Ubuntu – GUI for ubuntu server: xfce or xubuntu-desktop


I would like to install a desktop environment on my Ubuntu server 12.04. I like xubuntu-desktop as it is a light-weight one. But I'm confused between xubuntu-desktop and xfce. Can anyone tell me what difference between the two following commands:

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends xubuntu-desktop


sudo apt-get install xfce

Best Answer

Both are metapackages but xubuntu-desktop is a metapackage for much more stuff than the other one that is just for the desktop environment, xorg and few minor things. You can read about the difference between a package and a metapackage here. In short metapackage does not contain anything else than references and what matters is what metapackage refers to (metapackage claims to depend on them and asks that list to be installed).

So I guess your first option would not install anything. If you really want the minimal solution then go with xfce for which the correct command would be:

sudo apt-get install xfce4

Just add anything else one by one according to your needs. Also if you have xfce4 installed you can always expand your install with xubuntu-desktop that would just add lots of stuff.

You could also consider using Webmin or Zentyal for web based server management.

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