Install GUI on Ubuntu 22.04 Server & Desktop

Although GNOME is the default GUI, there are many different desktop environments available for Ubuntu. If you want to try a different desktop environment, or need to install a GUI because you don’t have one yet, we’ll show you how in this guide.

These instructions will also work for Ubuntu Server, which doesn’t have a GUI by default and only uses the command line.

Install GNOME on Ubuntu

GNOME is the default desktop environment for Ubuntu. The following commands will install GNOME on Ubuntu:

GNOME full version comes with all of the default GNOME applications and will take the most space:

$ sudo apt install ubuntu-gnome-desktop

GNOME minimal version only comes with essential applications to get up and running:

$ sudo apt install ubuntu-desktop-minimal

GNOME vanilla version comes without the Ubuntu themes, icons, and wallpapers:

$ sudo apt install vanilla-gnome-desktop

Install KDE on Ubuntu

KDE Plasma is another popular desktop environment, and a good alternative to GNOME. The following commands will install KDE on Ubuntu:

KDE full version comes with all of the default applications preinstalled:

$ sudo apt install kde-full

KDE standard version only includes the most essensial applications:

$ sudo apt install kde-standard

KDE Plasma desktop version is the most lightweight install of the KDE choices:

$ sudo apt install kde-plasma-desktop

Install LXQt on Ubuntu

LXQt is a very lightweight and no-frills desktop environment good for minimalists.

LXQt full version comes with all the default apps installed, but is still considered lightweight when compared to other GUIs:

$ sudo apt install task-lxqt-desktop

LXQt minimal comes with even less, just what is essential to do the most basic tasks:

$ sudo apt install lxqt

Install Budgie on Ubuntu

Budgie is a sleek and modern desktop environment that utilizes the lightdm display manager.

Budgie desktop environment:

$ sudo apt install ubuntu-budgie-desktop

Install MATE on Ubuntu

MATE is based off an older version of GNOME, so maintains a lot of the look and feel from old GNOME.

MATE desktop environment:

$ sudo apt install ubuntu-mate-desktop

Install Xfce on Ubuntu

Xfce strikes a nice balance between simplicity and a modern feel.

Xfce desktop environment:

$ sudo apt install task-xfce-desktop

Next Steps…

After installation, reboot the system and you will load into your new GUI.

$ reboot

To make the GUI start by default on Ubuntu Server, you will also need to execute the following command to make the default target.

$ sudo systemctl set-default

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