what's the difference between server and desktop edition?

Asked by gbon

Ubuntu promises 3-year support for LTS desktop edition and 5-year support for LTS server edition.

If I understood correctly, this means that some packages (included in the SE) will receive security updates for 5 years, while others _may_ be left alone after 3 years.

Now, since the repositories are the same, and the components are named "main", "restricted", "universe" and "multiverse" (and not, say, "common", "server-only", "desktop-only") how can one determine whether a package belongs to the server edition and/or the desktop edition?

I believe that installing a bunch of extra packages onto a "server" is very common practice, so I 'd bet this question has been asked before. however, I could not find an answer. If you have pointers to one, please tell me.


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Harvey Muller
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Jensen Somers (jsomers) said :

I would assume GUI related applications for the different GUI systems such as Gnome and KDE will only receiver security updates for three years, while core applications such as the kernel and server related applications such as Apache and PHP will be supported for five years.

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gbon (gbon) said :

Thanks for your answer, Jensen.

However I'm looking for a procedure that enables to COMPUTE whether a package is in SE or DE, starting from package name and repositories alone, without guesses or personal assumptions.

I believe Ubuntu people know the answer, otherwise Canonical would have a very hard time selling support.

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Bhavani Shankar (bhavi) said :


server edition is striped down to the basics so your servers can have more space and desktop has gnome, kde, etc.
if you are using Ubuntu on your home computer then get desktop, because if you want a command line system, you can still get one without the server but if you are using a server, choose it.

Here is a list of few needed software on ubuntu server which will be supported for 5 years I think


Here is a nice thread on comparisons



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Harvey Muller (hlmuller) said :


This link lists the general specifications of the ubuntu server edition:


To get a full list of the applications installed, you can run this in a terminal:

    $ dpkg --get-selections > server-packages.log

installed-packages.log will contain a full list of everything installed. If you run this immediately after the install, then you'll be able to identify all of the packages which should be supported. After you have installed more packages, then you can rerun the command, changing the name of the log. I.e.:

    $ dpkg --get-selections > user-installed-packages.log

Then a diff of the two files will give you the set of packages you installed (plus dependencies).

If this resolves your question, please return to Launchpad and mark this question Solved.



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gbon (gbon) said :


those techspecs are a bit too vague. e.g. zope3 is in the server install cd but not in tech-specs.

I know how to compute the list of packages added or removed since a given point in time, but I would like to know how to determine whether a given package added to a system-installed-from-the-server-install-cd is in SE or not.

are you saying that the answer to my question is "all and only the debs listed in http://releases.ubuntu.com/hardy/ubuntu-8.04.1-server-i386.list are part of the server edition"?


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Best Harvey Muller (hlmuller) said :


I think it is safe to assume that the packages identified by the debs identified in the list in your link above, are supported. Keep in mind, the udebs and perhaps afew other debs may be specific to installation only.

So to ge the definitive list, you'd probably need to run the dpkg --get-selections command immediately after an install.

I am not aware of any specific list, and I know that's what you are trying to get to. I have however offered a means to get one.



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gbon (gbon) said :

Thanks again, Harvey.

I've been using debian since release 1.3, codenamed "bo" (1997), when dpkg and dselect were the only management tools, well before the existence of synaptic, debconf and even apt. Now I was considering the migration of my servers to ubuntu, but the lack of such a list is too high a barrier for the move. I'll explore other options.

I find really puzzling the fact that Canonical sells support for something called "ubuntu server edition" without precisely defining it.


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gbon (gbon) said :

Thanks Harvey Muller, that solved my question.