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Installing a Desktop GUI on Your Linux System

The nice thing about Linux is its modular structure—you can download and install just the parts you want. There's no need to install an unwieldy monolithic system—if you want a desktop GUI, you can just install it.

However, the Ubuntu desktop offers a choice of GUIs, and it's a simple command to install the one you pick. The xubuntu GUI is pretty lightweight; if you want a more heavyweight option, you can choose ubuntu-desktop. If you change your mind after installation, you can always remove the selection and reinstall another one.

The GUI option I selected was ubuntu-desktop, which is installed with the following command:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

Just follow the install steps and accept the defaults. Do note that the above installation takes a long time (in my case, more than an hour).

In any case, if all goes well, the next time you restart your virtual Linux machine you should see the rather beautiful GUI desktop shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Figure 1 The ubuntu-desktop GUI

So, what's different about the GUI desktop as opposed to the terminal interface we've become used to with Ubuntu? The GUI changes the character of the Linux system from a server to a desktop. This means that you can interact with the Linux system in a more user-friendly manner.

For example, it becomes easier to do things such as creating user accounts, modifying passwords, browsing the Web, and so on.

In other words, the GUI facilitates a more angst-free Linux experience! You have to remember fewer commands, and there is a wide range of applications ready for use at the click of a mouse.

Let's try using the GUI now to download some software.

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