General Question

bomyne's avatar

Can someone recommend a simple Linux distro that doesn't come with a GUI?

Asked by bomyne (636points) May 23rd, 2010

I’m trying to teach my girlfriend about linux and how to use it and all that… What I want is a small, GUI-less linux distro that she can download and fiddle around with.

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19 Answers

jerv's avatar

If all you need is a Linux CLI then Cygwin may be your answer.

While there are plenty of small, simple distros, like Damn Small Linux , most come with at least a simple GUI like Xfce. However, there you can open a terminal and/or switch out of the GUI in any distro, so I think that a distro that can run from a pen drive is perfect.

I personally would not use DSL, but that is because I am not looking for “simple”. For you, DSL may be the perfect solution.

Tobotron's avatar

I would agree with @jerv however when I moved over to linux about 5 years ago going straight into gui’less was not a move I could have wanted or needed to do, I’ve learnt the basics just by using Ubuntu and playing around with the terminal in that via the forums.

To me linux is all about a usable OS for everyone with the power of the terminal, unless she already uses something like Ubuntu day to day is terminal only the best way to introduce someone to linux?

mrentropy's avatar

But, if you’re still looking, the Gentoo install CD is bootable to a terminal session.

jerv's avatar

To me, “Terminal Only” is an exercise in masochism. Not only does it not show the true power of Linux, it may not even save much on system resources.
I mean, I assume that you are running a computer that has at least a 486DX CPU and 16MB RAM, correct? I think that an OS that can run as many features as DSL does on a computer that is well over a decade past obsolescence is a better display of what Linux can do.
Considering that today’s PCs are so much more powerful, the only reason to really go without a GUI is is you are running a server that will never be used directly, only accessed remotely. I don’t know anyone who uses Linux without a GUI. Even my roommate uses one, even though he spends about half his time ina terminal window (or three).

mrentropy's avatar

@jerv I started using computers with the Commodore PET, then worked through the VIC-20, Apple ][, and Atari 8-bit line. When I got up to the Atari ST, which used the GEM GUI I couldn’t understand why people were still using the DOS command line or terminals in Unix.

I mean, sure, it’s handy for some things but for everyday use… Make mine GUI.

InspecterJones's avatar

I’m with @jerv on this one, teaching her linux by going terminal only is mad, she’s just gonna give up.

To answer the question though, just install ubuntu server edition, it doesn’t install the gui.

jerv's avatar

@InspecterJones While Ubuntu Server Edition is GUI-less, I don’t know if it qualifies as “simple”. That is why I didn’t mention it.

GUI-less =/= simple though. In fact, it may be considered proof that you do not love her, and possibly have issues with women in general.

Or is your definition of “simple” different that the ones we are using?

InspecterJones's avatar

@jerv It’s simple in the sense that once it’s installed its only a terminal, anything else that it has installed she won’t know about so who cares. Also, I agree, No Gui =/= Love. Then again, they might be in a Dom/Sub relationship, and in that care this whole idea makes sense.

joshstevens1989's avatar

Debian, Arch, Slackware, Gentoo, all of those can be made to be GUI-less.

jerv's avatar

@joshstevens1989 Considering the number of times I have booted Ubuntu and gotten a CLI prompt instead of a desktop, I would say that that is true of nearly any Linux distro; at least all of the ones I know of, and I am only guessing that there are distros that do not allow that.

@InspecterJones BDSM is the only way it would make sense to me :P

joshstevens1989's avatar

To be honest, I just wanted to promote something OTHER than Ubuntu. Else Ubuntu will == Linux.

mrentropy's avatar

Ubuntu wil always == Linux.

With Gentoo (don’t know about Arch or Slackware these days), you have to install X Windows and a DE if you want them, so it would be a quick install if you didn’t want those and just wanted to stay with the terminal.

jerv's avatar

@joshstevens1989 I like SUSE and Mandriva myself.

mrentropy's avatar

I retract. No Gentoo is a quick installation, really.

bomyne's avatar

You can’t teach someone to manage a webserver if you use a GUI :) We connect to our server via SSH, Which is why I want something that is a tiny download that only includes a terminal and things that our server would probably contain lol

mrentropy's avatar

@bomyne Why can’t you? Even the barest of desktop environments has a terminal. In some cases you can get more screen real estate for editing files and things if you have X running.

I use KDE 4 and using Kate with different profiles set up I have all the files I need for certain tasks already available. I find it very easy to work with that way.

But you can always get an SSH client for Windows and use that, too. It’d be a lot smaller than any Linux distro.

bomyne's avatar

Because X11./kde/etc could bea distraction and make the DL larger then itneeds to be :)im not converting her to linux lol

bomyne's avatar

“But you can always get an SSH client for Windows and use that, too. It’d be a lot smaller than any Linux distro.”

I actually considered that. I use putty myself but I don’t think I should tech her to run the server on the server itself lol…

i’ll look at the distros suggested in this threadon the weekend

jerv's avatar

“Because X11./kde/etc could bea distraction and make the DL larger then itneeds to be :)”

Damn Small Linux (DSL, for short) is a fairly tiny download (51 MB) with a non-KDE GUI”:http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/images/dsl-4.2.x.jpg

As for the distraction, I’d rather be distracted than confused, frightened, and/or nauseated.

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