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.


Ristretto Image Viewer
Simple Scan

Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail

Parole Media Player
PulseAudio Volume Control Center

Document Viewer
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.

15 thoughts on “Xubuntu 13.10

  1. Nice review!

    I will build a Xubuntu machine to be a file server – home office – to have a safe place to save terabytes of video and also enterteinment server. I didnt decide yet what kind of raid to use – 10 or Zraid.

    I have two main questions.

    – Better to install Ubuntu Server and them Xubuntu over it, or install directly Xubuntu and them install server tools?

    – Better to put more money on it (i5 and more ram) or i3 and 4gb is fine?

    Thanks !!

  2. I have installed ubuntu on my weak asus eeepc which unable to run win 7 starrter properly.
    The result is amazing! It’s working like a charm, fast and usable.
    For old and weak pc’s xubuntu is my definitive choice.

  3. I am having trouble troubleshooting my laptop. I thought the issues which popped up might be related to the 12.04 Pangolin Xubuntu, so I’ve upgraded through each distro through 13.10.

    Now, the screen resolution won’t set as large (as detailed) as I need it to be to use most software, I cant right-click anything whatsoever, and the top file menus are either missing entirely or unresponsive in every web browser from Firefox to Chromium. I’ve tried reinstalling proprietary nvidia drivers and following common-fix lists, but can’t find the usual forum supports I’ve depended on in the past to help with issues like this. Halp?

    1. Have you tried backing your data up and re-installing Xubuntu 13.10? Though Xubuntu is very stable across releases, it is recommended to re-install especially if you’re having config issues like it seems in this case.

  4. I have loaded Xubuntu to an old laptop that was running XP and I am delighted with the results. This is my first Linux experience and I expected there to be a steep learning curve, but I actually find it far easier than Windows 8. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who is looking to replace XP now that product is not being supported. You may find yourself wondering why you have been using Microsoft up to now!

  5. Seriously, warts-n-all or should that be “best of all”… this version is really, really nice! I traditionaly run Unity on my laptop and on my wife’s laptop, this XFCE version. With this release, I had the occasion to upgrade hers first and… well, the rest is history!

  6. Well I don’t have much experience with changing all the bells and whistles in Xubuntu regarding desktop and the other various settings, but I will say…..for an operating system that is low on resource usage, and high on features it wins hands-down. I have installed it for three other people who had been fed up with their Windows machines, and they all have nothing but rave reviews on it’s speed, value in applications and customization abilities. Here’s to hoping they continue to make a great product that rivals other products!

  7. No VSync = Horrible screen tearing on my machine. Hopefully Wayland will solve issues like that, and hopefully Xfce will support Wayland. It’s the only reason I’m not using an Xfce distro, because otherwise it’s just a great DE, and Xubuntu a well-put-together OS.

  8. The best thing about XFCE is the ability to customise it. It is far better than other desktop environments in this regard.

    Xubuntu is my favourite distro using the XFCE desktop because it does incorporate a top and bottom panel. Mint XFCE uses just a bottom panel which makes navigation a bit more cumbersome and so I would end up adding a second panel anyway.

  9. The Xfce desktop environment happens to be my preferred desktop environment, and it is what I use most often when I choose to have a desktop environment. It’s what I use most with Debian Sid, my every day desktop, it’s what I use when I set up my own environments with antiX Base and antiX Core, and it’s what I use, of course, with Xubuntu, the Ubuntu-based distribution I tend to use most often.

    The removable desktop bar is a relatively new feature, one that is not necessarily an integral part of Xfce or Xubuntu. I believe that it is implemented with wbar rather than with an Xfce panel. For me, I tend to customize my own Xfce panel, so I’ve not missed the functionality, but I agree with the idea to include this functionality in Xubuntu by default, along with a note explaining how to enable or disable it. Some people may prefer more screen real estate, so I can understand wanting to disable it, but it may be easy to miss entirely on a fresh installation when it is set to be hidden except when the mouse pointer is rolled over the hidden location.

    That is a small point, but potentially an important point for someone not familiar with the presence of this feature, so I agree with Jim: make it visible by default, and document how to enable it, disable it, or even remove it. For those who have used Xfce panels as well as the menu bar, explain the difference between these features and how to take full advantage of the one that works best for your style and usage habits. These are ways to improve both functionality and documentation.

    Overall, I find Xubuntu to be a very usable desktop system. As implemented in the 13.10 release, the Lubuntu desktop is somewhat lighter by default than Xubuntu; both of them are considerably lighter than either of the full function desktops, Kubuntu or Ubuntu.

    1. I usually remove the application menu in Xfce because menus usually get populated with a load of options I do not use. Since I launch the most used apps with keyboard shortcuts or with a runbox, I have no use for it, so rather than manually setting these to not appear, I prefer to not look at the menu at all.
      This is my usual Slackware+Xfce desktop: http://syntaktisk.dk/grphcs/desktop041013.png
      But when I do want to have something available, I create a short panel and place it at the top just right of the centre going right – and make it auto-hide. I use this position because it has no other controls or tabs, usually. So when I put the pointer up there, something like this drops down: http://syntaktisk.dk/grphcs/xfce_panel.png
      – which can also be made transparent, of course.
      I find that Xfce has pretty much everything in a package, and since themeing is centrally managed, there is less work there than with Openbox, my other favorite.

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