May 20, 2011

KUBUNTU 11.04 Review

Kubuntu 11.04
The Ubuntu 11.04 release is getting tons of attention thanks to the switch to Unity as the default desktop interface. But what about the rest of the Ubuntu family? While the main Ubuntu release is far and away the most popular, that doesn't mean that it's the only arrow in the 'buntu quiver. For users who want a more traditional Linux desktop, have older hardware, or just happen to have much love for Xfce — there's Xubuntu. And it's looking pretty good as of the Natty Narwhal release.
I won't dwell on the pros and cons of Unity here, but suffice it to say that more than a few Ubuntu users are not quite ready to move to Unity. For some, the 3D requirements rule out their hardware. For others, the interface is just too much a departure from what they're used to with the standard GNOME 2.x desktop they've been using with Ubuntu for some time.
With Xubuntu, you don't get an exact replica of the GNOME desktop — but it's a pretty slick desktop in its own right that offers a similar experience, with the added benefit that it doesn't require 3D and is pretty snappy even on lightweight hardware.

Getting Xubuntu

If you want to install a clean system, then you can grab ISO images for Xubuntu from the Get Xubunut page. You'll find x86 and AMD64 images, as well as alternate images for systems with less than 64MB of RAM, or have other weirdness. (Or if you just like using the alternate installer. Who are we to judge?)
Already have Ubuntu? Then it's as simple as installing xubuntu-desktop and you get an Xfce alternative alongside the standard desktop.

The Xubuntu Experience

I've used Xfce for many years, off and on, and I have to say that the Xubuntu distribution of Xfce is really nice. The default theme is very attractive, and I like the way it's been configured. Up top you have the Xfce application menu, and on bottom you have a "dock" with some of the more frequently used (or so they assume) applications like Firefox, GIMP, Thunderbird, the Xfce Settings manager, and so on.
Let's talk default applications for a moment. Naturally, Xubuntu settles on Firefox 4.0 as the default Web browser — it's the best choice for any Linux distro. That's largely where the similarities end with the default Ubuntu applications. Instead of bundling Evolution, the Xubuntu folks provide Thunderbird (which I consider a much better choice). You have Thunar as the default file manager, which provides a full featured file manager that's still pretty resource friendly.
Instead of Banshee or Rhythmbox, Xubuntu ships with the Parole Media Player, and gmusicbrowser for video and music, respectively. I haven't had.....................

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