Monday, August 26, 2013

A Delightful Surprise: Lubuntu Extra Life Extension (LXLE) 12.04.3

by Dietrich Schmitz

Delight.  It's that feeling you get when you stumble upon something new that you had no idea existed.

You may know that I've got a penchant for lean minimalist Distributions and using an Acer Aspire One Netbook with 2 GB ram can be demanding.  So, naturally, I want to ring all the power I can get out of  a given Distro, whatever that may be.  I try not to Distro-hop, but in the recent past have moved from Netrunner 13.04 Enigma, the best out of the box KDE experience, to Lubuntu 13.04,  a lean, but good performance value proposition for older PCs and Netbooks.

In my view, Lubuntu really has the best mix of features for older PCs and Atom-based Netbooks of any Distro I can think of.

While spartan Lubuntu may be, it is by no means a slouch in terms of performance characteristics, as you'll find it uses OpenBox window manager combined with LXDE.   I've found it most appealing that Lubuntu covers all the basics with little fanfare and doesn't get 'in your way'.  It meets the 'good enough' benchmark, get's the job done, and, most of all, 'sips memory' qualifying it as fast and nimble.

Alright you get the idea.  So, I went to Distrowatch a few days ago and discovered that there was a Distro, LXLE, that had just released a new version on August 23, 2013.   Hmmmm.  Lubuntu Extra Life Extension?  My curiosity was peaked.  I made a note of it and downloaded a copy of their 64-bit edition (32-bit available also) and installed it last evening.

I've spent several weeks using Lubuntu and quickly reached a comfort level using it.  So, getting up to speed on LXLE wasn't difficult and it furnishes the same installation process as most of the other *buntu derivates with its own branding, of course.  That process ran smoothly as expected.

Upon completion of the install, I pulled out the usb pen drive and rebooted.  When I reached the login menu it showed a nice clean login screen with a Lubuntu/LXLE logo emblazoned.  Below the login name and password was XP Paradigm.  What? Paradigm?  I clicked the drop-down list to see there were four paradigm options including Lubuntu Netbook.  Interesting, I thought.  I left it on XP for now.

Lubuntu Extra Life Extension Desktop - XP Paradigm
The above is a screenshot of the LXLE desktop.

What is it?

LXLE is simply a respun Lubuntu with different goals.
  • Sticks with LTS only releases of Ubuntu to ensure hardware & software support.
  • Based on Lubuntu Linux to ensure a fast capable desktop for aging computers.
  • No rebranding of the OS to ensure no confusion when looking for help/tutorials.
  • Stays with Ubuntu at the core of the system to ensure plentiful support options.
  • Keeps desktop and other major software updated to the latest current version.
  • Provides a complete drop in and go replacement for XP, Vista, 7 Starter/Basic.
  • Covers most users everyday needs by providing an excellent set of default apps.
  • Adds useful necessary mods and tweaks, to improve performance & functions.
  • Develops a beautiful modern looking intuitive desktop for anyone to use easily.

New Version! 12 .04.3 Paradigm

  • Light on resources; Heavy on functions.
  • Always based on Ubuntu/Lubuntu LTS.
  • Uses an optimized LXDE user interface.
  • Four familar desktop layout paradigms.
  • Prudent full featured Apps preinstalled.
  • The latest versions of all major software.
  • Added PPA's extends available software.
  • Updated Openbox, PCmanfm, OpenJDK
  • Fast Forecast, Aero Snap, Quick Launch
  • Random Wallpaper, Panel Trash access
  • Theme consistency throughout system.
  • 50 gorgeous wallpapers preinstalled.
  • Numerous other tweaks/additions.
  • Stable and rock solid performance.
  • 32 and 64 bit OS versions available.
  • Boots & is online in less than 1 minute.

LXLE is reasonable and not over-done in my opinion.  It's all subject to your tweaking and personal preferences, of course, but what you gain over Lubuntu is an LTS advantage and the default application set is larger and more robust than Lubuntu.

LXLE's being a 'cut above' in performance and features makes it an excellent candidate for staying resident on my Netbook for a long time to come.

I can't think of anything else to add.  Clearly, the LXLE folks have recognized an 'unmet need' and are filling the niche, and do it very well.

This fine lightweight Distribution gets my strong recommendation.  Give it a spin and judge for yourself.

-- Dietrich

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