Rethinking Ubuntu Desktop: a more thoughtful default installation

A mini.iso as it existed in the past would be nice. The current mini.iso (resurrected recently) basically installs a standard Ubuntu version from the internet, which turns out to be kind of useless. In the past there were more options, like those tree options you showed.

I would like to be able to install Ubuntu without a graphical interface, without having to install, for example, an Ubuntu Server, and from there install whatever packages I want.

the problem here is that such a thing actually never existed … the thing you think existed was actually fallout garbage from the debian-installer builds without any ubuntu preseed and config files (i.e. like the actual old alternate installer used)… so that in the end you ended up with a debian style configured system that used the ubuntu archive … this was neither ubuntu nor debian and has never been officially supported …


Yes, I was aware that it wasn’t official, but it was something that gave more versatility. Now there is a new mini.iso, but it’s kind of useless, if it had the installer like the old mini.iso, it would be much more interesting.

Maybe this would be a good time to really improve the current mini.iso :slight_smile:

1 Like

well, if the desktop goes minimal it will be in the selection list of the new mini.iso :wink:

1 Like

Would it be plausible to limit the size of the
minimal install to 1GB not over 2GB.
Having a listing of snaps to include during install
would be beneficial for customizing an install.

Really appreciating all the engagement on this thread. But can I better understand the desire from yourself and some others to add apps during install rather than immediately post-install via the App Store? eg. from your perspective why would it be preferable to install something like Thunderbird during install rather than immediately after via the store along with your other needed applications? Taking aside the limited network access consideration for now. :slight_smile: Having something like the tree view mentioned above risks duplicating the goals of software discoverability and management that the App Store should have.

1 Like

Very wise idea not having duplicate packages.
That I did not consider. Having a minimal install
with choice of 1 browser and a basic DE. Then
as your reply post-install from the snap-store.
Would it be able to keep the minimal install 1GB size.

1 Like

I think the important thing is to think holistically about the Ubuntu onboarding experience. From how you get the image on your machine to how you configure it to how you get to a stage of productivity.

All these steps touch on different areas of the desktop, from the installer to the app store to the update manager etc. I think the question for us at a high level right now is ‘what is the specific purpose/goal of the installer’? It’s definitely to configure and secure your device but is its role to get your productivity environment set up? Or is that the role of the store? It’s about finding the right place for each of the sequential user requirements. We should think of the first time experience more holistically because it might be that the required steps to be productive should be the same as they are currently but where those steps occur might be different. If that makes sense.

The app store must serve that need if someone buys an XPS 13 with Ubuntu pre-installed for example, so we must make sure that the store route is intuitive to navigate and easy to discover the software you want. And if we invest time in that area to make it a high quality experience, does it make sense to have an alternative flow for other entry points into Ubuntu?

We should feel free to consider all of the tools at our disposal in the desktop, not necessarily bound our thinking to solving problems solely within the context of the installer.

This was more of a philosophical post, and as I said before, still an open question, but I hope it gives an insight into our thinking :slight_smile:


After a bit of drawing venn diagrams and charts, I think I see better where you’re coming from.

Thank you.

I think you’re leading us toward toward an installer that includes a base OS install (perhaps something like ubuntu-standard) followed by some kind of connective tissue (perhaps something like cloud-init recipes) to download and install the packages of the selected use case. And then finally reboot into the newly-installed system.

I suppose one perspective is moving from a final system defined by metapackages to a final system defined by (something like) YAML. Which might seem to open up some possibilities: One choice (use case recipe) for full-Gnome-Desktop-experience, another choice for minimal, perhaps another for custom (bring your own?), another for offline (a bit more work needed there). Maybe others.

Since it’s clear that you’re paying attention to the use cases, and since you’re open to the need for implied work elsewhere in the Desktop to make this work better, I’m positive about it.


So lets get philosophical :slight_smile:

One thing that always made Ubuntu uniqe over the other distros was that it was a “ready to go” thing, you could dump a CD into your tray, boot from it , 20min later you could be productive with your computer … in my time doing support in mailing lists, IRC and other media I very often heard “why dont you do it like distro XYZ, they let you select your desktop env. at install and allow you to select the apps you want during install” …

… I recently bought a motorbike and even though this particular thing was not the reason why I bought it, there was this one sentence in the advert that I’m reminded of here ATM. “Ready to go ! Jump on it and drive the whole summer !” …

… Ubuntu always used to be exactly that, while all the other distros offering what people asked about in support like above were kits, it was the one “ready to go and drive the whole summer” thing, you didnt need to touch it, just use it …

do we actually want to be a kit to assemble your own toy ?

I guess not … so some questions here should be “how do we make it not look like a kit” and “how do we keep our uniqueness” and the
“ready to go with no touch” feeling …


Can we please move all the discussion about irrelevant things like this comment and not to use the term “mom-test” to another thread or just delete them? If the community wants to make a decision, they should really only read the important stuff (it’s already 53 comments)

1 Like

I support this.

Let’s discuss how users will be having their first experience with Ubuntu in the first place.
1- Self-installing Ubuntu: These people are either tech-savvy (Group 1), or can read and understand what’s being recommended and don’t feel overwhelmed (Group 2).
They either do it for themselves, or for their “non-tech-savvy” friends/family members (for example elderly people who just need a browser) (Group 3)
So for Self-installing Ubuntu, we only need to consider Group 1 and 2

2- Ubuntu pre-installed: Can be Group 1 to Groupe 3

For Group 1 and 2, I can really see how installing a minimal version and then recommending Apps would be the best solution to give them exactly the desktop that they want. Examples are the Anaconda installer or Garuda.
However, we really need to

  • trim it down to the software that really matters and not make the software list a comprehensive list of all available software and make it more complicated that it should be with niche-software (unfortunately that’s the case with Garuda)
  • give for each category a “recommended” mark for the software Ubuntu recommends and a really brief explanation about the differences. The recommended Software should also probably be already “checked” to install.

For example:

  • Category Browsers: Firefox (recommended), Brave (Chromium-based, with ad-blocker included), Chrome, etc… (Should not be on the list to make it more complicated: Librewolf, Palemoon, etc…)
  • Category Office Suit: Libreoffice (recommended, best supported on linux), Onlyoffice (recommended, best compatibility with Microsoft Office for people who share their documents with Windows Users) (Should not be on the list: Openoffice)
    Category Media Player: VLC (recommended, best supported on linux), etc…

For Group 3:
In the install process, the Installer should ask the user if they want to customize their installation (what I explained above, for Group 1 and 2) or just install the default Apps for good out-of-the-box experience (what I’m going to explain now)
I would suggest a “click” to install recommended software for the best experience on Ubuntu, which are basically the Software that’s already checked in the custom installer (= the recommended Software I talked about, for example Firefox). With this, Ubuntu would install the software elderly people need without overwhelming them (they surely don’t care if they use Brave or Firefox, and they certainly won’t be cooperating with people on Office Suits, etc…)


I think many people (myself included) prefer to tinker with the system only once for an hour after installation, rather then install it and then think about all the stuff I need to install.
When Ubuntu offers the things that people “want” or “should” change, it takes the thinking part away from them and makes the process easier.

We should also think about how Ubuntu is the first Distro for many users, or even a general Distro for new-comers who don’t know everything they need in linux.


  • Installing TLP to improve battery life would be great to do right after the installation, not after 6 months where I only got 3 hours of battery life and read how to fix it with TLP. If I got asked about it right in the beginning, I can try it right away and see if it works for me.
  • I’m just a beginner, but I’m pretty sure there are many packages and services that “normal” home-users don’t need. Samba and VNC are good examples of this. So If a user from Group 2 (me for example) reads about these services and knows for a fact that he doesn’t need them, he can uncheck them right away (Less “bloat”, less bugs, less security threat)
  • Onlyoffice offers way better comptability with MS Office. I shouldn’t wait until my cowokers/friends mock me for sending them weird-looking docx files and then look for a solution, but I should rather know from the beginning that Onlyoffice would offer me better compability than Libreoffice, so I should aim for it if I’m willing to cooperate with windows users.
  • Setup Backup right at the beginning, not after I got screwed after a corrupt update.

Today apt proposes to remove many useful applications. Is this the result of this discussion?

Calculating upgrade… Done
The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
aisleriot baobab branding-ubuntu cheese cheese-common file-roller gir1.2-rb-3.0 gnome-mahjongg gnome-mines gnome-sudoku
gnome-video-effects gstreamer1.0-clutter-3.0 guile-3.0-libs libavahi-ui-gtk3-0 libcdr-0.1-1 libchamplain-0.12-0
libchamplain-gtk-0.12-0 libcheese-gtk25 libcheese8 libclutter-gst-3.0-0 libdmapsharing-4.0-3 libevent-2.1-7 libfreehand-0.1-1
libfreerdp-client2-2 libgnome-games-support-1-3 libgnome-games-support-common libgpod-common libgpod4 libgupnp-igd-1.0-4 libixml10
liblc3-0 libminiupnpc17 libmspub-0.1-1 libmujs2 libnatpmp1 libpagemaker-0.0-0 libqqwing2v5 libreoffice-calc libreoffice-draw
libreoffice-gnome libreoffice-gtk3 libreoffice-impress librhythmbox-core10 libsdl-image1.2 libsdl1.2debian libsgutils2-1.46-2
libupnp13 libvisio-0.1-1 lp-solve media-player-info python3-mako python3-renderpm python3-reportlab-accel remmina remmina-common
remmina-plugin-rdp remmina-plugin-secret remmina-plugin-vnc rhythmbox rhythmbox-data rhythmbox-plugin-alternative-toolbar
rhythmbox-plugins shotwell shotwell-common simple-scan transmission-common transmission-gtk
Use ‘sudo apt autoremove’ to remove them.
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
so the novice will find himself with an incomplete system and will have difficulty finding the applications he needs, ubuntu will no longer be a system for everyone.

On mobile so short reply.

I assume you’re not on the dev series?

These changes won’t start rolling out until 23.10 and will likely take a few cycles to fully materialise. So I’m not sure what’s happened in your instance.

This is the result of

Note that breakage is indeed expected in a development release :slight_smile: especially if a feature spreads across multiple parts of the distro like the one we’re discussing here…

(Whatever gets decided here in this discussion will eventually compensate this removal (at least partially) before final release I guess)

1 Like

In future GNOME plans a “GNOME Content” app, which will collect all photos, music and videos. This would solve the problem, so that we need no extra totem, rhythmbox and shotwell.

Also the image viewer “eog” will be replaced with “loupe” in GNOME 45 (or later):

In my opinion Rhythmbox should not be included in the default install. If someone wants it, he can install it separately. Most people listen music currently through the browser or a separate app like Spotify, many people don’t listen at all to music. Note that the default for GNOME is currently Gnome Music (GTK4+libadwaita), not Rhythmbox. Rhythmbox development speed is very slow and I see no plans to port Rhythmbox to GTK4.


I’m using Ubuntu 23.10 with proposed NOT enabled.
I hope this rethinking will not be for standard Ubuntu amd64 but for some other versions.
a newbee will find Ubuntu too poor and move to a different distribution.

corrado@corrado-n03-mm-0607:~$ inxi -Fx

Host: corrado-n03-mm-0607 Kernel: 6.3.0-7-generic arch: x86_64 bits: 64
compiler: N/A Desktop: GNOME v: 44.3 Distro: Ubuntu 23.10 (Mantic Minotaur)
Type: Desktop System: ASUS product: N/A v: N/A serial:
Mobo: ASUSTeK model: PRIME H610M-E D4 v: Rev 1.xx
serial: UEFI: American Megatrends v: 1402
date: 04/01/2022
Info: quad core model: 12th Gen Intel Core i3-12100 bits: 64 type: MT MCP
arch: Alder Lake rev: 5 cache: L1: 320 KiB L2: 5 MiB L3: 12 MiB
Speed (MHz): avg: 800 high: 801 min/max: 800/5500 cores: 1: 800 2: 800
3: 800 4: 801 5: 800 6: 800 7: 801 8: 800 bogomips: 52838
Flags: avx avx2 ht lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 sse4_2 ssse3 vmx
Device-1: Intel Alder Lake-S GT1 [UHD Graphics 730] vendor: ASUSTeK
driver: i915 v: kernel arch: Gen-12.2 bus-ID: 00:02.0
Device-2: Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 driver: snd-usb-audio,uvcvideo
type: USB bus-ID: 1-1:2
Display: wayland server: X.Org v: with: Xwayland v: 23.1.1
compositor: gnome-shell driver: X: loaded: modesetting unloaded: fbdev,vesa
dri: iris gpu: i915 resolution: 1920x1080~60Hz
API: OpenGL v: 4.6 Mesa 23.0.4-0ubuntu1 renderer: Mesa Intel UHD Graphics
730 (ADL-S GT1) direct-render: Yes
Device-1: Intel Alder Lake-S HD Audio vendor: ASUSTeK driver: snd_hda_intel
v: kernel bus-ID: 00:1f.3
Device-2: Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 driver: snd-usb-audio,uvcvideo
type: USB bus-ID: 1-1:2
API: ALSA v: k6.3.0-7-generic status: kernel-api
Server-1: PipeWire v: 0.3.73 status: active
Device-1: Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet
vendor: ASUSTeK PRIME B450M-A driver: r8169 v: kernel port: 3000
bus-ID: 02:00.0
IF: enp2s0 state: down mac: 58:11:22:90:10:e2
Device-2: Ralink RT2501/RT2573 Wireless Adapter driver: rt73usb type: USB
bus-ID: 1-9:6
IF: wlx000ee8f7f7e6 state: up mac: 00:0e:e8:f7:f7:e6
Hardware-1: Intel Volume Management Device NVMe RAID Controller driver: vmd
v: 0.6 bus-ID: 00:0e.0
Local Storage: total: 2.28 TiB used: 17.77 GiB (0.8%)
ID-1: /dev/nvme0n1 vendor: Toshiba model: KBG40ZNV256G KIOXIA
size: 238.47 GiB temp: 50.9 C
ID-2: /dev/nvme1n1 vendor: Kingston model: SKC2000M8250G size: 232.89 GiB
temp: 34.9 C
ID-3: /dev/sda vendor: Crucial model: CT500MX500SSD1 size: 465.76 GiB
ID-4: /dev/sdb vendor: Crucial model: CT500MX500SSD1 size: 465.76 GiB
ID-5: /dev/sdc vendor: Toshiba model: DT01ACA100 size: 931.51 GiB
ID-1: / size: 39.08 GiB used: 17.76 GiB (45.5%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/nvme0n1p3
ID-2: /boot/efi size: 252 MiB used: 6 MiB (2.4%) fs: vfat
dev: /dev/nvme1n1p1
ID-1: swap-1 type: partition size: 8 GiB used: 0 KiB (0.0%) dev: /dev/sdb2
System Temperatures: cpu: 34.0 C mobo: N/A
Fan Speeds (RPM): N/A
Processes: 285 Uptime: 7h 7m Memory: available: 15.36 GiB
used: 2.55 GiB (16.6%) Init: systemd target: graphical (5) Compilers: N/A
Packages: 2062 Shell: Bash v: 5.2.15 inxi: 3.3.27

As long as the OS can view or play the content out of the box in a direct and purposeful way, I’m content with that. I didn’t realize GNOME was modernizing their media app stack

1 Like

As far as I know Totem also plays MP3s and other music files, so totem is enough to provide a basic media player.

Maybe the Ubuntu team should also look what other systems install be default. If we look at the RHEL9/CentOS Stream Workstation and Windows 10/11 default install they have in common:

  • No Office Suite preinstalled
  • Media Player preinstalled
  • Camera app preinstalled
  • Email app preinstalled

Though personally I’m against preinstalling Email app and Cheese, but I’m in a favour of a basic media player (totem).

This is what’s part of a minimal RHEL9/CentOS Stream 9 Workstation default install:

Gedit/Text Editor (modern version: gnome-text-editor)
System Monitor
Cheese (modern version: gnome-snapshot)
Gnome Disk Usage Analyser
Gnome Disk Utility
Gnome Screenshot (not needed anymore, integrated in shell)
Gnome Image Viewer/eog (modern version: loupe)
Gnome Evince
Gnome Characters
Gnome Logs
Gnome Font Viewer
Gnome Help
Gnome Software
Gnome Terminal (modern version: gnome-console)
1 Like