"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Test Drive: Lxde (Lubuntu) on the EEEPC 900


My good old EEEPC netbook is, day by day, getting too old. Apart from usual aging hardware problems, like the decreasing battery capacity, also the software side is worsening at every update. I still have the latest Ubuntu release installed but Gnome-Shell is showing a persistent delay in responding to some mouse actions like opening menus or showing the activities screen.
I decided for giving a look to some of the so called “light-weight” desktop engine in order to possibly completely or partially replace Gnome-Shell.

Lxde (Lubuntu-desktop)

Lxde is, together with Xfce, among the most famous lightweight desktop environments. I decided to install it on my netbook instead of performing my tests with a live disk like I usually do. This should let me obtain a more accurate and realistic test. I'm not too worried about leaving my system too “dirty” since I'm probably going to re-install the whole operating system on the EEEPC once I'll have come to a decision.
I so installed Lxde trough the apt-get command:
sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop
then I logged out from Gnome-Shell and logged back in after selecting Lxde from the login menu. Lxde offers, in the login menu, selection between two desktop modes: the “classic” (Lubuntu) and the netbook (Lubuntu-Netbook) mode.

Lxde “Classic” mode

The “Classic” Lxde desktop shows a Gnome-2-like user interface with a bottom panel and a bottom-left program launcher menu.
what is really impressing about this good-old-desktop is it speed, menus appears virtually immediately without any delay despite the old hardware.

Lxde “Netbook” mode

The netbook mode shows a tabbed program launcher in some ways very similar to the one of the original EEEPC Xandros distribution.
The tabbed launcher (LXLauncher) works in addition to standard Lxde desktop, the classic launcher menu and the bottom panes are still available and functional.
Also in netbook mode the system is still extremely reactive.

Conclusions

Lxde on the EEEPC 900 is very reactive and gives back a very good user experience. On the other hand Lxde is a little old-minded about user interaction. If nineties-styled icons and colors can easily reconfigured I also got accustomed with some more modern user interaction ways, like hot-corners, and I miss them while using Lxde. Soon I'll explore other choices like Xfce.