Ubuntu – Start ubuntu without a desktop environment but start an X application


I want to do a small computer just for internet browsing. I dont want to load a desktop environment to keep RAM, CPU and GPU ussage as low as possible. The computer is going to run on a ARM CPU. I dont care with Distro I use, I thought about good old plain Debian.

Best Answer

  1. In /usr/share/xsessions/ create a file in the ".desktop" format to create your custom, minimal session. For running Google Chrome as the only application after logging in, do this:

    [Desktop Entry]
    Name=Google Chrome
  2. Restart your display manager, e.g.

    sudo restart lightdm  # or kdm, gdm, etc.

    Or simply log out.

  3. "Google Chrome" should appear in the session list to select (next to regular Unity or other DEs you have installed).

    Log in and enjoy.


  • XDM is a very minimal display manager - LightDM, GDM and KDM are quite "big". Install that using the package xdm Install xdm and reconfigure the default for when your system boots up using

    sudo dpkg-reconfigure lightdm
  • Configure your display manager to automatically log in a specific user. See the documentation for your display manager.

Related Question