When you set up a Vultr server (see my guide here on setting up a Vultr VM) you can also install an Ubuntu GUI Desktop if you prefer GUI access to your server (over SSH and the terminal command line).
After you have set up your server (fyi: you can buy a server here on Vultr for as low as $2.5 a month or buy a Digital Ocean server for $5 a month) and secure it (perform an optional security audit). Don’t forget to add a free SSL certificate.
Vultr allows you to log into an admin panel and access your servers web console (text or GUI)
From the command line type
sudo apt-get update
TIP: If you receive failures about “Temporary failure resolving ‘archive.ubuntu.com’” edit the file “/etc/resolv.conf” and add “nameserver 184.108.40.206” Update will then work.
There are two versions of the Ubuntu Desktop
1) Light Desktop
A Light version of lubuntu is available for low memory VMs
To install a light version run
sudo apt-get install lubuntu-core
Note: lubuntu-core should work on a VM with as low as 128MB of RAM. Read more here.
2) Full Desktop
If you have more memory (> 1GB RAM) you can run a richer environment
sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop
Note: lubuntu-desktop will take a lot longer to install over the core version.
Install the Firefox browser
apt-get install firefox
Reboot Your Server
sudo shutdown -r now
After your server reboots login to the Vultr admin panel and click the Web Console icon (computer screen icon, 5 in from the right).
After you login to the web console, you will receive this screen (for the core version).
You can log in as any existing user instead of a guest if you wish.
You have a limited desktop and environment with the core version.
When you log out you can choose from the options below.
Full Desktop version
As before open the Vultr web console for the server.
If your lubuntu desktop session does not load try running
sudo service lightdm start
You can then log into the Ubuntu desktop (same as the light version above). You will be able to use FireFox, use a Terminal, install packages with the Lubuntu Software Center and browse files. The start menu is per packed with software too,
The full desktop has loads more software pre-installed (and available to install via the software center).
I opened a few apps and my server only used 472MB ram (it was using about 420MB before I installed lubuntu), all CPU cores were mostly idle.
Lubuntu Sofware Center
Installing MySQL workbench
I Installed MySQL Workbench
More software is available in the lubuntu Software Center
Synaptic Package Manager
The Synaptic package manager is also available if you are familiar with that.
You may receive this error on startup.
Review your: /root/.profile file
sudo nano /root/.profile
mesg n || true
Check out the extensive Hardening a Linux Server guide at thecloud.org.uk: https://thecloud.org.uk/wiki/index.php?title=Hardening_a_Linux_Server
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v1.2 added link to hardening linux server.
v1.1 fixed typos (26th Sep 2017)
v1.0 Initial Post (26th Sep 2017)