I have a PC I am dedicating as a server for Minecraft. It is running Ubuntu Server 20.04.2

Im fine using command line but I don't like only having one space to work. My solution is startx

I have used startx in the past and I enjoy using it. Black background that I can have multiple terminals open without pulling too many resources for graphics.

Ive been using this as a reference: https://askubuntu.com/questions/53822/how-do-you-run-ubuntu-server-with-a-gui

Minimal GUI:

sudo apt install xorg
sudo apt install --no-install-recommends openbox

Run the command startx and openbox will start (you can open a terminal there and run any application you want)"

It has worked before with Ubuntu Server 20.04.1 but stopped working recently

When I start the server I get a GUI login screen instead of a command line and when I log in I have a whole Gui Desktop instead of a command line.


  1. I want to boot up the system and be greeted by a command line login
  2. When logged in I want it to stay in a command line until I type "startx"
  3. When typing "startx" I want startx to run the startx GUI

It has worked before with these instructions but won't work now. What do I need to do?

Thank you!

  • This sounds like even your --no-install-recommeds installed the login manager (I think it is gdm by default). See if that is running. You should be able to find out which one it is by doing: cat /etc/X11/default-display-manager You could then reconfigure it, or remove the display manager.
    – number9
    Apr 21 at 22:04

Change your server to multiuser target instead of graphical target (equivalent to the concept or runlevels of UNIX and non-systemd Linux distros in case you're more familiar with):
sudo systemctl set-default multi-user.target

After reboot you'll be presented by console text prompt to login.

You can check it by,
systemctl get-default

In case you don't have startx command available, install xinit package:
sudo apt install xinit

Not necessary step, but since you'll switch to command-line login and you'll start X by startx, you can also uninstall the Display Manager (DM). It's the the app controlling the graphical login. I can't tell which is installed by installing Openbox, you'll have to search for it.

  • To explain better: By default, installing the xorg package assumes that installing it also means you want to boot to a GUI login. For the vast majority of users, this is a true and valid assumption, which is why it is the default. IIRC, there's a priority setting that will ask you if you want this rather than assume; But of course, most users leave the default priority alone as well, so the install uses the defaults.
    – C. M.
    Apr 22 at 14:32

startx starts a GUI server. This is a mismatch for a "server" and an overuse of resources.

screen is a better tool for this. Read man screen.

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