May 21, 2011

Tech thoughts: Xubuntu 11.04 usage experience

Tech thoughts: Xubuntu 11.04 usage experience

Screenshot of desktop, taken 5/20/11 In the name of more recurring features on the blog, here’s a third possible one: a weekly series of posts about various technology issues. This week, I’ll sum up my experience so far with Xubuntu 11.04, the newest version of Ubuntu’s XFCE-based distro.

While it’s taken some getting used to for a few features (one browser-like window vs. a spatial desktop particularly), and I’ve installed a few programs to replace the defaults, I’m enjoying Xubuntu/XFCE way more than the Unity or GNOME 3 desktops.

Pros so far:

  • Startup time is faster than it was with regular Ubuntu, and much faster from the login window to the desktop.
  • Xubuntu/XFCE works well with and accommodates GTK/GNOME, and thus I’ve had few problems installing some of my favorite GNOME programs.
  • No Unity or GNOME 3 interface hijinks. XFCE is quite conservative in comparison.
  • The newest version of XFCE, 4.8, is included with the Xubuntu 11.04 release. Additionally, XFCE (and Xubuntu) seems to have improved greatly over previous releases, to the point that I can now use it comfortably (though with a few caveats listed below under “cons”).
  • Xubuntu can make use of my laptop’s trackpad lock button, unlike the past several versions of Ubuntu.

Cons so far:

  • Some of the default software left a bit to be desired. Gmusicbrowser’s interface/preference settings were unintuitive at best. Fortunately, installing Rhythmbox and Banshee was easy.
  • XFCE, being a somewhat-ligther-weight desktop environment, isn’t as full-featured as GNOME/Unity, but still manages to do most duties well.
  • The biggest flaw so far with Xubuntu 11.04 is that shutdowns aren’t working properly. Upon selecting “Shut Down” and pressing the “are you sure?” button that appears, the laptop either does nothing or takes quite awhile before actually shutting down. On occasion, XFWM4, the window manager for XFCE, crashes, leaving desktop windows looking quite off until the laptop or XFWM4 is rebooted (the latter via a terminal).

Other than the shutdown error, Xubuntu 11.04’s been quite usable, and a welcome difference from regular-Ubuntu at this point. XFCE’s mascot/logo, a mouse, will probably be on my laptop for the forseeable future…

Tags: LinuxTechXfceXubuntu