Xubuntu review

Once upon a time, someone gave me a laptop. And I was thankful. It’s a PIII 1Ghz, 256M RAM, 10G hard drive, no internal wireless, ancient and slow thing. A PCMCIA wireless card, free after rebate and viola, it does all I need it to do which is surf the internet and create documents and presentations. Did I mention it’s free? Yes, and I have no intention of spending any money on it.

The problem is an operating system that won’t choke it. When I first got it, I didn’t have a XP license available, but I thought, “It’s just for browsing basically, I’ll try Ubuntu.” I’ve flirted with Linux before, but never really got down and just did it. So I did. And it was swell. Especially when I upgraded to Feisty Fawn, which found my wireless card without the whole ndiswrapper fun, which is awesome.

However, Feisty really bogged my poor lappy down. Especially if I wanted to use OpenOffice and Firefox at the same time. OS loading times were bad. It was okay until login, then it took forever to get the desktop up.

I had just looked into my lightweight Linux options and was about to switch to Xubuntu–the others were too pared down for my Linux n00b use–but for my class I needed XP. By this time I had upgraded to Vista and had an available XP license, so it was all good, yo. Here’s the thing; XP with SP3 = ~6G of hard drive space. Yes, over half my hard drive is operating system. So I put Portable Apps’ programs on to save space. And it was fine.

XP’s loading speed was on par with Ubuntu. Programs opened slightly slower.

Now, class is over so I could switch to Xubuntu. Yay! Then the hard decision: Hardy Heron or Intrepid Ibex. I decided to go for it and went with Intrepid. Only the latest and greatest for me!

Same easy install as Ubuntu, torrent the ISO, burn a CD, pop it in, tell it you want to install, answer a few easy questions and wait. It was even polite and asked if I wanted to dual boot with XP.

Xubuntu is nimbler loading and opening multiple programs than either Ubuntu or XP. Yay! It only takes up 4G of hard drive space. A couple gigs here or there doesn’t matter much when you have 120 of them, but when you only have 10, that’s a big deal.

I love, LOVE the window shade action. LUFF EET!

Xubuntu didn’t recognize my wireless card. Boo. But these excellent directions walked me through the process painlessly. And actually, Xubuntu is better recognizing and connecting with routers than XP was with the stupid competition between Windows Zero Service and the manufacturers little program. (Why, WHY, WHY does every laptop and modem manufacturer think we need programs to use wireless? Windows does it fine on its own and using 50 brazilian different interfaces makes everyone’s lives harder. Yes, even those kids in Africa who’ve never seen a computer.)

Xubuntu doesn’t come with Open Office, so I had to download that, which was easy enough. It still bogs everything down when it’s running, but switching around is not quite as bad as with the other two.

Then I tried to pimp my desktop out. It all went fine, but the Avant Window Manger bogged it down so hard it was unusable. Alas. So, back to the standard gnome(?) taskbar. I’m still working on getting Conky going in a manner I like. But really, these are things I never bothered with in Ubuntu or XP and if they don’t work it’s not that big of a deal.

Xubuntu’s version of a quicklaunch bar is teh suck. I have no idea where OpenOffice keeps its icons and since I can’t drag and drop programs or shortcuts into it, I had to go with a random icon I could find. I learned a lot about where programs install themselves while looking around, though, so I have that going for me. Which is nice.

The Add/Remove Programs is painfully slow. Synaptic Package Manager is slightly better, but it’s still best to just walk away. Even with lighweight programs like VLC. Just walk away.

My only other beef is that you can’t sudo drag and drop files in the Thudnar File Manager. If you want to move a protected file, you have to use Terminal.

Despite my complaints, Xubuntu does what I really care about, it works faster. And that’s a good thing.

Hopefully in the next 6 months or so I’ll get a netbook and all this will be moot.



9 responses to “Xubuntu review

  1. Gracious! Your life is dull!

  2. We can’t all be tripping over highly poisonous snakes all the time.

    Maybe if I said ninjas attacked while I was installing?

  3. Really?!?!?!?! I’m impressed that the “big” number you chose to use for your free space example was only 120gb. How nicely 2003 for ya.

    And except for the fun? of mucking around in Linux I would have just dropped a few (less than 50) dollars and bought some ram and a bigger hd and stuck with XP.

  4. Laptops aren’t coming with much more than that these days, you know.

    With a 1Ghz processor? Why bother? Especially since the money I don’t spend can be put toward something new. Besides, I’m starting to get the hang of Linux. I can type a path right the first time half the time now.

  5. good lord. surely i was adopted.

  6. I’m puzzled- I’m running an Ibm R31 (1.13ghz, 512 ram, 30gig hard drive) and except for the limited hard drive space it runs ubuntu just fine. Granted, it will slow down occasionally- but thats only after I’ve opened up more than perhaps 10 programs all at once.

    Oh, as for the problem you have with openoffice slowing down on you- I think it’d might help if you:

    1. Open OpenOffice
    2. Click on tools and then options.
    3.Click on memory
    4. A- limit the number of steps to 30
    B Limit memory to 20
    C. memory per object 5.2mb

    5. Find Java- it’s 8 below the memory tab- unselect the “use JRE tab”.

    That should fix things for writer, I dont’ really use the other parts of office- but I think it’d help with them as well.

  7. Well, you have twice the RAM, I bet that makes some difference.

    Thanks for the Open Office tips though, I’ll try them.

  8. William Sanford

    Lubuntu is much, much lighter than Xubuntu. However, given when this thread was written, I’m not sure Lubuntu existed yet.

  9. That laptop needs Slitaz or Puppy Linux!