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
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.
mtPaint Graphic Editor
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.
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:
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.
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.