Recently I upgraded my netbook to the new Ubuntu 11.10, but as with Ubuntu 11.04 I found it was still sluggish on my netbook. As Ubuntu has evolved it appears its ability to run smoothly on a netbook as gone away. So I started looking for alternatives and found another flavor of Ubuntu called Lubuntu. This version of Ubuntu is named as it is considered a “Light” version of Ubuntu, hence the “L” in front of the name. This seemed very promising, so I downloaded and installed it without any problems.
From the very beginning I could tell that it ran much better on my netbook than Windows 7 Starter or the full Ubuntu did. The look and feel of Lubuntu on my netbook was very much like Windows XP. It ran just as well and the interface is very similar to XP. However it still has dual desktops, which I consider a win for a netbook.
But since this is a light version, there isn’t as many software options as the full version of Ubuntu has. I also noticed it does not have a good, user friendly software center either. So if you want to install software you will need to get acquainted with doing it from a terminal. I noticed this particularly when trying to install Dropbox, which turned out to be very painful, but I got it. I won’t say much about it as I plan to write a blog post on this topic, but thanks to some great Linux developers for posting some great stuff that was searchable by Google. I am glad however that for my purposes, I do not need a lot of extra software. Dropbox has been the only thing I have found that I needed to add. Lubuntu comes with the Chrome browser, which as a Firefox user I can live with, and it comes already loaded with Pidgin, so in the cases of browser and IM, I am all set.
As for going back to regular Ubuntu, I am going to say not yet. The difference in performance is very significant and might be worth the extra headache and limitations of needing to learn more Linux skills. I hope that as the popularity of this release of Ubuntu continues to grow, so will some of the extra features. As long as it doesn’t become bloated like its older cousin, Ubuntu. So if you are tired of the poor performance of Windows 7 Starter or the full Ubuntu on your netbook, give Lubuntu a try. Just remember, you may have to sharpen your Linux skills to get it to run the way you want. But as for a light, well running operating system, it definitely delivers.