How to install a desktop (GUI) on an Ubuntu Server

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By default, Ubuntu Server does not include a Graphical User Interface (GUI). Customers are expected to use SSH client programs for accessing their systems. However, sometimes customers wish to install a desktop (GUI) for installing and configuring Oracle database management system, etc.

  • A VPS/server running Ubuntu
  • Full root access

In this article we will guide through all steps for installing a Desktop ( GUI ) on your Ubuntu VPS/Server

1. Log on to your Ubuntu VPS/Server via ssh as root privileges.
If you are on an user, then you can use this command to switch to root:


2. You will be asked for your password and after putting it in you’ll be logged in as the root user

3. Update repositories and system packages
Start by updating the repositories and package lists:

apt-get update
apt-get upgrade

This ensures you have the latest packages installed in your system.

4. Install the tasksel manager utility:

apt install tasksel

5. Select a Display Manager

The Display manager, also known as ‘Login manager,’ is a utility responsible for launching the display server, loading the Desktop, and manages user authentication. Some of the display manager available for installation include SDDM, SLiM, and LightDM.

By default, only one display manager can manage a server. They can run simultaneously only if configured to manage different servers. This article assumes that you will be using a single default display manager.

To install a specific display manager, use the apt-get package manager:

  • Install SLiM:
apt install slim
  • Install LightDM:
apt install lightdm

6. Install a GUI for your Ubuntu VPS/Server

A Desktop Environment (DE) is a collection of software running on top of the Linux kernel which makes up the Graphical User Interface. The DE determines the look and feel of windows, app and folder icons, colors, and more.

Some of the popular Desktop Environments available include the GNOME, KDE, Mate Core Server Desktop, etc.


GNOME is the default GUI for most Ubuntu installations and is (loosely) based on the Apple ecosystem.

Start by launching tasksel:


A colorful interface with a list of various software will open. Use the arrow key to scroll down the list and find Ubuntu desktop.

Use the Space key to select it, press Tab to select OK at the bottom, then press Enter.

The system will install the software

Once GNOME Desktop Environment is installed, you can reboot your Ubuntu VPS/Server.

Then open VNC in the Client area or SolusVM VPS control panel. It will give you a graphical login interface generated by the installed Display Manager. Enter your login credentials.

It will show GNOME UI environment.

  • KDE Plasma

To install KDE Plasma, use the following Linux command:

apt-get install kde-plasma-desktop

Selecting a default display manager

Launch KDE Plasma with the command:

service display_manager start

Replace ‘display_manager’ with your installed display manager, e.g., SLiM, LightDM, etc

Then open VNC in Client area or SolusVM VPS control panel. It will give you a graphical login interface generated by the installed Display Manager. Enter your login credentials.

And that’s it! Enjoy GreenCloudVPS services!
Leading KVM Virtualization – Blazing fast RAID-10 SSD & SATA running Linux on SolusVM with 10Gbps & 1Gbps port.

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