Linux Distribution Review: Xubuntu 15.04

After increasing the ram on my trusty Dell Precision 380 to 4Gb, it still seemed to struggle a bit with KDE4. Opensuse 13.1 worked well but seemed slow, I decided that I needed a lighter system and had heard good things about xfce 4.12 and xubuntu. With a heavy heart it was time to take the plunge and re-install with Xubuntu 15.04.

Installation

Installing xubuntu 15.04 was a breeze and took about 30 minutes. The installation screens are easy to use and I simply went for the wipe disk and install option. This creates ext4 and swap partitions automatically and then starts the install. I didn’t bother with install updates or 3rd party software like mp3 etc – you can get all that stuff later.

Post Install

After the install I added the ubuntu partner software repositories in system ‘software & updates’ and then updated the system using the usual

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

After that the packages to install are: xubuntu-restricted-extras and vlc. The ‘extras’ package installs all the codecs you will need for audio/video, installs flash-player and ttf core fonts – basically all the essential stuff you will need. I added ppa:webupd8team/java to get java jdk.

I download my printer driver from the brother site as a deb package and that installed without any trouble. Xubuntu detected my wireless pci card and worked from first boot (phew!)

In Use

Xubuntu 15.04 comes with xfce 4.12 which works like a charm, usb and cd/dvd mount works without a hitch – my android phone mounted without any problem.

The debian deb packaging system is much easier to use than rpm and the packages for xubuntu download and install in a logical way. All the main apps I use were available and installed without any problems eg:

VLC, cherrytree(notes app), chromium-browser, xubuntu-restricted-extras, ffmpeg, gnucash, bleachbit, virtualbox, geany(ide/editor), openoffice-4.1.1(from debs), v86d(for boot splash), gparted, numlockx(turns numlock on), xfce4-clipman, xfce4-clipman-plugin,  python-software-properties (for java jdk), oracle-java7-installer (for java 7 jdk), gnome-system-log, radiotray(internet radio)

I don’t like the interface to Libreoffice so I installed Apache Openoffice after downloading the deb bundle from the site. Geany is a brilliant, lightweight ide/editor for c++ that was a suprising slot-in replacement for the mighty Kate editor in KDE. Xfce 4.12 does not install a clipboard manager by default installing clipman and clipman-plugin solved that in a few minutes. Virtualbox was very easy to install and worked without problems.

Problems

I have been using xubuntu 15.04 for about 2 months and only came across a few little niggles. Xubuntu makes use of a process called tumblerd which hogged the cpu – this happens when you write audio/video files to usb or dvd, tumblerd goes bonkers creating thumbnails. However, it’s easy to turn off – just edit /etc/xdg/tumbler/tumbler.rc (as root) and turn off the video thumbnailers.

Numlock has been a mystery. It’s not a big problem, all you have to do is turn it on at the keyboard after all – but using the system setting, it seems to turn on/off whenever the mood takes it.

For some reason the boot-splash didn’t work after the install, by following the instructions here I have it working:

http://askubuntu.com/questions/362722/how-to-fix-splash-screen-in-all-ubuntu-releases

I found chromium browser was a bit faster than firefox but started to hog memory too much so I switched back to firefox and am happy with it’s performance.

Conclusions

I really like Xubuntu 15.04, It’s easy to use, very quick and xfce4.12 has all the options you need to get your desktop working just how you like. I like the way the panel adjusts to your use – start Thunderbird email for the first time and an envelope icon appears on the panel.

Xfce’s look is a little basic, but to be honest I haven’t tried to add any bling nor can I be bothered looking for flashy themes. I wanted a system that worked out of the box, and just got out of the way when I wanted to get some actual work done. Xubuntu feels like it’s working with me not against me (I will admit to some frustrations with kde4 at times) and I actually like it’s clean, simple uncluttered look and feel. I have been very impressed with Xubuntu 15.04 and must admit to being surprised at it’s no 30 odd rank on distrowatch.

I installed xubuntu 15.04 on a friends old Acer Aspire 5315 laptop. He had problems with accumulated windows junk and a few viruses – he phoned me to tell me how slick and easy xubuntu is to use – even the fan works properly again, can’t be bad.

 

 

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