It’s been quite a while since I last looked at Linux Lite, the last version I reviewed being 1.0.6. Much has changed in Linux Lite since that release and now it’s reached version 2.2. If you aren’t familiar with it, you should know that Linux Lite is a distribution geared toward helping current Windows users transition to the Linux desktop.
What’s new in Linux Lite 2.2
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:
New Program locations:
Backups – Menu > Accessories > Backups
File Search – Menu > Accessories > File Search
Date & Time – Menu > Settings > Date & Time
Lite Cleaner – Menu > System > Lite Cleaner
Light Locker Settings – Menu > Settings > Light Locker Settings
Linux Lite Welcome – Menu > Settings > Linux Lite Welcome
New adjustable size mouse theme added.
Added File Roller as the default archive manager.
Added Light Locker.
Added new Login theme.
Clementine added to Install Additional Software.
Create System Report has been converted to GUI.
Added md5sum check to right click menu.
Added libreoffice-gnome to open files on a NAS.
Launchers now use exo-open instead of xdg-open.
Fixed power settings/screensaver conflict.
Mumble has been dropped.
inxi has been added by request.
Linux Lite 2.2 download and install
You can download Linux Lite 2.2 from the downloads page on the Linux Lite site. You can get Linux Lite 2.2 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. The ISO file for the 32-bit version weighs in at just 737 MB, and the 64-bit version is just 738 MB. For this review I opted for the 64-bit version of Linux Lite 2.2.
Linux Lite uses the same installer as Ubuntu, so it’s a piece of cake to install. During the install you have the option of downloading updates during the install, and also adding third-party software. I opted to do both so I didn’t have to bother doing them later on. You also have the option of encrypting your install, using the default partitioning or setting up your own. I went with the default partitioning setup and skipped the encryption.
The Linux Lite 2.2 installer is also fast, it didn’t take long at all for my install to finish. During the install you can watch a slideshow about some of the features found in Linux Lite 2.2. I had no problems with my install and when it was completed I rebooted to the Linux Lite boot menu.
Linux Lite 2.2 desktop
When your Linux Lite 2.2 desktop loads, you’ll notice a very helpful welcome menu that appears on the screen. The menu is broken into three sections: Start Here, Support and Contribute. Start Here contains links to install updates, read the release notes or see hardware recommendations. Support will link you to online support, a help manual and a hardware database. Contribute lets you access code, donate to Linux Lite 2.2 or find the distro on social media.
I’ve always been a big fan of these kinds of welcome menus. Yes, it’s true that experienced Linux users might not need or care about them. But for people new to a distribution or to Linux in general, they can be a huge help. Linux Mint was one of the first distributions to do this, and it seems that the Linux Lite developers have followed in their venerable footsteps.
Linux Lite 2.2 uses the Xfce desktop environment (and includes the Whisker menu), which is pretty much my favorite desktop. The panel at the bottom of the screen contains a menu link, an icon to show the desktop, Firefox, an icon for the Thunar file manager and an icon to open a terminal window. Farther to the right you’ll see multiple desktops, keyboard, networking, volume and the date/time.
The Linux Lite 2.2 desktop itself is completely devoid of icons. All you’ll see is what looks like a feather caught in free fall in the center of your screen. It’s a simple visual but it’s also quite elegant in its own way.
Clicking the Menu button will let you access settings, favorite applications, recently used applications, all applications, and applications broken down into various categories. Also at the bottom right of the menu you’ll find additional icons for All Settings, Lock Screen, Switch Users and Log Out. And there is also a search box available at the bottom of the menu.
Finding your way around the Linux Lite 2.2 desktop is very easy, even if you’ve never seen it before. The developers have done a good job making sure that it’s easy to access everything you need to use your Linux Lite 2.2 computer. Windows users should have no trouble jumping right into the Xfce desktop environment in Linux Lite 2.2.
Linux Lite 2.2 system settings
If you click the All Settings icon on the Menu, you’ll see the settings menu. All of the usual options are available there: Appearance, Desktop, Notifications, Display and many other desktop settings. All of the settings options are broken down into four categories: Personal, Hardware, System and Other. The only thing listed in Other is the Settings Editor and most casual desktop users will probably never bother with that part of Settings.
If you are new to Linux Lite then I recommend that you take a look at the Settings menu as one of the first things you do. Once you are familiar with its layout you’ll know where to go when you want to change something about your system. While doing my review, I kept the settings on default so I could use Linux Lite 2.2 without making any changes to it.
One other useful system tool you should be aware of in Linux Lite 2.2 is the Lite Cleaner. You can access it by clicking the Menu button on the panel, then click on System, and then Lite Cleaner. It will let you clean the package cache, automatically remove packages, clean your thumbnail cache, clean Whisker Menu’s recently used menu, locate large files and remove additional kernel files. Lite Cleaner definitely adds some real value to Linux Lite 2.2, and you should certainly check it out once you have this distribution installed on your computer.
Linux software included in Linux Lite 2.2
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.
Available in Install Additional Software or in Synaptic
VLC Media Player
The selection of installed software is somewhat sparse, but functional. It covers most of the basic functionality needed in a desktop, but doesn’t really go beyond that. But that’s not a big problem for Linux Lite 2.2 and you’ll find out why in the next paragraph.
There are two ways to install more software in Linux Lite 2.2: Synaptic or the Install Additional Software menu. Synaptic lets you find individual packages via browsing or searching. The Install Additional Software menu provides a list of applications that you can quickly install and it includes the following:
Apple Trailers Plugin
File and Folder Search
Google Talk Browser Plugin
Java Web Applet Plugin
Remote Desktop Software
Video Editing Software
So which option is best to install more software? Synaptic offers much more software and experienced users will probably prefer it to the Install Additional Software menu. Newbies might just want to hit the latter though since it contains quite a lot of quality software in one easy to find place.
I decided to be quite bold and install everything on the Install Additional Software menu to see how well it would perform. Unfortunately, there was a drawback to installing all of this software. Each time a new application started to install, a menu popped up asking me for a confirmation before the install would commence. Then another menu popped up after it installed and I had to click “Okay” to get past it. Ugh.
So I had to click and click and I finally just skipped installing the rest of the software on the list. All of these menus and their subsequent need to be clicked on was definitely a big pain in the ass. I think the developers need to make this a click-free process once the user has selected the software he or she wants to install from the Install Additional Software menu.
I freely concede that most users aren’t going to want to install all of the software on the menu, but even so the developers should revamp the application install process to remove all of the clicking for each application install. As it stands now the menu gives the user the impression that with just a few clicks then can install a whole bunch of software and that simply isn’t true.
If you decide you want to remove software that you installed via the Install Additional Software Menu, just go instead to the Remove Additional Software menu. From there you can quickly remove whatever it was that you installed previously.
If you need to update your system, click the Menu button on the panel then click on Install Updates. A terminal window will open, and you can type in your password, and then you can type in “Y” to start the update to your system.
I must admit that I was surprised that Linux Lite – a distribution geared toward Windows newcomers – is using the command line for updates. Personally I have no issue with the command line, it’s a great tool. But newbies coming to Linux Lite from Windows may be intimidated by it. I’d have thought that Linux Lite would have some sort of GUI-based update system in place a long time ago.
Where to get help for Linux Lite 2.2
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below. You might also want to check out these Linux Lite 2.2 resources:
Final thoughts about Linux Lite 2.2
Linux Lite 2.2 mostly fulfills its mission as a welcoming desktop distribution for Windows users.
But I can’t help but feel that a little bit more software installed by default would be a good thing for this distro. What is installed covers basic functionality but doesn’t offer much beyond that. And, as I noted above, using the Install Additional Software menu requires too many clicks to get through the installs of a bunch of applications. And the use of the terminal to update the system seems to run contrary to the idea of welcoming newbies to Linux.
In Linux Lite 2.2’s favor, the desktop is well laid out and easy to navigate and use. Xfce works very well in that sense, and new users should not have a problem with it. The distribution also seemed very stable for me, and I didn’t notice any application crashes or lockups while using it. The installer is a breeze, and you get the options of downloading updates and adding third party software while it completes. Plus, Lite Cleaner has the potential to be an extremely useful system cleaning tool in certain situations.
Overall, I think Linux Lite 2.2 is well worth considering as a desktop distribution. It’s certainly well suited to beginners for the most part, and even more experienced Linux users might enjoy using it.
What’s your take on Linux Lite 2.2? Tell me in the comments below.
Linux Lite 2.2 screenshots: