I have a plan to switch from Ubuntu to Xubuntu soon. I’ve been using Xfce as my default DE on Ubuntu for abut 1,5 years, and from my experience, using Ubuntu with Xfce makes my system faster and improves my battery usage. I also prefer Xfce’s default apps, like Thunar and Ristretto, to Ubuntu’s default apps. And I hate the slowness of the Dash and the fact that I don’t have the freedom to easily use a different icon theme or reorganize the indicators on the panel.
So last week, I downloaded an image of Xubuntu 14.04 LTS via torrent. I use LTS release since it’s more stable than regular releases, and limited data plan doesn’t let me upgrade my system very often.
Then I wrote the image into a spare USB using UNetbootin so I could try Xubuntu as a live USB. I got a kernel panic at first, which turned out to be because I didn’t format the USB properly before using UNetbootin. I tried booting to the USB again after formatting it and re-writing the image, and this time it works fine.
After booting, I was greeted by a familiar-looking desktop. The window buttons are on the top panel instead of on the bottom, which is quite uncomfortable and Gnome Shell-like for me.
Xubuntu 14.04 now uses Whisker Menu for its main menu. I prefer the old Applications Menu (with Synapse replacing the search bar), but it’s not a problem – I could still add it to the panel.
Xubuntu has two office/productivity apps: Abiword (word processor) and Gnumeric (spreadsheet program). I’m not a user of both them, but apart from the fact that they don’t support Office 2007+ files (docx, xlsx), they seem to be not that bad.
The file searching tool, Catfish, is simple, good-looking and surprisingly fast.
Evince is not a bad document viewer, but I wish they would go with a more lightweight alternative, like epdfview or qpdfview.
When I’m taking the screenshots for this review, I’m quite relieved that GIMP is pre-installed, so I could edit it right away.
Xubuntu ships with my favorite music player, gmusicbrowser. It’s as good as usual, and being a fan of the List, Library and Context layout, I have never noticed that the default layout (Shimmer Desktop) looks much better until now.
The media player, Parole, is surprisingly good. To my surprise, it handles mp4 videos and a 4.5 GB .mkv file extremely well.
Xubuntu has a Settings Manager, which integrates all the system settings into one place.
Xubuntu came with 8 themes. As a person who frequently changes her themes and icons, I don’t like it that the window theme didn’t automatically change after changing themes; I should manually change it from the Window Manager Options.
Xubuntu uses Blueman to as a bluetooth devices manager. It’s a better bluetooth manager than Ubuntu’s default; it managed to detect my phone and send a file to it, but I have failed to send a file from my phone to the computer. I also have the same issue on my Ubuntu; I only have successfully sent a file from my phone in 1 out of 10 occasions.
I prefer the default Xubuntu desktop to look like this. A bit traditional, but it’s comfortable and familiar. Also, Xubuntu came with two games: Sudoku and Minesweeper, which also happened to be two of my favorite computer games. Both of the games were the Gnome versions.
Xubuntu 14.04 LTS is a good distro. It’s fast, it came with the light but customizable Xfce desktop environment, and it has a pretty good selection of default apps.
By the way, the memory usage of Xubuntu is very satisfying for me; when idle, it consumes 240 MB and then 400 MB with Firefox, Thunar, and gmusicbrowser running. As a comparison, my Ubuntu uses 650 MB of memory when idle and then 950 MB with the same apps running.
I’m aware that Xubuntu is not the lightest in the Ubuntu family. With an image size of 975 MB, it’s only 250 MB smaller than Ubuntu. But the performance and customizability options still exceed Ubuntu.
Xubuntu 14.04 LTS
Released: April 17, 2014
Size: 975.2 MB (disk image)
License: Free software licenses, mostly GNU GPL
(Some information lifted from Wikipedia.)