Any utils worth installing a GUI on a server for?

andrew clarke mail at
Thu Jun 25 18:51:07 UTC 2015

On Wed 2015-06-24 19:38:08 UTC-0400, Quartz (quartz at wrote:

> Traditionally I have always run fileservers headless, with any 
> administration being done through ssh. However, I'm currently working 
> with a system that's somewhat overpowered for its job and I'm 
> considering throwing a window manager on there just to have access to 
> more stuff. Are there any utilities out there that require or really 
> benefit from a window manager that are worth installing one for? The 
> system's main function is a sort of NAS that can have usb drives plugged 
> directly into it, so I'm only really interested in stuff that would 
> relate to that: for example disk partitioning/repair programs or fancy 
> shells for messing with samba/nfs/zfs, etc.

You can still run GUI apps headless using SSH X11 forwarding.

There's SWAT for Samba which has been around for years, but IIRC it's
web based. You could connect a browser to localhost and use it that
way I suppose, but it seems overkill when you can just edit smbd.conf
directly though.

Likewise NFS and ZFS are simple enough to use as to not need a GUI,
and I honestly don't think you'd gain much from one. Replacing a ZFS
drive is only about half a dozen commands, and half of those involve
partitioning with gpart.

GPartEd is nice but I'm not sure if it can be used in place of gpart
for setting up ZFS drives. I think you still need to use gpart to
install the ZFS bootcode.

A GUI app for monitoring the health & usage of ZFS pools wouldn't be a
bad idea but I don't know of anything. A web app would probably be
better, for remote access.

Overpowered servers can make good virtual machine hosts, if you feel
like tinkering with other OSes on top of VirtualBox or QEMU etc. Those
can be remote controlled too, though...

> (Also: forgive me in advance if this is a stupid question. I'm not 
> familiar with using freebsd in anything resembling a workstation role, 
> so I'm not sure to what extent the GUI software selection differs from 
> linux).

I think it's a good question!

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