Xubuntu 14.04 LTS

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS has been released in the wake of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS so it’s time for a full review. Xubuntu 14.04 is a long term support release, so the focus is really on stability and finesse, not on adding tons of new features. Xubuntu uses the Xfce desktop environment instead of Unity, so it works very well as a lightweight alternative to regular Ubuntu. Xubuntu can be particularly useful if you have an older or otherwise underpowered computer.

If you aren’t familiar with Xubuntu, you can read the Xubuntu about page or the Xubuntu strategy document to discover more about it. You can also get a basic overview of what the Xfce desktop environment has to offer on its about page, the Xfce wiki, and you can connect with other Xfcse users in the Xfce forum if you have questions or comments to share.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Desktop

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Desktop

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

Light Locker replaces xscreensaver for screen locking, a setting editing GUI is included
The panel layout is updated, and now uses Whiskermenu as the default menu
Mugshot is included to allow you to easily edit your personal preferences
MenuLibre for menu editing, with full Xfce support, replaces Alacarte
A community wallpapers package, which includes work from the five winners of the wallpaper contest
GTK Theme Config to customize your desktop theme colors
Updated artwork, including various enhancements to themes as well as a new default wallpaper

More at Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Release Notes

Light Locker
Light Locker is a great replacement for xscreensaver, it comes with a GUI menu so you can easily change settings. Just go to Settings then click on Light Locker Settings to make it work the way you prefer. I must admit that I almost never bother to keep screen locking on as I’m lazy and hate typing in passwords over and over again. But your mileage may vary and if you like screen locking then you’ll probably enjoy Light Locker.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Light Locker Settings

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Light Locker Settings

Whiskermenu
Whiskermenu is now the default menu in Xubuntu 14.04 LTS. I’m happy to see Whiskermenu bundled into Xubuntu 14.04 LTS, I really enjoyed using it. You can easily search for applications, or just browse through the categories to find the app you want. You can also quickly access Favorites and Recently Used applications.

One thing I found strange about Whiskermenu is that when you click on System it only shows you Gigolo and Task Manager. To get to Settings you have to click the icon at the bottom of the menu. It seems to me that Settings should really be included in the System menu, otherwise it might confuse newcomers to Xubuntu and Whiskermenu. This is not a huge deal, but I think the developers should consider a change in the next release.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Whisker Menu

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Whisker Menu

Mugshot
Mugshot is also now included in Xubuntu 14.04. With Mugshot you can easily and quickly edit your user configuration details. You can add a photo, put in your name, email address, office phone and your fax number. I think most users will find Mugshot very useful since it allows user configuration information to be changed in a very intuitive and simple menu.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Mugshot

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Mugshot

MenuLibre
MenuLibre replaces Alacarte for menu editing in this release. It’s quite a useful tool and I’m glad to see it in Xubuntu 14.04. Go to Settings and click on Menu Editor to access it. You’ll love it if you’re into customizing your menus though most of the time I don’t generally bother. Still, it’s nice to have such functionality available if you want to use it.

Here’s some information about MenuLibre in case you aren’t familiar with it:

An advanced menu editor that provides modern features in a clean, easy-to-use interface. All without GNOME dependencies, so even lightweight systems can benefit from the sanity that MenuLibre offers. MenuLibre is your one-stop shop for menus in Linux, whether you use Gnome, LXDE, XFCE, or Unity.

Features
A beautiful interface powered by the latest version of GTK+
Create new launchers, or modify existing ones with complete control over common settings and access to advanced settings
Add, remove, and adjust quicklists: powerful shortcuts available to Unity and other desktop environments.
Edit user menus or administer system menus that are accessible to all users

More At Sean Michael Davis

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS MenuLibre

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS MenuLibre

New wallpapers
Xubuntu 14.04 LTS also comes with a selection of community wallpapers. Some of them are quite pretty so do take a moment to check them out. Right-click your desktop and go to Desktop Settings if you want to change your desktop background. I definitely think that the additional wallpapers add a bit of colorful zip to Xubuntu 14.04. The default wallpaper works well, but it’s a bit on the blander side compared to some of the others that Xubuntu has available.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Wallpapers

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Wallpapers

GTK Theme config and updated art work
You can also easily edit your theme configuration in Xubuntu 14.04 LTS, and this release comes with some updated art work that should improve your desktop experience.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Theme Configuration

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Theme Configuration

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Download and Install
You can download Xubuntu 14.04 LTS from this page. You can get Xubuntu 14.04 LTS in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I used the 64-bit version for this review.

Installing Xubuntu 14.04 was quick and easy, as is typical with the Ubuntu spins. It took about fifteen minutes or so, and I had no problems with the install. As always, I recommend that you click the “Download updates while installing” and “Install this third-party software” (if you want it) checkboxes so that it’s all done during the install. This will save you time later on.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Install

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Install

Linux Software Included in Xubuntu 14.04 LTS
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
Document Viewer
GIMP
Ristretto Image Viewer
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
gmusicbrowser
Parole Media Player
PulseAudio Volume Control
Xfburn

Office
Abiword
Dictionary
Document Viewer
Gnumeric
Orage Calendar
Orage Globaltime

Since Xubuntu is a lightweight distribution it does not come with LibreOffice installed. However, you can easily get it from the Software Center if you prefer it to Abiword and Gnumeric. Personally I am very fond of Abiword as I tend to write a lot and it’s a great little word processor. For me LibreOffice tends to be overkill since I don’t use a lot of its features.

The rest of the applications included should meet the needs of most desktop users, but there are thousands and thousands of other applications in the Software Center should you need them. I recommend first trying the ones that come with Xubuntu 14.04 LTS since I like to avoid cluttering up my desktop with too many applications. If you find that they aren’t cutting it then add any others you need from the Software Center.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Software Center

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Software Center

Where To Get Help for Xubuntu 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 Xubuntu 14.04 LTS resources:

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS System Requirements
Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Support
Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Documentation

Please bear in mind the following known issues about Xubuntu 14.04 LTS:

Xfce4 Power Manager does not restore screen power (1259339), see the release notes for details and workarounds

Window manager shortcut keys don’t work after reboot (1292290)

Sorting by date or name not working correctly in Ristretto (1270894)

Due to the switch from xscreensaver to light-locker, some users might have issues with timing of locking; removing xscreensaver from the system should fix these problems

IBus does not support certain keyboard layouts (1284635). Only affects upgrades with certain keyboard layouts. See release notes for a workaround.

More at Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Release Notes

Final Thoughts About Xubuntu 14.04 LTS
I’ve always been a fan of Xubuntu as I tend to go for lightweight desktops versus ones with a lot more glitz and features. So I was quite pleased with Xubuntu 14.04. It’s true that you aren’t going to find tons of earth shattering features in this release, and that’s fine because it’s a long term support release anyway. I never expect new feature overload in LTS releases since the emphasis is on stability and polish.

But Xubuntu 14.04 LTS is a definite improvement from the last version. The overall experience has been polished up significantly, and there are some small but useful features added like Mugshot, Light Locker and MenuLibre, and of course Whiskermenu. I think that most Xubuntu users will be pleased with this version, and upgrading to it from Xubuntu 13.10 is pretty much a no-brainer.

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



Xubuntu 13.10

In my last review I took at Lubuntu 13.10, a light-weight Ubuntu spin. As good as Lubuntu is, it’s not the only minimalistic distro based on Ubuntu. Xubuntu 13.10 has also been updated, and it’s definitely worth considering if you want the advantages of Ubuntu without the desktop bloat.

Xubuntu 13.10 uses the Xfce desktop environment. Here’s a description from the Xfce site in case you aren’t familiar with it:

Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly.

Xfce embodies the traditional UNIX philosophy of modularity and re-usability. It consists of a number of components that provide the full functionality one can expect of a modern desktop environment. They are packaged separately and you can pick among the available packages to create the optimal personal working environment.

Another priority of Xfce is adherence to standards, specifically those defined at freedesktop.org.

Xfce can be installed on several UNIX platforms. It is known to compile on Linux, NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, Cygwin and MacOS X, on x86, PPC, Sparc, Alpha…

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

New version of xfce4-settings (includes a new dialog for display setups)
Theme color tool gtk-theme-config has been added
New wallpaper
New releases of Gtk themes
New release of the LightDM greeter
Updated documentation

Xubuntu 13.10 Settings

Xubuntu 13.10 Settings

Xubuntu 13.10 Theme Color Change Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Theme Color Change Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Display Settings Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Display Settings Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Login Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Login Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Folder Icons

Xubuntu 13.10 Folder Icons

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

To install or try Xubuntu within the Desktop/Live CD, you need 256 MB of memory. Installing with the Alternate CD (for 12.04 only) requires 64 MB. Once installed, it is strongly recommended to have at least 512 MB of memory.

When you install Xubuntu from the Desktop CD, you need 4.4 GB of free space on your hard disk. The Alternate CD (for 12.04 only) requires you to have 2 GB of free space on your hard disk.

Xubuntu 13.10 Download
You can download Xubuntu 13.10 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 882.9 MB. You can get Xubuntu 13.10 in 32-bit or 64-bit. I used the 64-bit version for this review.

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

Xubuntu 13.10 Installation
Xubuntu 13.10 uses the Ubuntu installer, so it’s quite easy and fast to install. No manual disk partitioning is required, and you can download updates and install third party software while your install completes.

Xubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Xubuntu 13.10 Try or Install

Xubuntu 13.10 Prepare Install

Xubuntu 13.10 Prepare Install

Xubuntu 13.10 Insall Type

Xubuntu 13.10 Insall Type

Xubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

Xubuntu 13.10 Install Slideshow

The Xubuntu 13.10 Desktop
Xubuntu 13.10 has a panel at the top and at the bottom of the screen. The top panel contains the application menu, open applications, desktop switcher, networking, date, log out/switch user functionality icons.

The bottom panel reminds me of the Dock in OS X on the Mac. It contains mail and browser applications, settings, software, and search (among other things). The bottom panel can be quite useful as it’s a faster way to get to the things you use most of the time. But it also is set to hide itself by default until your cursor hovers over it (more on that in the problems section).

The Xubuntu 13.10 desktop also displays Home, File System and Trash icons.

Xubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Xubuntu 13.10 Desktop

Xubuntu 13.10 Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Menu

Xubuntu 13.10 Bottom Panel

Xubuntu 13.10 Bottom Panel

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

Games
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb
Ristretto Image Viewer
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
gmusicbrowser
Parole Media Player
PulseAudio Volume Control Center
Xfburn

Office
AbiWord
Dictionary
Document Viewer
Gnumeric
Orage Calendar
Orage Globaltime

Linux Software Management Tools in Xubuntu 13.10
Xubuntu 13.10 makes software management very easy since it uses the Ubuntu Software Center. You can search for applications, browse categories, read user reviews, and see star ratings for applications. You can also see Top Rated and Most Popular applications at the top level and for each category of applications.

To install an application, just find it in the software center and click the Install button. Click Remove to take it off your system if you change your mind later.

Xubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 Top Rated Applications in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 Top Rated Applications in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 FileZilla in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 FileZilla in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 FileZilla User Reviews in Software Center

Xubuntu 13.10 FileZilla User Reviews in Software Center

Problems & Headaches Found in Xubuntu 13.10
One thing I didn’t like about Xubuntu 13.10 was the panel on the bottom of the desktop that was set to “Automatically show and hide the panel” by default. Ugh. To change it you need to right-click on it when it appears, go to Panel then Panel Preferences, and then uncheck that box.

I think having the bottom panel do that is detrimental to new users of Xubuntu, who might not even know it’s there until they happen to move the cursor over it. It should be set to show by default, and the user should have the option of setting it to show and hide if they really want it. I hope this is changed in future releases of Xubuntu.

Beyond the bottom panel, I didn’t see much to complain about with Xubuntu 13.10. It was very fast and stable for me.

Please note that there are some known issues with Xubuntu 13.10 that you should be aware of before doing an install:

indicator-sound no longer functions with xfce4-indicator-plugin (1208204)
Gmusicbrowser’s albuminfo-plugin is deactivated by default and causes the app to hang if enabled (1223808)
Restart button fails to work in Update Manager (1232363)
User Administration – a new User is added correctly, but Administration app crashes on close (1185396)
Lock screen slow to appear on resume from suspend (1229486)

Where To Get Help for Xubuntu 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 Xubuntu Help & Support page. The support page offers mailing lists, documentation, discussion forums, and commercial support.

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 Xubuntu 13.10
Xubuntu 13.10, like it’s cousin Lubuntu 13.10, is a great choice if you’re a minimalist. It’s fast, stable and offers many of the advantages of Ubuntu 13.10 without the Unity experience (or torture, depending on your perspective).

I really enjoyed using Xubuntu 13.10 and I definitely think it’s worth a download. At the very least run it as a live distro in a virtual machine to get a taste of what it has to offer. I liked it just a tad bit more than Lubuntu.

Speaking of Lubuntu, should you pick Xubuntu 13.10 or Lubuntu 13.10? Well, setting aside the LXDE versus Xfce angle (if you prefer one over the other by a lot then it’s an easy choice), I think it’s really a question of beauty being in the eye of the beholder.

I found both distros to be fast and stable. Xubuntu 13.10 does offer the full Ubuntu Software Center experience, so if that is important to you then Xubuntu is probably your best bet. If not then I’d say give both of them a shot and see which one tickles your fancy more.

Or, like any good distrohopper, you could simply run both distros and switch between them according to your mood. Either way, you really can’t go wrong.

Xubuntu 13.10 is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

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

Xubuntu 11.04

In one of my last reviews I covered Linux Mint 201104 Xfce, a distribution featuring the Xfce desktop environment that is based on Debian Testing. Linux Mint 201104 is a rolling release distro. Rolling release distros are great for some folks but not so great for others. In this review I cover Xubuntu 11.04, an Ubuntu derivative that also features the Xfce environment. Xubuntu 11.04 is not a rolling release distro though; it follows the same release pattern as Ubuntu and the rest of its official derivatives.

Xubuntu is not as popular as its big brother, Ubuntu, but it has its own charms. It’s ideally suited for those who are looking for a slimmer alternative to Ubuntu itself but who also want to stay within the Ubuntu family of distros. Xubuntu and Lubuntu 11.04 are both similar in that respect. Xubuntu also has the virtue of not using Unity, the new Ubuntu interface that I talked about in an EOL column a while back called “Unity: Ubuntu’s Descent Into Madness!”

In case you aren’t familiar with the Xfce desktop environment, here’s a brief bit of background:

Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly.

Xfce embodies the traditional UNIX philosophy of modularity and re-usability. It consists of a number of components that provide the full functionality one can expect of a modern desktop environment. They are packaged separately and you can pick among the available packages to create the optimal personal working environment.

PreInstall Boot Menu

Preinstall Boot Menu

Live Desktop

Live Desktop

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

Updated Xubuntu wallpaper for integration with graybird theme
Install slide show updated
Elementary icon theme updated
Xubuntu uses Droid font by default
Xfce updated to 4.8

This release isn’t exactly chock full of cool, interesting features so it probably won’t rock your world in that sense. But it’s a solid upgrade, following in the footsteps of Ubuntu 11.04 itself.

I’m always up for some interesting wallpaper and it never hurts to update the slide show to keep people entertained during the install. The icon theme update and Droid font will certainly be appreciated by some Xubuntu users.

Xfce junkies will also appreciate that this release includes Xfce 4.8. If you aren’t familiar with changes in Xfce 4.8, here’s some of what you’ll find:

Xfce 4.8 is our attempt to update the Xfce code base to all the new desktop frameworks that were introduced in the past few years. We hope that our efforts to drop pieces like ThunarVFS and HAL with GIO, udev, ConsoleKit and PolicyKit will help bringing the Xfce desktop to modern distributions.

With Xfce 4.8 our users will be able to browse remote shares using a variety of protocols (SFTP, SMB, FTP and many more). The window clutter has been reduced by merging all file progress dialogs into a single one.

Our panel application has been rewritten, thereby improving positioning, transparency, item and launcher management. It also introduces a new menu plugin to view directories. Its plugin framework remains compatible with 4.6 plugins.

We also improved our settings dialogs. The display configuration dialog now supports RandR 1.2, detects screens automatically and allows our users to pick their favorite resolution, refresh rate, rotation. Screens can be configured to either work in clone mode or be placed next to each other. Keyboard selection has become easier and more user-friendly. Also, the manual settings editor has been updated to be more functional.

Aside from the features implemented in Xfce, the 4.8 development cycle brought us a bunch of other goodies. For the first time we had a serious release strategy formed after the “Xfce Release and Development Model” developed at the Ubuntu Desktop Summit in May 2009. A new web application made release management a lot easier. We worked hard on improving the situation of Xfce translators which led us to setting up our own Transifex server. Something else you will hopefully notice is that our server and mirroring infrastructure has been improved so that our servers hopefully will not suddenly surrender shortly after this release announcement.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

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

You need 256 MB RAM to run the Live CD or 256 MB RAM to install. The Alternate Install CD only requires you to have 64 MB RAM at install time.

To install Xubuntu with the standard installer (Ubiquity), you need 4.4 GB of free space on your hard disk. The Alternate Install CD only requires you to have 2 GB of free space on your hard disk.

Once installed, Xubuntu can run with starting from 256 (or even just 192) MB RAM, but it is strongly recommended to have at least 512 MB RAM.

Installation
Xubuntu uses the same installer as Ubuntu, so it’s quite easy and fast. Take note of the option to download updates while installing and add third party software. I highly recommend doing both as it will save you time later on. Note that Xubuntu 11.04 is a Live CD distro, so you can boot off the CD and run it without actually installing it. It’s a great way to get a taste of Xubuntu without going through the actual install routine.

If you aren’t doing an install and instead just want to update from Xubuntu 10.10 to 11.04, please see these instructions.

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end. You can watch a slideshow during the install that will give you an idea of what to expect from Xubuntu.

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

Booting & Login
Here’s what the login screen looks like:

Login

Login

The Desktop
As you might expect, Xubuntu 11.04’s desktop is a no-frills affair. The only icons you see are Home, File System and the Trash. The panel is also simple and the colors are understated, bordering on bland.

Click the Applications Menu button on the left side of the panel to access application category menus, system tools, etc. Even if you’ve never used Xubuntu before, it should take you all of about 5 minutes or less to find what you want in the menus.

Xubuntu 11.04’s desktop is geared toward simplicity. You will not find blobs of useless and bloated eye-candy here, but you will find a usable desktop environment that will let you work without getting in your way.

Desktop

Desktop

There’s also a second panel at the bottom of the screen that contains additional icons. However, this panel is set to automatically hide itself so you’ll need to move your cursor over it. I’ll have more to say about that in the problems section. The bottom panel contains icons for web browsing, showing the desktop, GIMP, the trash, etc.

Bottom Panel

Bottom Panel

Themes
If you dislike the default theme graybird, you can change it by going into the Settings Manager. There are a lot of different styles available, so you should find something that floats your boat easily enough.

Theme

Theme

Wallpaper
The default wallpaper is rather bland, I’m sorry to say. It has no personality and I rather dislike it. It’s easy to change it, however. Just right click your desktop and choose Desktop Settings. There are some other Xubuntu wallpapers there that I think are a bit more cheery and nice to look at. Or you can also add your own to personalize it more.

Desktop Settings

Desktop Settings

Xfce Settings

Xfce Settings

The Xfce Settings Manager also contains all the usual stuff you need to customize and manage your system. Take a moment to browse through it if you’re new to Xubuntu or the Xfce desktop environment. You’ll be glad you did later on when you want to change something.

Bundled Software

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

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg
Mines
Quadrapassel
Sudoku

Graphics
GIMP
Ristretto Photo Viewer
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Remote Desktop Viewer
Thunderbird Mail/News
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
gmusicbrowser
Mixer
Parole Media Player
Xfburn

Office
Abiword
Dictionary
Gnumeric
Orage Calendar
Orage Glabaltime

Software Management
Xubuntu includes the Ubuntu Software Center. Synaptic is also included if you prefer to use that instead of the Software Center.

Software Center

Software Center

Internet Category

Internet Category

Chromium Install

Chromium Install

Newcomers should start with the Ubuntu Software Center and then experiment with Synaptic later on once they’ve had time to learn more about it. The Software Center has lots of applications, broken down into the usual categories. You can also search for applications or check out the featured applications.

Synaptic

Synaptic

I recommend downloading LibreOffice since it’s not included in the default software install in Xubuntu. Abiword is great, but you might find LibreOffice to be a bit more useful.

LibreOffice

LibreOffice

Take note also of the Update Manager when you first start up your system (assuming you didn’t download updates while doing the install). Click the updates exclamation point in the panel at the top of the screen to pull up Update Manager. I recommend updating your system as soon as you boot into it. It’s a good idea to stay current if you can.

Update Manager

Update Manager

Adding & Removing Software
Adding and removing software in the Software Center is quite easy. Just find the application and click the Install or Remove button. In Synaptic just click the checkbox next to the application’s name then choose Mark for Installation and then click the Apply button. Managing software in Xubuntu should not be a problem even if you are new to the distro.

 

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
You need to make sure that you choose the third party applications options when you do your install to make sure that flash is installed. I generally don’t do this, as I like to see what the default software selection is when doing a review. Anyway, it’s not a big deal at all as most people would smartly opt to install everything during the install.

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
Xubuntu 11.04 comes with a very basic selection of multimedia applications: gmusicbrowser, Mixer, Parole Media Player and Xfburn. If you want more you’ll need to hit the Software Center to add to what’s installed by default. There are 315 multimedia applications in the Software Center so you shouldn’t have a problem finding what you need.

Parole

Parole

Multimedia Category

Multimedia Category

Problems & Headaches
My experience with Xubuntu 11.04 was very good. As I expected, I did not encounter any noticeable problems or issues. It was fast and reliable during my use.

One thing that I would have liked to see is LibreOffice bundled with Xubuntu. Yes, I know that Xubuntu appeals to minimalists but I worry sometimes that newcomers to Linux might be disappointed to find just Abiword and Gnumeric as the main office applications. Experienced users know they can easily get LibreOffice in the Software Center, but newbies might not. Anyway, this is a minor nitpick on my part but I wanted to note it here.

The new wallpaper is…well…underwhelming. Your mileage may vary, however, and it’s quite easy to change it. So no big deal. It would be nice in future releases to see something with a bit more pizzazz, along the lines of Linux Mint’s default wallpaper.

Another thing I didn’t care for is that the bottom panel is set to automatically hide and show. I found this irritating and unnecessary. I’m not sure why the default settings are that way but you can easily change it if you want by right clicking the panel and unclicking the checkbox in panel settings.

Panel

Panel

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 Xubuntu help & support page for documentation and community support (including forums, mailing lists, IRC, etc.).

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Xubuntu 11.04 is a good choice for minimalists who prefer a desktop environment not bogged down with pointless eye-candy. It should work well on older or slower hardware.

It’s also a good option for those who dislike Unity and want a different desktop environment. Xfce is simple, fast and doesn’t get in your way when you are trying to quickly launch an application or otherwise find something. And those who decide to use Xubuntu still remain in the Ubuntu family without the headache of dealing with Unity. So if you’re a Unity resister, you should definitely check out Xubuntu 11.04.

This distro is fine for beginner, intermediate and advanced users.

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: Xubuntu 11.04
Web Site: http://www.xubuntu.org/
Price: Free
Pros: Updated wallpaper & install slideshow. Comes with Xfce 4.8. Droid font is used by default. Elementary icon theme updated in this release.
Cons: LibreOffice not included in default software install.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4/5

 

Xubuntu Linux 10.04

Last week I did a review of Kubuntu 10.04, one of Canonical’s officially supported Ubuntu derivatives. Today’s review is about Xubuntu 10.04, an officially recognized but not supported Ubuntu derivative. According to the Xubuntu downloads page, it is based on the “feature-rich core of Ubuntu” Linux.

Unlike Ubuntu (which uses GNOME), Xubuntu uses the Xfce desktop environment. Xfce is a lightweight environment that, according to its creator Olivier Fourdan, “…loads and executes applications fast, while conserving system resources.” Xubuntu is really geared toward those using older hardware or who simply prefer a no-frills desktop without the gobs of eye-candy found in GNOME or KDE.

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

Albatross theme updated to the latest version
Xubuntu now uses PulseAudio
You can choose an Xubuntu or classic Xfce session when you login
Xubuntu now includes the Ubuntu Software Center
SimpleScan replaces Xsane for scanners
Gnumeric updated to 1.10.1
Revamped selection of bundled games
Xscreensaver is now the default screensaver

If you aren’t familiar with PulseAudio, see the Wikipedia background article about it and see also this article on Linux.com for why PulseAudio matters to Xubuntu users. The article is a bit dated but explains some of the advantages to using PulseAudio in Linux distributions.

Being able to choose between Xubuntu and classic Xfce is a nice touch on the login screen. I doubt, however, that many users will opt for generic Xfce over Xubuntu. But it’s there if you want to do it.

One of the things I disliked most about Kubuntu was that it lacked the Ubuntu Software Center. That isn’t the case with Xubuntu and I’m very glad to see it. Please note that you can still access the Ubuntu Software Center in a classic Xfce session, as well as via the default Xubuntu session.

Although I don’t spend too much time gaming these days, it’s nice to see a revised selection of games. See the software section for a list of what’s available in this release.

One thing I couldn’t help but notice is how fast…REALLY FAST…Xubuntu is when you boot into it, reboot, or login/logout. Ubuntu 10.04 itself is fast but Xubuntu 10.04 is even faster. It takes just a couple of seconds and you’ll be staring at your desktop or you’ll have logged out, etc. Zippy is definitely an appropriate word to describe Xubuntu.

The classic Xfce desktop.

Hardware Requirements & Installation
Hardware Requirements
Here is the official list of system requirements for Ubuntu 10.04, from the Ubuntu Manual:

700 MHz x86 processor
256 MB RAM
3 GB disk space
Graphics card capable of 1024 x 768 resolution
Sound card
Network or Internet connection

Installation
The install is the same as installing Ubuntu. It’s easy and it’s fast.

As with Ubuntu, you’ll see a helpful and interesting slideshow while the install completes. I particularly liked the slide that touted the virtues of Abiword and Gnumeric in comparison to OpenOffice.org. If you are new to Xubuntu, it’s worth it to watch the slideshow since it definitely contains some useful tidbits of information.

Booting & Login

Bootsplash
The pre-install bootsplash screen lets you opt to use a Live CD version of Xubuntu. You can try it out without having to install it and you can do the install right from the Xubuntu desktop. You can also pick your language and change other options from the bootsplash screen.

You can opt to try Xubuntu before actually installing it to your system.

Login Screen
As I noted earlier, you can choose an Xfce session or a Xubuntu session on the login screen. Note the default desktop wallpaper in the background of the login screen.

You can choose between an Xubuntu session and a classic Xfce session.

The Desktop
Since Xubuntu uses the Xfce desktop environment; you won’t find the same kind of eye-candy that you can get in GNOME or KDE. And thank goodness for that! Who really needs it anyway? Xubuntu, as I noted earlier, is very fast and provides a minimalistic but extremely functional desktop environment. It’s perfect for older hardware especially.

When you first boot into the desktop, there are only three icons available: home, file system and trash. The panel color looks like Ubuntu’s, a quiet black that lets you access menus and icons without standing out too much or otherwise distracting you.

Controls
If you want to change your system settings, go to Applications then Settings then Xfce 4 Settings Manager. Here’s a sample of the system settings categories available via the settings manager:

Accessibility
Display
Panel
Sesssion and Startup
Appearance
File Manager
Desktop
Workspaces
Mouse

Desktop Settings
Right-click your desktop to change your wallpaper, menus and icons. The default wallpaper is a bit too dark for my tastes, but it’s easy to change it to whatever you want or you can pick from earlier wallpapers included in previous versions of Xubuntu.

You can also adjust the brightness and saturation, or you can simply opt to dump the image and go with a colored background instead. The desktop settings controls are easy and intuitive, even if you haven’t used Xubuntu before and aren’t sure how you want your desktop to look.

The default Xubuntu desktop.

Bundled Software

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

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg
Mines
Quadrapassel
Sudoku

Graphics
GIMP
Image Editor
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Mozilla Thunderbird Mail/News
Pidgin Internet Messenger
Remote Desktop Viewer
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
aumix
Brasero
Exaile
Mixer
Movie Player

Office
AbiWord
Dictionary
Gnumeric
Orage

It’s interesting to note that GIMP is bundled into Xubuntu and F-Spot isn’t, unlike Ubuntu. The PiTiVi video editor also isn’t included in Xubuntu. Both are available in the Ubuntu Software Center, however.

And don’t forget that the Software Center also has a large selection of games if the revised list of included games seems underwhelming to you.

Software Management
As I noted earlier, I’m very happy to see the Ubuntu Software Center in this release of Xubuntu. It’s an incredibly easy way to manage your software and it’s something I’d like to see available in every Ubuntu derivative, as soon as possible.

Software Repositories
Xubuntu defaults to Canonical’s software repositories but you can easily add your own if you want. Just click Edit in the Software Center’s menu and then choose Software Sources. For most users it probably makes sense to simply use default sources. There’s an enormous amount of software available so why bother messing with other sources?

Adding & Removing Software
If you want to remove an application, just find it in the Software Center under Installed Software and click the Remove button. You’ll need to type in your password and then the software will be removed. Adding software is just as easy, and you can search the Software Center for any application you want to add to your system.

The Ubuntu Software Center is available in Xubuntu.

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash
You’ll need to grab the flash plugin from the Ubuntu Software Center to view Youtube Videos. After I installed it, I had no problem with sound or video in YouTube.

DVDs
My test DVD “Enter the Dragon” didn’t play. Not really a surprise since Xubuntu makes no claim to have included the codec necessary for DVDs to play in Linux.

Problems & Headaches
One very minor problem I noticed was that the desktop wallpaper did not revert to the default xubuntu-karmic.png file when I switched my session back from Xfce to Xubuntu. Not a big deal at all, I just right clicked and pulled up the correct wallpaper.

Another problem that’s a big more significant with Xubuntu is the lack of Ubuntu One. For some strange reason, it is not included the way it is with Ubuntu Linux. Given that the Ubuntu Software Center is part of Xubuntu, it would make sense for Ubuntu One (the online service and the music store) to be incorporated into Xubuntu at some point.

Another perplexing omission from Xubuntu is the social media client, Gwibber. It was in Ubuntu but it’s not present in Xubuntu. You can install it via the Software Center though. But I’d like to see it added to the Networking application menu. It makes perfect sense to have it available immediately after installing Xubuntu.

You’ll need to install flash via the Ubuntu Software Center before playing YouTube videos.

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 Xubuntu Linux support page. There are links there to numerous sources of documentation and support, including the Ubuntu forum.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
I’m very pleased with Xubuntu. The inclusion of the Ubuntu Software Center really makes a positive impact on the overall experience of using Xubuntu. A big thumbs up to whoever was responsible for making the decision to include the Ubuntu Software Center in this release.

Beginners, intermediate or advanced users can all use Xubuntu. It’s a particularly great option for those who want or need a desktop environment that is fast and functional, without the eye-candy of GNOME or KDE. If you’re in that category, give Xubuntu 10.04 a download. You won’t regret it.

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: Xubuntu Linux 10.04
Web Site: http://www.xubuntu.org/
Price: Free
Pros: Ubuntu Software Center included in this release. Xubuntu now uses PulseAudio for an improved audio experience. Users have the option of logging into a classic Xfce session or a Xubuntu session. Also includes an updated theme and a revamped selection of games.
Cons: The Ubuntu One service and music store are not present in Xubuntu. PiTiVi (video editor) and Gwibber (social media client) are not installed by default but are available in the Software Center.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced users.
Summary: Xubuntu is an excellent option for Ubuntu users who prefer a light-weight desktop environment. Xubuntu is particularly well suited for older hardware with less RAM and CPU power.
Rating: 4/5