I am playing around with a computer which has no CDROM drive or internet access and I have installed Ubuntu Server onto it. I have that all up and running nicely but now I'd like to install Xfce, GNOME or something similar so I can load up a desktop environment from the command line if I wish.

Obviously with internet access or a CDROM, this would be a simple task of using apt-get and it finding & retrieving the packages for me, I assume, but I do not have either. I do however have a USB drive and I have used Unetbootin to make it into a bootable drive with the Ubuntu Server disk image files on there.

I have mounted the USB drive to /media/usb0 and tried the command "sudo apt-cdrom add -d /media/usb0" to get apt to recognise the USb drive as an "Ubuntu CD" -- a source of package files but apt-get doesn't seem to be finding Xfce..

I try "sudo apt-get install xfce" and "sudo apt-get install xfce4" but neither find the package.. I would prefer to have Xfce but GNOME would be OK too..

My question is, am I doing something wrong? I figured that the Ubuntu Server disk (or rather, my Ubuntu Server USB drive) might not have any desktop environment packages on there so I tried the Xubuntu Desktop disk too (again, from my USB drive). I tried "sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop" but it couldn't find the package - even though it is listed under the /casper/ directory in some MANIFEST file.

Anyone see where I'm going wrong? Maybe apt-get install is looking somewhere other than my USB drive? Maybe my commands are wrong? Maybe the disks don't even have the desktop environments on!?

Thanks in advance guys, any input would be much appreciated. Cheers - James

1 Answer 1


The problem is that apt/dpkg can't look inside the image files for the .deb package files. You need to get the .deb files themselves to your USB source.

I would do this as follows:

  1. Install Ubuntu server on another computer (or into an empty partition or into a virtual machine) that does have a network connection.
  2. Run 'aptitude clean' to clear out the package directory at /var/cache/apt/archives
  3. Run 'aptitude install xfce'
  4. /var/cache/apt/archives will now have the .debs you need. Copy these over to your drive and run the install on the original computer.

There's also a program called apt-offline that that handles this kind of situation but probablly not worth learning for just one install.

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