Linux Mint 13 MATE
Linux

Linux Mint 13 MATE

I’ve done a separate review of Cinnamon, for those who prefer that desktop.

Woohoo! It’s Linux Mint time again! Linux Mint 13 (wow, not exactly a lucky number!) has just been released, so I hopped right on it. Linux Mint has long been one of my favorite distros. We’ll find out in this review if the latest version measures up to its previous incarnations.

Linux Mint 13 comes with two different desktop options: MATE or Cinnamon. For this review, I picked the MATE version. You can download either of them. See the install section of the review for download details.
The Linux Mint 13 Welcome Menu

The welcome menu contains link to useful information and help for Linux Mint 13.

Which one should you pick? Well, the Linux Mint developers have come up with a helpful list of the pros and cons of each. If you still aren’t sure after reading them, try running them as Live DVDs to get a taste of each. Just burn each to its own DVD, then boot into that DVD to run Linux Mint without doing an install.

MATE:

Pros:

  • MATE is stable and it works on all computers
  • MATE is among the most productive and easy to use desktops available.
  • MATE continues where Gnome 2 left off and introduces its own incremental improvements.
  • MATE comes with support for mintMenu, mintDesktop, Compiz and everything that made Gnome 2 the most popular Linux desktop.
  • MATE is built with GTK2, it features more themes and integrates with more applications than any other desktop.

Cons:

  • Some parts of Gnome 2 were not migrated to MATE yet and a few aspects such as Bluetooth support might not work as well as they did with Gnome 2.

Cinnamon:

Pros:

  • Cinnamon is among the sleekest and most modern looking environments
  • Cinnamon features innovative features and emphasis on productivity with traditional desktop metaphors
  • Cinnamon is built on rapid technologies and its development pace is really fast
  • The Cinnamon community is very active, and produces a lot of new themes and applets

Cons:

  • Cinnamon requires 3D acceleration and might not work well for you, depending on your graphics card and/or drivers.
  • Cinnamon is brand new and unfortunately not yet as stable as more mature and established desktops such as MATE, KDE or Xfce.
  • Cinnamon relies on Gnome 3 and Clutter, which are also both brand new and going through rapid transformations.

The Home Folder in Linux Mint 13

The home folder in Linux Mint 13.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Ubuntu 12.04
Linux 3.2
MATE 1.2
Cinnamon 1.4
Yahoo as the default search engine
Latest Mint-X and Mint-Z themes
Additional art work for backgrounds from artist masterbutler
MDM Display Manager

Linux Mint 13 is based on Ubuntu 12.04. If you aren’t familiar with it, please see my earlier review here on DLR.

You can check out a list of Linux 3.2 changes over on Kernel Newbies.

Yahoo is now the default search engine in Linux Mint. There is apparently a revenue sharing arrangement between Yahoo and the Linux Mint developers. Here’s some info about that from the Linux Mint site:

Linux Mint switches to Yahoo as the default search engine for the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Yahoo is the 2nd biggest search engine in the World, and the first major search engine to share revenue with Linux Mint. The results page is full of features, it comes with a nice layout, images, videos and blogs search, points of interest, time filters and cached results. Underneath the interface, Yahoo comes with a strong network of advertisers and its addition represents a huge opportunity and an additional source of income for Linux Mint.

Yahoo in Linux Mint 13

Yahoo is now the default search engine in Linux Mint 13.

The MDM display manager is based on GDM 2.0. It offers quite a bit including event scripting, language selection, graphical config tools, themeability, and language selection.

You can choose some gorgeous backgrounds, if the default Linux Mint wallpaper starts to bore you after a while. They were done by an artist named masterbutler. Just right-click your desktop and choose Change Desktop Background to see them. Click the one you want and your background will change to the new wallpaper.

Linux Mint 13 Backgrounds

Check out the gorgeous wallpaper in Linux Mint 13.

The latest Mint-Z and Mint-X themes are included in this release, along with superior support for GTK3.

Mint-X is the default theme, but you can easily switch to Mint-Z in the Appearance Preferences menu. Just click on the Appearance icon in Control Center to make start making the change. Either theme is attractive. You can also click the Customize button to change any theme to your liking.

Linux Mint 13 Themes

The latest Mint-Z and Mint-X themes are included in Linux Mint 13.

Customize Themes in Linux Mint 13

You can easily customize any theme in Linux Mint 13.

System Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
  • 5 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port

Linux Mint 13 Download
You can download Linux Mint 13 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 941.6 MB. You can also buy Linux Mint on disc from Amazon.com. There are also helpful books about Linux Mint available from Amazon (the discs and books are listed on that link).

As I noted earlier, you can download a MATE version or a Cinnamon version. Both desktops come in 32 or 64 bit. You also have the option of downloading Linux Mint 13 with or without codecs installed.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in VirtualBox before running it on real hardware. VirtualBox is free and open source software that will let you run distros on your Linux, OS X or Windows desktop.

Installation
The Linux Mint 13 install is about as easy as it gets. The install took about 15 minutes, and I didn’t run into any problems.

Prepare for Linux Mint 13 Install

Linux Mint 13 requires at least a 5.7GB hard disk.

Erase Disk for Insall

Getting ready to install Linux Mint.

Slide Show During Linux Mint 13 Install

Watch a slide show while Linux Mint 13 finishes installing on your system.

The Linux Mint 13 Login

The Linux Mint 13 login menu.

The Desktop

The MATE desktop is almost totally uncluttered with icons. The only icons you’ll find are one for Computer, and one for the Home folder.

When your desktop first loads, you’ll see the Linux Mint Welcome Screen (there’s a screenshot of it on the first page of this review). If you’re new to Linux Mint then I highly recommend taking a careful peek at it. The Welcome Menu contains links to documentation, support, community resources and project information. If you closed the Welcome Menu too soon and want to see it again, just open the Control Center and click on the Welcome Screen icon listed under Personal.

If you click the Menu button, you’ll find the Mint Menu is there in all its glory. You can easily access important places, system functionality, favorite applications, or all applications if you prefer. Once you switch the view to All Applications, you’ll see the usual breakdown of app categories. It’s very easy to find your way around, even if you’re totally new to Linux Mint and the MATE desktop.

If you want to tweak your system, click the Control Center option that’s listed under System on the Mint Menu. From there, you can change tons of things in your Linux Mint computer. It’s all broken down for you into the following categories:

Personal
Internet and Network
Hardware
System
Other

It’s very easy to find the tool you need to adjust your system to your liking.

I really like the MATE desktop. I find it extremely comfortable to use, and it behaves just the way I want it to when I use it. The screenshots below will give you a taste of what it’s like to use MATE.

The Linux Mint 13 MATE Desktop

The Linux Mint 13 MATE desktop.

The Linux Mint 13 MATE Menu

The Linux Mint menu on the MATE desktop.

The Linux Mint 13 Control Center

The Linux Mint 13 control center.

The Linux Mint 13 Computer Folder

The Linux Mint 13 computer folder.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
Available in the Software Manager

Graphics
Document Viewer
GIMP
gThumb
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
Sound Recorder
VLC Media Player

Office
LibreOffice

Software Management
The Linux Mint Software Manager has more than 38,000 packages available for download. Applications are broken down into the usual categories, and you can search for them if you prefer that instead of browsing.

Each application contains user reviews, an overall score, a screenshot, and details such as the version and size. You can also see what installing it or removing it will do in terms of packages. You can also rate applications, and submit your own user reviews.

The Linux Mint 13 Software Manager

Applications are broken down into categories in the Software Manager.

Featured Applications in the Linux Mint 13 Software Manager

The featured applications category in the Software Manager.

VLC in the Linux Mint 13 Software Manager

VLC comes preinstalled in Linux Mint 13.

Adding & Removing Software
To add an application, just find it in the Software Manager and click the Install button. Then type in your password, and the install will begin. To remove an application, click the Remove button.

Next, I’ll share some of the problems I encountered, show you where to get help, and I’ll share my final thoughts.

Problems & Headaches
I didn’t notice any overt issues with Linux Mint 13. It ran very well for me. One thing I do recommend doing though is to run update manager right after you boot into your MATE desktop. It’s always a good idea to make sure your system software is up to date before you start using a new version of a distro.

Linux Mint 13 Update Manager

Run the Update Manager to update Linux Mint 13.

One thing that some would consider a problem is how both desktops, MATE and Cinnamon, aren’t included by default the way they are with Linux Mint Debian Edition. There’s a way to fix this, if you want to have the option of switching between them on the login screen.

Here’s how you can do it:

1. Click the Menu button.
2. Click the Package Manager button to start Synaptic.
3. Do a search for “Cinnamon” without the quotes.
4. You’ll see a list of packages that can be installed.
5. After installing these packages, log out of your MATE desktop.
6. Click the session icon.
7. Click the Cinnamon option.
8. Click the Change Session button.
9. Type in your user ID and password to login.
10. A menu will pop up giving you the option to use Cinnamon as the default desktop, or to use it just for this session.

Obviously, if you installed Cinnamon and you want MATE then you’d have to follow these instructions but just substitute MATE for Cinnamon when you search in Synaptic.

I don’t really consider having to install the other desktop like this to be much of a problem. But I’m including it here for those who might want to do it. See the screenshots below.

Install the Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Desktop in Synaptic

Use Synaptic to install Cinnamon (or MATE) in Linux Mint 13.

Change Linux Mint 13 Desktops in Sessions Menu

You can switch between desktops in the Sessions menu on the login screen.

The Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Desktop

The Cinnamon desktop in Linux Mint 13.

Known Problems
There are some issues that have been noted by the Linux Mint developers. Here’s a list of those from the Linux Mint site:

Boot hangs on systems using b43 wireless cards

An upstream issue in the kernel prevents Linux Mint 13 from booting on computers with b43 wireless cards. If you’re in this situation, try the following:

To boot the live DVD, choose the “Compatibility mode” or add the following kernel argument to the boot options: b43.blacklist=yes
Install Linux Mint on the hard drive
If not present already, in Grub, modify the boot options to add: b43.blacklist=yes
Install the b43 firmware on the system

For more information on this problem, please read this bug report.
64-bit only for Mint4win

If you’re planning to use Mint4win, please choose either MATE 64-bit or Cinnamon 64-bit. Although Mint4win is present on all images, it is only functional with the 64-bit ISOs.
Window popping behind installer in MATE Edition

One or two windows might open during the installation of the MATE edition while the installer is mounting partitions and copying files. This is a cosmetic issue. Feel free to dismiss any error message and to close these windows during the installation process.
Moonlight

Moonlight was removed from Linux Mint because of a bug that made Firefox crash. The bug was fixed upstream and you can install the Moonlight plugin from the project’s website.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

You might also want to check out the Linux Mint forums, and community page.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Linux Mint 13 MATE is an excellent addition to the Linux Mint tradition.

The MATE version of Linux mint is a great choice for those who don’t have the hardware to run the Cinnamon version, or who simply prefer the MATE desktop environment. Linux is all about choice, and being able to choose MATE instead of Cinnamon adds real value to Linux Mint. Kudos to the developers for giving users the option to pick which one they prefer to run.

Linux Mint 13 MATE is suitable for beginners, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 13 MATE
Web Site: http://www.linuxmint.com
Price: Free
Pros: Works well for those who don’t have the hardware for Cinnamon. Easy install; excellent software manager, and selection of software. Also offers a version without codecs installed.
Cons: You won’t get the cool features of Cinnamon, such as the Mac-like Expo and Scale overviews.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4.5/5
Lubuntu 10.04
Lubuntu

Lubuntu 10.04

In previous reviews, I looked at the latest versions of Ubuntu and Kubuntu. Now it’s time to look at a lightweight alternative to both of them, Lubuntu. Lubuntu uses the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE) instead of the chunkier GNOME or KDE desktops.

Lubuntu 10.04 is not an official derivative of Ubuntu; it is not supported by Canonical. However, it is serves a very important purpose by providing an Ubuntu distro geared toward older or less powerful computers.

What’s New In This Release
Lubuntu 10.04 is based on Ubuntu 10.04 so it shares some similar new features such as faster boot time, etc. This release also includes a rewrite of PCMan File Manager that brings it to 0.9.5, LXDM, and Chromium as the default browser. If you’re using common websites like social media sites and dating apps, rest assured these work just fine in any browser, like this Senior Sizzle review covers — https://datinginsider.com/senior-dating/senior-sizzle-review/.

Beyond that, there’s not much more in the way of new features in this release of Lubuntu, according to the release notes. I’d really like to see Lubuntu (and a lot of other distro developers) emulate how Linux Mint presents new features. Linux Mint makes it very easy on reviewers by providing a comprehensive new features page.

So many distros have information scattered all over the place that it ends up being a huge pain in the ass to try to find out all of the significant new features. Make it easy on us guys; feed us the information we need to write a comprehensive review. Don’t make us scour your site looking at this page or that blog entry to try to find out what’s new and why our readers should care.

Thanks.

Chromium is the default browser in Lubuntu 10.04.

Lubuntu’s file manager PCManFM.

On the next page, I’ll look at the hardware requirements and the install routine.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS
Ubuntu

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS

Ubuntu 14.04 was released recently and as usual the other flavors of Ubuntu have also been updated to 14.04 including Ubuntu GNOME. Ubuntu GNOME tends to get overlooked a bit, given all the attention that goes to the main Ubuntu release. However, that’s a shame since it has quite a lot to offer anyone who prefers the GNOME interface to that of Unity.

Please note that Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS is a long term support release. Such releases tend to focus on polish and stability rather than introducing loads of new features. So bear that in mind if you are looking for a desktop distribution that will be supported for a longer term.

If you aren’t familiar with Ubuntu GNOME, you may want to browse the FAQ about it on the Ubuntu GNOME site. There’s some helpful background information there that might be of interest to you. Wikipedia and DistroWatch also have information pages about Ubuntu GNOME.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Features

Here’s a sample of the features in this release:

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 is now an LTS (Long Term Support) release. This is our first LTS Release supported for 3 years.

Most of GNOME 3.10 is now included. See the GNOME release notes for more details. The few missing bits of 3.10 are available in ppa:gnome3-team/gnome3. gnome-weather, gnome-maps, gnome-photos and gnome-music are all available to install from the archives.

With GNOME 3.10 comes enhanced support for online accounts, and some general optimization of the user interface.

A set of 10 new high-quality wallpapers are included. For more details, see Ubuntu GNOME Wallpaper Contest.

GNOME Classic session is included. To try it, choose it from the Sessions option on the login screen.

More at Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Release Notes

The fact that this is a long term support release will please many current Ubuntu GNOME users since it means that they can rely on it for quite a long time before needing to move to a newer version. Plus, as I noted above, such releases generally zero in on stability rather than loads of flashy, new features.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS DesktopUbuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Desktop

GNOME 3.10 also adds some zip to Ubuntu GNOME 14.04, particularly with its support of online accounts and user interface improvements. You may also like some of the ten new wallpapers that have been included with this release, some of them are quite beautiful.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS WallpapersUbuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Wallpapers

And of course GNOME Classic is also an option for those who dislike GNOME 3. I’m very glad to see GNOME Classic included, it’s great for people to have options. I’ve pretty much made my peace with GNOME 3, however. If you take the time to get used to it and you take it as it is rather than comparing it to other desktop interfaces, you may find it to be quite useful in its own way.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS GNOME Classic Desktop

The GNOME Classic desktop in Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Download and Install

You can download Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS from this page. Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS is available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I used the 32-bit version for this review.

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS is also a live distribution, so you can run it off a disc before actually installing it on your system. The install itself is quite simple and easy, and it takes about the same amount of time as installing regular Ubuntu (fifteen to twenty minutes at most).

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Install

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Install

Linux Software Included in Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
Mahjongg
Mines
Sudoku

Graphics
Image Viewer
Print Preview
Document Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan

Internet
Empathy IM
Evolution Mail and Calendar
Firefox
Transmission BitTorrent Client
Desktop Sharing
Ubufox Extension for Firefox

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
Cheese Webcam Booth
GStreamer Plugins
Rhythmbox Music Player
Videos

Office
LibreOffice Calc, Impress, Math and Writer

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Software Center

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Software Center

Where To Get Help for Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS

If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out these Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS resources:

Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 Release Announcement
Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 Release Notes
Ubuntu GNOME Documentation
Contact Ubuntu GNOME

Please note the following known issues from the release notes:

System Details shows Ubuntu 13.10 instead of 14.04 (1299912)
screen giberish (1307776)
Can’t select which drive to resize when using “install alongside” in Trusty (1262824)

More at the Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS Release Notes

Final Thoughts About Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

I know that some might be disappointed that this release of Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 isn’t chock-full of mind-blowing features. But that is perfectly fine in a long term support release like this. The absolute last thing we want developers doing is sticking in experimental doodads or other things that could adversely affect stability and performance.

For me the highlights of Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 (aside from it being an LTS release) are GNOME 3.10, the new wallpapers and GNOME Classic. Each thing adds some additional polish to Ubuntu GNOME 14.04, and I think that most reasonable users will appreciate them after spending some time with it.

I have seen some reviews of regular Ubuntu 14.04 that have proclaimed it to be “the best version of Ubuntu yet” and that sort of thing. Well, I think it’s fair to say that Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 may also be the finest version of Ubuntu GNOME as well, and that’s something that the Ubuntu GNOME developers and users can take pride in.

What’s your take on Ubuntu GNOME 14.04 LTS? Tell me in the comments below.

Ubuntu 11.04
Ubuntu Reviews

Ubuntu 11.04

Problems & Headaches

One of the annoying things about the launcher is that it’s not very configurable right now. Beginners might not notice or even care about that, but more advanced users could find it very annoying. I hope that Canonical builds in some customization options for the launcher in the next release of Ubuntu.

My experience with Ubuntu 11.04 was quite good in terms of performance and problems. I didn’t run into any noticeable instability, slowdown or other burps while using it.

The only thing that slowed me down briefly was adding the Guest Additions to get Unity to run in VirtualBox. Beyond that, my experience was very positive. This isn’t surprising though, Ubuntu has usually run well for me so I didn’t expect to run into much in the way of headaches with this release. Your mileage may vary, however, so please take a moment to share any problems (and fixes) you might have encountered so that others can benefit from your experience.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Ubuntu support page for documentation, answers, training courses and free community support.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It

Ubuntu 11.04 is probably best described as a “love it or leave it” type of distro. If you like Unity then chances are you will really love Ubuntu 11.04. However, if you are one of those who dislikes Unity then it might be time to leave Ubuntu and find another distribution for your desktop use.

I’m in the latter category as I find Unity to be suffocating and unnecessary. For me it adds little value and seems to be in the way most of the time; so I would definitely not use Ubuntu 11.04 as one of my regular distros. I tried to like it but I just couldn’t warm up to it. Some have called it very “Mac-like” but, oddly, Mac OS X’s interface doesn’t seem to annoy me as much as Unity’s. Say what you will about Apple (and there’s plenty to say, pro and con) but they don’t seem to have made Mac OS X into an annoying experience the way that Unity feels to me.

Perhaps I’m just a dinosaur? Maybe netbook type interfaces will be the wave of the future in all desktop operating systems. If so then I suspect I’ll be one of the luddites booting into “classic” interfaces or simply opting to use a distro with a slimmed down desktop environment instead. Eye candy and “coolness” can sometimes be more trouble than they are worth so if feeling that way makes me a fossil then so be it. If I wanted a netbook interface, I’d buy a netbook instead of using a desktop computer.

Your mileage may vary, however, so I urge you to keep an open mind and give Ubuntu 11.04 a shot and see if you like it. I did not penalize Ubuntu 11.04 for Unity in the scoring below. Despite my own dislike of it, I know that there are some folks out there who might really like it and more power to them if they do. It’s just not my cup of tea.

If you need an alternative then I’d consider Linux Mint, Bodhi or one of the many other Ubuntu derivatives that don’t use Unity as their desktop environment. Of course you could also stick with Ubuntu 11.04 and simply use the classic GNOME interface instead. You can choose that on the login screen if you like.

Ubuntu 11.04 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users. Beginners should be aware that Unity is significantly different than previous Ubuntu desktops and should bear that in mind accordingly if they decide to try out Ubuntu 11.04.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Ubuntu 11.04
Web Site: http://www.ubuntu.com/
Price: Free
Pros: New Unity interface; user ratings and reviews in the Software Center; easy install routine that includes the ability to upgrade from the Live CD.
Cons: Unity interface is a “love it or hate it” affair that will either bring people to Ubuntu or drive them away, the jury is still out on that and we won’t know for a while which way things will go.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4/5
Xubuntu 11.04
Desktop Linux Reviews Xubuntu 11.04

Xubuntu 11.04

Problems & Headaches

My experience with Xubuntu 11.04 was very good. As I expected, I did not encounter any noticeable problems or issues. It was fast and reliable during my use.

One thing that I would have liked to see is LibreOffice bundled with Xubuntu. Yes, I know that Xubuntu appeals to minimalists but I worry sometimes that newcomers to Linux might be disappointed to find just Abiword and Gnumeric as the main office applications. Experienced users know they can easily get LibreOffice in the Software Center, but newbies might not. Anyway, this is a minor nitpick on my part but I wanted to note it here.

The new wallpaper is…well…underwhelming. Your mileage may vary, however, and it’s quite easy to change it. So no big deal. It would be nice in future releases to see something with a bit more pizzazz, along the lines of Linux Mint’s default wallpaper.

Another thing I didn’t care for is that the bottom panel is set to automatically hide and show. I found this irritating and unnecessary. I’m not sure why the default settings are that way but you can easily change it if you want by right clicking the panel and unclicking the checkbox in panel settings.

Where To Get Help

Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Xubuntu help & support page for documentation and community support (including forums, mailing lists, IRC, etc.).

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It

Xubuntu 11.04 is a good choice for minimalists who prefer a desktop environment not bogged down with pointless eye-candy. It should work well on older or slower hardware.

It’s also a good option for those who dislike Unity and want a different desktop environment. Xfce is simple, fast and doesn’t get in your way when you are trying to quickly launch an application or otherwise find something. And those who decide to use Xubuntu still remain in the Ubuntu family without the headache of dealing with Unity. So if you’re a Unity resister, you should definitely check out Xubuntu 11.04.

This distro is fine for beginner, intermediate and advanced users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Xubuntu 11.04
Web Site: http://www.xubuntu.org/
Price: Free
Pros: Updated wallpaper & install slideshow. Comes with Xfce 4.8. Droid font is used by default. Elementary icon theme updated in this release.
Cons: LibreOffice not included in default software install.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4/5
Bodhi 1.0
Bodhi 1.0

Bodhi 1.0

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements

Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

300mhz i386 Processor
128megs of RAM
1.5g HD space

Installation

Bodhi Linux is a live distro so you don’t need to install it to check it out. You can just pop the DVD into your system and boot off of it to try Bodhi Linux.

If you do decide to install it, you will find it’s quite easy since Bodhi uses the Ubuntu installer. You can watch a slideshow during the install as well. The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1Install 1

Install 2Install 2

Install 3Install 3

Install 4Install 4

Install 5Install 5

Install 6Install 6

Install 7Install 7

Install 8Install 8

Next, I’ll look at the bootsplash and login screens, and I’ll cover what the desktop has to offer.

Pinguy OS 10.04.1.2
Desktop Linux Reviews Xubuntu

Pinguy OS 10.04.1.2

I’ve reviewed so many different Ubuntu remasters that I’ve more or less become numb when I see a new one. After all, aren’t they all pretty much the same? Well no, not really. Different remasters offer different things. This week I decided to look at Pinguy OS. Pinguy OS is a strange blend of Ubuntu, Linux Mint and a bunch of other stuff all rolled into a unique package. It contains the default Ubuntu features and a whole lot more including a ton of multimedia codecs, additional desktop goodies, and a great range of default software.

Before I get into the review, you’re probably wondering what Pinguy OS is and why it was made. Here’s a brief bit of background from Antoni Norman where he explains why he created Pinguy OS and how it’s different from Ubuntu:

Ubuntu is a great OS and undoubtedly the most popular and easiest Linux based Distro to use but even with its default setup and chosen programs it’s still  lacking functionality and ease of use for most new users. So what I decided to do was build a Distro that looks good, could do everything most user would ever want to do and that was very simple to use.

I started out by listening to what my friends and family wanted to use their PC for and found the most user friendly programs for the task they wanted to do. After a while I got a good idea what most people use their PC for and what programs where the easiest to use. Like using Shotwell for easily uploading images to Facebook, gtkpod for putting music, photos and video on a ipod/iphone and mvPod for converting the video to a iPod friendly format.

So all the programs in Pinguy OS have been chosen because of there ease of use and functionality, I also changed every file type to open with the right program, like for some reason by default .iso are opened with Archive Manager so I changed that to Brasero Disc Burner.

As I already said apart from it being easy to use I also wanted it to be a very good looking operating system. There are now a lot of programs out there for Linux to give the OS a very smart and polished implementation, like CoverGloobus, Gloobus Preview, GNOME Do, and Docky. These programs don’t just give the OS a good look and feel but they are also very useful and handy.

Pinguy OS is an optimise build of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Minimal CD with added repositories, tweaks and enhancements that can run as a Live DVD or be installed. It has all the added packages needed for video, music and web content e.g. flash and java, plus a few fixes as well. Like fixing the wireless problems, gwibber’s Facebook problem and flash videos in full-screen.

Everything is set-up for samba, all you need to do is right click a folder you want to share and add a password in samba using system-config-samba.
It also has a UPnP/DLNA server (pms-linux) so you can share your music, video’s etc. With a PS3, XBOX 360, Smart Phones or any other UPnP/DLNA media reader.

Nautilus has been replaced for Elementary-Nautilus with added plug-ins so it can get music and video art from the web. The default theme is Elementary using ttf-droid font with Docky and a custom Conky.

I have also added DVB support to Totem for anyone with a TV card that wants to watch tv on their PC but don’t want to install a dedicated program like myth-tv.

For a full list of installed programs and repos for 10.04.1 *OLD* download this file.

If you like this Distro and would like to help it improve and grow you can always donate, it doesn’t matter how small the amount is, it all helps.

What’s New In This Release

This release is actually a minor update to the original 10.04.1 release, so there’s not much to report in this section in terms of new features. However, here are some of the features you should take note of that are found in Pinguy OS:

Ubuntu Software Center
Docky
Conky
Linux Mint MintMenu
Linux Mint MintUpdate
Multimedia Codecs
Firefox Addons

I’ll look at each of these features in the appropriate sections of the review. Suffice to say that they add a lot of value to Pinguy OS, and they set it apart from some of the other Ubuntu remasters.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run Pinguy OS:

Recommended minimum requirements

Pinguy OS should run reasonably well on a computer with the following minimum hardware specification. However, features such as visual effects may not run smoothly.

  • 700 MHz x86 processor
  • 384 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • 8 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 1024×768 resolution
  • Sound card
  • A network or Internet connection

Recommended for visual effects

Visual effects provide various special graphical effects for your desktop to make it look and feel more fun and easier to use. If your computer is not powerful enough to run visual effects, you can turn them off and will still have a usable Pinguy OS desktop. Visual effects are turned on by default if you have a graphics card which is supported. For information on supported graphics cards, see DesktopEffects.

  • 1.2 GHz x86 processor
  • 384 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • Supported graphics card (see DesktopEffects)

Installation

Installing Pinguy OS is as simple and easy as installing Ubuntu itself. The install is quick and painless. Pinguy OS is a Live DVD distro, so you can simply pop the DVD in and run it without actually having to install it onto your computer. The ISO file I downloaded was about 1.43 GB.

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Booting & Login

Here’s what the bootsplash and login screens look like in Pinguy OS:


The Desktop

The Pinguy OS desktop is unique, it reminds me a tad bit of Mac OS X. You’ll find two Docky bars at the bottom of the screen and on the left. The bottom Docky bar reminds me of the Mac OS X Dock. You’ll find the Docky control icon, as well as the Firefox, Thunderbird, Deluge, Rhythmbox, VLC, Terminal and Trash icons on it. The Docky bar on the left contains links to your Computer, Home, Documents, Music, Photos, Video and Download folders.

There is also a menu at the top of the screen that contains the usual links. Clicking the Pinguy OS (start) button on the panel at the top launches the MintMenu. From there you can access all of the usual stuff. The MintMenu from Linux Mint is quite nice. If you haven’t used it before, I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s somewhat strange to find it in this distro, but it works well.

There is also a system monitor called Conky on by default on the desktop. It lets you see CPU, RAM, disk, and other information. It’s actually quite interesting; the only thing I didn’t like about it though is that there seems to be no way to configure it or turn it off.

Beyond that, the desktop is uncluttered. The wallpaper is subdued and features a bridge during sunset. If you right-click the desktop you can change the wallpaper by choosing from a selection included with Pinguy OS or you can go online to get more wallpaper. You can also adjust the theme, fonts and visual effects.

Get Deals on Monitors at Amazon

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
PlayOnLinux

Graphics
OpenOffice.org Drawing
Pinta
Rapid Photo Downloader
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan

Internet
Deluge BitTorrent Client
Dropbox
Empathy
Firefox
FrostWire
Gwibber
Mozilla Thunderbird
pms-linux
Skype
Sun Java
TED: Torrent Episode Downloader
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Brasero
DeVeDe
GNOME MPlayer
gtkpod iPod Manager
Handbrake
Movie Player
mvPod
OpenShot Video Editor
Rhythmbox
VLC Media Player

Office
OpenOffice.org

Others
Wine
Docky
GNOME Do
Shutter

Software Management

Pinguy OS comes with the Ubuntu Software Center, so you have complete access to all of the applications available in it. It also comes with Linux Mint’s excellent Update Manager, MintUpdate. Adding and removing software is quite simple in the Ubuntu Software Center. Find the application you want and click the Install or Remove button.


Firefox Addons

Pinguy OS uses Firefox for its default browser, and Firefox is loaded with extensions. There are 26 extensions installed by default, more than enough to satisfy the most discriminating user.

The only one I disagree with including is Adblock Plus. Bundling ad blockers in distros is a very disturbing trend and one that has the potential to hurt web publishers like myself, as I noted in a recent column called “The Web’s Welfare Readers.” It’s one thing for a user to decide to install an ad blocker, but it’s another thing for a distro developer to do so. Hopefully it will either be removed altogether or turned off by default in future versions of Pinguy OS (as well as other distros).

Here’s a list of the extensions you’ll find:

Adblock Plus
British English Dictionary
Dictionary Tooltip
DownloadHelper
Download Statusbar
Email This!
Fasterfox Lite
FirefoxNotify
Fission
MR Tech Toolkit
myFireFox & Vista-aero Modifier
OptimizeGoogle
Plain Text Links
Rehost Image
Resurrect Pages
SearchPreview
Shareaholic
SkipScreen
SmoothWheel
Speed Dial
StrataBuddy
Tab Progress Bar
TinyURL Generator
Ubuntu Firefox Modifications
Update Notifier
YouTubeIT

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash
As I noted at the beginning of the review, Pinguy OS comes bundled with multimedia codecs. Flash is installed by default, I had no problems playing YouTube videos in Firefox.

Multimedia Applications
Pinguy OS comes with a lot of great multimedia software including HandBrake, OpenShot Video Editor, VLC, Rhythymbox and other applications. There’s enough installed by default to cover pretty much any user’s multimedia needs. You probably won’t need to sift through the Ubuntu Software Center looking for multimedia applications.

Problems & Headaches

Pinguy OS is one of the distros that gives me a huge headache when I go to write this section, but not for the reason you might think. I, unfortunately, did not bump into any noticeable problems or headaches! I hate when this happens. Perhaps in the next release I’ll find some juicy bugs or something will blow up or something. This time around though Pinguy OS ran very well for me. Darn it.

One thing that might possibly annoy some users is the 26 addons bundled into Firefox. Users that are concerned with browser performance might not appreciate having that many available by default. However, this is a very subjective potential problem and will depend very much on the user. I didn’t notice any overt performance issues with Firefox while I was running Pinguy OS, but your mileage may vary. You can, of course, uninstall the addons so you aren’t locked into using them if you prefer not to.

Where To Get Help

Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Pinguy OS forum for support issues and to connect with other Pinguy OS users.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Pinguy OS is an excellent desktop distro for those who want it all in one package, with little or no need to install anything else. Everything you need to do most desktop tasks is installed by default. Plus you get the excellent Linux Mint MintMenu & MintUpdate, and the Ubuntu Software Center. Conky and Docky also had some significant value to the Pinguy OS desktop experience.

I used to call Linux Mint “Ubuntu On Steroids”; Pinguy OS takes Linux Mint one step farther and adds another layer of useful goodies to Ubuntu. If you haven’t already tried it, give it a download. It’s worth considering if you want a truly full-featured desktop distro.

Pinguy OS is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Pinguy OS 10.04.1.2
Web Site: http://pinguy-os.sourceforge.net/
Price: Free
Pros: Comes bundled with a good selection of software; MintMenu & MintUpdate; the Ubuntu Software Center; multimedia codecs.
Cons: Its very strength in bundling so many things to improve the desktop user experience might also be a turn-off for those think that less is more in a distro.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Summary: Pinguy OS provides a complete desktop distro solution that newbies and experienced users alike can enjoy.
Rating: 4/5
Xubuntu 14.04 LTS
Desktop Linux Reviews Xubuntu

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS has been released in the wake of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS so it’s time for a full review. Xubuntu 14.04 is a long term support release, so the focus is really on stability and finesse, not on adding tons of new features. Xubuntu uses the Xfce desktop environment instead of Unity, so it works very well as a lightweight alternative to regular Ubuntu. Xubuntu can be particularly useful if you have an older or otherwise underpowered computer.

If you aren’t familiar with Xubuntu, you can read the Xubuntu about page or the Xubuntu strategy document to discover more about it. You can also get a basic overview of what the Xfce desktop environment has to offer on its about page, the Xfce wiki, and you can connect with other Xfcse users in the Xfce forum if you have questions or comments to share.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Desktop

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Desktop

What’s New in Xubuntu 14.04 LTS

Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Light Locker replaces xscreensaver for screen locking, a setting editing GUI is included
The panel layout is updated, and now uses Whiskermenu as the default menu
Mugshot is included to allow you to easily edit your personal preferences
MenuLibre for menu editing, with full Xfce support, replaces Alacarte
A community wallpapers package, which includes work from the five winners of the wallpaper contest
GTK Theme Config to customize your desktop theme colors
Updated artwork, including various enhancements to themes as well as a new default wallpaper

More at Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Release Notes

Light Locker

Light Locker is a great replacement for xscreensaver, it comes with a GUI menu so you can easily change settings. Just go to Settings then click on Light Locker Settings to make it work the way you prefer. I must admit that I almost never bother to keep screen locking on as I’m lazy and hate typing in passwords over and over again. But your mileage may vary and if you like screen locking then you’ll probably enjoy Light Locker.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Light Locker Settings

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Light Locker Settings

Whiskermenu

Whiskermenu is now the default menu in Xubuntu 14.04 LTS. I’m happy to see Whiskermenu bundled into Xubuntu 14.04 LTS, I really enjoyed using it. You can easily search for applications, or just browse through the categories to find the app you want. You can also quickly access Favorites and Recently Used applications.

One thing I found strange about Whiskermenu is that when you click on System it only shows you Gigolo and Task Manager. To get to Settings you have to click the icon at the bottom of the menu. It seems to me that Settings should really be included in the System menu, otherwise it might confuse newcomers to Xubuntu and Whiskermenu. This is not a huge deal, but I think the developers should consider a change in the next release.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Whisker Menu

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Whisker Menu

Mugshot

Mugshot is also now included in Xubuntu 14.04. With Mugshot you can easily and quickly edit your user configuration details. You can add a photo, put in your name, email address, office phone and your fax number. I think most users will find Mugshot very useful since it allows user configuration information to be changed in a very intuitive and simple menu.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Mugshot

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Mugshot

MenuLibre

MenuLibre replaces Alacarte for menu editing in this release. It’s quite a useful tool and I’m glad to see it in Xubuntu 14.04. Go to Settings and click on Menu Editor to access it. You’ll love it if you’re into customizing your menus though most of the time I don’t generally bother. Still, it’s nice to have such functionality available if you want to use it.

Here’s some information about MenuLibre in case you aren’t familiar with it:

An advanced menu editor that provides modern features in a clean, easy-to-use interface. All without GNOME dependencies, so even lightweight systems can benefit from the sanity that MenuLibre offers. MenuLibre is your one-stop shop for menus in Linux, whether you use Gnome, LXDE, XFCE, or Unity.

Features
A beautiful interface powered by the latest version of GTK+
Create new launchers, or modify existing ones with complete control over common settings and access to advanced settings
Add, remove, and adjust quicklists: powerful shortcuts available to Unity and other desktop environments.
Edit user menus or administer system menus that are accessible to all users

More At Sean Michael Davis

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS MenuLibre

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS MenuLibre

New wallpapers

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS also comes with a selection of community wallpapers. Some of them are quite pretty so do take a moment to check them out. Right-click your desktop and go to Desktop Settings if you want to change your desktop background. I definitely think that the additional wallpapers add a bit of colorful zip to Xubuntu 14.04. The default wallpaper works well, but it’s a bit on the blander side compared to some of the others that Xubuntu has available.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Wallpapers

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Wallpapers

GTK Theme config and updated art work
You can also easily edit your theme configuration in Xubuntu 14.04 LTS, and this release comes with some updated art work that should improve your desktop experience.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Theme Configuration

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Theme Configuration

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Download and Install

You can download Xubuntu 14.04 LTS from this page. You can get Xubuntu 14.04 LTS in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. I used the 64-bit version for this review.

Installing Xubuntu 14.04 was quick and easy, as is typical with the Ubuntu spins. It took about fifteen minutes or so, and I had no problems with the install. As always, I recommend that you click the “Download updates while installing” and “Install this third-party software” (if you want it) checkboxes so that it’s all done during the install. This will save you time later on.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Install

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Install

Linux Software Included in Xubuntu 14.04 LTS

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

  • Games Mines Sudoku
  • Graphics
  • Document Viewer
  • GIMP
  • Ristretto Image Viewer
  • Simple Scan
  • Internet
  • Firefox
  • Pidgin IM
  • Thunderbird Mail
  • Transmission
  • XChat IRC
  • Multimedia
  • gmusicbrowser
  • Parole Media Player
  • PulseAudio Volume Control
  • Xfburn
  • Office
  • Abiword
  • Dictionary
  • Document Viewer
  • Gnumeric
  • Orage Calendar
  • Orage Globaltime

Since Xubuntu is a lightweight distribution it does not come with LibreOffice installed. However, you can easily get it from the Software Center if you prefer it to Abiword and Gnumeric. Personally I am very fond of Abiword as I tend to write a lot and it’s a great little word processor. For me LibreOffice tends to be overkill since I don’t use a lot of its features.

The rest of the applications included should meet the needs of most desktop users, but there are thousands and thousands of other applications in the Software Center should you need them. I recommend first trying the ones that come with Xubuntu 14.04 LTS since I like to avoid cluttering up my desktop with too many applications. If you find that they aren’t cutting it then add any others you need from the Software Center.

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Software Center

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Software Center

Where To Get Help for Xubuntu 14.04 LTS

If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or post in the Desktop Linux Reviews forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out these Xubuntu 14.04 LTS resources:

Xubuntu 14.04 LTS System Requirements
Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Support
Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Documentation

Please bear in mind the following known issues about Xubuntu 14.04 LTS:

Xfce4 Power Manager does not restore screen power (1259339), see the release notes for details and workarounds

Window manager shortcut keys don’t work after reboot (1292290)

Sorting by date or name not working correctly in Ristretto (1270894)

Due to the switch from xscreensaver to light-locker, some users might have issues with timing of locking; removing xscreensaver from the system should fix these problems

IBus does not support certain keyboard layouts (1284635). Only affects upgrades with certain keyboard layouts. See release notes for a workaround.

More at Xubuntu 14.04 LTS Release Notes

Final Thoughts About Xubuntu 14.04 LTS

I’ve always been a fan of Xubuntu as I tend to go for lightweight desktops versus ones with a lot more glitz and features. So I was quite pleased with Xubuntu 14.04. It’s true that you aren’t going to find tons of earth shattering features in this release, and that’s fine because it’s a long term support release anyway. I never expect new feature overload in LTS releases since the emphasis is on stability and polish.

But Xubuntu 14.04 LTS is a definite improvement from the last version. The overall experience has been polished up significantly, and there are some small but useful features added like Mugshot, Light Locker and MenuLibre, and of course Whiskermenu. I think that most Xubuntu users will be pleased with this version, and upgrading to it from Xubuntu 13.10 is pretty much a no-brainer.

What’s your take on Xubuntu 14.04 LTS? Tell me in the comments below.

Xubuntu 13.10
Desktop Linux Reviews Xubuntu

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.

  • Games Mines Sudoku
  • Graphics GIMP gThumb
  • Ristretto Image Viewer
  • Simple Scan
  • Internet
  • Firefox
  • Pidgin IM
  • Thunderbird Mail
  • Transmission
  • XChat IRC
  • Multimedia
  • gmusicbrowser
  • Parole Media Player
  • PulseAudio Volume Control Center
  • Xfburn
  • Office
  • AbiWord
  • Dictionary
  • Document Viewer
  • Gnumeric
  • 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.

Desktop Linux Reviews
Xubuntu

Desktop Linux Reviews

Last week I did a review of Kubuntu 10.04, one of Canonical’s officially supported Ubuntu derivatives. Today’s review is about Xubuntu 10.04, an officially recognized but not supported Ubuntu derivative. According to the Xubuntu downloads page, it is based on the “feature-rich core of Ubuntu” Linux.

Unlike Ubuntu (which uses GNOME), Xubuntu uses the Xfce desktop environment. Xfce is a lightweight environment that, according to its creator Olivier Fourdan, “…loads and executes applications fast, while conserving system resources.” Xubuntu is really geared toward those using older hardware or who simply prefer a no-frills desktop without the gobs of eye-candy found in GNOME or KDE.

What’s New In This Release

Here’s a sample of what’s new in this release:

  • Albatross theme updated to the latest version
  • Xubuntu now uses PulseAudio
  • You can choose an Xubuntu or classic Xfce session when you login
  • Xubuntu now includes the Ubuntu Software Center
  • SimpleScan replaces Xsane for scanners
  • Gnumeric updated to 1.10.1
  • Revamped selection of bundled games
  • Xscreensaver is now the default screensaver

If you aren’t familiar with PulseAudio, see the Wikipedia background article about it and see also this article on Linux.com for why PulseAudio matters to Xubuntu users. The article is a bit dated but explains some of the advantages to using PulseAudio in Linux distributions.

Being able to choose between Xubuntu and classic Xfce is a nice touch on the login screen. I doubt, however, that many users will opt for generic Xfce over Xubuntu. But it’s there if you want to do it.

One of the things I disliked most about Kubuntu was that it lacked the Ubuntu Software Center. That isn’t the case with Xubuntu and I’m very glad to see it. Please note that you can still access the Ubuntu Software Center in a classic Xfce session, as well as via the default Xubuntu session.

Although I don’t spend too much time gaming these days, it’s nice to see a revised selection of games. See the software section for a list of what’s available in this release.

One thing I couldn’t help but notice is how fast…REALLY FAST…Xubuntu is when you boot into it, reboot, or login/logout. Ubuntu 10.04 itself is fast but Xubuntu 10.04 is even faster. It takes just a couple of seconds and you’ll be staring at your desktop or you’ll have logged out, etc. Zippy is definitely an appropriate word to describe Xubuntu.

The classic Xfce desktop.