A Brief Affair with Xubuntu

After a recommendation from a friend, I took a look at Xubuntu 14.04 – the latest LTS version.

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The beauty of Linux is there are hundreds of versions (or distros), meaning you can find one to suit your needs and your hardware – and best of all they are generally free.

I have been distro hopping like some mad Linux bunny lately and after settling on LXLE a few weeks back, I thought I had stopped. However, I decided to check out Xubuntu on my Acer AspireOne netbook after reading a fellow tech buddies review Revitalising a Sony VAIO with Xubuntu 14.04.

Xubuntu is Ubuntu derivitate that uses the Xfce interface rather than Gnome/Unity that regular Ubuntu does. It is aimed at lower-end machines or ones that regular Ubuntu struggles on.

While this might have been the initial premise, there are those that say Xubuntu has bloated over newer releases, giving it less of an appeal.

On My NetBook

I grabbed an ISO and using unetbootin created a bootable USB stick. I then booted to it and ran the live version. It boots quite quickly, and you are soon faced with a very nice looking blue desktop with a triangluated rodent logo.

It is a very neat, tidy, and well designed looking distro, and navigating around the OS seemed okay, but there were some sluggish moments.

I went and installed it, which uses the regular Ubiqutiy installer. Installation was fast and straightforward, and in no time at all it was finished and rebooted.

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First Impressions

Within minutes of using a distro, you get a general feel for how it is going to perform. Straight away there was a different feel compared to LXLE, which I was previously running.

My first task was to install Chrome; this was slow. I had to wonder if it had hung at one point. Apps took longer to open, and navigating around the Web and Facebook had some serious lag. I then tried YouTubeb and it just about coped with standard videos, but putting it into full screen had serious stuttering and frame dropouts.

I perserved for a while – but it was quite obvious this hardware wasn’t up to handling Xubuntu, which was a real shame, as visually it is a superb looking distro.

It’s Not All Xubuntus Fault

It would be unfair to point the finger entirely at Xubuntu. This netbook isn’t the greatest, let down by a very slow SSD.

However, Xubuntu is no longer the lightweight alternative it used to be. While it is lighter than regular Ubuntu, it isn’t by much, and using a distro with a lighter window manager such as LXDE or even FluxBox or IceWM seems a better option rather than Xfce, which Xubuntu uses.

Requirements

The minimum requirements for Xubuntu are 512 MB RAM and 6.1 GB drive space, with 1 GB RAM and 20 GB drive space recommended. This about the same as Ubuntu. Make of that what you will. It should also be noted that Xubuntu until recently had a minimum requirement of 256 MB RAM, which has been upped lately.

Not For Me

My netbook is used for Web, Facebook, and YouTube. Fancy bells and whistles of an operating system are not needed, and while Xubuntu is very slick and polished, this is reflected in how it performs on older kit.

LXLE – while is still a very attractive distro – uses its minimal look to improve performance, and the fact it uses LXDE instead of Xfce also increases speed.

Conclusion

I shall be sticking with LXLE, but if I come up with some better hardware in the future would consider Xubuntu.

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2 thoughts on “A Brief Affair with Xubuntu

  1. Xfce is growing a bit, yes, and it shows. Mind you, LXDE is merging with Razor-Qt and switching from Gtk2 to Qt, meaning it will grow, too.

    My favourite very lightweight PC Linux is Crunchbang. http://crunchbang.org/

    It’s very simple – no desktop icons or cuddly menus – but it’s easy to get going and fast. Especially if you turn off compositing (or have a good fast OpenGL-capable GPU).

  2. Puppy, Puppy and some more Puppy Linux is all you need for old hardware. Sorry but all the ‘buntu’s sufer from bloat, Puppy is lean and mean, an Aussie killing machine. If you come from Debian land it does take some getting used to the Puppy way of doing things, and the dialog boxes..Oi, they are a headache and a half sometimes. Barry is a tad…verbose at times. Pups with older kernels work best on ancient (ten year old) or more, though I have Puppy Precise running on a Dell D600 and it does very, very well. Got me some Firefox 29 and Chrome 35, VLC and Mplayer, can even handle HD (720p). Try that with Xubuntu! The repositories in Puppy are older than donkeys nuts, so you need to frequent the Murga forum and find the people who have built up to date apps/pets and maintain their own repositories. Oscar Talks from the UK is particularly good.