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What graphic environment to choose for Ubuntu remote desktop

Choosing a graphical environment is essential when configuring our remote desktop in Linux. Our tests have been performed using an Ubuntu 12.10 distribution and the X2GO remote desktop software. At the end of our tests we realized that the choice of one or another graphic environment depends on several factors, from system resources to personal factors.

Below we show the different options we have made and I hope they help you choose a graphic environment for your Ubuntu remote desktop .

What graphic environment to choose for Ubuntu remote desktop?

X2GO is responsible for making the necessary communications between the server and our PC, but the remote server must have a graphical environment to manage the desktop.

Choosing a graphic environment for the remote desktop is personal , but we have tried four well-known alternatives and we will give you technical and practical details so you can choose the one that interests you most.

XFCE

It is a lightweight and very complete desktop environment . Many of you will already know it since it is part of the famous Xubuntu. The truth is that I liked most of all who tried, but I repeat that this is something personal. It works correctly with X2GO and very fluidly. Here are two ways to install it:

  • Only install the XFCE graphical environment, without extra applications: this XFCE installation is the most suitable for systems with few resources, since from what we could verify, the RAM requirements are quite low. We execute the command:
    sudo apt-get install xfce4
    With this command we will install XFCE from the Ubuntu repositories. When starting it with X2GO for the first time and selecting the default settings, we found that the file manager did not show us the icons. This has an easy solution, we have to go to the upper left menu Applications Menu ? Settings ? Appearance ? Icons ? Tango
    Applications Menu ? Settings ? Appearance ? Icons ? Tango
    In this way we select the Tango icons and we will see the icons correctly. After installing X2GO and XFCE the memory consumption was around 250MB of RAM, which is excellent from our point of view. We leave a capture of the remote desktop, which includes the statistics of the top command and the file manager.
  • Install XFCE with all applications and branding (wallpapers, etc …) of Xubuntu: this installation needs many more resources, in our case when installing X2GO and this graphic environment option, the RAM consumption rose to 490MB, which left us with very few RAM resources in our 512MB RAM VPS. Perhaps on a server with more resources it is a good option, so I leave the necessary command to install it:
    sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

In the X2GO client configuration when choosing the “Session Type” we choose the XFCE option.

Fluxbox

It is a very light and minimalist desktop environment . It is by far the one that consumes less resources, but it is also easier. For example, the package manager, despite being a desktop application, is in text mode, which I do not say is good or bad, just that some ease of handling is lost. If you are very beginner with Linux I would not recommend Fluxbox.
Installing Fluxbox in Ubuntu from the console is very simple, we run the following command:
sudo apt-get install fluxbox

To configure Fluxbox in X2GO, you need to choose the “Custom Desktop” option in “Session Type ” and the “Command” text box where we write /usr/bin/fluxbox is activated

The use of Fluxbox with X2GO I did not see it documented on any web page, but if you do what I told you in the previous paragraph it should work for you, otherwise you can try writing in “Command” the following line /usr/bin/startfluxbox
I don’t know the difference between using /usr/bin/fluxbox or using /usr/bin/startfluxbox , what I can say is that it worked for me both ways.

LXDE

It is a very light desktop environment but without losing functionality, it is the direct competition of XFCE, in fact there is a version of Ubuntu with LXDE that is known as Lubuntu. In our LXDE and X2GO tests installed and running, they needed 220MB of RAM, after Fluxbox being the one with the least resources. As a desktop it is very complete and fast, it has nothing to envy XFCE, leaving the choice between one and another as something already personal.

To install LXDE from the console we execute the following command:
sudo apt-get install lxde

In the X2GO client configuration when choosing the “Session Type” we choose the LXDE option.

Gnome

It is the graphical environment used by default in most Ubuntu distributions. It is by far the one that needs more resources, we do not recommend it for systems with few resources. We have two options when installing it:

  • Install only the Gnome shell without extra programs (not recommended) .
    sudo apt-get install gnome-shell gnome-terminal
    At first I thought that this installation would consume few resources but I was wrong (for this reason I do not recommend this installation), it consumes only 20 MB of RAM less than the full Gnome installation that we show below.
  • Install the Ubuntu Gnome graphical environment with all applications.
    sudo apt-get install ubuntu-gnome-desktop ubuntu-gnome-default-settings
    In the installation process we can be asked to select the “Display Manager”, there are two options GDM and LightDM. The difference is that LightDM needs less resources but is also less flexible. If you have plenty of resources you can choose GDM, if you are very fair of LightDM resources.
    This complete installation of Gnome needs only 20MB of RAM more than the simple installation of Gnome shell, so for 20MB in case of choosing Gnome I would stay with this installation.

In the X2GO client configuration when choosing the “Session Type” we choose the Gnome option.

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