Two fresh systems

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

I had a little free time today, so I split my efforts and tried two different approaches on two of my favorite distros, on two different machines.

First stop was an Ubuntu system with the LXDE desktop overlaid on it. This was on the Thinkpad with the shattered screen — a 750Mhz Celeron with 128Mb of memory.

It took a little effort to get it set up, but once it was working it was quite enjoyable. LXDE was a rather random collection of pieces for a long time, but it’s starting to come together quite nicely. The panel is improved quite a bit, and the file manager is making leaps and bounds. It’s a joy to watch.

It works very well with an Ubuntu system too, with deb files for pretty much everything. If you do decide to follow the installation instructions, I’d suggest copying both mirrors into your sources.list file — both the Ubuntu and Debian lines. Some packages seemed out of date or missing from one repository or the other, but enabling both seemed to cover all the gaps. And if you need a newer PCManFM than the one that’s in the Hardy repos, check It’s probably not the absolute-newest build, but it satisfies the version requirement.

Speedwise I think LXDE does a good job keeping the basic Ubuntu environment from becoming too heavy, while putting a lot of practical — and aesthetic — controls at your fingertips. Keep watching this: It’s going to get very good, very soon. :)

The second machine, the slower Thinkpad, got a fresh Arch installation, this time with pure Gnome as the desktop environment. This was mostly an experiment, as suggested elsewhere, to see how the Arch Gnome compares to the Debian Etch version.

Startup for the Arch version comes in about 20 seconds sooner than its Debian cousin, and performance seems a little snappier, but otherwise it’s hard to distinguish between the two. Of course, Debian comes with a lot of preinstalled software that you otherwise have to select and configure in Arch, and setting up an Arch system takes a little more effort (but less time, really) than a Debian system.

Arch’s trump card is probably that all the software is considerably newer than Etch. It’s true, you get more in Debian, but everything is quite out of date. You could try the freshest version, but I can’t promise you you’ll get anything that’s even near where the Arch packages stand. (And as I discovered, the sluggishness that plagues Ubuntu Gnome is evident in the newest versions of Debian Gnome. It’s sad but true.)

All the same, I’d have to call them more or less even. What you don’t get in one, you definitely get in the other, so it’s up to you which side is more important. For my own part, I’ll probably stick with Arch, just because I prefer things like pacman over aptitude, and so forth. You can decide for yourself. :)

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2 thoughts on “Two fresh systems

  1. Inxsible

    I checked out LXDE a lil while ago, but it reminded me too much of a Windows desktop like XP. although it uses Openbox, I am sure the theme could easily be changed.

    That’s just the initial feeling I got. But I am still not sure if this is a complete DE yet. Gnome and KDE have a lot of features which are not commonly used. So if LXDE can provide a basic DE with things like easy wallpaper changing, auto-mount of usb drives and such it would be great. I think they already provide these two things…I was just mentioning things that ppl tend to use most often.

    I still feel LXDE has some ways to go. Probably in about 6 months to a year it will be the DE of choice for people who hate the bloat of Gnome and KDE and even Xfce to an extent and don’t want to build their own system.

    Good Stuff tho, K.Mandla
    Have always enjoyed your blog…

  2. Pingback: KDEmod, just like I remembered « Motho ke motho ka botho

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