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GUI tools to administer Linux Box

I am new to Linux server, i am currently using debian 6 , as for my knowledge i know gnome,kde stuff for gui's available, but is there an any light weight gui for server available ie (it should not degrade server performance).


1) i am not an linux power user


If you're used to Gnome/KDE, I think XFCE4 would be a better fit for you, OpenBox and even LXCE can be a bit too barebone. For me, using LXCE/OpenBox feels like going back to Windows 3.1 at times.

And I don't even think you need to use runlevel 3. If you just want the server always boot to text console login, and start a GUI as needed only after you logged in at console, just run "startxfce4" at the console anytime. Disable GDM/LightDM/etc form starting up at boot altogether.

If you're logging from another computer on the LAN, I recommend using tightVNC on top of this. You can SSH into the server, run "tightvncserver", then connect from your desktop using a tightvnc client and you should get a full remote desktop GUI. It's quite a lot faster than other VNC implementations. This way you can connect to the server remotely and run a GUI as needed, without running GDM/LightDM at boot at all.

Just for a backgrounder: GDM/LightDM/KDM/etc are "Desktop Managers". The name can be misleading as all they do is provide you the graphical login, which means an X server will be loaded at boot-time even though the full Gnome/XFCE environment is not, and will consume considerable amount of RAM. GDM/LightDM/etc are separate components, not necessarily part of Gnome/KDE/XFCE/etc, you can disable them completely or even uninstall them without affecting the GUI environment, you just lose the graphical login.

For some basics of how to install and run XFCE on Debian, see http://wiki.debian.org/Xfce


Take a Linux book to get familiar with the command line instead of installing GUI on the server.


You can use something like OpenBox (and others such as fluxbox/blackbox). This is just a window manager, not a full desktop environment. If all you need it for is administration tasks, it should be suitable for your use.

Other lightweight alternatives would be LXDE or XFCE.

If you are using a GUI on a server machine, I suggest you keep it in run level 3 (command line) and start the gui only when required, by running the startx command.

  • ya i liked your solution, i need to start my gui whenever it is needed, and i need to close the gui session when it's not needed and i need to know bit more about run level 3 , could you please point me to any good tutorials that meet my needs. – Sam Sep 11 '12 at 5:28

LXDC or XFCE should be sufficient. However, as Andy suggested, leave it at runlevel 3 and use the GUI only when really required.

For more on runlevels, look here. You can also check out the Wikipedia page here.

  • can you please tell bit clear about commands for starting xfce gui session and stopping xfce gui session. – Sam Sep 12 '12 at 5:27

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