Upgrading Ubuntu 10.04 to … Lubuntu 11.10
Update 2012-05-28: Xubuntu is also very nice…
I stayed with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS until today. Upgrading has always been on the “todo, sometime … soonish” list, but I’ve been hesitant to switch to Unity, preferring instead the classic desktop interface.
Today though, I was bitten by the spring-cleaning bug and figured it was finally time.
Being 3 versions behind what’s current, I opted to back up my data and do a clean Ubuntu 11.10 install. The installer program has been updated since the last time I used it. It now asks you right at the beginning if you want to grab available upgrades during the install process, and also asks you if you want some non-free extras included with the install. It also does a sort of dual-process install now, where it begins copying files while at the same time asking you for some other bits of info it needs during the install. Pretty slick.
After the install, and the reboot, I was faced with a fresh Ubuntu 11.10 desktop, featuring the Unity UI. I’m sure the Canonical devs have put lots of excellent work into Unity, but the UI was not my cup of tea.
Looking for something more plain, minimal, and more like a “classic standard” desktop — but still wanting the user-friendliness I was getting before — I was happy to find Lubuntu: a lightweight variant of Ubuntu. When booting the Lubuntu cd, at first I got a console-based installer, but it automatically switched to a GUI installer that looked just like the one that Ubuntu used earlier. The (again, clean) installation seemed a bit quicker (though I didn’t time it), and soon it re-booted and I was logged in.
Nice! Exactly what I was hoping for!
:) Classic desktop. One main bar (“panel”) at the bottom. A regular applications menu. Lots of open space. Still user-friendly. Simple, fast, and practical. Perfect.
Customizing the panel is easy: right-click to access the “Settings” menu item (at the top of the context menu) for whichever element within the panel you just right-clicked on. Further down that context menu is a more general “Panel Settings” menu item which applies to the panel as a whole.
A few notes about changes I notice right off the bat from Ubuntu 10.04:
No panel along the top of the screen, giving you back a little screen real estate.
When you plug in an external storage device, it doesn’t show up on the desktop. Instead, a dialog pops up asking if you want to use the file browser to see it. Fine.
putting files into your ~/Desktop dir doesn’t make them show up on the Desktop. Fine.
Lubuntu comes OOTB with Google Chromium instead of Firefox, and so, required a quick
sudo apt-get install firefox.
At first I didn’t see an obvious way to put the system “to sleep”. I’m on a laptop, and previously I could shut the laptop and Ubuntu would go into a sleep mode (I don’t recall at the moment what, if any, special config was required for that). What works now though is to click the shutdown menu and click “Suspend” – this puts the system to sleep and I can either close the lid, or click the power button to wake it up. Upon opening, XScreensaver prompts for a password. Works fine.
The default LXDE apps (for example, leafpad, gpicview, and the file manager) start up lightning fast.
Some quick changes I made right away:
right-click on the Desktop → “Desktop Preferences”. Also, “Main Menu → Preferences → Customize Look and Feel”.
Added some apps to the Application Launch Bar in the Panel (Right-click on the area of the panel to the right of the main menu and select the top menu item: “Application Launch Bar Settings”. Find and add apps.)
Added a couple more virtual desktops.
Right-click on the digital clock, “Digital Clock Settings”, and changed clock format to
%B %d, %l:%M %pand tooltip format to
Terminal: I like to install urxvt, and was pleasantly surprised to see an rxvt-unicode-256color package available. Nice! Had to search around to figure out how to add an application launcher to the panel (for launching urxvt) though. To do it:
cd ~/.local/share/ mkdir applications; cd applications
Then make a urxvt.desktop file in there that looks like this:
[Desktop Entry] Encoding=UTF-8 Name=urxvt Comment=A nice terminal Exec=urxvt -bg gray36 -fg gray82 -fn xft:Inconsolata:size=12 Icon=lxterminal Type=Application Categories=Utility;TerminalEmulator
(requires that you’ve installed ttf-inconsolata). Finally, add urxvt to the Application Launch Bar.
The default video driver for my hardware did not support a side-by-side dual-monitor setup. It was easy to find out how to get the necessary driver: “Menu → Preferences → Additional Drivers”. Simple.
Reference: summary of some packages installed (via
sudo apt-get install <the-pkg-name>) right after Lubuntu was installed:
ttf-inconsolata ttf-linux-libertine ttf-sil-gentium emacs emacs-goodies-el git gitg firefox xchat rxvt-unicode-256color pandoc graphicsmagick diffuse tree