Einar's blog
18 juni 2013

Why i switched to Ubuntu from Lubuntu on my netbook

When I got my netbook in january, I backed up the Windows 7 starter restore partition before installing Lubuntu. I had been playing with Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Bohdi, Xubuntu and other Linux distros in virtual machines on my Mac for a while and I had been thinking that it would be practical to have a smaller, more portable computer. So I watched some sites where people advertise used stuff for sale and got myself an Asus EeePC 1015PEM cheaply.

Ubuntu seemed to be the best distro for a Linux newbie like me, with lots of online documentation, lots of available software that is easily installed and a big community of users and developers, but the Unity desktop environment that comes with stock Ubuntu was a bit too slow on my netbook. I looked into Xubuntu, but I didn’t really like it that much and it wasn’t really that much faster than Ubuntu, so I went a step further in lightness to Lubuntu. I found it user-friendly and fast. The look is slightly Windows 95ish, but it is tweakable and generally quite pixel efficient, wich is important on a netbook. So I tweaked away the bottom panel and changed some font sizes and was generally happy with it.

However, I have allways liked Unity. The integrated menu and window title bar saves some vertical pixels and the content of my programs get more space. It makes a lot of sense, specially on smaller screens. The dock on the left side also saves some vertical pixels compared to a panel or dock at the bottom of the screen. I am also a fan of the dash. Using the Windows Super key to get to the dash and just starting typing whatever you are searching for is very efficient. I am looking forward to seeing what types of «lenses» for the dash will be available in the near future.

Some time ago I read on OMGUbuntu (or was it Phoronix) about how much faster Unity was in Ubuntu 13.04 Developer Beta than in previous versions and how stable the developer beta was. I tried the beta, and it was actually stable enough for day to day work and much faster than 12.04 and 12.10 on my netbook and on par with Lubuntu 12.04.2. I went back to Lubuntu because in the developer beta of Ubuntu 13.04, I had trouble setting up external monitors properly without mirroring the internal monitor and limiting my resolution options because of it. I need to be able to connect to projectors sometimes when I am substituting as a teacher, for showing a video or presentation, even if I usually don’t have log on credentials to the school computers. And using beta software is not that smart, since things can stop working with the next update.

But using the faster Unity desktop environment of the developer beta of 13.04 was enticing. When Lubuntu 13.04 came out, I upgraded, but the speed wasn’t much faster in 13.04 than in 12.04.2. (12.10 was troublesome for me, so I went back to 12.04.2.) Lubuntu 13.04 wasn’t as much faster compared to previous Lubuntu versions as Ubuntu 13.04 was compared with 12.04. Some weeks ago, I tried the final version of Ubuntu 13.04 on the Live CD and tried out the screen settings panel and discovered that it no longer limited my choices when it came to mirrored or unmirrored screens and that it gave me independent resolution settings for each screen, just as in Lubuntu.

After half a year of Lubuntu on my netbook, suddenly my reasons for choosing Lubuntu over Ubuntu had disappeared. Ubuntu 13.04 is just as fast on my netbook and Unity has matured and become faster and more good-looking than in 12.04 and 12.10. And the screen settings panel has become much more useable for me.

I have also switched back to Firefox from Midori. Midori had a tendency to crash all the time and whenever I turned off my computer without first quitting Midoring, it said that it had crashed last time it ran and asked me wether or not I wanted to restore my tabs. Annoying stuff. Firefox might be slightly slower, but not having to deal with bugginess is better than speed. I might swith back to Midori if a later version is more stable.

2 Responses to "Why I switched to Ubuntu from Lubuntu on my netbook"

  1. vayne says: 05.07.2013, kl. 00:16 hello what are the specs of your netbook i have a netbook sony vaio with ubuntu 10.04 (its the only that dont cause trouble) i test lubuntu to but i thinks it has battery problems so i install 10.04. i have a 1gb ram do you think is a good idea to change? thanks
  2. Reply Einar Mostad says: 08.07.2013, kl. 17:08 Hi Vayne! My netbook is an Asus EeePC 1015PEM with a dual core Atom at 1,5 GHz and 2 GB RAM. Lubuntu ran fine on it and earlier versions of Ubuntu were slow, but in 13.04 the difference in speed between Ubuntu and Lubuntu more or less disappeared, so I chose Ubuntu, since I like the Unity desktop environment. 1 GB RAM is not much, so a more lightweight linux distribution, like Lubuntu, is probably faster on your machine. (I would max my RAM to whatever the machine can take. It is usually quite easy and cheap these days, and then you will get a bit more speed.) I have heard lots of good things about Peppermint OS, which is based on Lubuntu, so maybe that is worth a try. Another option if you want a modern looking desktop that is lightweight is to try Bohdi Linux, which is based of Ubuntu, but uses the Enlightenment desktop. I’m very tempted to switch to it, but the setup panel for screens keep me away for now. Anyway, you are probably better off with a newer version than 10.04. I would try 12.04 which is a long time support realease (LTS) or 13.04, which seems faster, but might be more unstable, to keep up with security updates and to get access to newer versions of software. Might be smart to look for any issues concerning your specific machine model and any version of (L)Ubuntu you are thinking of installing on Ask Ubuntu to see if others are experiencing problems before installing it. If you want to try Bohdi or Peppermint OS, then those are based on Ubuntu, so they probably have the same issues as the (L)Ubuntu version they are based on.
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