Setting Up a Minimal Graphical Ubuntu (Karmic Koala)

i had been using Ubuntu previously, until around the time Fedora Leonidas was released, when i decided to give Fedora a try, and since then have stuck with it (also upgrading to the more recent Constantine). One thing that i liked about Fedora which was not present in Ubuntu (Desktop) was the opportunity to select the packages i want during installation. Instead, Ubuntu installs a number of applications by default, most of which i don't use (e.g. Ekiga Softphone and all the games). Sure, i could remove those applications after installation, but that would still leave some previously-dependant packages present when there would actually be no remaining dependency on them.

However, recently i decided to try out the latest version of Ubuntu (Karmic Koala), and got attracted back again. Mainly, its pleasant looking fonts (the same fonts in Fedora somehow didn't look as good) and excellent package management system proved irresistible. Happily, i also found that i could achieve an equivalent of selecting only the packages that i want by starting out with the server version.

1. Install Ubuntu using the Server Installation CD. At the "software selection" stage (DNS server, LAMP server, mail server, etc), select NOTHING. Complete the installation, and reboot and login to the command line interface.

2. RECOMMENDED: Update the existing packages to the latest version by doing

$ sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude safe-upgrade

(The machine may need to be rebooted one more time after this if the kernel was also upgraded.)

3. Install the minimal packages needed for the graphical interface:

$ sudo aptitude install xorg gnome-core

(Here, i'm going for the Gnome desktop. If you want a really lightweight system, you may want to use Xfce instead. In that case, install the package xfce4 instead of gnome-core.)

4. Launch the graphical interface. There's no need to reboot. Just run

$ startx

Now we have the very minimal graphical desktop installation for Ubuntu with the following applications:

gnome-sound-recorder (i have no idea how this got there)
system monitor

From this point on, we use aptitude or apt-get to install other applications as needed.

5. OPTIONAL: If you want a graphical login screen instead of having to type startx to get to the graphical interface, install GDM:

$ sudo aptitude install gdm

6. OPTIONAL: If you want to use a graphical frontend for installing packages, install Synaptic:

sudo aptitude install synaptic

Reference: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1334736



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