Install a Linux VM with a decent GUI and minimal of bloat


jimbo45

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Hi folks
Most of those "Aurtomated installers" for linux leave you with a system full of unwanted apps you've probably never heard of and don't use- e.g some very eseoteric email clients and Libre Office are two typical examples.

Well you can install a KDE desktop which is probably a synch for Windows users to use with just a few bare apps like a file browser, a console (terminal for command line), package installer and a web browser leaving you free to install any other app you want.

For Windows users a good place to start as it's probably easier than most to use and well tested is UBUNTU 22.04 LTS -- but here's what to do :

1) Download the SERVER version
2) when booting the iso - either "Natively" or within a VM select Manual install - don't choose graphic
4) either select manual (guided) partitioning - better on a Real machine - or on a VM just select use entire (virtual) disk / automatic
3) when the menu comes up just only select openssh server and optionally web server (if you want to try hosting some web things)
4) after a lightning quick install - power on the VM
5) now run sudo su <password> do that as it stops you having to enter sudo every time -- Ubuntu sensibly disables the root account -- note to Debian users as well -> at install time you can optionally can also disable the root account by not entering a root password the propmt to enter a root password. Better security IMO particularly for Linux newbies etc.
6) simply then run apt install kde-plasma-desktop
7) when finished reboot

Now you've a great GUI , minimal added apps and ready for use. Simply add apps via konsole afterwards as required.

Have fun


Cheers

jimbo
 

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neemobeer

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The downside is the server edition is missing a lot of useful tools by default. Granted you can search the Internet for which packages contain the needed tools. I would just opt to install a GUI version from the get go. Even if it may be a bit bloated by Linux standards it's still much lighter on system resources than Windows. That's my opinion.
 

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Yeah, I generally don't recommend using server OS versions as desktops really. Even with a little bloat, Linux installs are still pretty darn small and clean. Desktops in the Linux world will sometimes stay feature ahead of their server components which are more conservative in nature and may trail behind. For example, if you are into RedHat based distros, products like Fedora will be on much more modern versions of apps than Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is for the vetted, and tried and true software that is depended upon for the commercial market.
 

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jimbo45

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Yeah, I generally don't recommend using server OS versions as desktops really. Even with a little bloat, Linux installs are still pretty darn small and clean. Desktops in the Linux world will sometimes stay feature ahead of their server components which are more conservative in nature and may trail behind. For example, if you are into RedHat based distros, products like Fedora will be on much more modern versions of apps than Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is for the vetted, and tried and true software that is depended upon for the commercial market.
Hi there

That's why I use Arch Linux for desktop as you can control exactly what you want after the base install.

However it's not really Newbie friendly but isn't that hard to install and if you also use the AUR there's almost as many packages to choose from as Ubuntu.

Fedora is typically OK but if you run things like vmware on it the linux headers are often behind the actual kernel etc. With IBM now in charge of Red Hat it might be better now but sometimes it was just too new and would easily break.

Arch while also being a "Rolling release" is pretty well tested before the updates get loaded into the Repos. In running it on a laptop and as 2 NAS servers for around 5 or 6 years and I've only ever had it fail once - when the SWTPM (TPM Emulator) package was broken preventing my W11 VM's from running properly. A Git hub release fixed that pretty quickly though.

The trouble with "Standard" installers these days is that they include so much stuff the average user never wants and uses - and also that hideous snapd / snap app seems to be included with ever more of these standard things. Why a Linux without a GUI needs over 10 GB just for the root (/) partition seems bonkers and getting away from the original purpose of the OS.

That UBUNTU server with the minimal KDE desktop doesn't seem to be missing anything that a user would have to resort to -- I did have to de-install snap though and install firefox via a ppa repository add on to really "Minimize it".

That Snap thing is the worst idea ever to come on Linux boxes but seems to be increasingly hard to get rid of on most distros.

Cheers
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LeLibran

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That UBUNTU server with the minimal KDE desktop doesn't seem to be missing anything that a user would have to resort to -- I did have to de-install snap though and install firefox via a ppa repository add on to really "Minimize it".
That's why I was confused by a suggestion to use Ubuntu in any form, as it constantly attempts to deceive the unwary user into installing snap packages; and therefore to re-install snap even after it has been purged from an original installation. In that way IMO it's even more insidious than the revenue generating Windows/Mac AppStores.

If I wanted, to use an ubuntu based distribution, I'd much rather install a 'Mint' variant which doesn't install snap by default, as most ubuntu derivatives do, but leaves it to the user to decide; and simply uninstall/purge those apps that are not required immediately after installation. There are, of course, lightweight desktop Linux distributions that aren't as complex to install as Arch; and don't, by default, include too much padding, e.g. Antix (Debian-based).
 

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jimbo45

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That's why I was confused by a suggestion to use Ubuntu in any form, as it constantly attempts to deceive the unwary user into installing snap packages; and therefore to re-install snap even after it has been purged from an original installation. In that way IMO it's even more insidious than the revenue generating Windows/Mac AppStores.

If I wanted, to use an ubuntu based distribution, I'd much rather install a 'Mint' variant which doesn't install snap by default, as most ubuntu derivatives do, but leaves it to the user to decide; and simply uninstall/purge those apps that are not required immediately after installation. There are, of course, lightweight desktop Linux distributions that aren't as complex to install as Arch; and don't, by default, include too much padding, e.g. Antix (Debian-based).
Hi there

Follow the links to undo snap and prevent upgrades of packages to re-install it. Biggest offender is firefox - which I like as a browser -- install after removing snap, stopping and deleting the snap daemon and then install adding the firefox ppa and not by the default app.


I use Arch Linux myself but I do like the KDE GUI and Arch isn't always Newbie friendly although not as hard as it's often made out to be.

Although still a Rolling release it's pretty solid as stuff only gets released to repos after decent testing -- in over 5 years I've had minimal problems with it. Minimal KDE can be installed on Arch too with the same selection.

Note uninstalling stuff AFTER installation is usually much more of a problem -- for instance if you install KDE with all defaults and decide you don't want the email client kmail and go for an uninstall on that ubuntu will try and uninstall the whole kde stuff and you will be left with an unbootable system.

By adding the file with -10 as shown in the link is the thing that prevents ubuntu from installing that package !! so snap is properly barred from your system.

As I said I prefer Arch but I was trying to give a help to people less experienced with the quirks of Linux distros who might want to give it a go.

I've also had my problems with Windows --especially networking so we are all basically in the same boat here on these sorts of things and it's brilliant these great forums can give better solutions and suggestions than those dreadful places like Reddit do.

Cheers
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jimbo45

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Even better -- Debian Bookworm -- still in beta although no probs so far --proper desktop distro -- surprisingly fast on even the most eseroteric hardware and rock solid for people who don't want to consistently update their systems,

Download your choice from the nightly builds -- although the installer still says 11.4 (Current Bullseye build) the actual downloads are from the bookworm build).

Choose the same options as per I did for my previous post on Ubuntu server. Ubuntu -- Ubuntu is based on debian anyway - and you are good to go. No snap nonsense etc. and it's mega fast too.

Once released to mainstream build I'll probably switch from Arch Linux to Debian -- was amazed at the speed of this system even though I've a lean and mean Arch system. And it takes a lot to impress me.

Anyway Debian : with W11 VM running nice and sweetly Minimal KDE /plasma desktop with a few apps installed and KVM/QEM for running windows VM's..

Screenshot_20220806_182205.png


Cheers
jimbo
 
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Although I do need to run Windows variants as either a main OS or VM, I must have another look at Debian (Bookworm). I did try it few weeks ago, but opted to install the 'default' GNOME version in a VM, which I found to be a real pain compared with previous releases. And all the fiddling with access the sudoers group, repositories etc. after initial installation is off-putting; and not usually necessary in the derivatives.

I've also used Arch in the past, primarily because I found the command line better to work with than than APT etc., but it's a real pain to manually install/set up unless you 'cheat' and go for one of the usual suspects: Manjaro etc. Have also done some hopping around openSUSE and various RedHat 'clones' but, at present I'm settled on a small selection of Debian derivatives: MX Linux (KDE), Linux Mint (Debian-based in preference to Ubuntu), and PeppermintOS. What I really don't like is increasing effort needed with most distributions to avoid the installation of bloated Snap, Flatpack and Appimage packages, even though I'm used to macOS and its huge downloads (12GB+ for an OS ISO and regular 3GB+ updates) but not convinced to adopt the M1/M2 ARM architecture that the Apple 'fanboys' delight over.

Think I'll have to have a go at replacing macOS with a Linux option on an old (2011) and largely unused macBook Pro which is still a reliable workhorse. Perhaps I'll try Debian as the primary OS on that once I can sort out the driver requirements.
 

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jimbo45

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Although I do need to run Windows variants as either a main OS or VM, I must have another look at Debian (Bookworm). I did try it few weeks ago, but opted to install the 'default' GNOME version in a VM, which I found to be a real pain compared with previous releases. And all the fiddling with access the sudoers group, repositories etc. after initial installation is off-putting; and not usually necessary in the derivatives.

I've also used Arch in the past, primarily because I found the command line better to work with than than APT etc., but it's a real pain to manually install/set up unless you 'cheat' and go for one of the usual suspects: Manjaro etc. Have also done some hopping around openSUSE and various RedHat 'clones' but, at present I'm settled on a small selection of Debian derivatives: MX Linux (KDE), Linux Mint (Debian-based in preference to Ubuntu), and PeppermintOS. What I really don't like is increasing effort needed with most distributions to avoid the installation of bloated Snap, Flatpack and Appimage packages, even though I'm used to macOS and its huge downloads (12GB+ for an OS ISO and regular 3GB+ updates) but not convinced to adopt the M1/M2 ARM architecture that the Apple 'fanboys' delight over.

Think I'll have to have a go at replacing macOS with a Linux option on an old (2011) and largely unused macBook Pro which is still a reliable workhorse. Perhaps I'll try Debian as the primary OS on that once I can sort out the driver requirements.

Hi there
Install like I said -- get the daily build net-inst, make bootable iso with dd or windows too, on install you can choose graphical, select manual partitioning so you can try it out on an external ssd / usb drive, on software uncheck everything (i.e no desktop, Gnome etc but leave openssh-server and system-tools checked (and web server if you want apache etc) .

Leave root password blank - then the root account is disabled and you are automatically added to the sudoers group.


For lean thin KDE after boot simply install kde-plasma-desktop. Gets installed with very few apps, Then add a few useful ones like konsole, dolphin, firefox-esr, ark, okular,zip,unzip,kde-spectacle(screen capture), kdf (disk free space) samba, ntfs-3g (read / write access to ntfs files), kde-partitionmanager, rsync , grsync (Great GUI backup file system) kate(editor like notepad), nano filezilla and vlc(media playing). If you use torrents then deluge. If you want VM's then KVM, plus swtpm, swtpm-tools for TPM emulator and a useful calculator is kcalc.

Should be a nice decently fast system with a decent GUI - zero bloat. and runs really well on an external disk so you can use it without hosing up main machine etc.

Here's the disk map of the laptop hdd I'm using - my /Home partition has a W11 image on it

Screenshot_20220807_105148.png
The / (root) can be reduced more - clearing cache etc but this is just a testing laptop so I'm not bothered. Any sort of desktop GUI is going to need a few GB. Without the GUI it also makes a good "Live CD" for reparing all sorts of things - fits easily on to a 4GB or 8GB USB stick. Note VM software adds to size of root of course.

W11 VM on Debian Bookworm

Screenshot_20220807_110038.png


Who thinks up the crazy names for all these releases (on all OS'es !!!).

Cheers
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@Jimbo,

Thanks. Will give the 'pure' Debian install a try again soon (VM first) then maybe the old MacBook Pro.
 

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