Lubuntu: A Lightweight Version Of Ubuntu [Linux]

lubuntu icon   Lubuntu: A Lightweight Version Of Ubuntu [Linux]Love Ubuntu, but feel skeptical about 11.04′s new Unity interface? Try Lubuntu 11.04, an extremely lightweight alternative to the main branch of Ubuntu. You’ll find the menu-driven interface familiar and the resources hit remarkably low.

Ubuntu 11.04, on my computer, runs better than Windows 7. Having said that, it’s understandable that many argue the latest version of Ubuntu is bloated and the new interface, while cute, isn’t quite ready for primetime.

Enter Lubuntu. One of the many versions of Ubuntu, Lubuntu is based on a desktop environment that strives to use next to no resources while still being easy to use. It’s what Unity refugees are looking for. Lubuntu uses half as much RAM as Xubuntu, according to Wikipedia, and offers much of the configuration Linux users expect. We briefly discussed Lubuntu while pointing out lightweight Linux distributions - let’s now take a closer look.

What It Is

Lubuntu is Ubuntu with LXDE as the primary desktop. Not sure what that means? The best way to explain is to take a look at the desktop:

lubuntu desktop   Lubuntu: A Lightweight Version Of Ubuntu [Linux]

As you can see, there is only one panel. Similar to Windows XP, this panel features a menu button beside some shortcuts, with a clock and dock to the right.

Click the menu and you’ll see something familar:

lubuntu menu   Lubuntu: A Lightweight Version Of Ubuntu [Linux]

That’s right: it’s pretty close to the old-fashioned Gnome interface. The desktop includes icons, provided by file browser PcManFM. The file browser’s main interface should also be very comfortable for long-time Linux users:

lubuntu pacmanfm   Lubuntu: A Lightweight Version Of Ubuntu [Linux]

If you’re not too happy with the default look, there are some controls for that too:

lubuntu configure   Lubuntu: A Lightweight Version Of Ubuntu [Linux]

Take some time to explore Lubuntu’s interface; you’ll find it very comfortable. Make use of this operating system for a while and you’ll also find it runs really well, even on older hardware. Some advanced features may be missing, but if you mostly need a way to get onto the web and edit the occasional document this is more than good enough.

How To Get It

Go ahead and download Lubuntu over at Lubuntu.net; click the “Get Lubuntu” link on the right side of the page. You’ll then have a bootable ISO from which you can try Lubuntu.

If you’re ready to install, you’ll find the new installer from Ubuntu 11.04 is ready for you.

lubuntu install   Lubuntu: A Lightweight Version Of Ubuntu [Linux]

This installer makes setting up Lubuntu painless, explaining exactly what you need to do every step of the way.

Included Applications

By default Lubuntu includes software for just about everything. Here’s a breakdown of the highlights:

  • Abiword – word processor
  • Audacious – music player
  • Chromium – web browser
  • Evince – PDF reader
  • Firefox – web browser
  • Galculator – calculator
  • Gnumeric – spreadsheet
  • guvcview – webcam
  • MPlayer – video player
  • MTPaint – graphics painting
  • Pidgin – instant messenger
  • Simple Scan – scanning
  • Sylpheed – email client
  • Synaptic – package manager
  • Transmission – bittorrent client
  • Update Manager
  • File-roller – archiver
  • XChat – IRC
  • Xfburn – CD burner
  • Xpad – notetaking

Want more than this? Don’t worry; you have full access to the Ubuntu repositories and the thousands of free programs it includes. Use Synaptic to access them; the Ubuntu Software Center isn’t included.

Conclusion

Based on the comments beneath my Ubuntu 11.04 review, a large number of you aren’t happy with Unity. I hope Lubuntu is more in line with what you’re looking for, because very soon Gnome 2 won’t be updated anymore. Lubuntu offers a classic interface and a lightweight footprint, two things many Linux users value. It may soon be an official version of Ubuntu.

Additional reading: Check out our “Ubuntu: A Beginner’s Guide

What do you think? Is Lubuntu cool, or just another unnecessary re-make of Ubuntu? Share your comments below.

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

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35 Comments -

0 votes

Jeff Bridges

Well for me Lubuntu is really cool Justin, I like the fact that it can operate in a more splendid manner under such lightweight components… Its not just a re-make, it is a creation by itself.

0 votes

Luke Matthews

I haven’t been happy with the “my way or the highway” attitude coming out of Canonical lately, mostly in regards to Unity, so I just switched back to debian. I’ve been meaning to give lxde a try though.

0 votes

Sonickatanga

I’m working on debian for a long time on servers, but on the desktop ubuntu is the choice because of the hardware drivers. I know, I could install them by compiling modules, but this is the job I do on the servers. I don’t really need it on my desktop too.

0 votes

Sean A Panting

well… im a windows man, and since my windows blew up, i had to install Ubuntu 11.04. I like ubuntu’s Classic Ubuntu interface, not really the unity… it was really, really slow… but the main thing im getting at is with the above mentioned, is with the coolness of the current version of Ubuntu, i honestly think that we dont need another sub-version. i mean, running Ubuntu on my netbook, which is an Asus EeePC 901, its not as fast as i thought it would be, but still works with netbeans and chrome and with wat i do, which is actually slightly brutal for a netbook. and im honestly skeptical about Lubuntu. How many times have i heard this? “NEW! Light-weight os that uses 0% resources! based off Ubuntu, so itll have the features you love and adore!” i havent heard that yet, but im just waiting. Ubuntu is also the one that ive been told is the most trustworthy of the whole Light-Weight os thing, which is why im using it until i can get a better laptop to run my windows!

0 votes

Sonickatanga

I encouraged the folks in my company to sit on my ubuntu box and try it out (with no hints). they are all windows users, and they were good to go on ubuntu. I’m thinkig of converting the whole company structure on linux. you got all applications you need without windows, and with ubuntu even the drivers for printers and all that stuff linux was suffering earlier. 

0 votes

mfrazzz

I’ve been using LXDE for quite some time now, and have been running Lubuntu for over a year now when it was just a beta distro. Its very stable and works great on an old PIII 400Mhz with 512MB PC I have. This has become more than a file server as Lubuntu has given this old PC new life. Love it! I’ve also installed Lubuntu on an Acer Netbook I have and the Netbook Remix UI is great (even my wife, who is a Windows only person, enjoys using the netbook now with Lubuntu on it). Glad to see this Distro getting some press…

0 votes

Sonickatanga

You had no issues with the regular install CD of Lubuntu with your Acer? 

0 votes

Matt Wilkie

I’m already using 11.04 on an old laptop, and in a vmware appliance on a win7 machine. Can I switch to Lubuntu or do I need to install from scratch?

0 votes

jhpot

If you install the package “lubuntu-desktop” you’ll be able to switch to Lubuntu from the Ubuntu Login screen; just pick the LXDE desktop in the bottom panel after picking your username.

0 votes

thecruz

This kinda reminds me of DamnSmallLinux and if it is it would go great on some old machine needing a new life. I may give it a whirl on a virtual, but I need a few more apps out of the box, and I’ve been happy running Ubuntu 11.04 on a netbook so far. I went the lazy way and installed Ubuntu Desktop using Wubi onto a Win7 Toshiba N505 w/ 2gb of RAM. The whole process went way too easy and the loaded OS seems faster than Win7 w/ the SmartCard Fastboot setup.

0 votes

Moses Arthesi

I’m installing Ubuntu 11.04 in my laptop. After i while, switch back from Unity to Gnome Classic. But all computer in my office now upgrade to Lubuntu 11.04 from Lubuntu 10.10. All work well, and the special application work well using Wine.

I wonder, is there any 64bit version of Lubuntu? Googling it and found some instruction here: http://www.dwasifar.com/?p=1442

But it would be nice if Lubuntu has 64 bit version in the first place.

0 votes

jhpot

I cannot say I’ve seen such a thing…let me know if you find one.

0 votes

Mike

Perhaps it’s possible to install the 64 bit mini.iso and then install the package “lubuntu-desktop”?

0 votes
0 votes

Sonickatanga

I don’t think this gonna work out. you can run 32bit applications on a 64bit machine but not a whole OS. 

0 votes

Moses Arthesi

I’m installing Ubuntu 11.04 in my laptop. After i while, switch back from Unity to Gnome Classic. But all computer in my office now upgrade to Lubuntu 11.04 from Lubuntu 10.10. All work well, and the special application work well using Wine.

I wonder, is there any 64bit version of Lubuntu? Googling it and found some instruction here: http://www.dwasifar.com/?p=144

But it would be nice if Lubuntu has 64 bit version in the first place.

0 votes

Mike

I’m using Lubuntu on my netbook. Works like a charm and easy on the resources.

0 votes

Mike

Mini.iso is here:

https://help.ubuntu.com/commun

0 votes

the mainliner

Lubuntu may be the solution to my underpowered netbook conundrum. I’m currently using Xubuntu and I really like it. The only potential problem I anticipate is PCManFM, however, my only real exposure to that was on the Ubuntu-egg Madbox which is less than functionally complete for desktop PCs, reasonable for netbook toys.

0 votes

jhpot

PCManFM is actually a pretty great file manager, right up there with Thunar,
the file manager included with Xubuntu.

0 votes

Sdsd

I am trying to run the live cd and when I boot it but I cannot see the login page 

0 votes

Sonickatanga

well, trying to install Lubuntu 11.04 on my old Acer Aspire 1310 laptop – AMD Athlon XP 1800+, 1533MHz, 768MB RAM. the installer always hangs – sometimes at the date & time configuration, sometimes at the user conf. a windows XP install went with no problems. after reading all this reviews I thought Lubuntu should manage such a hardware …

0 votes

jhpot

 I’d highly recommend giving the alternative installer a try. It’s not a GUI installer, and it rarely crashes. Let me know if it works!

0 votes

Sonickatanga

Hi Jhpot, seems like this is not a new issue between the acer aspire 1310 and ubuntu (in all flavours, and even with alternate CDs) as I discovered by googling for “acer aspire 1310 ubuntu”. the only thing I’ll maybe try yet is downloading the mini.iso and give it a try https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Lubuntu/DocumentationHelp/MinimalInstall would be a pity if it doesn’t work out … I’m using ubuntu on my other machines just fine. on the other hand – seems pretty ridiculous to build a lightweight distro that can’t install on a 1,5GHz CPU & 1GB RAM machine (yes, I added extra RAM since last time, no effect – kind of pissed off already).

0 votes

Tina

Sonickatanga,

do let us know how the mini.iso worked on your Acer Aspire!

0 votes

Sonickatanga

OK, it works. I followed the instructions from the mentioned ubuntu link: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Lubuntu/DocumentationHelp/MinimalInstall the whole stuff is installed over the web through apt-get. you need a little patience, but it pays in the end. The minimal install image from ubuntu is about 19MB, and it’s really the basics, good-ole-debian oldschool ;-) I couldn’t even get in the normal shell, so I did the procedure from a rescue shell. But now Lubuntu is running, and I agree, I like it too. Not overloaded like big brother ubuntu ;-)

0 votes

Tina

Thanks for sharing your solution!

0 votes

Sonickatanga

 Hi Tina, I forgot to mention: there are a few applications that require a real root password when started automatically, like the update manager. it doesn’t accept your admin – sudo pass. workaround: right-click on the application and check properties. there is the path to the app. for the update manager it is: /usr/bin/update-manager. open the terminal and start it from there: # sudo /usr/bin/update-manager … and it works in GUI with your sudo password entered. so far the only bug I noticed. of course, we could actually enable the root account, but we don’t really want to do that on an ubuntu desktop, are we? ;-)

0 votes

Sonickatanga

Hi Jhpot, seems like this is not a new issue between the acer aspire 1310 and ubuntu (in all flavours, and even with alternate CDs) as I discovered by googling for “acer aspire 1310 ubuntu”. the only thing I’ll maybe try yet is downloading the mini.iso and give it a try https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Lubunt… would be a pity if it doesn’t work out … I’m using ubuntu on my other machines just fine. on the other hand – seems pretty ridiculous to build a lightweight distro that can’t install on a 1,5GHz CPU & 1GB RAM machine (yes, I added extra RAM since last time, no effect – kind of pissed off already).

0 votes

Pierre Champagne

Lubuntu is great.  An alternative with some gaps filled in and as fast is Quelitu:

#toc, .toc, .mw-warning { border: 1px solid rgb(170, 170, 170); background-color: rgb(249, 249, 249); padding: 5px; font-size: 95%; }#toc h2, .toc h2 { display: inline; border: medium none; padding: 0pt; font-size: 100%; font-weight: bold; }#toc #toctitle, .toc #toctitle, #toc .toctitle, .toc .toctitle { text-align: center; }#toc ul, .toc ul { list-style-type: none; list-style-image: none; margin-left: 0pt; padding-left: 0pt; text-align: left; }#toc ul ul, .toc ul ul { margin: 0pt 0pt 0pt 2em; }#toc .toctoggle, .toc .toctoggle { font-size: 94%; }body { text-indent: 0in; text-align: left; font-weight: normal; text-decoration: none; font-variant: normal; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal; widows: 2; font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; }table { }td { border-collapse: collapse; text-align: left; vertical-align: top; }p, h1, h2, h3, li { color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: ‘Times New Roman’; font-size: 12pt; text-align: left; }

Quelitu–A Fast Lightweight OS for the Environment–Recycle/Reuse Your Old Computer by Doubling Its Speed

Quelitu 2-11.04 Natty Narwhal–Release Notes and Screenshots–A Fast and Scalable Lightweight Linux Distribution with LXDE Desktop

0 votes

Tech Tony

 Why are there no hard numbers as to what Lubuntu requires? I want to rub XBMC on Lubuntu but need to know the actual hard drive space Lubuntu requires yet its NO WHERE to be found!

0 votes

Sonickatanga

I’m using about 2GB disk space so far, after additional installing a few applications like skype. I reserved a partition of 10GB for Lubuntu, 10GB for WinXP and the rest I formatted as NTFS so I can use it as a data partition for both systems, as Lubuntu is able to write on NTFS. 

0 votes

Tina

 Thanks for addressing this question!

0 votes

mvario

Nice article, thanks.  I’ve been playing with Lubuntu on an old computer and it works well.  I recently put Xubuntu on my other computer and I think I like it a little better, but it’s close.

0 votes

MODEL4US2

I’ve used Ubuntu, Puppy, Mint, Bodhi, Fedora PC/OS and Lubuntu.   I like Puppy but
its a bit of a pain to install to a hard drive and Debian Mint is sweet but new Linux
users may find issues using G-Parted.  Lubuntu is a excellent OS.   Fast and little bloat.
Its better in my view then Xubuntu and while Puppy, Vector, SliTaz and DSL are smaller
in size its a easier install.

I had issues with wireless with Vector and SliTaz.   I have all the eye candy going withMint and Ubuntu on other laptops.   The Macbuntu script for example but while fun itgot a bit old.   Lubuntu is excellent for new Linux users and more experienced usersas well.    To be candid, I don’t use Open office or many of the programs in Ubuntu orsome of the GOME based distros.   Lubuntu is great!