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I have a small PC with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS desktop edition used for basic computing and as a backup location. I want to use it to set up a NAS and personal webserver. I've been reading a little bit about having a webserver at home have read some nebulous comments about security concerns of having something like the Gnome shell installed, but nothing I've found has been especially clear why.

Is it safe to run a webserver on a box with desktop packages installed? Are there a few things I can change to prevent security risks? Or do I need to install server edition instead?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Basically, there are no security issues worth worrying about.

Having said that, the more stuff that is on a server, the more possible attack vectors there are. I would guess that a fully patched machine with Gnome on it is going to be more secure than a machine without Gnome that has been left unpatched because you can't be bothered to ssh into it.

You may be interested in having a look at some Gnome Security notes.

If you are not logging on to the machine very often, you could also consider not having Gnome running all the time waiting for you to log in.

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