Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Xubuntu...

I know that about six billion people have compared and contrasted the differences between the Ubuntu variants. Really, the choice comes down to personal preference, and usually it comes down to the classic Gnome vs KDE war. For years, I avoided X11 altogether, because most of the work I did was in the terminal, but even old CLI guys like me can see that a GUI is really a requirement in today's tech world.

For the record, since it's been available, I've usually used straight up Ubuntu. With all the stories recently on the Linux Journal website, however, I felt the urge to try KDE, in the form of Kubuntu. While I'm sure it will offend half the people reading, I have to admit that I really don't like Kubuntu. And the cliche, "it's not you it's me" rule applies here as well. KDE is great, but it's just not great for me. I really tried to like it, I mean, I read that Linus himself is a KDE user. I think the reason it turns me off is that I don't like the mainline applications. I don't like Konqueror, Dophin, Kmail, Kaffeine, Amarok, or even Kterminal. So for my daily use, I end up doing my best to avoid all the applications that are so tightly (and well) integrated into the system. And artsd? Ick. (I guess KDE4 will help with that, but still.)

Gnome is better (again, for me -- no flame wars now...), but it seems bloated. I can't really say why, but it just feels sluggish. I can't seem to configure it the way I prefer either. The gconf stuff is just complicated, and honestly, reminds me of the Windows registry thing. I do like the Gnome apps better, but even with that, I don't use Evolution. It's too much like Outlook, which I really really don't like. :)

So what's a lazy user to do? Well, you could try NotYourBuntu -- but that only works for me (and then, only in my imagination). ;) If you're really not happy with Gnome or KDE, however, Xubuntu offers a really nice alternative wrapped around the XFCE desktop. It's fast, light, and doesn't get in the way. I don't feel as tied to specific applications, and mix & matching my favorites from the Gnome and KDE lineups seems to work very well. Since my application preferences vary widely, that's really important to me.

Xubuntu might not be for everyone, but if KDE doesn't light your fire, and Gnome seems like it uses more resources than you can spare -- I'd suggest giving XFCE a try. The Xubuntu installer works just like the other *buntu flavors, and it's everything I've ever wanted in a distro. Give it a try, you might like it.

And if you don't? Well, that's what's great about Linux. If you don't like it, you don't have to use it. It's all about choice.

When it comes down to it, I love Linux any way it's sliced. Picking one distro or desktop manager over another is a lot like picking a favorite ice cream. Even the flavor you like the least is still ice cream!


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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xubuntu vs ubuntu

faz's picture

great things make it difference...


GNUguy's picture

To date, I haven't had much success using any ubuntu distros. There was always some glitch that annoyed me enough to toss it. Recently I inherited (literally) a Dell Inspiron 1501 w/2G@533 and the AMD 64 x 2 @ 1.7GHz. I installed Kubuntu on it and had to verify that the 1501 wasn't actually running a PIII w/128MB and no swap. As a matter of fact, I have an old PIII w/256MB running PCLinuxOS 2007 that seems to run faster. So Kubuntu was tossed.

Then I installed xubuntu (just 'cuz I REALLY enjoy installing OSes) and now the Inspiron runs more respectably. It's still not as quick as I'd like, but it's WAY faster than kubuntu was. I think I'll keep it and tweak it for a while.


Cry0's picture

I like Xubuntu in the respect that it is light and fast, but I don't like the feel of it. Could have been that I didn't mess around with the themes. I recently just installed a fluxbox window manager, and loved it so much, I uninstalled anything that had to do with Gnome or KDE. I pretty much uninstalled everything, installed fluxbox, and selected what programs I wanted for what purpose. Runs LIGHTNING fast (as in, VMWare Player running Windows 2000 flawlessly with Age of Empires and WinAmp playing on a 1.8 GHz processor and only 512 of RAM, while running Firefox and Pidgin in the background on my linux side.) I highly recommend trying it out.

Xubuntu great on laptops

barryp's picture

When the last Ubuntu upgrades rolled around (7.10), I moved my desktop machines and laptop to it. Although Ubuntu was fine on the desktops, it was truly awful (and, for all intents and purposes, unusable on my laptop). After many, many tweaks and installs, I tried Xubuntu and have yet to look back. My laptop runs like a rocket under Xubuntu ...

Paul Barry

Hey "old CLI guy"!

Anonymous's picture

sudo apt-get remove your shitty app
sudo apt-get install your fav app

You've got a Kubuntu-er Thinking Xubuntu

Mike Roberts's picture

I got hooked on KDE a few years ago so Kubuntu was a natural fit for me. I did load Xubuntu on a low powered, rarely used laptop and it performed fine. I sort of forgot about Xubuntu until you mentioned it in this article. I've got just the machine to load it on time permitting. It has been running SUSE 9.3(dual boot with XP rarely occupying RAM) for a couple of years and could use a new look. That machine mostly sits running a web cam cron job so a bloated GUI isn't needed. Thanks for the Xreminder. Choices are a wonderful thing. Besides incredible reliability and ease of installation, my Linux choices haven't forced me to choose upgraded hardware just to get the latest distro. That's a wonderful thing too. Thanks for Xpressing what sounds like a good choice to me.

Mike Roberts is a bewildered Linux Journal Reader Advisory Panelist.


Anonymous's picture

I started running xubuntu on my eee pc rather than the default xandros distro and am loving it. I have been running gnome ubuntu on my thinkpad for a few years and was quite content but I must say I am definitely liking xubuntu at the moment.

all about choice again

Anonymous's picture

Im so sick of hearing the "Linux is all about choice" mantra - I cant begin to describe how sick. Apart from the fact that the phrase is meaningless, it is only used as a get-out-of-jail-free card whenever one of the many shortcomings of Linux is exposed. Then we get the "well if you dont like distro x (because its bug ridden like all the other ones) then you don't have to use it" followed by the Linux choice mantra.
Actually Linux is surely all about computing not choice - its an operating system / application bazaar not interior decoration.
The only reason choice is good for Linux is that you can choose not to use it, and so avoid the pain of trying to get the bloody thing to work properly.

Please, SitDown Little Mr Balmer...

Anonymous's picture

Never learned to RTFM so now Blame the Educators...
Typical Troll.
Now go do your homework, so mommy will make-oo warm milk and cookies.
And since you can't fine your butt with both hands in the dark, maybe she'll wipe it for you too.
Nyt-nyt 'teevy-weevy.

Agreed. It's great to read

Anonymous's picture

Agreed. It's great to read about someones opinion, but this post shouldn't be on the frontpage.

Column is a regular on the front page

JimmyTheGeek's picture

While I'll easily concede the points made thus far about no performance metrics reported, this column is a regular here. The editors can put whatever they want here, even if it's a story about how much better potatoes are in Idaho. Get over it.


Anonymous's picture

too much opinion, no facts about xfce's footprint, main points are disliking apps like amarok. My worst read of the night without a doubt.

-Signed gnome desktop user/compiz window manager user /awn panel user/kde app user