Lubuntu: Great for Linux users not so good for newbies

I installed Lubuntu Beta 3 yesterday evening and spent a couple of hours today configuring the system.

The test machine is an IBM Thinkpad T40 with a 1.5 GB Pentium M, 512 MB of RAM and an integrated ATI card (Radeon Mobility 7500). Old stuff, not capable of running standard Ubuntu 10.04.

Lubuntu runs great in this system. Before, it was running Debian Squeeze with Xfce. Responsiveness and resources usage seems to be comparable. Pure Debian plus Xfce seems to be more responsive but as soon as you activate composite effects, install some Gnome stuff and install AWN, Debian-Xfce starts to feel heavier than Lubuntu😉 Of course Xfce is a more complete desktop and offers more GUI-driven configuration tools than LXDE.

Potential bugs:

– I cannot move LXTerminal. It sits in the middle of the screen and the bar is not visible. After a full dist-upgrade I can now move and resize the window, but the bar is still not visible.

– The language support configuration is not correctly updated after system install. /etc/default/locale contains more than a hundred languages. I could not correct the problem from the languages GUI (which insists in installing 164 languages even if they are deselected). The only solution was manually editing the locale file and then deselecting all superfluous language packages within the Synaptic package manager.

Other remarks:

– Some of the configuration (for instance, being able to select between two keyboard layouts or seting the number of desktops) required manually editing configuration files here and there. No problem for me, but a newbie can have a hard time trying to figure out where and how. Of course, the Lubuntu team is not to be blamed. It is just that LXDE may not be ready for the masses yet (if it was ever supposed to be).

– Chromium is light and fast. However, for being able to use flash I had to first install the package for Mozilla browsers and then create a symbolic link in the Chromium plugins folder. Not very user-friendly. I have not yet been able to watch content such as asx scripts, wmv and the like (neither embebed nor in an external application). AdSweep is not as good as it is AdBlock Plus. Opera has issues and Midori has the same problems as Chromium and feels heavier. I ended up installing Firefox (the xine plugin solves more of the aforementioned issues).

– Translation to Galician-Portuguese is still deficient as compared to Gnome or even Xfce.

– On the positive side of things, Lubuntu is quite aesthetically pleasant for such a light-weight desktop as it is LXDE. Having the sound and network applets up and running out of the box it is nice. Wireless and sound just worked (even with Skype).

In summary, the Lubuntu team is doing a great work but there are still important intrinsic limitations related to the LXDE desktop and certain light-weight applications. However, Lubuntu makes my old laptop usable and fully functional and I like it. I would say this is probably the best LXDE-based distro I have tried so far.

Desiderata:

1) Basic desktop configuration should be fully GUIzed.
2) I like the look-and-fell of Mac4Lin or Macpup (even more than that of Mac OS X itself). Clearlooks, Industrial and the other themes installed by default are starting to look too XPish.

NOTE: I tried to leave this text as a comment in the Lubuntu blog but I couldn’t.