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My client is nervous with no GUI on the server. Are there drawbacks to installing something like XFCE or Gnome? Are there better desktop environment options for a server setup? Alternatively, I don't know how to explain to the client that the GUI is a bit useless fin this case. Techies with customer service experience please advise.

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What does the client want from a GUI? We might be able to give you some options if we know what functionality they want. – mbreedlove Feb 7 '11 at 21:05
@mbreedlove Client doesn't know what functionality he needs; I have the impression he doesn't feel that I'm serious or professional while his server does not resemble what he's familiar with. – aesthetic priest Feb 7 '11 at 21:14
Will the client be logging into the server at all or will it only be you? If it's their box, they can request it if they want. – ngen Feb 7 '11 at 21:21
I think I know the type of person you're talking about, they they see console windows as scary things for geeks and they just want nice pretty windows. If that's the case, just throw XFCE on there, it should be light enough to not get in the way but make the client happy. – mbreedlove Feb 7 '11 at 21:44
up vote 1 down vote accepted

The only drawbacks are that your server is now running the extra overhead of a GUI. Nothing to be nervous about, unless your server is very short on RAM ;)

XFCE is a decently lightweight choice (I'd certainly advise against KDE, anyway) but any desktop environment won't directly interfere with the function of the server.

If your client doesn't get it though, you, uh, probably have a good deal of trouble with this client in your future... Good luck!

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There is more than that. The added unnecessary layer is one more set of applications that can cause a system failure. It is also one more (large) set of applications for potential vulnerabilities to exist in. The less you install on a server, the better. – MDMarra Feb 7 '11 at 21:12
You can have a gui installed, but not boot into it. I have a gui installed on all of my servers to satisfy the boss, but they boot into run level 3 to get rid of the running overhead. – steve.lippert Feb 7 '11 at 21:12

If Ubuntu server is already installed and GUI is mandatory, just run

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

Depending on what they need to do, they might get away using Webmin

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+1 for Webmin, it's an excellent GUI option for a server. – chunkyb2002 Feb 7 '11 at 21:05
+1 for Webmin. If I can't do it via SSH or Webmin, chances are I am doing it wrong. – steve.lippert Feb 7 '11 at 21:11
Let's just hope the client is that confident. But if that's the case, perhaps the client shouldn't be logging into the server. – ngen Feb 7 '11 at 21:20
Thanks for alerting me to Webmin; But I think his problem is that it doesn't seem like a desktop computer. – aesthetic priest Feb 11 '11 at 18:11
For future reference, webmin is no longer supported on ubuntu – collabeta Jun 9 '12 at 18:59

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