What are the differences between ubuntu server vs desktop?

Ubuntu is a Debian based Linux distribution developed and maintained by Canonical, which is a technology company. It also relies on the community to provide support at all levels.

There is no doubt that Ubuntu is one of the most popular and influential distributions out there. They have earned this by presenting an enjoyable, modern, fast, and easy to use distribution without losing any of its stability.

Two versions but one parent: Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Server

Distributions like Debian are called universal because they have customizable configurations for desktop users, workspaces, and servers. But others like Ubuntu prefer to make different versions to apply configurations in a faster and more adaptable way.

Although Ubuntu has other versions, it is common to think of two: Desktop and Server. As you can imagine, one is focused on the common user and the other is oriented towards special machines such as servers.

These versions, although they share a common development and package and even share repositories, have marked differences, and it is necessary to study them to understand them.

The differences between Ubuntu server vs. desktop

As discussed, there are marked differences between the two versions even when they share a package. In short, they are shared but different configurations and development models.

The desktop environment

One of the most obvious differences is the desktop environment between the two versions.

In the case of the Desktop version, it includes the very attractive and popular GNOME with all its accessories. This makes a forceful impression on the user because you will immediately notice the modernity, luxury, and functionality of it.

Ubuntu Desktop

Included with GNOME is also software that is necessary for an ordinary user to use your system without any problems. For example, the famous Firefox web browser, an office suite like LibreOffice, text editor, calculator and of course a terminal emulator for working with commands are included.

In the case of servers, it is not advisable to have a graphical environment for security and resource consumption reasons. So, there is no desktop environment, and you will only find a black terminal screen to start your work.

Default application selection

Another sensitive aspect in which the two versions differ is the fact of which packages are installed at installation.

In the case of the Desktop version, packages and applications are included so that a novice user can use the system for web browsing and other uses.

So, the Desktop version includes a web browser, an application shop, an office suite, and system management utilities such as a file browser and other utilities.

In the case of the Server version, it includes other server-oriented packages such as bind or Apache web server. So, it is possible that they can come installed and configured as well as other services such as SSH.

Installation process

Although both are very similar, the main difference is that in the Desktop version there is a very graphical installer that makes the whole process easier.

The Server version is not a complex process, but the handling of the options is a bit different and for a novice user, this can be a problem.

In both cases, suggestions are included to make the process simple, but in the Server version these recommendations are oriented to servers.

Hardware requirements

Something to keep in mind is that I am going to present you the minimum requirements, but in the case of servers, it will always depend on the services that the server will provide to the network.

Furthermore, in the case of the Desktop version, it will also depend on the needs of the user, where more memory or disk can be as variable as each user.

In summary, for the desktop version, you will need a computer with the following characteristics:

  • 2 GB of RAM
  • 10 GB of hard disk space
  • 2 GHz single-core processor

Of course, the normal way to enjoy Ubuntu is to upgrade these components, and any modern computer will be able to run it without any issues.

For the Server version, it is somewhat more modest because there is no desktop environment.

  • 512 MB of RAM
  • 2.5 GB hard disk
  • 1 GHz CPU

Although I insist that these values are minimum and the better the computer, the better the experience.

Support Time

In this section, there are no differences, since Canonical guarantees a minimum of 5 years of support. This can be extended according to contracts with the company.

So, 5 years for LTS versions should be enough for most cases.

Ubuntu Desktop vs. Ubuntu Server, which one should I use?

It all depends on your needs. If you are a novice user, a developer, and you are going to use the system graphically, then the Desktop version is for you.

If you want to try out the features of Ubuntu as a server, then the server version is the one to try.

Finally, it’s your decision, and it’s up to you to decide what you require.


These two versions of Ubuntu are a marvel that fulfill their purpose in the best possible way. Although focused on different types of users, they have a common base that allows to establish similarities even in the diversity. Knowing them is important to choose the best option.

I hope you liked this post, and you can share it with all your friends. Help us to grow.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top