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 releases of Gtk themes
New release of the LightDM greeter
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.
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.
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.
Linux Software Included in Xubuntu 13.10
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.
Ristretto Image Viewer
Parole Media Player
PulseAudio Volume Control Center
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.
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.