An unlikely hero: Xubuntu

Part of that unfortunate rant from a day ago came about after spending a day or two in Xubuntu, after spending an equal amount of time in Kubuntu.

Originally my foray back into the *buntus was meant to give fair time to alternative renditions of Ubuntu, and avoiding tainting the entire set with tirades against the flagship.

On the one hand, it was important to do that. And it has been a while since I’ve used some of these versions, even if I still feel a tinge of disappointment when I try them.


I’m not going to dwell long on my failed relationship with Xubuntu, mostly because it’s ancient history. I stopped using it, that’s about all.

It appears to be working in a lighter direction though, so I will give it that. The default desktop, unless I am mistaken, is more “traditional” than straight Ubuntu 11.04, and relies only the native XFCE compositor for shadow effects.

It may just be that the desktop “style” is a cycle or two behind what vanilla Gnome does though. Like I suggested, I don’t follow the outlying desktops so I don’t know the plan.

It has a few peculiarities though. The pop-up notification boxes for networking or volume control don’t seem to vanish automatically for me, which means they completely block anything underneath, until it’s explicitly closed. Perhaps I just don’t wait long enough.

The pop-up launcher bar at the bottom of the screen is vaguely clever, in that it uses the standard XFCE panel and adjusts its settings to behave like wbar or AWN.

Speedwise, I can’t tell you if it’s necessarily an improvement over any *buntu, or even a past version of itself. The computer I tried it on is really too fast to make a comparison.

Granted, it’s a carrying a lot of Gnome already. But that just means the way it works and behaves is a little more conventional.

I can tell you that adjusting it to a little more traditional XFCE arrangement, like you see above, did make me more comfortable and make the desktop a little easier to manage.

Which means that ultimately — and it’s strange to say this — if the new Ubuntu desktop proves too cumbersome or counterintuitive for you, like it did for me, Xubuntu might be an answer.

Xubuntu to the rescue. Who would’ve thought? πŸ™„


16 thoughts on “An unlikely hero: Xubuntu

  1. quinadomundo

    Nice, but i don’t have the patience to try distros anymore. I found mine and stopped there. Has been many years since i tried another one and i will stay that way.

    1. Moose

      Would you mind mentioning what your favorite distro is? I’m in need of an Ubuntu replacement.

      1. quinadomundo

        Gentoo linux for about 5 years now. But like people said, it’s something personal. You need to find your own.

  2. MeAndMSJones

    Ah grasshopper. It goes like this. You keep trying distros until you find one that pleases you, that is one that meets YOUR requirements. This ranges from visual tweaks, support for YOUR list of “must have” applications, and other esoteric defines.
    In linux one shoe does not fit all.
    Once you have found your distro stick with it.
    I have also found “my” distro and am not changing.
    It is all oh so very personal.

    …straight from the bodhi tree. πŸ™‚

  3. 1roxtar

    Geez. Can we stop looking to run to another *buntu or distro simply because of Unity? Is it too hard to change your login settings to the Classic desktop? In fact, ever since the 11.04 Beta 2, you get the same Gnome 2.X panel as 10.04 and 10.10. Whether you like Unity or not, there is no reason to leave the “flagship” Ubuntu….at least through the 11.04 cycle. By 11.10, Unity will have enough time to fully mature. If you don’t like it by that time, then you can rehash this article and move on to where your heart guides you.

  4. anon

    You’re less likely to switch to another distro when you only install the bare minimum then add the things you need, and are not urged to update to a new version every X months (or deal with backporting issues), which usually means a reinstall. But why am I being an obvious solicitor ?

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  6. Audrius

    Personally, I don’t see much point of switching between various flavors of Ubuntu. For me a good distro is a nice package manager with huge package repositories. At the moment such distro is any *Ubuntu.
    From there I just pick the most lightweight *Ubuntu – Xubuntu, after installation remove any unnecessary cruft and install my favorite WM – XMonad, file-manager – Krusader and so on.

    I don’t believe that any tech-minded linux person would use a default configuration of any distro; that is what linux stands for – choice, if you don’t like something, you just remove it and install something else – which makes all the arguing about unity being bad just pathetic – don’t like it? Fine – just apt-get purge it and live happily ever after πŸ˜‰

  7. Joe "lnxr0x"

    I gave up on Xubuntu quite some time ago. I like XFCE but Xubuntu has never made it feel as light as it is. My distro of choice for XFCE is definitely #!Crunchbang. Running now on an ancient IBM thinkpad PII 400 Mhz 256MB ram .. after a cold boot system using about 50-54MB of mem.. I’ll try Xubuntu when it can do that πŸ˜‰

  8. Dennis Hodapp

    You may find that, even though not officially supported, Lubuntu kicks the crap out of the other *Ubuntus. Why? Because it actually does what it says it does. It really does run quite lightweight and provides all the fun Ubuntu stuff we love. I’d try that out. Xubuntu is a failed attempt at making Ubuntu lightweight(ish).

  9. LM

    I really liked reading the suggestions to use a minimum distribution and install what you need to get the customization you want. It’s sounds like a great idea, especially since I’m not finding any distributions that have what I want in them out of the box. Anyone have any suggestions on what to do if one of the things you don’t like about the distribution is the package management system? I’d try another distribution, but very few seem to work on my desktop machine with the hardware I have. The end user package management tools for the distribution are okay. It’s creating your own packages that work with those tools that I think is a mess. Was considering the possibility of building things by hand and using something like alien to convert to a compatible package format. Anyone have any better tips on how to do this? Thanks.

    1. Cristhyano

      I’m working on an article of a minimal instalattion of gentoo linux, the least dependencies possible to have a working xorg session with a light Tiling WM and console applications. But it’ll be in portuguese. Maybe i’ll translate to english someday.

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  11. livinlavidacli

    I’ve tried all the buntus, even mint, the fancy schmancy offshoot, and still I remain with slackware, no X server installed.


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