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.
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.
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.
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.
Linux Software Included in Lubuntu 13.10