How to install a minimal version of Ubuntu

The other day a blog reader asked me if there was any way to install Ubuntu in its simplest form, without all the multimedia applications, office automation, etc. that come by default. The "ideal" solution today is to use the Minimal ISO, as explained in the post prepared by elav. However, searching the Internet I found an alternative way to do it, which turns out to be very simple. You just have to install Ubuntu Server and then manually add our favorite desktop environment.

Minimal Unity installation

The following command installs the Unity desktop and its most important dependencies, but nothing else.

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends ubuntu-desktop

To see what packages are included in this minimal installation, you can use the following command:

 apt-cache depends on ubuntu-desktop

In my case, it returned the following:

Depends: alsa-base, alsa-utils, anacron, at-spi2-core, baobab, bc, ca-certificates, checkbox-qt, dmz-cursor-theme, doc-base, eog, evince, file-roller, fonts- freefont-ttf, foomatic-db-compressed-ppds, foomatic-filters, gcalctool, gedit, genisoimage, ghostscript-x, gnome-control-center, gnome-font-viewer, gnome-media, gnome-menus, gnome-power- manager, gnome-screenshot, gnome-session, gnome-session-canberra, gnome-system-log, gnome-system-monitor, gnome-terminal, gstreamer0.10-alsa, gstreamer0.10-plugins-base-apps, gstreamer0.10. 2-pulseaudio, gucharmap, gvfs-bin, inputattach, language-selector-gnome, libatk-adapter, libgd2-xpm, libnotify-bin, libpam-ck-connector, libpam-xdg-support, libsasl6-modules, libxp2, lightdm, nautilus, nautilus-sendto, notify-osd, openprinting-ppds, printer-driver-pnmXNUMXppa, pulseaudio, rfkill, seahorse, software-center, software-properties-gtk, ssh-askpass-gnome, system-config-printer-gnome, ttf-dejavu-core, ubuntu-artwork, ubuntu-drivers-common, ubuntu-extras-keyrin g, ubuntu-release-upgrader-gtk, ubuntu-settings, ubuntu-sounds, unity, unity-greeter, unzip, update-manager, update-notifier, wireless-tools, wpasupplicant, xdg-user-dirs, xdg-user- dirs-gtk, xdiagnose, xkb-data, xorg, xterm, yelp, zenity, zip

To check which packages will not be installed on this "minimal" desktop, just run:

apt-cache show ubuntu-desktop | grep "Recommends"

In my case, it returned the following:

Recommends: acpi-support, activity-log-manager-control-center, aisleriot, app-install-data-partner, apport-gtk, avahi-autoipd, avahi-daemon, bluez, bluez-alsa, bluez-cups, bluez- gstreamer, branding-ubuntu, brasero, brltty, cups, cups-bsd, cups-client, deja-dup, empathy, example-content, firefox, firefox-gnome-support, fonts-kacst-one, fonts-khmeros-core, fonts-lao, fonts-liberation, fonts-lklug-sinhala, fonts-nanum, fonts-sil-abyssinica, fonts-sil-padauk, fonts-takao-pgothic, fonts-thai-tlwg, fonts-tibetan-machine, gcc, gnome-accessibility-themes, gnome-bluetooth, gnome-disk-utility, gnome-mahjongg, gnome-orca, gnome-screensaver, gnome-sudoku, gnomine, gvfs-fuse, gwibber, hplip, ibus, ibus-gtk3, ibus- pinyin, ibus-pinyin-db-android, ibus-table, im-switch, kerneloops-daemon, landscape-client-ui-install, laptop-detect, libgail-common, libnss-mdns, libpam-gnome-keyring, libproxy1- plugin-gsettings, libproxy1-plugin-networkmanager, libqt4-sql-sqlite, libreoffice-calc, libreoffice-gnome, libr eoffice-help-en-us, libreoffice-impress, libreoffice-math, libreoffice-ogltrans, libreoffice-pdfimport, libreoffice-presentation-minimizer, libreoffice-presenter-console, libreoffice-style-human, libreoffice-writer, libwmf0.2- 7-gtk, linux-headers-generic, make, mousetweaks, nautilus-share, network-manager-gnome, network-manager-pptp, network-manager-pptp-gnome, onboard, overlay-scrollbar, pcmciautils, plymouth-theme- ubuntu-logo, policykit-desktop-privileges, printer-driver-c2esp, printer-driver-foo2zjs, printer-driver-min12xxw, printer-driver-ptouch, printer-driver-pxljr, printer-driver-sag-gdi, printer- driver-splix, pulseaudio-module-bluetooth, pulseaudio-module-gconf, pulseaudio-module-x11, python3-aptdaemon.pkcompat, qt-at-spi, remmina, rhythmbox, rhythmbox-plugin-magnatune, rhythmbox-ubuntuone, shotwell, simple-scan, sni-qt, speech-dispatcher, telepathy-idle, thunderbird, thunderbird-gnome-support, totem, totem-mozilla, transmission-gtk, ttf-indic-fonts-core, ttf-punjabi-fonts, ttf -ubuntu-font-family, ttf-wqy-microhei, ubuntu-docs, ubuntuone-client-gnome, ubuntuone-control-panel-qt, unity-webapps-common, usb-creator-gtk, wine, whoopsie, xcursor-themes , xdg-utils, xul-ext-ubufox, xul-ext-unity

Minimal GNOME installation

To add the "minimal" GNOME desktop to the Ubuntu server, just run the following command:

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends ubuntu-gnome-desktop

Minimal KDE installation

To add the "minimal" KDE desktop:

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends kubuntu-desktop

Xfce minimal installation

To add the "minimal" Xfce desktop:

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends xubuntu-desktop

Minimal LXDE installation

To add the "minimal" LXDE desktop:

sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop

The lubuntu-desktop package does not install any additional packages, so it is not necessary to supply the parameter –No-install-recommends.

Now yes, you never enjoyed a faster Ubuntu. Run, baby, run!

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  1.   aphanic said

    I haven't used Ubuntu for a long time (Arch <3 haha) but I remember there were different cores for servers and for desktop machines. Although you can probably choose the corresponding one after installation, I remember that the story was to install from an alternate installation image (the "Alternate" ISOs) doing a basic installation and then pulling –no-install-recommends.

    Lately it sounds to me that they no longer take images of that type anyway ... except for Lubuntu (if my memory is not bad), so you can always pull from there to install the desktop that you like the most.

    1.    aphanic said

      Yes, there are alternative images (I would swear there weren't in some version ...):

      . Can't edit comments? 🙁

      1.    dwarf said

        Sure, if it's me and you have the power to do it: 3

    2.    husband said

      the ubuntu netboot images in 30 megabytes do the same now, they allow you to choose the kernel (server, desktop, lts, ​​etc), basic installation or choose any of the desktop flavors * buntu

      1.    Manual of the Source said

        That is the same as I said below. 😛

  2.   Manual of the Source said

    I have my Ubuntu in minimal version (not exactly as it says in this post), you don't need to use Ubuntu Server as there is Minimal ISOs specific for this, and I am witness to how fast and light it is installed in this way (in the comments of the first link I put a screenshot of what it consumes me).

    EDITORIAL: Here I show all the details of my installation -> Installation log: Ubuntu 12.04 Minimal + Cinnamon 2

    1.    David Villa said

      Thanks for the contribution of the minimalCD; will there be an equal version for Debian & CentOS?

      Saved 😀

      1.    Manual of the Source said

        CentOS (you click on the version you want, choose a mirror and look for the ISO that says Minimal):

    2.    Oscar said

      With the minimum version of Ubuntu, it will be possible to install Lxqt from the PPAs or I must previously install Lxde ?.

      1.    Manual of the Source said

        Why would you previously need LXDE?

    3.    let's use linux said

      Interesting! I didn't know about the Minimal ISO. Good date! Thank you!

  3.   cuervo291286 said

    Can this be done in Mint 17 ????

    1.    Manual of the Source said

      Linux Mint does not have a Minimal version but you can use Ubuntu 14.04 and put the Mint 17 repositories into it, the result will be exactly the same. It's just a matter of adding this to /etc/apt/sources.list:

      deb qiana main upstream import #id:linuxmint_main

      Update and install GPG signatures:

      sudo apt-get update
      sudo apt-get install linuxmint-keyring

      Y voila, it becomes Linux Mint and you can now install Cinnamon or MATE (although without the –no-install-recommends parameter as it says in this post).

  4.   Juanse said

    MinimalCD is the best answer. final point

  5.   dwarf said

    It's good to experiment and build something for you, although if it is going to take a while to configure, mostly codec issues, surely some silly problem will give xD

    1.    Manual of the Source said

      You install VLC and that's it.

      1.    David Villa said

        Thanks for the tip again but now from CentOS & Debian

        Salvdos !!!

    2.    eliotime3000 said

      Yes, and the most common is not being able to watch DVD movies. This is why many choose to install VLC.

      1.    Manual of the Source said

        VLC FTW

      2.    Juanse said

        DVD's, is that format still being used? haha

      3.    pandev92 said

        smplayer and no more talk.

  6.   makubex uchiha said

    interesting che, this can be installed the ubuntu minimal using wifi or can only be with ethernet?

    1.    eliotime3000 said

      Yes you can use the WiFi, as long as the LiveCD recognizes it (or if you have the firmware at hand, of course).

      1.    makubex uchiha said

        Thank you men 😀

  7.   kik1n said

    Excellent tssss, so if I reinstall Ubuntu with mate or cinnamon 😀

    1.    eliotime3000 said


      I installed Ubuntu with only GNOME Classic with that method (and on top, in text mode).

      1.    let's use linux said


      2.    kik1n said

        Haha, no, I like Xfce better, or try to install Ubuntu with Unity but make it lighter 😀

  8.   Juan Quispe said

    I consider that that is not the way to install the most minimal version of Ubuntu. This is the most minimal way to install Ubuntu ...

    1.    peterczech said

      Thank you

  9.   peterczech said

    You forget an important one:

    sudo apt-get install ubuntu-gnome-desktop

    1.    let's use linux said

      Thank you! I already updated the entry.

      1.    peterczech said

        You're welcome 😀

  10.   dhunter said

    Instead of "apt-cache show ubuntu-desktop | grep Recommends »you can save grep and do:

    apt-cache depends on ubuntu-desktop

    1.    let's use linux said

      Thank you! I already updated the entry.

  11.   Gabriel said

    Interesting fact, I had never thought about doing something like this with Ubuntu 😀 Normally I like to customize my PC and for that I use Arch, but I always have another one with Ubuntu for normal people to use 😀 and I always find it a bit annoying number of applications that Ubuntu installs by default, I think this is a good option although I liked the minimum ISO that they commented there.

  12.   mmm said

    Hi. Thanks a lot. The truth is that it makes me want to do a minimal installation. And I was interested in the minimalCd. But I ran into this problems:
    … ..I have no possibility of connecting by cable, only by wifi… and minimalCd seems to not bring wifi drivers…

    The solution I came up with is to download the wifi through one machine (I have two) and share the internet through eth0 ... that is, to go from wifi to cable ... the thing is, I don't know how to do it ...

    Could someone tell me how? I was looking and nothing ... you're welcome ...

      1.    mmm said

        Tested and it works, yes, all you have to do is do this in the network manager, go to the wired network and set it to be shared ... ah! and the cable they use has to be direct.

        As for what you tell me elav, I imagine yes with the option «# Network Bridge with shared Internet» ... I imagine ...

  13.   angel blade said

    It is worth adding in /etc/apt/apt.conf

    APT :: Install-Recommends "false";
    APT :: Install-Suggests "false";

  14.   mmm said

    Che and another query ... comparing the minimalCd with this…. is there a difference ??? beyond that I imagine you install unity by default…. because I mean, eg. you have to install the sound to minimalCd…. that obviously I'm going to install it ... does anyone know?

    1.    mmm said

      Ouch ...

      Ubuntu Mini Remix contains:
      - ubuntu-minimal (this is a metapackage, details at
      - ubuntu-standard (this is a metapackage, details at
      - casper
      - lupine-casper


  15.   David Rondon said
  16.   let's use linux said

    Yes ... as I said at the beginning of the post, that is probably the best alternative. 🙂

  17.   Jonathan Diaz said

    Just what i was looking for!!

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