Choosing an Edition: Here’s the Difference

ubuntu karmic koala

So what's the difference between the Desktop & Server editions?

Basically, the kernel. Server's is configured for the demands of a web server, Desktop's for those of a production environment.

Otherwise ..

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Ubuntu Desktop comes bundled with a suite of useful applications. Straight out of the box, you can surf the web, read email, create documents and spreadsheets, edit images, organise media and more. With Karmic, for the first time, you can even sync docs with a free 2gB online storage space, sharing those between machines, colleagues and friends.

And, of course, Desktop's graphic user interface (GUI) makes it easy to see what you're doing.

Ubuntu Server is an OS that's cut to the bone, honed to process only those tasks that are key to its purpose, such as email and websites. There is no GUI.

Should I use Ubuntu Desktop or Server edition?

You could use either, whether for a local development requirement or to run your live web server (although it would waste resources to use Desktop for that.) Tailoring either is simply to add and delete whatever packages you want. For example, with Server, you can add a friendly GUI with a single command.

In practise, though, for most of us, we'd be better off using Desktop for home or office (including for developing non-live web applications) and, for 100% of us, using Server edition for a live server.

If you still aren't sure, you need the Desktop edition!


About the Author:

Olly Connelly (yeah, that's me) blogs at, polices WordPress security at and helps noobs build web servers at, so if you've got sleeping problems you know where to come.

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