Lubuntu 14.04 LTS

Minimalist distros are an important option for many Linux users. Not everyone wants tons of desktop glitz and zillions of bells and whistles. Lubuntu has always been a terrific option for minimalists who prefer to stay within the Ubuntu family. Now Lubuntu 14.04 LTS is available and it follows in the footsteps of previous releases by providing a high-quality desktop distro that is light-weight and fast.

You should know that LTS releases like Lubuntu 14.04 are mostly geared toward providing a long term, very stable desktop. So this release is not chock-full of new features. Don’t let that disappoint you though because Lubuntu 14.04 is still worth upgrading to if you are using an earlier version of it.

If you are totally new to Lubuntu you can get a pretty good overview of it, along with a history of prior releases on the Lubuntu page at Wikipedia:

Lubuntu is a lightweight Linux operating system based on Ubuntu but using the LXDE desktop environment in place of Ubuntu’s Unity shell and GNOME desktop. LXDE is touted as being “lighter, less resource hungry and more energy-efficient”.

Like Xubuntu, Lubuntu is intended to be a low-system-requirement, low-RAM environment for netbooks, mobile devices, and older PCs. Tests show it can use half as much RAM as Xubuntu, making it an attractive choice for installing on older hardware being refurbished for charitable distribution.

More at Wikipedia

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS Desktop

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS Desktop

What’s new in Lubuntu 14.04 LTS
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

LTS support (three years)
PCManFM 1.2.0
Lxsession-default-apps has a new user interface
Artwork update (themes and icons have been updated)

The LTS support will be quite useful for those who want to upgrade to a distro and then stick with it for a long time. Distrohoppers will probably not care about that though, since they prefer to hop around from distro to distro regularly.

PCManFM is a light-weight file manager and version 1.2.0 includes a dual pane view, menu editing and folder settings (among other features). There’s quite a bit in PCManFM 1.2.0, far more than I can cover here. Be sure to read through the release announcement for more details on the changes and new features. It’s definitely worth checking out if you want to know more about what’s in PCManFM 1.2.0.

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS PCManFM 1.2.0 File Manager

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS PCManFM 1.2.0 File Manager

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS lxsession-default-apps

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS lxsession-default-apps new interface.

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS also comes with new artwork that should please most users. This release includes updates to the GTK and icon themes, along with some pretty new wallpapers to spruce up the Lubuntu desktop.

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS download and install
You can download Lubuntu 14.04 LTS from this page. You can get Lubuntu 14.04 LTS in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. You can check it out as a live distro before actually doing an install. The install itself is quite easy and fast, as is the case with Ubuntu and all of its various spins. You should not have any problems even if you are totally new to Linux.

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS Install

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS Install

Linux software included in Lubuntu 14.04 LTS
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release. As you can tell from the list, Lubuntu 14.04 LTS does not overload you with gobs and gobs of software. You get just what you need for most functions and no more.

Don’t worry though, there are thousands and thousands of applications available in the Lubuntu Software Center. So you can add whatever applications you need with just a couple of clicks. And you can easily remove installed software as well.

Graphics
Document Viewer
mtPaint graphic editor
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox Web Browser
Pidgin IM
Sylpheed
Transmission

Multimedia
Audacious
GNOME MPlayer
guvcview
Xfburn

Office
AbiWord
Document Viewer
Gnumeric

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS Software Center

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS Software Center

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS Installed Software

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS Installed Software

Where to get help for Lubuntu 14.04 LTS
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or post in the Desktop Linux Reviews forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out these Lubuntu 14.04 LTS resources:

Lubuntu Site
Lubuntu Forum
Lubuntu Wiki
Lubuntu Documentation
Contact Lubuntu

Please note that there are some known issues with Lubuntu 14.04 LTS:

Installation
Some keyboard layouts may have problems (such as UK ones). You can workaround the problem by removing all the ibus-* packages (see 1284635))
Graphics and Display

Applications
Network indicator on the panel may not start at login. You can start it manually by launching “nm-applet” in a terminal. Some others autostarted applications may also be affected (such as automatic updates). See 1308348 for the details and the ETA for the fix. To turn on nm-applet in autostart, follow these instructions It may need two reboots to fully work.

PPC
PPC has several issues and workarounds, please refer to the documentation on the wiki.
Slideshow on PPC Desktop ISO was removed because of a bug on webkit (996568)
Installer on Desktop PPC (Ubiquity) is enable to resize and split partitions. you can use Gparted before launching the installation to make the modifications to your partitions (1307994)

More at Lubuntu Release Notes

Final thoughts about Lubuntu 14.04 LTS

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS performed very well for me. It was fast and quite stable while I was using it. I had no problems running any applications and the system as a whole lived up to its reputation as a great choice for Ubuntu minimalists. Overall, I think most current Lubuntu users are going to enjoy this upgrade.

If you haven’t used Lubuntu before but you are curious about it, I recommend downloading it and giving it a try. The LXDE desktop environment is very different than Unity for Ubuntu or GNOME 3 in Ubuntu GNOME. It’s a traditional desktop which means it’s very quick and easy to learn how to use. And if you are someone that doesn’t like Unity or GNOME then LXDE in Lubuntu 14.04 LTS might be just what the doctor ordered. You’ll get all the benefits of Ubuntu, but without the discomfort of the Unity interface.

Lubuntu 14.04 LTS is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Lubuntu 14.04 LTS? Tell me in the comments below.



Lubuntu 13.10

Sometimes less can be much, much more when it comes to Linux distributions. Lubuntu 13.10 offers some of the advantages of Ubuntu but in a much more minimalist package. Lubuntu uses the LXDE desktop environment instead of Unity, and it contains less software than Ubuntu 13.10.

For example, you won’t find LibreOffice bundled into Lubuntu; instead you get Abiword and Gnumeric as your default office applications. Don’t worry though, if you really want LibreOffice then you can easily download it via the Lubuntu Software Center (more on that later).

If you aren’t familiar with LXDE, here’s a brief description from the LXDE site:

The “Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment” is an extremely fast-performing and energy-saving desktop environment. Maintained by an international community of developers, it comes with a beautiful interface, multi-language support, standard keyboard short cuts and additional features like tabbed file browsing. LXDE uses less CPU and less RAM than other environments.

It is especially designed for cloud computers with low hardware specifications, such as netbooks, mobile devices (e.g. MIDs) or older computers. LXDE can be installed on many Linux distributions including Debian, Fedora, OpenSUSE and Ubuntu. It is the standard for Knoppix and lubuntu. LXDE also runs on OpenSolaris and BSD. LXDE provides a fast desktop experience; connecting easily with applications in the cloud. LXDE supports a wealth of programs that can be installed locally with Linux systems.

The source code of LXDE is licensed partly under the terms of the GNU General Public License and partly under the LGPL.

Lubuntu 13.10 Preinstall Boot Menu

Lubuntu 13.10 Preinstall Boot Menu

What’s New in Lubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

New version of pcmanfm / libfm (1.1.0) including a built-in search utility.
Artwork improvements, including new wallpapers, community wallpapers, new icons …
Removing catfish, since pcmanfm has its own search utility
Fix a very old bug causing gnome-mplayer to crash with some CPU (P4)
Several fixes for the image viewer gpicview.

System Requirements for Lubuntu 13.10
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

A Pentium II or Celeron system with 128 MB of RAM is probably a bottom-line configuration that may yield slow yet usable system with a standard lubuntu desktop.

13.04 32 bit ISO require your CPU to have Physical Address Extensions, or PAE. “PAE is provided by Intel Pentium Pro and above CPUs, including all later Pentium-series processors (except most 400 MHz-bus versions of the Pentium M).” – If you have a NON-PAE CPU you can use 12.04 instead.

For PowerPC, it is known to run on a G4 running at 867MHz with 640MB RAM.

For Intel based Macs, lubuntu should run on all models.

Lubuntu 13.10 Download
You can download Lubuntu 13.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 736.1 MB. Lubuntu 13.10 is available in 32-bit or 64-bit for PCs. You can also get a 64-bit version for Intel based Macs.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Lubuntu 13.10 Installation
Lubuntu 13.10 is very easy to install, and the installer is also fast. Since Lubuntu 13.10 is a live distro, you also have the option of trying it without doing an install.

On the preparing to install screen you have the option of installing third party software and downloading updates, I did both for this review. I almost always do this since it saves me the headache of doing it later on after my system has been installed.

You can also watch a brief slideshow while your Lubuntu 13.10 install completes.

Lubuntu 13.10 Prepare to Install

Lubuntu 13.10 Prepare to Install

Lubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Lubuntu 13.10 Install Type

Lubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

Lubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

The Lubuntu 13.10 Desktop
The Lubuntu 13.10 desktop is free of icon clutter. The wallpaper is a bit generic, but it works well.

To access applications, click the button on the far left of the panel. and you’ll see all the usual application categories. You can also access your preferences and system tools, as well as the logout menu.

There are also icons on the panel to access your file manager (PCManFM), Firefox, show the desktop, and each desktop you have active (it defaults to giving you two desktops but you can increase that if you want).

If you hate Unity in Ubuntu 13.10 then you’ll love Lubuntu’s menu system. Since it’s based on LXDE, it’s pretty much old school. Frankly, this is the way a desktop menu system should operate. I find it much faster than navigating Unity in Ubuntu 13.10.

Lubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Lubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Lubuntu 13.10 Menu On Panel

Lubuntu 13.10 Menu On Panel

Linux Software Included in Lubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
Penguin Canfield
Penguin Freecell
Penguin Golf
Penguin Mastermind
Penguin Merlin
Penguin Minesweeper
Penguin Pegged
Penguin Solitaire
Penguin Spider
Penguin Taipei
Penguin Taipei-Editor
Penguin Thornq

Graphics
Document Viewer
mtPaint Graphic Editor
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Sylpheed
Transmission

Multimedia
Audacious
GNOME Mplayer
guvcview
Xfburn

Office
Abiword
Gnumeric

Linux Software Management Tools in Lubuntu 13.10
Lubuntu 13.10 also has its own software center. Like the rest of this distro, it’s much more minimalistic in appearance than the one in Ubuntu 13.10 or even Kubuntu 13.10. The category icons aren’t even in color, but I actually like this. It totally fits in with the overall look and feel of Lubuntu 13.10.

There are three tabs at the top: Get Software (the default view), Installed Software, and Apps Basket.

If you want to add an application, click the Install button and it will be added to the Apps Basket. When you are ready to install all of your new applications, click the Install Packages button on the Apps Basket menu.

If you want to remove an installed application, click it then click the Remove from the System button at the bottom of the menu (you can also check for reviews).

The Lubuntu Software Center is a bit less polished than the Ubuntu Software Center and Linux Mint’s Software Manager. But that’s perfectly fine because this is a minimalist’s distro. If you want glitz and glamour, Lubuntu 13.10 probably isn’t for you anyway.

Note that Synaptic is also available if you prefer it to the Lubuntu Software Center. If you’re new to Linux I recommend sticking with the Software Center as Synaptic can be a bit confusing to newcomers.

Lubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Graphics Category in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Graphics Category in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Installed Software in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Installed Software in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Apps Basket in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Apps Basket in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Blender in Software Center

Lubuntu 13.10 Blender in Software Center

Problems & Headaches Found in Lubuntu 13.10
Lubuntu 13.10 ran very well for me, it was quite speedy and seemed very stable.

However, there are some known issues with it that you should be aware of before doing an install:

Installation
PPC has several issues and workarounds, please refer to the documentation on the wiki.
Guided install has a bug when selecting ‘max’ (1163908).
Upgrade from 12.10 –> 13.04 gives a warning error (966451).
Upgrading slow machines Slow Machines

Graphics and Display
PPC issued are detailed above.

Applications
Blank boxes appear when hardinfo is started, and needed to be closed before accessing to the application (1029212)
Different spacing for the icons on the right corner of lxpanel (1056547)
Software sources takes 30 seconds to load (1073728)
Clicking on Ibus icon start the deamon, but doesn’t display an icon (1041933)
Some actions on the menu may cause an harmless crash of menu-cache (1098732)

Where To Get Help for Lubuntu 13.10
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out the Lubuntu Wiki, discussion forum, documentation or contact page.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Lubuntu 13.10
One of the nice things about Linux is that there’s a distribution for everybody. Lubuntu 13.10 is a great choice for those who like Ubuntu, but who want to skip Unity and use a faster, light-weight and more traditional desktop environment.

It’s also a good choice for those who don’t want to be overloaded with bundled software, and who prefer to keep the number of installed applications on their systems down to a bare minimum. I tend more toward the minimalist side of things so I really liked Lubuntu 13.10.

Lubuntu 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate of advanced Linux  users.

What’s your take on Lubuntu 13.10? Tell me in the comments below.

Lubuntu 11.04

In my last review I considered Kubuntu 11.04 as an alternative to Ubuntu for disgruntled Ubuntu users. But there’s another Ubuntu derivative that should be taken into consideration as well: Lubuntu 11.04.

Lubuntu uses the LXDE desktop environment, a much simpler and faster alternative to Unity, GNOME and KDE. Lubuntu also users PCmanfm as its file manager, and comes with Chromium as its default browser. Openbox is Lubuntu’s window manager.

Until now Lubuntu has been considered an “unofficial” Ubuntu derivative but that’s about to change with the eventual release of Lubuntu 11.10:

According to reports, the Lubuntu Linux distribution will become an official Ubuntu derivative. As a fully supported release, its desktop packages will be made available in the Ubuntu repositories for anyone to install – other official derivatives include Kubuntu and Xubuntu.

In a session at the Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS), which is currently taking place in Budapest, Shuttleworth and Ubuntu Devleoper Colin Watson discussed the details of integrating Lubuntu into the Ubuntu ecosystem with project member Julien Lavergne. Topics ranged from ISO building to Ubuntu One and a global menu.

The news comes just a few weeks after Canonical founder and former CEO Mark Shuttleworth thanked the Lubuntu community for its “great work and progress” building Lubuntu over the last two years. At the time, he also said that, as the project is “now 100% in the archive, and using PPAs and other tools effectively”, it was now possible “to consider recognising Lubuntu as an official part of the (Ubuntu) project”.

This is fantastic news for current Lubuntu users and for anyone considering Lubuntu as their desktop distro. Getting Canonical’s seal of approval gives Lubuntu even more credibility and gives Lubuntu its place in the pantheon of official Ubuntu derivatives. I’m thrilled about it and I hope it positions Lubuntu for significant growth in its user base. If you aren’t familiar with Lubuntu then you’re in for a treat, as you’ll see in this review.

Desktop

Lubuntu 11.04 Desktop

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Based on Ubuntu 11.04
Audacious
replaces Aqualung as music player
File-roller replaces Xarchiver
Guvcview replaces Cheese for webcams
New theme
Lxrandr can save configuration
Desktop icons are movable
Lubuntu defaults to the Ubuntu font
New Lubuntu text plymouth theme
Updated installer
LXDE and pcmanfm updated

Aqualung

Aqualung has been replaced by Audacious in this release.

The replacement of Aqualung makes sense since Audacious is a much better known audio player. I don’t think it will matter too much to users though since most people will simply install whichever application they favor the most. I don’t spend a lot of time listening to music these days so it’s a bit of a wash for me. But I’m sure some people will be happy with the switch.

Given that the last stable release of Xarchiver was back in 2008, it’s not surprising that it has been replaced by File Roller. File Roller supports a wide range of archive types including 7-Zip, Tar, ZIP, Java, ARJ, WinAce and a whole bunch of other ones. For more details on File Roller, see the features page on the File Roller site.

I actually like Cheese so I can’t say I’m real thrilled about it being replaced by guvcview, but it’s sort of six of one or half dozen of the other when it comes to these two programs. I could get by fine with either one though your mileage may vary depending on your needs and preferences.

The rest of the changes aren’t particularly earth shattering, the big selling point here is probably that Lubuntu is based on Ubuntu 11.04.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

The minimum memory requirement for running Lubuntu 11.04 is 128 MB of memory. Note that some of your system’s memory may be unavailable due to being used by the graphics card.

To use the graphical installer from the live-cd, you need at least 256 MB of memory. You need to use the “Install Lubuntu” entry when you boot the Live-CD.

Systems with less memory need to perform a minimal installation (see Minimal Install).

Ubuntu (and so Lubuntu) dropped the support for the following CPU :

* VIA C3
* AMD K6
* National Semiconductor
* AMD Geode

You will not be able to upgrade or to install if you’re using this CPU model. The team are going to support 10.04 as if it were an LTS.

Installation
The install is extremely easy and it lets you install third party applications and updates. The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Install 9

Install 9

Booting & Login

Here’s what the boot menu and login screen look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

The Desktop
The Lubuntu desktop is rather bland looking. You won’t find wallpaper eye-candy or other flashy things. Lubuntu is more of a workhorse distro in that sense rather than a show-horse.

The panel contains the usual stuff: a “start” button on the left, link to important folders, a Chromium icon for web browsing, multiple desktops, volume, networking and time. You can customize the panel by right-clicking it if you want. There are no icons cluttering up the Lubuntu 11.04 desktop.

Desktop

Desktop

As I noted earlier, Lubuntu uses Openbox as its window manager. To configure Openbox, click the Lubuntu button on the panel and choose Openbox Configuration Manager.

Themes
There are about 11 other themes available besides the default Lubuntu theme. The default theme is attractive in a spartan sort of way. I liked the Onyx theme but there are a few others that are also good.

Openbox Configuration

Openbox Configuration

Wallpaper
The default wallpaper is bland but works well with the default theme. There are, unfortunately, no other wallpaper choices that come with Lubuntu. So you are on your own to find something that makes the desktop more attractive.

Wallpaper

Wallpaper

Admin Tools

System Management & Preferences
The System Tools and Preferences menus contain all the usual things you need to configure your system to your liking.

System Settings

Preferences

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release. It’s important to bear in mind that Lubuntu is more of a minimalistic distribution than some others. So you won’t find a giant selection of software, and some things such as LibreOffice are not included by default. No problem though, you can easily download them via Lubuntu’s software management tool Synaptic as you can see below.

Games
Various Penguin Games

Graphics
mtPaint Graphic Editor
Simple Scan

Internet
Chromium
Pidgin IM
Sylpheed
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Audacious
GNOME MPlayer
guvcview
Xfburn

Office
AbiWord
Gnumeric
Osmo

Abiword

Abiword

Software Management
Lubuntu uses Synaptic as its software manager. There’s a ton of software available, plenty for most desktop users. However, Synaptic is…er…not a particularly attractive software management tool. You won’t find the slickness of the Ubuntu Software Center or Linux Mint’s software manager. But it is highly functional and searchable.

Alas, there are no user reviews or ratings of software though. So you are basically flying blind if you aren’t familiar with the quality of a particular application.

Synaptic

Synaptic

LibreOffice Install

LibreOffice Install

Adding & Removing Software
It’s easy to add or remove software in Synaptic. Just find the application you want and click the check box next to its name. then click Mark for Installation. Then click the Apply button.

To remove software, click the check box next to the name of the already installed application then click Mark for Removal then Apply.

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash
Since I didn’t opt to install the third party applications when installing Lubuntu 11.04 (I prefer to see the default software install instead), flash didn’t work in Chromium. This is not a big deal, just be sure you choose to install third party applications & updates when you install Lubuntu on your system.

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
As I noted earlier, Lubuntu comes with a minimalistic amount of software. You aren’t going to find 50 different multimedia applications available by default. However, what’s here works just fine for basic functionality and you can download a bunch of other stuff in Synaptic. Audacious, GNOME MPlayer, guvcview and Xfburn are what you’ll find after you install Lubuntu 11.04

Audacious

Audacious

Xfburn

Xfburn

Problems & Headaches
I’d like to see Lubuntu come bundled with the Ubuntu Software Center. Synaptic is what it is but I suspect that more users would appreciate the Software Center being available by default, with Synaptic still being included for the folks that prefer its interface. Since Lubuntu will soon be an official Ubuntu derivative, I am hoping that the Software Center will make an appearance with Lubuntu 11.10.

The lack of alternative wallpapers is a minor thing but it does stand out a bit. In general Lubuntu doesn’t seem to have the pizzazz that some other distros. It would be nice to have some alternative choices included in a future release. This is a small thing perhaps but noticeable to new users who might want to change the default wallpaper right away.

The omission of LibreOffice is quite noticeable though expected since Lubuntu is a minimalist distro. Still, if it’s possible to fit into the default install (without blowing up the size of Lubuntu too much) I think it would be a good idea. Abiword is a great, little word processor but people have come to expect some sort of office suite to be included with most desktop distros and I don’t think Abiword really cuts it at this point.

Beyond that I don’t have much to complain about. Lubuntu 11.04 was very fast and stable for me. Speed is one of the nice things about Lubuntu; even on a slow or older system it’s usually quite fast. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you cut out the unnecessary eye-candy and bloat.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Lubuntu Wiki for documentation and other help information.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Lubuntu 11.04 is a great alternative to regular Ubuntu for two kinds of users; those on older or slower hardware and those who simply prefer a minimalist desktop. It may also be a good choice for those who are searching for an alternative to Unity but who also want to stay within the Ubuntu family.

As I said earlier, Lubuntu is a workhorse, not a show-horse. It won’t wow you with amazing desktop effects or bloated eye candy, but it will let you use your system in a very practical and effective way.

If you haven’t used Lubuntu before, I highly recommend giving it a download. It might surprise you by seducing you away from Ubuntu or even Kubuntu. Sometimes less really is more and Lubuntu is a fine example of that idea. Lubuntu begs the question though: Do we really need all the bloated desktop features in order to use our Linux systems? Or is it all just extra that results in needless complexity and performance slowdown even on powerful hardware? After using Lubuntu for a while I tend to lean more toward the latter but your mileage may vary.

Lubuntu 11.04 is fine for beginner, intermediate or advanced users. Beginners should familiarize themselves with Synaptic though, especially if they are used to the interface of the Ubuntu Software Center.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Lubuntu 11.04
Web Site: http://lubuntu.net
Price: Free
Pros: Fast, light-weight desktop environment. Great for older or slower computers. Based on Ubuntu 11.04 but doesn’t come with Unity. Chromium is the default browser.
Cons: Uses Synaptic and not the Ubuntu Software Center for software management. Default software installed is very minimal. Doesn’t come with LibreOffice installed.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced users.
Rating: 4/5

 

Lubuntu 10.04

In previous reviews, I looked at the latest versions of Ubuntu and Kubuntu. Now it’s time to look at a lightweight alternative to both of them, Lubuntu. Lubuntu uses the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE) instead of the chunkier GNOME or KDE desktops.

Lubuntu 10.04 is not an official derivative of Ubuntu; it is not supported by Canonical. However, it is serves a very important purpose by providing an Ubuntu distro geared toward older or less powerful computers.

What’s New In This Release
Lubuntu 10.04 is based on Ubuntu 10.04 so it shares some similar new features such as faster boot time, etc. This release also includes a rewrite of PCMan File Manager that brings it to 0.9.5, LXDM, and Chromium as the default browser.

Beyond that, there’s not much more in the way of new features in this release of Lubuntu, according to the release notes. I’d really like to see Lubuntu (and a lot of other distro developers) emulate how Linux Mint presents new features. Linux Mint makes it very easy on reviewers by providing a comprehensive new features page.

So many distros have information scattered all over the place that it ends up being a huge pain in the ass to try to find out all of the significant new features. Make it easy on us guys; feed us the information we need to write a comprehensive review. Don’t make us scour your site looking at this page or that blog entry to try to find out what’s new and why our readers should care.

Thanks.

Chromium is the default browser in Lubuntu 10.04.

Lubuntu’s file manager PCManFM.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run Lubuntu 10.04:

The minimum memory requirement for running lubuntu 10.04 is 128 MB of memory. Note that some of your system’s memory may be unavailable due to being used by the graphics card.

To use the graphical installer from the live-cd, you need at least 160 MB of memory.

There was no information related to a specific processor speed or video card on the release notes page for Lubuntu 10.04.

Installation
The installer doesn’t have a slideshow built into it, so you won’t be entertained while the install happens. But it’s as easy as installing any other Ubuntu derivative.

Booting & Login

Bootsplash
The bootsplash screen has the redesigned Lubuntu logo (similar to Ubuntu 10.04’s in shape and coloring). The pre-install bootsplash screen lets you pick the Live CD option, so you can try Lubuntu without actually having to install it on your system.

Login Screen
The login screen lets you choose your language and desktop options.

The Lubuntu 10/04 pre-install bootsplash screen.

The Lubuntu 10.04 login screen.

The Desktop
Lubuntu’s desktop is completely clean, there are no icons scattered all over the place on it. Nor is it choked with eye candy or other unnecessary debris.

You’ll find the Lubuntu “start” button on the end of the left side of the panel. Next to it are the file manager icon, Chromium browser, and multiple desktops. On the far right are the volume, networking, time/date and session icons.

The application menus are broken down into the usual categories:

Accessories
Graphics
Internet
Office
Other
Sound & Video

One thing you’ll notice about using the Lubuntu desktop is that it’s fast. Very, very fast. Even on an underpowered machine, Lubuntu should perform very well. It’s one of the best things about this distro; it leaves behind the bloated eye candy that can sometimes bog down GNOME and KDE.

Controls
Click the Lubuntu button on the panel and then click Preferences. From there, you can access all of the controls necessary to manage your system. Monitor settings, bluetooth, appearance, keyboard and mouse, etc. It’s all there, along with the Synaptic software manage, user management and other important tools.

Themes
The default Window theme is Clearlooks. But you can also choose Industrial, Redmond, Raleigh, ThinIce, Crux and Mist.

Wallpaper
The Lubuntu wallpaper is attractive and clean. It won’t overwhelm you with glitz. It’s much like this distro, functional and matter of fact.

The Lubuntu 10.04 desktop.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
No Games

Graphics
Simple Scan
mtPaint Graphic Editor

Internet
Chromium
Pidgin IM
Sylpheed
Transmission
XChat IRC
PyNeighborhood

Multimedia
Aqualung
Cheese
GNOME MPlayer
Xfburn

Office
Abiword
Gnumeric

Lubuntu does not come with an overwhelming amount of software bundled into it, but it does cover the basics. If you want more you can find it in Synaptic. I installed OpenOffice.org, GIMP and Shutter via Synaptic. Abiword is a fine word processor but I really prefer having OpenOffice.org available in case I need it. Shutter is a great application to use for screenshots.

If you’re a fan of Firefox, you’ll need to install that yourself. Chromium is the only browser included with Lubuntu. Since I’ve more or less switched from Firefox to Chrome on my other systems, I was very comfortable with Chromium. But I still took a moment to install Firefox. It never hurts to have it available if it’s needed. So far Chromium has proven itself quite well, but I still like having Firefox installed anyway.

Updating Lubuntu is also done through Synaptic. After I booted into my Lubuntu desktop, I immediately opened Synaptic and updated my system.

Software Repositories
If you want to add more repositories, click Settings then Repositories in Synaptic. Given what’s available already, it really isn’t necessary to add more software sources. You should be able to find plenty of software in Synaptic.

Adding & Removing Software
To add software, simply find it in Synaptic and click the check box. Then click Mark for Installation, and then confirm when the menu pops up. Then click the Apply button and your software will be installed.

Manage your software with Synaptic.

 

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & DVDs
You’ll need to install flash to watch YouTube videos in Chromium. I installed it via Synaptic and had no problems running YouTube videos.

If you want to run DVDs, you’ll have to find the appropriate software and install it from another source. It’s not available in Synaptic for legal reasons.

A bunch of hippies at a Zeppelin concert.

Problems & Headaches
I didn’t run into any noticeable problems with Lubuntu. It was very fast and stable, and I didn’t see noticeable bugs or problems.

I hate it when this happens since it’s so much more interesting for my readers when I run into one nasty problem or another. Hopefully the next version of Lubuntu will be chock full of horrendous problems and bugs. Just kidding. If you’ve run Lubuntu and see any nasty headaches, please share them in the comments.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Ubuntu forum (use the Lubuntu prefix when you post), Lubuntu Live Help, and the Lubuntu mailing list.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Lubuntu 10.04 is perfect for those who use older computers or who simply want to use their systems without getting bogged down in KDE, GNOME or Windows bloat. Lubuntu is not particularly elegant but it is very fast and I found it to be quite reliable.

Beginners should have no problem using Lubuntu, and Linux veterans can certainly appreciate what it has to offer too.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Lubuntu 10.04
Web Site: http://lubuntu.net/
Price: Free
Pros: Light-weight desktop is an excellent choice for older or underpowered machines.
Cons: The default software selection is somewhat sparse, so you’ll probably need to hit Synaptic to fill things out until you have all the applications you need.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Summary: Lubuntu 10.04 provides a functional, fast desktop environment. It eschews glitz and eye-candy bloat in favor of speed and low use of system resources.
Rating: 4/5