What is the difference between Ubuntu Server and Ubuntu Server Live? I've had a good look around on the topic and there doesn't seem to be any clear information.

I can't seem to find a simple to understand description of the differences... any ideas?

  • Is this in the list of downloads? Because that sounds like a Live CD vs one meant to do the install, instead of trying it out before installing.
    – Davidw
    Sep 9, 2018 at 22:45
  • @Davidw Can't remember where exactly I downloaded the Live version from, but it will have been somewhere on the Ubuntu site Sep 10, 2018 at 19:41

1 Answer 1


You are referring to the difference between the two server installer images:

  • ubuntu-18.04.1-live-server-amd64.iso
    Server install image for 64-bit PC (AMD64) computers (standard download) and
  • ubuntu-18.04.1-server-amd64.iso
    that also has versions for for different platforms: 64-bit ARM, PowerPC64 and IBM System z.

The difference is in the installers, and it's explained in BionicBeaver Release Notes:

The next generation Subiquity server installer, brings the comfortable live session and speedy install of Ubuntu Desktop to server users at last.

N.B., If you require multipath, full-disk encryption, or the ability to re-using existing partitions, you will want to continue to use the alternate installer which can be downloaded from http://cdimage.ubuntu.com/releases/18.04/release/

As of 18.04.1, the Subiquity server installer now supports LVM, RAID, vlans, and bonds.

According to Ubuntu forums, there are also more differences between 18.04 "live" and "alternative":

  1. Changing the hostname will revert back to the original name after reboot on an install using "live" unless the following is changed:

    Edit /etc/cloud/cloud.cfg and change preserve_hostname to true

  2. On a "live" install, the following mount exists:

    /dev/loop0 88704 88704 0 100% /snap/core/4486
  3. On the "live" install the settings for auto updates are in /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/20auto-upgrades while on "alternative" install they are in a different config file (just grep /etc for "Update-Package-Lists" string)

  4. The "live" install asks the user on the first login to install a language pack:

    sudo apt-get install language-pack-en
  5. The cloud-init package is not installed by default with the "alternative" ISO but it is with the "live" ISO.

  • 1
    This list of differences doesn't provide me enough information to make an intelligent choice because a list of feature changes is interesting. But a description of the impact of each change and the consequence of following one path or the other can be enormously difficult to anticipate. That's the real answer. For example, the boot drive has one partition in Standard, but two in Live. But the key is the fact that Ubuntu in 20.04, promotes the 'live server', but hides the links to the standard server. May 12, 2020 at 6:59
  • 2
    for me, the critical distinction is the live version is missing the components necessary for configuring an unattended installation.
    – Rich Remer
    Jun 8, 2020 at 21:40
  • 1
    Does the non-live still exist? I can't find any downloads of e.g. Ubuntu 20.04 server, that is not "live".
    – Jeppe
    Sep 12, 2022 at 7:00

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