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How To Check if Ubuntu Server or Desktop is Installed

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In this article, we are going to explore different methods to determine if an Ubuntu Server or Desktop is installed on your system. This knowledge can be particularly useful when managing multiple systems or when you’ve inherited a system and are unsure of its configuration.

Quick Answer

To check if Ubuntu Server or Desktop is installed on your system, you can use several methods. One way is to check for the presence of the ubuntu-desktop package using the command dpkg -l ubuntu-desktop. Another method is to examine the kernel information by running uname -a command. You can also check the contents of the Message of the Day (MOTD) file using cat /etc/motd command. Additionally, verifying the installed kernel packages with dpkg --get-selections | grep linux-image | grep -v deinstall can help determine the installed edition. Lastly, checking for specific directories like "Music," "Downloads," or "Desktop" can indicate if Ubuntu Desktop is installed.

Checking the Ubuntu Desktop Package

The first method involves checking for the presence of the ubuntu-desktop package. This package is a part of the Ubuntu Desktop edition.

To check for this package, open your terminal and run the following command:

dpkg -l ubuntu-desktop

The dpkg -l command is used to list all the packages installed on your system. By specifying ubuntu-desktop after the command, we’re filtering the results to show only the ubuntu-desktop package.

If the ubuntu-desktop package is installed, you will see an output similar to the following:

ii ubuntu-desktop 1.450 amd64 The Ubuntu desktop system

If the package is not installed, you will see no output, indicating that the system is likely an Ubuntu Server installation.

Examining Kernel Information

The next method involves examining the kernel information. The kernel is the core of the operating system and facilitates interactions between hardware and software components.

To check the kernel information, run the following command in your terminal:

uname -a

The uname -a command displays all system information, including the kernel name. If the kernel name contains “server,” it suggests that Ubuntu Server is installed. If it contains “generic,” it suggests Ubuntu Desktop.

Checking the Message of the Day (MOTD) File

The Message of the Day (MOTD) file is a simple way to deliver information to users logging into a system. On Ubuntu systems, it can often indicate which edition is installed.

To check the contents of the MOTD file, run the following command:

cat /etc/motd

The cat command is used to display the contents of a file. Here, we’re using it to display the contents of the /etc/motd file. If the file mentions the desktop edition, it indicates Ubuntu Desktop. If it provides server-specific information, it suggests Ubuntu Server.

Verifying Installed Packages

Another method to determine the installed edition is to verify the installed kernel packages.

To do this, run the following command:

dpkg --get-selections | grep linux-image | grep -v deinstall

The dpkg --get-selections command lists all installed packages. The grep command is used to filter the output. Here, we’re filtering for linux-image packages and excluding ones marked for deinstallation with grep -v deinstall.

If the kernel package name contains “server,” it suggests Ubuntu Server. If it contains “generic,” it suggests Ubuntu Desktop.

Checking for Specific Directories

The last method involves checking for specific directories that are typically present in the Ubuntu Desktop edition.

To do this, navigate to your home directory and look for directories like “Music,” “Downloads,” or “Desktop.” If these directories exist, it indicates Ubuntu Desktop. If they are absent, it suggests Ubuntu Server.

Remember, these methods are not foolproof, as it’s possible to have a mix of desktop and server components on a system. The distinction between desktop and server editions has also become less significant in recent Ubuntu releases. Always consider the specific requirements and configurations of your system when determining the installed edition.

Can I use these methods to determine if Ubuntu Server or Desktop is installed on any Linux distribution?

No, these methods are specific to Ubuntu distributions and may not work on other Linux distributions.

Are there any other methods to determine the installed edition of Ubuntu?

Yes, there are other methods such as checking the contents of the /etc/lsb-release file or examining the output of the lsb_release -a command.

Can I have both Ubuntu Server and Desktop components installed on the same system?

Yes, it is possible to have a mix of desktop and server components on a system. These methods only provide a general indication of the installed edition.

Do these methods work on older versions of Ubuntu?

These methods should work on most versions of Ubuntu, but there may be slight variations in the output or file locations.

Can I use these methods remotely on a server?

Yes, you can use these methods remotely by connecting to the server via SSH and running the commands in the terminal.

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