I’m overjoyed at the sudden lunge toward LXDE these days. As someone who watched it blossom from a file manager plus accessories to a full-fledged desktop environment with a healthy following across numerous distros … it’s quite satisfying. Not that I had anything to do with it, of course.
The satisfaction comes from recognizing it early on as a way to discard the fat and crud that encrust the other DEs, and recover some of the function of older PCs. Seeing Lubuntu come into maturity and LXDE into general acceptance means that, in most cases, it’s acknowledged as a better option for resource-limited hardware.
At the same time, I have to start worrying. Lubuntu is in strong shape now — I like that Firefox is not in there, even if Chromium is a sort of lukewarm substitute; the standard LXDE fixtures are available which I would expect; and you can’t go wrong with things like Osmo, AbiWord, Gnumeric and ePDFView as your office suite.
I probably would have preferred not to find a few XFCE and Gnome-based things in there, like the XFCE system monitor and whatnot. Including things from those desktop environments seems to suggest that there were no other options, and with Linux that is rarely the case.
I guess my fear here is that Lubuntu will wander southward, in much the same way that Xubuntu did. Years ago, Xubuntu promised nothing that wasn’t GTK2-based, with an emphasis on only the lightest and fastest alternatives. Making a distro that outstripped Ubuntu’s default proved dangerous though, and as it’s popularity grew, its users started clamoring for mainstream apps they knew from Gnome, and it started to take on weight — a lot of weight.
Any more, it’s hard for me to tell the difference between Ubuntu and Xubuntu, with the only real difference being a 20-30Mb gap in their system profiles after a cold boot. Not so much to be a huge lightweight contender, and as a result, I rarely think of Xubuntu as anything other than “that third” Ubuntu version. Perhaps my prediction wasn’t far off, at least for me personally.
I’d rather not see Lubuntu devolve into “that fourth” Ubuntu version. It will take a measure of resolution on the part of the lead developers to make sure Lubuntu “holds the line,” as Hemingway might have said, and doesn’t just become “Gnome Ubuntu with LXDE on top.” This “stable beta” release is a promising start, but I’ll be watching the 10.10 version: I think the next six months will determine where Lubuntu goes.