What's the difference (except packages) between ubuntu-server and ubuntu-desktop on aws when they use the same linux kernel image (http://packages.ubuntu.com/lucid/linux-image-2.6.32-313-ec2) ??


The main difference between one and the other is the packages loaded, as you've pointed out, so I won't get into that one, other than to say it's a remarkably bare install using ubuntu server. This is surprising only because of how much is stuffed into ubuntu-desktop.

The other differences of note, to me anyway, is the install - there are many more options on how to configure your system out-of-the-box such that once the install is done, you already have much of what you want (and don't have much, or all of what you don't).

Finally, there's the kernel. The ubuntu-server kernel is server optimized. Some details of it at the link below, but google will likely find you even more specific differences:


Now, if the kernel is the same in both (likely has VM doo-dads in it), then there is really not much difference than what the installer brings to the table, but if even the installer doesn't come into play, then there isn't much difference at all other than the packages you get out of the gate, as you mention.


  • thx for answering at first :) One follow-up question to you is that, is there any difference for the configuration of packages/services availabe under /etc ? Or is there any other config that may make the difference between the two? – mrkschan Mar 8 '11 at 13:32
  • I'm assuming you mean configuration files for packages/services, and this is pretty standard to be in /etc for most linux distros. Personally, I prefer having user-installed configs be in /usr/local/etc but that's another story. Ubuntu doesn't change their "hierarchy" for lack of a better word because it's server vs desktop. Ultimately, it depends more on the package maintainers than the OS - I won't claim to know apt inside-out but I imagine the pkg can wind up putting files elsewhere than /etc, and the debian-flavour in use wouldn't even matter. – sandroid Mar 19 '11 at 3:31

Besides the kernel and the packages you get by default (for example ubuntu-server doesn't by default install X/gnome/kde/unity for you, but you get with desktop) I know of no other differences. If this is on AWS, chances are you want -server.

For further info on this you can see at this other question: Can Ubuntu Desktop "become" Ubuntu Server?

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.