must move the mouse down there to see it and you add/remove items the sameway
    – mchid
    May 4, 2015 at 22:59
  • I know nano, and know of vim, but the main thing is I'd like to have the comfort of a gui that I'm used to. I'm a windows man mainly and would like to ease myself into the pure CLI world. Syntax highlights and so on are nice too, i was planning on installing eclipse as an IDE to help
    – Force Gaia
    May 4, 2015 at 23:00

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