Another Xubuntu convert!

September 17, 2007 at 8:36 am | Posted in reviews, xubuntu | 13 Comments

Over the past week I helped my sister switch over from Ubuntu to Xubuntu. (Maybe I was a little biased about Xubuntu as she was making the switch, but c’mon…I write a blog about it, I might as well be! :P)

She had reasons for doing so: she wanted something faster, preferred Thunar over Nautilus, and just wanted it looking nicer.

Point by point, here’s what impressed her the most:

1) It’s simple.

Q: How do I run Thunar to open my home folder?
A: Thunar.
Q: What’s the command for the terminal?
A: Terminal.

Now that’s semantic! Things in Xfce are logical, simple, and obvious (Or, as she put it, “I type in what I want and I get it”).

2) Thunar.

I’ve already covered some of this, but she prefers Thunar over Nautilus for two main reasons:

a) You can easily switch the address bar from pathbar to toolbar style. I like to type. For me (and my sister) it’s quicker to type than to click through each and every folder. And it also has a similar feel to the terminal: it even has auto-complete.
b) Restore from trash. I find it hard to believe that Nautilus still doesn’t have this. As my sister put it, “now I don’t have to constantly remember where to reput my files.”

So really, it doesn’t matter if one file manager has network support or support for backgrounds. In the end, people just want the basics.

3) It just looks nice.
She REALLY likes the compositor in xfwm4. (I previously had her set up with Compiz-Fusion, but all the wobbling windows bothered her.) So now her computer has nice, stable shadow and transparency effects. She especially likes being able to see through the windows.

It’s also surprising to see how good the desktop can look using just the default icons and themes. As my blog partner Vincent put it:

Yesterday I returned back home from holiday. In my holiday, I have not touched a decent bike for quite a few weeks. True, I’ve used a mountain bike, but the saddle was very hard and the big tires cause you to cycle slowly while still using a lot of force. The result was that when I used my own, decent bicycle this morning, it was a very pleasant feeling.

Now what does this have to do with Xubuntu? Well, my holiday also meant: two weeks without touching a computer, two weeks without seeing the slightest bit of Xubuntu. So when I then turned on my computer, I realized, once again, how pretty Xubuntu is. And it was a pleasant ride 😀

4) Docks.

She likes docks. Not necessarily a Mac-like dock, but just a row of icons to click on. Because see, she doesn’t like digging through menus. She likes icons. (See folks, when I had mentioned that in my joke topic at Ubuntu Forums, I was only half-kidding!)

I tried setting her up with cairo-dock, but that just confused her. You see, in the newest version you have to add launchers from /usr/share/app-install, and neither me or my sister’s system have anything in /usr/share/app-install. Then something screwed up her workspaces (which she doesn’t even use) and turned her entire background grey.

Needless to say, I got her off of that and set her up with a size-48 panel with her icons, the trash applet, and a weather report. She has it on the left side of her screen, which I don’t understand but, it’s her system.

So, now she has a system that does exactly what she wants and how she wants it…with Xfce.

If you’re an Ubuntu user who’s interested in Xubuntu…why not give it a whirl? If you’d like, just open up a terminal and run sudo aptitude install xubuntu-desktop (or, if you’re a point-and-click kind of person like my sister, you can do it from Synaptic or Adept, depending on your system.)

If it still doesn’t satisfy, just use sudo aptitude remove xubuntu-desktop to take it off. If it does, however, you can take it one step further and follow aysiu’s guide on having a system with only Xfce (this is what my sister did, albeit without removing OpenOffice).

Nothing’s stopping you…it’s free. 🙂



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  1. Great story, very recognisable. Congrats!

  2. Excellent story. Someday I hope to switch my girlfriend from Windows.

    About Compiz Fusion’s wobbly windows: They can be tweaked or turned off completely using compiz-config. CF’s config utility might be a little overwhelming for your sister, but if you set it up for her, it would take no time at all. It seems as though CF is quicker and more stable than xfwm4’s compositer, even on my old laptop.

  3. Maybe so, but I don’t think she really feels the need for Compiz-Fusion. She doesn’t need Vista effects, just some see-through windows here and there so she can type something in amsn, browse the web and keep track of a download at the same time.

  4. My wife likes XFCE quite a bit, although she won’t admit it… 😉

    I cannot believe Nautilus does not retrieve from trash. That’s crazy.

  5. By far the crappest article I’ve read.

  6. “By far the crappest article I’ve read.”

    You’re on the wrong blog, pal.

  7. By far the crappest article I’ve read.

    By far the crappest comment I’ve read. 😉

    Why would someone who hates Ubuntu users go out of their way to visit Xubuntu Blog? Just wondering…

  8. This has made me interested in learning more about Xubuntu. I have it on my laptop for speed but I’ve never really fallen for it…

  9. Why would someone who hates Ubuntu users go out of their way to visit Xubuntu Blog? Just wondering…

    I wonder how this person spends his/her day 😉

    Dear diary,

    Today I had yet another fine day. As always, I was scouring blogs of people that like what I don’t, and I pissed of a whole lot again. There was someone that had actually forced his sister to use Xubuntu. I made a very sharp remark that really must have hit him straight in the heart. I really had a great deal of fun.

    This has made me interested in learning more about Xubuntu. I have it on my laptop for speed but I’ve never really fallen for it…

    It’s always great when people are giving Xubuntu a(nother) try 🙂

  10. Just installed Xubuntu on an old Thinkpad 600 so I could have Internet access on holiday; everything worked just fine, including an ultra-cheap PCMCIA wireless card which I bought at the last moment. Most painless distro I’ve tried on any machine except for the usual laptop shutdown issues which 5 minutes Googling soon found the answer to.

  11. Give me an old cool bicycle, and I’ll ride around the city for days.

  12. Nice article.

    Just moved my Mom from Win98ME (Ugh!) on her old HP with 128MB of ram. While not snappy, it certainly is adequate for her needs and the desktop is familiar enough that she can be productive.

    Guess I need to spend some time now getting more familiar with XFCE, in case she has any difficulties.

  13. Love Xubuntu on my ThinkPad 600 (600 not 600e etc) but have never been able to find a sound setup…any ideas ?


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