Can Lubuntu hold the line?

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.


7 thoughts on “Can Lubuntu hold the line?

  1. zoev9

    Current Lubuntu user here, alongside of Slitaz, I have to say it’s great and things work. Thanks for giving it press.

  2. Sean

    I’m curious to see a comparison of Lubuntu to the Openbox Ubuntu based distro Crunchbang. I’ve tried out both Live CDs and liked both.

  3. Artopal

    I am also observing und hoping for the future development of Lubuntu and Crunchbang. As far as I know, LXDE has already a task manager (lxtask), a network manager (lxnm) and other goodies which could be argued are not yet mature enough.

    At least the monochrome icons for the task bar, which they inherited from Ubuntu, are a nice variation to the appearance of other LXDE based distros.

    What is still lacking for me is a easy gui way of adding and removing keyboard layouts (current LXDE has a tray icon to visually change between them). Another nice addition would be a way to activate a preconfigured installation of compiz (like currently in Ubuntu), but just *if* the graphics hardware supports it.

  4. Doug

    I haven’t tried Lubuntu yet, but I use LXDE on Debian Testing and I’ve come to love LXDE.

    Since Testing tries to keep reasonably current, it adopts LXDE updates fairly quickly. LXDE is undergoing rapid development, which makes for occasional minor bugs. However, the bugs seem to be fixed quite promptly.

    It certainly is a great deal less work to install LXDE than to install (and configure) Openbox plus panel, pager, etc. LXDE is Openbox for the terminally (sorry!) lazy, like me.

    The current Lubuntu appears to be a fairly “vanilla” LXDE. I wonder whether Lubuntu will be pressured to try to make their LXDE more like Ubuntu Gnome, as Xubuntu has done with XFCE. Xubuntu is a great deal slower than “vanilla” XFCE on Ubuntu. The Ubuntu look-and-feel does have a price, whether for Gnome, XFCE, or LXDE.

    Crunchbang emphasizes “fast and light,” as well as being visually attractive and user-friendly. My feeling is that it will also be more reliable due to Debian’s testing and release philosophies. (I gave up on Ubuntu due to quality issues and switched to Debian and Arch. Glad I switched.)

  5. Pingback: Peppermint: Just like any other Lubuntu, only more so « Motho ke motho ka botho

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