Ubuntu Linux install Gnome desktop on server

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I installed Ubuntu Linux 16.04 LTS / 18.04 LTS / 18.10 server operating system with RAID support. I need to run a Gnome desktop too. How do I install Gnome desktop on the server after installation using the CLI?

Introduction: GNOME is a free and open source desktop environment composed that runs on Linux and most BSD systems. GNOME 3 is an improved version of GNOME 2. It comes with GNOME shell. GNOME3 is the default desktop environment for many Linux distributions including Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, Oracle Linux, and more. However, when you install the server edition of Ubuntu Linux desktop is no longer installed on the server. This page shows how to install GNOME 3 desktop on an Ubuntu Linux 18.04 or 18.10 server from the CLI.

Ubuntu Linux install Gnome desktop on server

First you need to update packages, run the apt command or apt-get command:
$ sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
Update Ubuntu Linux server using apt-get command

How To install GNOME in Ubuntu Linux

There are two ways to install Gnome desktop on an Ubuntu Linux:

  1. tasksel command: tasksel shows all available tasks and allows to user to select ones to install such as Gnome 3 desktop.
  2. apt or apt-get command: You can directly run command to install the entire desktop.

Install Gnome 3 (gnome-shell) on Ubuntu 18.04/18.10 using tasksel

You can choose to install one or more of the predefined collections of software such as Kubuntu, Ubuntu desktop or LAMP server. Install tasksel as follows:
$ sudo apt install tasksel
Run tasksel as follows:
$ sudo tasksel
Ubuntu Linux install Gnome desktop on server using tasksel
Make sure you select required group (such as Ubuntu desktop) by pressing space bar followed by OK button.

Tip: Full GNOME desktop installation on Ubuntu Linux using tasksel

Run the following command:
sudo tasksel install ubuntu-desktop
How to install Gnome on Ubuntu Bionic Beaver Linux Server

How to install GNOME on Ubuntu using apt-get

You can search for desktop package using the apt command or apt-cache command:
$ apt-cache search ubuntu-desktop
$ apt search ubuntu-desktop
Search for Ubuntu desktop system packages using apt-cache
To install the Ubuntu desktop system (gnome 3), run:
$ sudo apt install ubuntu-desktop
OR use transitional package name for Gnome 3 desktop:
$ sudo apt install ubuntu-gnome-desktop
Run the following to install Kubuntu Plasma Desktop/Netbook system (kde):
$ sudo apt install kubuntu-desktop
Want Lubuntu Desktop environment?, Try:
$ sudo apt install lubuntu-desktop
Execute the following command to install Xubuntu desktop system:
$ sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop

How to check status of gdm

GDM is a gnome desktop manager that allows to login into your deskop. Check status with the following systemct command:
$ systemctl status gdm
systemctl gdm status output

Gnome desktop in action

My default desktop running on Ubuntu Linux 18.10:
Running gnome desktop on my server
Ubuntu Linux Desktop 2


Congratulations. You successfully installed Gnome 3 desktop on Ubuntu Linux server. To access remote Ubuntu Linux desktop you need to use the vnc client. For more info see this page.

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

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