back to article Ubuntu without the 'U': Booting the Big Four remixes

It's the end of April, so that means that there's a new release of Ubuntu. Well, actually, no - it means that there are eight of them. Don't like standard Ubuntu's Mac-OS-X-like Unity desktop? Here's where to look. There are umpteen "remixes" alongside the eponymous distro. These mostly differ by having a different desktop - …


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  1. Richard Wharram


    If you don't mind a scruffy GRUB then it's better just to install them side by side and try them that way. The average HDD has enough space for 7 easily.

    Alternatively you can just install the different desktops over Ubuntu and choose per session but it might be best to follow a guide for that as my success with this has been mixed :)

    1. eulampios

      Re: If...

      Alternatively, one can put them on a usb stick, provided there are iso images available. I am sure they will fit on a 8-16gb flash drive (plus some persistent casper-rw space). This way the compressed images take up around 1gb (+casper-rw). However, you need more RAM for seamless performance.

      1. Marvin the Martian
        Paris Hilton

        Re: If...

        On a memory stick will not really give a good impression of responsiveness etc.

        1. eulampios

          Re: If...

          On a memory stick will not really give a good impression of responsiveness etc.

          never got a any bad impression of responsiveness on any hardware I've tried, usually low end. Sometimes it won't correctly boot and an extra kernel option is required. In the latter case you'd need to upgrade the kernel after the install. (Yeah, nvidia is the only exception). Talking about various flavors of Mint here though :)

          1. Antoinette Lacroix

            Re: If... I only had a clue

            What you want is a sleek kernel, tailored to your box, a base system and the apps you need. Why anyone would have several distros - where +50% of the files are exactly the same - alongside each other, is beyond me. Maybe it's time to RTFM ?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: If... I only had a clue

              Most people wouldn't even understand what you just said. Which is why people get boxed products.

              And even most people that do understand do not give a crap and have far better things to do with their time.

  2. fishman

    And if 8 isn't enough...

    And if 8 isn't enough, you can always install one of the distros based on Ubuntu, like Mint.

    1. Tom 38

      Re: And if 8 isn't enough...

      Or even go one step better, run Debian sid.

    2. streaky

      Re: And if 8 isn't enough...

      Or even better still, LMDE.

  3. 1Rafayal

    I was surprised how much RAM Kubuntu gobbled up.

    However, I can tell anyone who cares that Lubuntu is a little life saver.

    1. Paul 135

      It all depends on what the RAM is being used for (e.g. caching etc.). I have seen other stats with KDE on other distros (openSUSE I think) where it uses less RAM than the GNOME-derived competition.

  4. goats in pajamas

    For "most Windows like"...

    read "developers have stuck most closely to the so called 'universal standards' for GUI's, in that they haven't become collectively insane and are not busy stripping out functionality and common sense as fast their little fingers can type."

    1. asdf

      Re: For "most Windows like"...

      >most Windows like

      >read "developers have stuck most closely to the so called 'universal standards' for GUI's, in that they haven't become collectively insane and are not busy stripping out functionality and common sense as fast their little fingers can type."

      Your post might have made more sense before Windows 8 but you just described Microsoft as much as the Gnome guys.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: might have made more sense before Windows

        No, it still makes sense.

        Microsoft are just too stupid to realise that, for the rest of us, "Windows-like" is going to mean before-Windows-8.

        1. Francis Boyle


          A century from now when people ask "what did Microsoft do" the amswer will be "they invented the taskbar".

          1. FatGerman

            Re: Exactly

            "A century from now when people ask "what did Microsoft do" the amswer will be "they invented the taskbar"

            No they didn't Acorn invented that with RiscOS, about 4 years before Windows95 appeared.

            Waits for someone to chip in with an even earlier example....

            1. teebie

              Re: Exactly

              "No they didn't"

              That doesn't mean people won't say they did.

            2. John Watts

              Re: Exactly

              But history is written by the winner.

  5. andreas koch

    I'm just waiting

    for the Ubuntu haters to rant about how stupid Unity is (which would be totally pointless in this "anything-but-Unity-thread", but hey. . .), and that Shuttleworth is not very clever, and that Canonical is just ripping you off, and that and that and that . . .

    I've never really seen the point in criticising a configurable OS for it's GUI; If yo9u don't like something, change it! Or let someone change it for you: enter Mint.

    Most of the time GUIs are a very personal preference and you mainly stick with what you grew up with, thereby not giving a new GUI the chance to show it's strengths.

    In my opinion Ubuntu is a great package, it's easy to install, runs with loads of hardware (even older stuff) and gives users a wide choice of GUI; all combined with an easy, reliable update solution and a ton of available software. I've got no problem of recommending it as a Desktop OS. I actually found that quite a few non-IT people handled Ubuntu/Unity a lot better than Win8/TIFKAM.

    And I have to confess that I actually rather like Unity now.


      Re: I'm just waiting

      > I've never really seen the point in criticising a configurable OS for it's GUI

      Ubuntu isn't sold as being a kit. It's not Gentoo. If you want a kit, then you run that.

      The whole selling point of Ubuntu is supposed to be that it is ready to use. It falls down somewhat in this area. That's why there are different variants and Mint. These alternatives exist because Linux users aren't just passive consumers that will take whatever crap you want to give them.

      If Ubuntu isn't doing it for you then you can (and should) dump them for someone that's doing a better job.

      That's how the free market works.

      1. asdf

        Re: I'm just waiting

        >That's how the free market works.

        With Linux its only partially exposed to market forces. Yes for profit companies like Red Hat, etc doing most of the heavy lifting but you also are at the whim of what the hobbyist developers consider fun for somethings.

    2. Adair Silver badge

      Re: I'm just waiting

      Upvoted to counter an apparently gratuitous downvote---too many of us do indeed lead sad lives, with far too much time on our hands.

    3. h3

      Re: I'm just waiting

      I don't think they are I can use GUI really what I don't is one that reduces the speed that applications can work at by kiling 3d performance.

      I would rather use nothing at all (Just a full screen xterm) and a graphical browser full screen when I need it than anything that kills performance of the things you actually want. (Fortunately it is not the case but if my only option was this or Unity or Gnome 3 it is the option I would take.

      (Not fussy otherwise - KDE is ok because you can just disable the unnecessary part really easily and then its pretty fast not that I would use the Ubuntu version of it I think I would use Opensuse.)

      twm or mwm or olwm all fine xmonad,sawfish,ratpoison ,enlightenment dr17,afterstep.

      The only thing I am bothered about is focus follows mouse with no autoraise. (Unless there is something else that makes it not necessary like with xmonad). I also like the terminus font but I am not totally inflexible about that. (I would have it on my desktop but I wouldn't mess around installing it everywhere).

      1. Len Goddard

        Re: I'm just waiting

        @h3 - I was beginning to think I was the only person still using focus follows mouse with no autoraise. It confuses the hell out of people brought up on windows but can be exceptionally productive with some application mixes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I'm just waiting

          I find having to click when the mouse is already where I want it very irritating and it is even more so that when I need to see only those lines I am typing but want to read from the whole of another window that one is obscured Like pop-ups that take over the whole screen till acknowledged when deep in concentration.

      2. Danny 4

        Re: I'm just waiting

        @h3 "The only thing I am bothered about is focus follows mouse with no autoraise."

        I'm with you on that point. It is so much more productive. Ditto for for Alt+mouse button for move, resize and raising. This should be the default behaviour on all desktops, including Windows and Macs which are unusable because of this. Also mouse middle-click for paste is something I really miss when I'm forced to use Windows.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: I'm just waiting


          you obviously must be right handed. for the 10% of the population that are lefties, this useless.

          Go on, try using the mouse with your left hand and then entering all those nifty shortcuts. See how long before you get peed off with it.

          Utter fail.

          At least Unity (the only thing 'Unity' about it is the condemnation of it by my former Ubuntu loving friends) hasn't gone down the TIFKAM/Metro route (yet). I'm firmly in the Gnome2 trench btw. Where is all the KISS principles gone in U/I design these days? Into the recycle bin of history is my guess.

        2. PJI

          Re: I'm just waiting

          You can set osx to do it. Of course, using an X wm on osx also gives it.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: I'm just waiting

            You can set osx to [have focus follow the mouse cursor]

            Windows too. In XP "focus-follows-mouse", aka "implicit focus policy"[1], could be enabled with the misnamed "X Mouse" feature of TweakUI. In Vista, Win7, and the past few releases of Server, it's been an option in the Ease of Use / Accessibility control panel. I don't know whether it's still an option in Win8.

            Unfortunately some Windows applications misbehave under the implicit focus policy. Visual Studio 2008 (which was a showcase of poor UI ideas) was one; it had various windows, such as the Properties dialog, that would automatically unmap themselves when they lost focus, unless they were "pinned" in the manner of some older Sun GUIs. When the dialog was first mapped, it wasn't pinned; and under implicit focus, it immediately lost the focus, and unmapped itself before you could do anything. Impressively stupid. It was possible to work around this by setting a focus-change delay; that made applications like VS2008 usable, but it was an annoying compromise, since sometimes the focus would lag behind where you expected it to be.

            [1] As the Motif window manager had it, back in the day. I don't remember what older WMs made this configurable, or what they called it if they did.

    4. Len Goddard
      Thumb Down

      Re: I'm just waiting

      You miss the point. A lot of people liked the Ubuntu gnome-2 style interface and had been using it for years. A lot of them are not OS-junkies - they don't want to have to learn new and exciting ways to screw up their workflow, they just want a stable platform which won't throw up nasty surprises. If Unity had been introduced as an alternative desktop on a new 'buntu there would have been no howls of complaint, but it userped the gnome style interface with something completely different. In my case, Unity was totally unsuited to the way I work. I switched to Xubuntu - which is not too far from gnome - and am now experimenting with Mint/Mate but all of this is completely unproductive.

      And yes, I know that gnome had moved on to the less than popular gnome 3 but that was because the gnome development community suffered from the same arrogant "we know what's best" attitude as Canonical.

    5. John Sanders

      Re: I'm just waiting

      "not giving a new GUI the chance to show it's strengths."

      And what happens when you have tried the new GUI, and it doesn't not only show any strength but you find out is completely backwards?

      Gnome 3.x is crap, Unity is slightly better but shit because it crashes an average of 10 times a day (I haven't tried 13.04)

      My advice is: XFCE 4.10.2 rules, XFCE is the one that deserves a chance.

      1. andreas koch

        @ JohnSanders - Re: I'm just waiting


        And what happens when you have tried the new GUI, and it doesn't not only show any strength but you find out is completely backwards?


        If it doesn't suit you (My laptop doesn't crash, by the way, what are you doing?), then use a different GUI.

        Easy as that.

        Again, and again, and again: Calling something 'crap' is not a valid statement in my opinion, even as a personal opinion it's unsuitable. Unless, of course, you were born in Vulgaria.

        By the way, I've got nothing against XFCE, Debian, Mint; I actually have those in use as well, but on my casual-everyday-lappy I'm happy with Unity. And I don't understand how a distribution can be so flamed for a replaceable part of it.

        It'd be slightly different with OSX or Windows, these are quite tied down. But Linux?

        This is probably the main reason why it doesn't catch on as a desktop OS. To many squabbling, fanatical fanboys who scare hoi polloi away.

  6. wowfood

    I'm waiting for a


    Ubuntu designed specifically to boot up and launch steam, along with its dependencies. Nothing else. I could see it being useful in a dual boot situation.

  7. eulampios

    and what about

    Mate and Cinnamon? Aren't there ppa's for those which I remember successfully installing on a friend's machine? There also used to be Fubuntu (fluxbox) available. This one might be even more lightweight than LXFCE.

    Although, for my own desktop I have switched to Mint and Debian, however, imho, all the members the of the *Buntu family look pretty good. MS Windows Vista/8... cough-cough.... This is one of those many instances where freedom pays off pretty lavishly.

    1. eulampios

      Re: and what about


      was it XFCE +LXDM I was thinking about ;-)

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. asdf

      Re: and what about

      >This one might be even more lightweight than LXFCE.

      Fluxbox might be more lightweight than openbox but I haven't seen a desktop linux iso based on it under 35 meg like I have with openbox (Slitaz).

      1. eulampios

        Re: and what about

        right, Damn Small Linux distro, DSL, claims to only require about 32MB of RAM with fluxbox. However, if I remember correctly, they are still using 2.4 kernel, there were plans to switch to 2.6 though.

        1. asdf

          Re: and what about

          Yeah DSL uses less memory but their iso is over 100 meg now last I remember. Not that it matters with even memory sticks being in triple digit gigabytes but compact is cool.

  8. FrankAlphaXII

    With the way canonical has been acting lately why even bother with Ubuntu? If you have or want to use something that uses APT, Why not just use Debian? I mean Ubuntu is just a fork of Debian with proprietary and patent encumbered software included by default, right? Like any other distro, Its not that hard to add repos and software that isn't included in Debian?

    So If you absolutely need Canonical's applications or what some would consider objectionable software, you can always add the repo and install the package, right?

    I come from the land of Headwear (RHEL, CentOS, and Fedora with KDE because I don't like Gnome, I also have to suffer Oracle Linux at work occasionally, but its basically RHEL with Oracle bloat added on). I'm used to having to add certain things manually (codecs, some drivers, etc) because there are legal or ethics issues involved, so forgive me if I'm saying something completely alien to a Ubuntu user.

    I tried using Ubuntu (actually Kubuntu) about six years ago and it was a terrible experience for me personally, and at the present time I don't have to have anything to do with it at either of my jobs, so I don't, but I can see how some people might like it.

    1. asdf


      Granted Ubuntu is pants these days but they do have a big 3rd party compatibility edge on debian. I moved from Mint Debian rolling to regular Mint just because of library version conflicts causing the Steam client to not run. I could resolve them myself of course but not worth the effort. Debian is only a good choice imho if ALL the software you want to run is in their repository.

  9. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge


    Oh, if only there was a way to switch the desktop over to 'just show the files in ~/Desktop'.

    Oh wait, there is...

    Wonder what else you skimped on reviewing...

    1. Will Stephenson

      Re: KDE

      Virtual desktops/workspaces. They are available as well as Activities. I wouldn't blame a layman for confusing them since they are similar yet completely orthogonal to each other, but a reviewer should be familiar enough with the object of the review to not just make something up.

      Also just making a vague assertion that 3D hardware is somewhat required for KDE is BS, you can run it very well thank you without and without having to use a different window manager. This was a USP for a bit, but xfwm4 has learned the same trick.

      1. Liam Proven Silver badge

        Re: KDE

        @Will Stephenson:

        The example that you choose to give as a positive thing - that it has /both/ virtual desktops /and/ "activities" - is the kind of pointless bloat that really annoys me.

        I have been using KDE since 1998; when did you start, out of interest? KDE 1 was good: focused, simple, clear. Clunky in places but the best thing around. KDE 2 started to add clutter and bloat. KDE 3 was a huge, overcomplicated mess. KDE 4 I personally find completely unusable, not to mention so ugly it is actually unpleasant to look at.

        However, I know that some people like it. (People completely devoid of any æsthetic sense, presumably.) So I tried to give it a fair crack of the whip.

        As for the 3D part - I found Kubuntu's performance in a VM poor, although not as poor as Unity and GNOME Shell. When I took the same steps required for them to function well, KDE also responded a great deal better. Its extensive use of transparency and similar effects punishes a 2D-only display and is wantonly demanding of CPU. As well as being fugly, as I think I mentioned above.

        There was a time when KDE was the gold standard of Unix desktops. It isn't any more. Now, it's a self-indulgent mishmash of thousands of twiddly little options and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

        What I wrote in the review was me being fair and even-handed towards if.

        HTH. HAND.

        1. Will Stephenson

          Re: KDE

          @ Liam Proven

          > The example that you choose to give as a positive thing - that it has /both/ virtual desktops

          > /and/ "activities" -

          *Did* I give that as a positive example? I pointed out that there are both, not one instead of the other. FWIW I agree that the big 3 new features in KDE 4: embedded PIM middleware; semantic search; and topic sessions need to be more useful to users to earn their place on the default desktop, otherwise they should get out of the way. I've started a little project to address that within the base KDE framework that you once admired.

          > is the kind of pointless bloat that really annoys me.

          You do make that quite clear.

    2. Paul 135

      Re: KDE

      The reviewer also has not appreciated how extremely useful the "Folder view" widget is on KDE. If he had just bothered himself to actually understand and then explain what it is, then there might be a bit more appreciation for how the KDE guys are evolving the desktop and making it useful in ways Microsoft are not.

      1. Liam Proven Silver badge

        Re: KDE

        @Paul 135:

        I've tried it. I have colleagues who love it. I hate it, myself. And it was my review. :¬)

    3. Liam Proven Silver badge

      Re: KDE

      @Tom Chiverton 1:

      If you had paid a little more attention, you might have noticed that in the second KDE screenshot, I do actually show a reconfigured desktop with icons on it (and a hierarchical start menu).

    4. Joe K

      Re: KDE

      I tried it recently, and i love it, it reminds me of the later versions of AmigaOS.

      Yes, the default floating folder of a few icons is rubbish, switch it to the Search & Launch interface and its far better.

      And activities are great, flip between my Emulation, Games, Office, Images and Video desktop with a quick win-tab. The lack of multiple desktops is one reason why Windows is always lacking for power-users.

  10. Danvighar

    Have to admit...

    While I'm a Windows user and administrator (there is no 8, only 7!), I have to admit I rather like the Mint Cinnamon I set up for my sister when rebuilding her old laptop. Most stuff did, indeed, 'just work', and it was easy to pull the packages she needed. Not so sure about packages I would use, but enough to do everything she needed just fine. Even the wireless was happy to play right out of the box.

    If (9 minus 1) is the way of the future from now on, mark me down for a likely penguin convert next time I have to replace my box (if I can't find an old 7 license somewhere).

  11. Chairo

    119 MB is lightweight?

    if you want something small and fast, the clear winner is Lubuntu.

    119 MB just for booting up the desktop? That might not be an issue on any more recent hardware, but I still wouldn't really call this lightweight.

    1. Steven Raith

      Re: 119 MB is lightweight?

      Atrocious car analogy coming up, but you find me a modern, safe, quiet car that weighs less than a ton.

      Twenty years a go, a car weighing over a ton (that wasn't a luxury saloon) would have been seen as being a bit lardy.

      As today - a modern, complete desktop running in less than 128mb of RAM is even more impressive given how feature creep has caused users to want more and more by default.

      If you really want a lightweight linux and can justify it by having proper old hardware, you still have options like Puppy etc, AFAIK. As none of the machines I own has less than 2GB ram (and that's my bros scabby lappy - none of my machines have less than 8gb of RAM, even my phone has 2gb....) it's really less of an issue.

      If you have less than 256mb of RAM in a system, then you need to specialise these days - it's as simple as that.

      Steven R

      1. Yeik

        Re: 119 MB is lightweight?

        I have to say that is the worst analogy ever and completely wrong. The older cars are by far heavier. What is sad is I know cars that got the same gas mileage weighing more than something smaller and lighter now. It might have a little more horsepower now, but not much.

        I think most cars were above 1 ton.

        We are putting a lot more stuff in the new cars, and safety features though.

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: 119 MB is lightweight?

          Yeik, youy clearly aren't European.

          Vauxhall Nova - twenty years old - sub-850kg wet.

          Current Corsa (same class, technically) - well over a ton wet. Adam is no better

          Power outputs - other than the current crazy models pushing 200hp, pretty much the same.

          A Nova with 180hp and suitable suspension will destroy a Corsa with 180hp with suitable suspension, everywhere, in every condition.

          No debate, it just will.

          Cut christ, I'd rather live with, and crash a current Corsa.

          Steven R

          (Puma Millenium edition - nice subtle car, and a good compromise between those two it...)

          1. Yeik

            Re: 119 MB is lightweight?

            Steven, Cameron,

            I do apologize. Obviously I was thinking a Similar sized car then vs now. Cars have grown in length, width, and height. Obviously if you compare models, they have gotten heavier, but they have also gotten bigger.

            Even the Corsa example, is longer, wider, and taller than the one that is older. So indeed, cars are getting heavier, but that is because they are a lot bigger.

            I was taking that into account more so than the actual weight of the car. But i still think it is a bad analogy.

            On average, we have grown taller as a species over time as well, so it makes sense we need bigger cars. that and we are just lazy.

            1. Anonymous Coward

              Re: 119 MB is lightweight?

              The primary reason for larger car size is the extra safety features included in modern cars. A modern car door, for example, is eight inches thick, compared to two inches 30 years ago. Side impact bars, crumple zones, side airbags, reinforced A pillars - they might not weigh much but they make the car much larger.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: 119 MB is lightweight?

      It's about the same as XP, but I'm old enough to recall that XP was considered by many to be "bloated beyond belief" when it first came out.

    3. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: 119 MB is lightweight?

      Nope, 119MB of HDD after installing for the desktop complete with the default applications - so a full browser, office-type pack etc.

      All of them are absolutely minuscule compared to Windows 7 and small compared to WinXP - our XP-Embedded image is much bigger than that without any applications at all.

      1. Cameron Colley

        @Yeik Re: 119 MB is lightweight?

        Are you from the US by any chance?

        If you look at the weight of a standard family hatchback (e.g. Vauxhall/Opel Astra) you'll notice the kerb weight has increased by about 500KG since the 1990's. Could it be that you've just noticed that humongous gas-guzzlers have become lighter now that iron-block V8s have gone out of vogue?

      2. Liam Proven Silver badge

        Re: 119 MB is lightweight?

        @Richard 12:

        I'm afraid you're reading the columns wrongly.

        119MB is RAM use with an empty desktop, just booted.

        Lubuntu takes 2GB of disk space -- also the smallest of any of the variants on test.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: 119 MB is lightweight?

          @ Liam - So I am. Whoops.

    4. Liam Proven Silver badge

      Re: 119 MB is lightweight?


      I also said, you will note, "Lubuntu is the closest thing the Ubuntu family has to a lightweight edition."

      I've tried it on a 2004 laptop, where it runs excellently, and a 2001 laptop with 320MB of RAM, where it is perfectly usable. So, yes, for 2013, it /is/ lightweight.

    5. teebie

      Re: 119 MB is lightweight?

      Stop trying to install linux on your abacus

  12. dazzer_bow

    All nice...

    But like Lubuntu most.

  13. Herby

    But I don't like Ubuntu stuff.

    Flame on:

    I just like the Fedora releases. They are nice as well, and can be customized in every which way just as easily. Fedora seems to manage easier, but that's my opinion.

    Before you get out the torch, remember this is an "each to his own" choice. Choose ubuntu (or a variety of it) and continue down that path. Good luck to all.

    Remember: It isn't Windows 8, which all who read this type of article will agree is "better".

    1. Number6

      Re: But I don't like Ubuntu stuff.

      I switched from Fedora to Mint for the long-term support editions, after I got fed up with the forced upgrades at frequent intervals as each Fedora went end-of-life. I grew up with the RedHat way of doing things, so it was a big switch. I keep a Centos server as a virtual machine for nostalgia (and the fact that it's supported for many years...)

      When it was just one machine, Fedora was OK, but with half a dozen or more it gets to be a bit of a chore.

  14. JB

    Virtualisation on OS X

    I like the *buntus, and use Xubuntu 10.04 in Parallels on OS X. For some reason (drivers) Parallels won't let you use a screen size larger than 800x600 with the 13.04 release, and nobody can seem to get a decent answer form Parallels that I can see. I'm moving to VirtualBox instead, Parallels charging for something that won't even work properly is a scam, frankly. Xubuntu looks nice, but I'm keen to try Lubuntu.

  15. Rick Dickinson

    Any distro recommendations for use on an old Thinkpad 365XD?

    I'd like to use my old Pentium 100, 40MB RAM Thinkpad 365XD for something useful (like a MAME box, ferinstance). Unfortunately, 40MB is the max RAM it will hold -- 8MB on the mobo, and a 32MB SIMM.

    Any distro advice?

    When I bought the laptop initially, it was a darn good little Windows 3.11/DOS 6.22 machine. Upgrading it to Windows 95 yielded only "marginally acceptable" performance, however, and a later attempt to install Win2K led to nothing but frustration....

    At one point, I had a version of Slackware installed on it, but I remember having quite a bit of trouble finding a reasonably stable configuration for X, and reverted it to Win 95 Second Edition.

    1. Tim Starling

      Re: Any distro recommendations for use on an old Thinkpad 365XD?

      Time to put that one out to pasture, I think. It wouldn't be much use for anything other than nostalgia, and more recent computers do just fine at nostalgia thanks to DOSBox etc.

      If you really can't let it go, you could try . Apparently you can make it into a very bulky and power-hungry MP3 player.

    2. sam bo

      Re: Any distro recommendations for use on an old Thinkpad 365XD?

      Definitely try a Slitaz install, 4 is the latest , but if that won't run - try 3 or 2. i'm like you , hate to throw out a working machine.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Any distro recommendations for use on an old Thinkpad 365XD?

      Have you tried Puppy Linux ?

      40 MB is a bit lightweight and a lot of browsers would have trouble operating with that little RAM

      Depending on what you need (GUI, apps, browser, etc.) you will have to go with a very lightweight *nix.

    4. Number6

      Re: Any distro recommendations for use on an old Thinkpad 365XD?

      You could try Tiny Core Linux, as a stripped-down system to which you then add stuff, you can try things out and see what it's capable of.

  16. Someone

    VirtualBox Guest Additions

    In Ubuntu, Software & Updates (formerly Software Sources) has a new Additional Drivers tab. You can install VirtualBox Guest Additions from there. In previous recent versions, Additional Drivers (jockey) would pop up automatically and ask you. The problem with the repository drivers is that they're never the latest. Raring Ringtail currently has 4.2.10, compared with the latest version of VirtualBox, which is 4.2.12.

    Without OpenGL drivers, the CPU is left doing the job of a GPU. Memory bandwidth makes a big difference. I ended up getting DDR3-2400. In many circumstances, it's possible to forget that GPU acceleration isn't enabled. Ubuntu 13.04 isn't one of them. It's a bit laggy but useable without OpenGL, and it can still be a bit laggy with OpenGL. If you're using Kubuntu and want to turn the compositing off, just hit Shift-Alt-F12.

    1. Cameron Colley

      Re: VirtualBox Guest Additions

      Your point about the repository ones being older is a good one.

      On my install using Jockey to install the guest additions lead Ubuntu to choose the wrong resolutions for my monitor and it was only by deactivating the drivers from the repository and installing the ones from Virtualbox itself* that i was able to get the proper full-screen mode working.

      *a very easy procedure of selecting "Install guest additions" from the Virtualbox media menu, clicking OK in Ubuntu, entering your password then rebooting for changes to take effect).

  17. Paul 135

    nonsnse that KDE isn't easy to use

    "I found it overpowering, busy and confusing."

    Right click on desktop -> lock widgets. Stuff that you haven't bothered to understand is gone!

    It's all nonsense to say KDE isn't easy to use. Just watch the OsFirstTimer videos on YouTube where an annoying Australian kid gets his mum to try lots of OSs. She vastly prefers KDE over Unity and finds it more familiar and logical.

    1. Paul 135

      Re: nonsnse that KDE isn't easy to use

      II also think that the "strange columnar launch menu" is the most logical and clutter-free of any "Start" menu on Amy system.

      1. Liam Proven Silver badge

        Re: nonsnse that KDE isn't easy to use

        @Paul 135:

        Fine. Good for you. Perhaps you like the imposition of some 4 or 5 extra categories. Perhaps you like that you can't browse a submenu and then return to a higher-level menu without clicking on a tiny grey link -- perhaps it is intuitive to you that clicking the category at the bottom does /not/ back you out a level. Perhaps you like clicking your mouse; me, I prefer running mine up and down a menu without any clicking at all, watching the sublevels open and close on their own, so that I can read what's there without needless interaction.

        Perhaps you think more clicks = better. I think less clicks = better, personally.

        Some people like KDE. Perhaps counselling and medication might help them get over it, perhaps this is incurable, but for these people, Kubuntu is there.

        For everyone else, there are simpler desktops, smaller, quicker, easier ones, that do all the same stuff and don't have floating kidneys in the corner and pointless widgets everywhere.

        1. Paul 135

          Re: nonsnse that KDE isn't easy to use

          It isn't an "imposition of 4 or 5 extra categories". Rather it's taking the categories that are already there and logically labeling them in an explicit manner, rather than placing things in a random location and leaving you to figure out for yourself what the categorisation is supposed to be.

          The problem with heavily nested pop-out menus is that you have to be very precise with your mouse to use them, often the menu frustratingly collapsing on you if you move the pointer a pixel out of place. (for the same reason Microsoft changed the stlye of start menu between XP and Vista/7)

          The default KDE menu is therefore more logical and more friendly to new users, and if you want the classic menu for people used to that then you can have it with one right-click.

    2. asdf

      Re: nonsnse that KDE isn't easy to use

      KDE folks don't understand sometimes you just want a standalone windows manager without doubling the size of stuff installed on your hard drive. When I do apt-get install someolewinmanager I don't want to see the page scroll with dependencies.

    3. Liam Proven Silver badge

      Re: nonsnse that KDE isn't easy to use

      It is not stuff that I haven't bothered to understand. It is stuff that I don't want, which to me, means pointless cruft.

      I understand that some want a comprehensive environment with all the possible bells, whistles, gongs, horns, custard pies and the water-powered whirling knives. I am happy for them that it is available, complete with an assortment of themes designed by colour-blind 14-year-old males with ADHD.

      However, I do not want it, and for the most part, I think most people don't, which is why KDE, which was utterly dominant around the turn of the century, is now a neglected backwater, and as of a few years ago, *all* the leading distros had switched to GNOME.

      If someone found it easier, I will warrant that is because they had used Windows before.

    4. Obvious Robert

      Re: nonsnse that KDE isn't easy to use

      "It's all nonsense to say KDE isn't easy to use. Just watch the OsFirstTimer videos on YouTube where an annoying Australian kid gets his mum to try lots of OSs. She vastly prefers KDE over Unity and finds it more familiar and logical."

      True, she did prefer KDE to Unity, but she also preferred Mint 14 with Cinnamon to every other OS altogether (excellent series of videos). KDE is designed for people who want absolute control over their environment, and that's great. KDE was my first port of call after not getting on fantastically with Unity and initially I was wowed by all the eye candy. But exactly like the reviewer here said, I quickly began to find all the options, configurability and endless buttons and tick boxes busy and overwhelming, and felt the OS was getting in my way somewhat because of it.

      Then I read about Cinnamon, first tried it as an additional desktop on Ubuntu, and recently switched to Mint wholesale and I love it, for me it gets the balance between eye candy, configuration options and usability precisely right. That's not to say that KDE, LXDE, Unity or (god forbid) Gnome 3 don't have their places, IMHO the fact you can pick an interface to suit you rather than put up with whatever is shoved down your throat is one of Linux's massive strengths.

      1. Paul 135

        Re: nonsnse that KDE isn't easy to use

        I got the feeling that the kid is a Mint fanboy who heavily weighted her in that direction, because he blabbed on about WINE etc. in that test that he didn't in others. Still, KDE was in her top favourites and top of all the environments listed here, so think it shows that to say KDE isn't for new clueless Linux users is a lot of nonsense.

        IMO, looking at the bigger picture of Linux communities, Cinnamon is a waste of time fork based on an ancient codebase, with effort that would be better spent improving more mainstream desktop environments.

        1. Obvious Robert

          Re: nonsnse that KDE isn't easy to use

          "effort that would be better spent improving more mainstream desktop environments."

          According to sites like Distrowatch, Mint appears be be the single most popular distro these days. How much more mainstream would you like?

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Paul 135

            Re: nonsnse that KDE isn't easy to use

            Leaving aside that Distrowatch doesn't really mean much, it may be what is the single most fashionable at the moment on that site (not combined as KDE distros summed outnumber it) for end-users, but not in terms of the development community behind it and long-term potential. It's wasted energy on an out-of-date forked UI and ancient GTK+ toolkit IMO that would be better spent improving more modern and modular environments like KDE, Qt etc, especially given that you can configure KDE to look in almost any way you can possibly imagine.

  18. Dave Bell

    So that explains it...

    I'd noticed that Ubuntu used to work well on my old netbook, and doesn't any more.

    Hardware graphics acceleration needed...

    I shall have to give Lubuntu a try, I suppose.

    I am, I am afraid, a little old-fashioned in my tastes and not without reason. I have seen enough instances of new UI shiny that seem to do little useful, and maybe divert resources from design elements that arguably need fixing. Such as a program locked to one rather bad colour scheme which can be described as "shit-brown" is its predominant shade.

    1. Mobeer

      Re: So that explains it...

      I have a Dell Mini 9 (1.6Ghz Atom single core, 1 Gb RAM, 8 GB disk) that ran perfectly well with Ubuntu LPIA. It cannot cope with current Ubuntu - somewhere around 12 something the UI just ground to a halt.

      Installed Lubuntu and it works better than ever now. If just the file explorer application were a bit more friendly I would happily recommend Lubuntu.

  19. Cyfaill

    KDE is configurable for a reason

    Linux is configurable (how many distros?)

    KDE is just that as well. I have used it for many years. I have tried the others, I like KDE. I expect it to be heavy so I just build a more powerful computer to compensate.

    Why would I want to do that? Because I use the computer as a major tool in my life and I like a comfortable place to work. It is a task to learn any GUI, so what. My best advice to anyone learning Linux is to pick a good distro and learn to use it. No shortage of selections. I use aptosid, with a KDE that is pumped up and many applications that demand power in core and HDD space... and speed to make it seem seamless, which it does very well.

    There is no reason to pick on someone else's choice, I gave up that useless activity long ago... just pick your tools and learn them well.

    KDE gives a plethora of choices so it can be fine tuned to be what you want it to be.

    Choice and simplicity are not compatible goals... the greater the choices and configurable elements means complexity is inherent in the design... I just like a pretty desktop and with KDE that is certainly possible. If I also want speed and performance I need to up the capabilities of the entire system. So I do...

    michael@Eyland0:~$ infobash -v3

    Host/Kernel/OS "Eyland0" running Linux 3.8-8.slh.2-aptosid-amd64 x86_64 [ aptosid 2012-01 "Θάνατος - kde-lite - ( 201212010120 ) ]

    CPU Info 8x AMD FX-8120 Eight-Core 2048 KB cache flags( sse3 ht nx lm svm ) clocked at [ 1400.000 MHz ]

    Videocard NVIDIA G86 [GeForce 8500 GT] X.Org 1.12.4 [ 1920x1080@60.0hz ]

    Network cards D-Link System Inc DGE-560T PCI Express Gigabit

    Processes 178 | Uptime 11:39 | Memory 925.8/7973.9MB | HDD WDC WD6000HLHX-0,ST3500418AS,AS2105 Size 1420GB (35%used) | GLX Renderer Gallium 0.4 on NV86 | GLX Version Yes | Client Shell | Infobash v3.46


    Fast and seamless power in computing.

    Its not a problem with me that someone else has a different goal... Its all Linux after all is said and done... that’s the power... it all works.

    One other small point, 89% of kernel development comes from corporate sponsored development now... Linux is no longer a hobby, it is running the world beyond the desktop even as we talk about it as if it was some new thing coming up... Open your Eyes. Its doing the heavy lifting now. It may never be the future of the desktop as that space will belong to Android Mobile Linux in just a few years... That is your simple Linux, all configuration done for you.... Workstations Linux, Appliances Android.

    Its all Linux.

    1. Liam Proven Silver badge

      Re: KDE is configurable for a reason


      Good for you. You might like to try Gentoo or even Arch -- you may well enjoy tweaking and adjusting the innards of the system, too.

      I don't, not any more. I want it to go on my machine, just work, for nothing to need adjustment and for the GUI to get out of my way and let me do what I need to do. Less chrome, not more. I don't really want visual effects, I don't want masses of customisation, I just want something that is subtle, does the job and then recedes into the background.

    2. Paul 135

      Re: KDE is configurable for a reason

      Agree with most of what you said except for the "Choice and simplicity are not compatible goals". You can have a simple UI on the surface, but layer choice beneath a series of options menus for configuration and advanced settings. I think KDE comes pretty close to nailing both, being simple to use whilst also offering choice in the depth of the control centre for those who want it.

  20. cosmogoblin


    Here's what puzzles me. When I'm running an OS, I don't run the OS - I run programs. If that functionality is there, simple and unbreaking, what do people care about the OS?

    An OS should be stable, secure and fast, with a program manager that gives you quick access to your programs, and a window manager that includes alt-tab and always-on-top. Beyond that, and maybe some accessibility options, what do any of these distros actually offer?

  21. robynsveil

    Looking forward to...

    ... the Raring Ringtail sortie of Mint. And a review on the same.

    As CosmoGoblin pointed out: one really runs programs... the OS should just do its thing in the background like a butler, oozing in and out as needed, but never demanding of attention, and *certainly* never interrupting what the user is doing. (The way Windows 7 updates -possibly previous versions too?- were set up was beyond rude and annoying... if you're focused on what you're doing and happened to have "Auto-Update" on -default- and that "rebooting-in-10-minutes" notice doesn't get your attention, you will lose work. This has happened to me. And yes: this is the default setting.)

    I still run Windows apps in VirtualBox/Win7 but they are the rare ones (like Photoshop CS3): most of what I need, Mint and the Software repos provide handily.

  22. Number6


    I can recommend LXDE for anything more than a few years old, and especially netbooks. It's responsive on old graphics hardware, I've been running it on my Aspire One machines for over four years now.

    I'd also recommend it for computer-phobic relatives if you get lumbered with tech support and helping them sort out their machine. It behaves enough like Windows that they can get to an Office suite, mail and web without problems, and it can be remotely maintainable over an ssh connection. It also seems to be harder to screw up from the keyboard than the fancier desktops.

  23. teebie

    KDE and GNOME have rather different philosophies, and admirers of one tend to dislike the othe

    And the prise for understatement goes to...

  24. JB

    +1 for Xubuntu

    My wife's lappy had Win7 on it, what a mess - flaky wireless, kept freezing, wouldn't sleep properly, so in utter frustration I put xubutu on it last week. I was expecting a torrent of "what's this? I don't understand it" but she's absolutely loving her 'new' laptop. it does what she wants - web browsing with Chromium, dropbox, Libreooffice - and that is great to see. she hasn't even booted into the Windows partition I created, just in case!

  25. AdamWill

    You don't need proprietary drivers for 3D desktops

    "The bigger picture, though, is that none of the big three desktops - Unity, GNOME 3 or KDE 4 - are a good fit if you don't have a decent OpenGL accelerator in your machine, plus the appropriate proprietary drivers."

    This is a highly inaccurate statement. You do not need proprietary drivers to get decent 3D acceleration on Linux any more, in most cases; certainly not enough acceleration for accelerated desktops to work perfectly well. Fedora does testing with the open source graphics drivers, and in our experience, about 80-95% of all graphics adapters work perfectly well for GNOME Shell with the open source drivers (intel, radeon and nouveau).

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