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.
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
Lxrandr can save configuration
Desktop icons are movable
Lubuntu defaults to the Ubuntu font
New Lubuntu text plymouth theme
LXDE and pcmanfm updated
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
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.
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.
Booting & Login
Here’s what the boot menu and login screen look like:
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.
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.
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.
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.
System Management & Preferences