Xubuntu 11.10 and my Netbook

October saw the release of the latest version of the Ubuntu family and that includes Xubuntu, the Xfce edition. I’ve just installed Xubuntu 11.10 on my netbook and the experience was rather good.

The netbook in question is an eMachines (Acer) model eM350. The specs are: 1.6GHz Atom processor, 1GB of memory and a 160GB hard drive. I'd been using it for a couple of months with the default installation of Windows XP.

In this case, I installed Xubuntu by downloading the ISO as usual and using Unetbootlin to copy it to a flashdrive.

With each release, Xfce becomes more and more comprehensive. Xubuntu 11.10 uses Xfce 4.8 (covered here), and overall, the dark default Xubuntu theme looks attractive. As I've speculated in the past, I think that Xfce is going to become home to more and more users who want something that is under active development, yet looks and works like a Gnome 2, KDE 3 or even Windows XP desktop. In its default configuration, the task switcher, application launcher menu and status area are located on a bar at the top of screen. Moving the pointer to the bottom of the screen causes an icon-based application bar to appear, an efficient use of space on a netbook display as it retracts when not in use.


A layout that strikes a good balance between a traditional desktop and a space-constrained one.

As good as things looked initially, I began to notice a problem on the visual front: the font rendering looked rather blurry. Fortunately, a Google search turned up this neat little hack. Creating the two configuration files, as directed, altered the way that anti-aliasing is applied to fonts, giving them a crisp, smooth, if slightly heavy appearance. The default setup of the font rendering was so poor, that I honestly don't think I could have used it in that condition on a long term basis. Without the fix, text also had a misty quality when I installed Xubuntu within a VM on a desktop machine. I couldn't detect the same problem when I installed Ubuntu 11.10.

Xubuntu 11.10 installed in VirtualBox. Notice the misty quality of the Xubuntu text compared with the Kubuntu native rendering.

As I said before, the hardware support has been excellent, right out of the box. The sound, the graphics and the wireless and wired networking adapters worked without a hitch. Funnily enough, I hadn't been able to get this Broadcom wireless adapter to work on Puppy Linux. Suspending to RAM and hibernating to the hard disk both worked as expected.

There's been a lot of talk recently about kernel bugs having a negative effect on battery life. I didn't do any exhaustive testing but power management features such as shutting down the fan and dimming/blanking the screen worked fine and battery life seemed roughly as expected. I might have got lucky, or perhaps a longer testing period would have revealed a deficiency in this area.

 

When the machine starts up or resumes, Xfce pops up some system information. Notice the crisp font display after the application of the rendering hack.


I did wonder if the 1GB of RAM would significantly hamper performance, but I'm pleased to report that overall performance was good. In fact, it felt faster than the Windows XP that came with the machine. One thing that annoys me about performance under Windows is that it tends to be inconsistent. For example, things often felt slow following a recovery from a suspend or hibernation with XP, requiring a reboot to get back up to speed.

Web browsing, in particular, seemed more consistent, in performance terms, than it had under Windows XP, in all but two areas. For some reason the Google Docs word processor doesn't seem quite as fast as it did when run in Firefox under XP, sometimes struggling to keep up with my typing. I may get to the bottom of this, in time, and it's not a huge problem. Another disappointment (although an expected one) is the performance of Flash under Linux. Under Windows XP, this machine shows almost no extra CPU usage when switching YouTube videos to full screen 480p. However, due to the sub-optimal performance of Flash on Linux, I couldn't even get smooth playback of 320p in full screen mode under Linux. In windowed mode, the performance was acceptable, and there is a partial work-around in the form of FlashVideoReplacer.

For some reason, the folder sharing tools are absent from the menus on this version of Xubuntu, and I wonder if this might be due to a bug. I was able to invoke the GUI utility by typing:

shares-admin

Once running, it installed the needed components and subsequently worked very well. By the same token, even though Thunar, the file manager, can browse Samba (Windows) shares, Xubuntu wasn't set up to do it by default. I was able to overcome this problem by manually installing the gvfs-backends package. Following advice in a forum post, I also issued this command:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure thunar


Sure enough, after a reboot, I was able to browse the network from within Thunar.

Incidentally, I also installed Xubuntu onto a memory stick for another little project. It ran well with this configuration.

I'm a Linux lover rather than a Windows hater, and my overall assessment was that Xubuntu 11.10 was a better fit than Windows XP on this netbook. Being fair, one has to remember that XP is now ten years old. Xfce is going to get better and better, and it's already very comprehensive. There is a growing contingent of users for whom the direction that KDE4 and Gnome 3 have taken doesn't ring true, and increasingly, Xfce is going to be the first choice for them.

If you want to put together a netbook system that looks similar to Gnome 2, is designed to run well in a slightly resource constrained environment and yet potentially offers a full Ubuntu system under the hood, I'd highly recommend Xubuntu 11.10.

______________________

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

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I think that this can be

Jeremiah's picture

I think that this can be really useful in many applications, but in some points Linux is much more better than Ubuntu.
Implant Dentar

Horizontal Mouse Scrolling

Anonymous's picture

I had just ONE problem with Xubuntu 11.10 and my Acer Aspire 4315: The Synaptic touchpad stopped scrolling horizontally.

Anyone here going through the same problem?

Horizontal Scrolling

RadOncMike's picture

Same Problem Here! It was working in Ubuntu, but not Xubuntu. There is no option in the system settings for the mouse either. Haven't found the fix yet. This and the fact that FTP mounts do not list in thunar are my two beefs!

I liked Xubuntu 11.10

darkduck's picture

I tried Xubuntu 11.10 in Live and was all positive about it.
Will try to install it on my laptop.

Here are my current thoughts:

http://linuxblog.darkduck.com/2011/12/xubuntu-unbelievable-easyness-of.html

Nice article!

Anonymous's picture

Nice article!

Perfect Balance

scribbler's picture

I have to totally agree with this assessment. Ubuntu Linux most certaily isn't perfect, but XFCE brings about as much perfection as anyone can expect from a modern operating system. Though Microsoft fell out of my good graces with the advent of Vista, I was beginning to lose faith in Linux as well, with the overbloating of KDE, the oversimplicity of LXDE and the utter mess of "user-friendliness" that is Unity and GNOME.

I first fell in love with computers using Windows 3.1, 95, 98, and finally Windows XP. They were user-friendly, yet let me tinker with options, tweak the system, and allowed me to learn by experience. Xubuntu 11.10, the only reason I still stick with Ubuntu Linux, brings back that perfect balance of useability and safety computers used to be known for.

The top half of the interface is very reminiscent of the old Windows 98 taskbar (the best and most productive Windows, IMHO), and the bottom half owes much to MacOS's dashboard. The interface is shipped clean and simple while allowing for plenty of customization. (I'm currently running Compiz on my capable laptop while the more resource strapped system runs it on its own.) But at the same time, I'm allowed to make changes to system files, install whatever I want, however I want, and change the UI to suit MY needs, instead of turning my life upside down to suit a tyrranical UI.

And then, I can open a terminal for a pure, unadulterated linux experience. As "cwl" pointed out, it's still needed even in modern systems. And really, it's no big deal. During the shift from Windows 3.x to 95, eight-year-olds were logging into DOS and running programs from the command prompt. EIGHT-YEAR-OLDS! A flashy, dumbed-down UI is not necessarily equal to user-friendliness. Quite honestly, compared to the slowdown I get from using the built-in system updater, I find it easier and more efficient to just initiate it from the terminal while handling simpler things like networking and power options from the taskbar. And you know what? It's my perrogative, and Xubuntu lets me do it! Just for that, it earns my immediate respect.

All other systems and distros need to sit up and take note of what XFCE and Xubuntu have done with 11.10. IMHO, Xubuntu is brillaint not because of what I notice, but because of what I DON'T notice. This sort of "oneness" between the computer and the user is what all OS's strive for, and I believe the Xubuntu team has struck gold. Sure, Kubuntu, Ubuntu and GNOME 3 give us prettier graphics and stark interfaces, Microsoft gives us a greater market share, Mac gives us style, but Xubuntu gives me something I haven't seen in a long time.

A system that stays out of my way and lets me get the job done!

Perfect Balance

scribbler's picture

I have to totally agree with this assessment. Ubuntu Linux most certaily isn't perfect, but XFCE brings about as much perfection as anyone can expect from a modern operating system. Though Microsoft fell out of my good graces with the advent of Vista, I was beginning to lose faith in Linux as well, with the overbloating of KDE, the oversimplicity of LXDE and the utter mess of "user-friendliness" that is Unity and GNOME.

I first fell in love with computers using Windows 3.1, 95, 98, and finally Windows XP. They were user-friendly, yet let me tinker with options, tweak the system, and allowed me to learn by experience. Xubuntu 11.10, the only reason I still stick with Ubuntu Linux, brings back that perfect balance of useability and safety computers used to be known for.

The top half of the interface is very reminiscent of the old Windows 98 taskbar (the best and most productive Windows, IMHO), and the bottom half owes much to MacOS's dashboard. The interface is shipped clean and simple while allowing for plenty of customization. (I'm currently running Compiz on my capable laptop while the more resource strapped system runs it on its own.) But at the same time, I'm allowed to make changes to system files, install whatever I want, however I want, and change the UI to suit MY needs, instead of turning my life upside down to suit a tyrranical UI.

And then, I can open a terminal for a pure, unadulterated linux experience. As "cwl" pointed out, it's still needed even in modern systems. And really, it's no big deal. During the shift from Windows 3.x to 95, eight-year-olds were logging into DOS and running programs from the command prompt. EIGHT-YEAR-OLDS! A flashy, dumbed-down UI is not necessarily equal to user-friendliness. Quite honestly, compared to the slowdown I get from using the built-in system updater, I find it easier and more efficient to just initiate it from the terminal while handling simpler things like networking and power options from the taskbar. And you know what? It's my perrogative, and Xubuntu lets me do it! Just for that, it earns my immediate respect.

All other systems and distros need to sit up and take note of what XFCE and Xubuntu have done with 11.10. IMHO, Xubuntu is brillaint not because of what I notice, but because of what I DON'T notice. This sort of "oneness" between the computer and the user is what all OS's strive for, and I believe the Xubuntu team has struck gold. Sure, Kubuntu, Ubuntu and GNOME 3 give us prettier graphics and stark interfaces, Microsoft gives us a greater market share, Mac gives us style, but Xubuntu gives me something I haven't seen in a long time.

A system that stays out of my way and lets me get the job done!

xubuntu 11.10 iso file

K.'s picture

I am on HP Mini netbook, and downloaded unetbootin.
where do u find iso file?
i tried one, did not work?

It looks like Unetbootlin

Michael Reed's picture

It looks like Unetbootlin doesn't yet have Xubuntu 11.10. I downloaded the standard ISO from the Xubuntu site manually and pointed Unetbootlin to it.

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

xubuntu 11.10 and HP Mini.

kaz.'s picture

so
i made persistent usb pen drive with universal usb installer.
are u familiar with this apps.?

and while xubuntu 11.10 was booting,
error message showed up;

BusyBox v1.10.2 (Ubuntu 1:1.10.2-1ubuntu6) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.

(initramfs)

I'm afraid that I've not used

Michael Reed's picture

I'm afraid that I've not used that app.

Does Xubuntu work without the persistence option?

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

tried unetbootin with iso

kaz.'s picture

tried unetbootin with iso file of xubuntu,
same error message.

That looks like a generic

Michael Reed's picture

That looks like a generic error indicating that Linux isn't getting on very well with your hardware. One thing that's worth trying: Immediately after selecting the language, you should be able to hit F6 in order to change the boot options. This pops up a menu that you don't really need, so press escape.

You should now be able to edit the boot options. Try removing the words "quiet" "splash" from the list of options. This at least will display the boot process and you can see where it's failing. If it's something to do with the IDE adaptor, you might try adding the all_generic_ide option to see if that helps.

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

when xubuntu is booting, this

kaz.'s picture

when xubuntu is booting,
this shows up on screen;

Help,
installing xubuntu,
try w/o installing,
check hard disk,

and press esc,
boot prompt shows up,

boot:
typed in each letters; h, i, t, c,
output is; kernel not found.

restarted netbook, and menu

kaz.'s picture

restarted netbook,
and menu shows up like this again;
default
help
try xubuntu w/o inst'
inst x
check disk
test memory
boot from 1st HD

press tab to edit option
pressed tab key,
this shows up,

>/ubnkern initrd=/ubninit file= /cdrom/xubuntu.seal boot=casper quiet splash --

erased quiet and splash

when i earsed 'quiet

kaz's picture

when i earsed 'quiet squash'
this message shows up:
busybox...............(ash)
(initramfs)............squashfs failed:invalid argument can not mount.....................

Xubuntu 11.10

Scott Moore's picture

I've tried different releases of Ubuntu over the years and always found it to be sorely lacking.This time, I must say that I'm very impressed. While Windows 7 runs circles around any Linux distro, Ubuntu and Mint are very adequate unless you're into gaming or watching TV on the computer (MythTV is a joke, don't get me started...).

Anyhow, I am very disappointed with the Unity/Gnome 3 mess. Unfortunately, Microsoft is about to pull another Windows ME flop with Windows 8. If you think Unity is bad, wait til you see "Metro". So after trying several distros, I'm now happily dual-booting Xubuntu 11.10 along with Windows 7. I have never seen a more customizable Linux distro that's very easy to use. I didn't care for the color scheme and I like my toolbar on the bottom. No problem! I changed it all. I'm not into the floating Apple-like launcher either so I got rid of it. Don't like the rounded border around icon names? Here's a fix:

http://xubuntu.wordpress.com/2007/08/27/howto-remove-the-borders-of-your...

All in all, thank God for xfce. Canonical should be thanking them too. If it weren't for xfce, I'd be using Mint (which is also Ubuntu-based) or a different distro altogether (Fedora??).

Try these

Anonymous's picture

XBMC for your media digestive needs (also has a live version, Ubuntu/Debian repos etc). Requires 3D acceleration now, though. Which is a good thing, really considering VDPAU et al.

Also, Mint has various editions on top of their normal Ubuntu/Gnome spin. They have Ubuntu-based KDE, Gnome 2 and soon 3 and XFCE. There is also the LMDE, or Linux Mint Debian Edition which also comes in Gnome and XFCE flavours. I am running this now on my venerable IBM X31 and it's runs like a dream, even without 3D acceleration due to a crusty old chip. I believe people are movng back otthe rolling updates because they get pissy about a reinstall every 6 months.

Nice report. I used Xubuntu

Nylo's picture

Nice report.

I used Xubuntu for awhile until I loaded Lubuntu in my T42. Both are nearly the same with Lubuntu being a bit more austere, ie. you’ll have to load some programs via Synaptic. I found it to be faster than Xubuntu, and basic.... I like simple. Out of the box all was working, even the WiFi jumped on board with no issues.

Ill be loading Lubuntu on my GF's Acer AspireOne (D250) soon.

Nylo

Update...

Nylo's picture

I finally loaded Lubu on the Acer Aspire-One (AOD250.) Installed and runs beautifully. I highly suggest using UNetbootin to creat a bootable drive. Very simple and works great.

Tip: In UNetbootin select your .iso manually.

Nylo

xubuntu using wubi?

Anonymous's picture

Is using xubuntu using wubi a good idea. I don't have a USB stick and don't have money for one.

You could simply borrow one.

Nylo's picture

You could simply borrow one. After you’re are done just reformat and give it back to the owner.

Nylo

I'm agree with Laz on this part

jarubyh's picture

XFCE is great, Xubuntu is great, but, as said before, it's not ready for the absolute newbie test. If you have to touch the command line, edit config files, or for that matter even take your hand off the mouse for basic system tasks (like getting the fonts to be readable) then there is still work to be done on the distro. I use and love the command line, vIM, .* files and all that jazz, but not every Linux user does, some just want to get stuff done without running over to IRC for everything.
That being said, great article, (seems like a) great distro, keep up the good work.

Amazin

Paul R.'s picture

We're so on the same page. A coworker and I were evaluating Ubuntu 11.10 and determined it's not good at all. Unity is too infant, so many missing options and features and the interface isn't that nice for normal sized Laptops. Tried to use Gnome on Ubuntu and it put Gnome 3 on it, which the interface was almost as bad as Unity's. Gnome 3 is Vista and Gnome 2 is XP, they changed everything around seemingly for the hell of it. Well, in the name of user friendliness, but completely screwed over the people who are used to a certain look and feel. I tried Kubuntu 11.10 then, thinking KDE may be the way to go, afterall it was always Gnome vs KDE. And it was ok but sluggish, I then learned KDE tends to be more resource intensive. So I gave XUbuntu a shot and fell in love. It's awesome and my new distro of choice for Desktops anyways. I also tried Linux Mint 11, which is Ubuntu based, with the LXDE desktop (Lightweight, almost looks/feels just like XFCE, honestly don't know the difference). It was nice enough. I then tried Linux Mint Debian Based, LMDE, which uses the regular XFCE desktop as well. I honestly don't know which is best. Linux Mint Ubuntu based with LXDE, Linux Mint Debian Based with XFCE, or XUbunu using XFCE. But since I've been on Ubuntu for a while now, I'm used to it, and XUbuntu is as nice as any, I'm using that for now. But if they make a wrong turn somewhere, hello Linux Mint.

FYI, I installed these 3 (XUbuntu, Linux Mint 11 (Ubuntu Based) LXDE, and Linux Mint Debian (XFCE)on 3 identical Dell D6260 laptops and am comparing the performance, interface, memory usage, disk usage, etc. between the 3. The interface is quite acceptable across the 3.

Seems like very helpful.

Yi Gyu-min's picture

I've been thinking how I use my old netbook seems like having as same quality as yours except battery capacity. It can't afford to running not only Windows but also Ubuntu or Linux Mint. this OS seems like work well on my own too. Thanks very much for useful information.

Ah, the estimate in the

Michael Reed's picture

Ah, the estimate in the picture is just a start up one. It soon settled down to the usual 5hrs estimate. TBH, I've never taken that machine to below about 30% battery due to my usage patterns for it. I wish I did have a laptop that could manage 9hrs+ on a single charge! ;-)

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

On battery,

Yi Gyu-min's picture

Ah, I was so surprised at your battery life:OMG it's 11hours! Long battery life is everyone's wish-my new laptop-LG xnote P430-can be run about 8 hours on document editing and simple web browsing, but I always need more for the way I use my laptop :(

Anyway, there's one thing I wanna know:what operating system manage the same battery more efficiently-Windows or Xubuntu? I'm looking forward to hearing your experience. Thanks.

re: Battery life. There are

Michael Reed's picture

re: Battery life. There are reports that current generation kernels are often up to 30% behind what Windows can offer in terms of battery life. I think that the kernel devs are trying to get to the bottom of it.

I tend not to run that machine for more than two or three hours at a time, and I haven't noticed a major problem.

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

I switched to Xubuntu several

tvphil's picture

I switched to Xubuntu several months ago from Ubuntu and am very happy I did. I tried it for the first time 3 years ago and it was kind of klunky, spartan and it's file manager Thunar couldn't search a LAN. Now is slicker than Ubuntu's Unity, has more than enough quality apps for me and Thunar now can search a LAN.

As good as it is, it still shows it suffers from a lack of manpower and money that Ubuntu has. Exhibit A, the current desktop for 11.10 cannot execute a "mailto" link. Doesn't matter what browser you're using or if it's in an email, it won't do anything and will give you an error message. The only workaround is to copy and paste it. Hopefully this glaring bug can be corrected in an update, but it never should have slipped through the Xubuntu Dev teams hands before 11.10 was released.

Been using Xfce for the last year and a half...

Fred McKinney's picture

...and I must say that I love it! :-) True, LXDE is a bit faster, but it just doesn't seem to be as mature, polished, or configurable as Xfce is and has been for some time. Like many of you, I originally started out with KDE and GNOME but was disenchanted by the changes KDE gave us with version 4 in early 2008 plus I don't really have enough RAM on my computer to consider returning to KDE.

As for GNOME, I looked up a preview of GNOME 3 on YouTube and just plain didn't like what I saw. What's more, I never liked how GNOME refuses to listen to us, the end users. Oh, and the last straw for me was the arrogance and hateful attitudes of certain GNOME-Look users.

Glad to see that Xfce is picking up new users all the time from GNOME and KDE refugees! :-) I currently use CrunchBang Statler Xfce, which is based on Debian Stable, which is still on Xfce 4.6 right now. But once 4.8 goes stable, I'm sure it'll be quite nice.

I am a Linux Mint user with

Anonymous's picture

I am a Linux Mint user with XFCE.... its the best. I love it. Its fast, secure and works really well out of the box. No need to tweak fonts or install flash. It is lightweight and memory usage on a box with 4GB Ram with Virtualbox running 3 VMs, several tabs open in firefox, libre office 3.x and compiling with GCC all at once have barely exceeded 1Gb ever. I'm serious, not kidding.
I can see why Linux Torvalds switched to Linux Mint with XFCE.

Shane

Flash

Julia's picture

To help with the flash issues, flash-aid is a great plugin for firefox. It basically incorporates a bunch of fairly well-known tweaks into a fresh install of the flash plugin. If you don't use firefox, you can still run flash-aid once in firefox, and flash performance will improve greatly system-wide. I used to have the same issues with flash video on my laptops, but I can now view fullscreen movies with no problem.

netbook? heck, desktop

Mozai's picture

I tried the new Ubuntu "Unity" interface again, and it was just as annoying as a year ago (superfluous flashing/animation, incorrect status messages, widgets taking up too much area, a window manager that assumes you only ever have one app open and it's window is always maximized)... so I installed xfce4 and xfce4-goodies for good measure.

Feels good to have a computer interface that is mine again, not someone else's idea of what's good for me. In addition, XFCE has faster response times than Unity, which is a bonus.

Really really liking Xfce! ... and so is my Grandmother!!

Archie's picture

Glad to read a review of a distribution running what I agree will become a more and more important desktop environment in future. I am sure that I am becoming more and more typical, in that my machine is perfectly adequate for my needs with 2 gigs RAM (upgraded myself from 512 meg ram!!! most geekish thing I've ever done in my life); pentium 4 processor; and 160 gig HD. Ok, I don't do much with it, but neither does my gran, and her Xubuntu 11.04 is running just fine, and she is bothering me far less with her problems than when she ran XP on her similar machine to mine!
XP is still there if she wants it, but she doesn't, because Xubuntu is faster, simpler, and virus-worry free.
Commenter "Laz" above is right. My gran is not going to be able to do anything with Xubuntu that doesn't just work, but that's same as that she couldn't do anything with XP that didn't just work!
Sorry, but left to her own devices, she would have been infected with every single virus ever devised by now; she would be a part of every single botnet out there; and her bank account and credit card would have been raided and abused over and over by keyloggers and goodness knows what other unpatched security vulnerabilities would have been left wide open.
I am really looking forward to upgrading to 11.10, and thanks for the heads-up about some potential problems.
Means I'll get my gran on it that bit quicker.

I'm with you as I suspect my

Michael Reed's picture

I'm with you as I suspect my mother's next setup will be based around Xfce. I had a go with Gnome 3 in classic mode, but as far as I can see it doesn't look like it can be customised to the same extent. Ironically, I had altered her Gnome 2.0 so that it looked like her old Windows desktop. I can't ask her to learn a completely new system layout now.

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

Unfortuately, this is why

Laz's picture

Unfortuately, this is why Linux will never become mainstream desktop OS!

Tell me, how many of your grandmothers would be able to go to a forum, then open a command prompt, write and save two config files, then write two more meaningless command lines and then reboot. It's madness!

I can't remember the last time I dropped into a command prompt in either XP or 7.

I'm not hating here, but the various linux builds need to make it so you NEVER have to drop into a command prompt to get things working, not have a GUI for some bits and not for others! Only then do I feel Linux would become a viable alternative to anyone other than IT professionals/geeks/tinkerers

Unfortunately this is why

neilwin's picture

Well, I can't speak for grandmothers but as a grandfather of three I have no problem with using the konsole. In fact I use it regularly, and it is one of the reasons that I prefer Linux to that other OS. I certainly do not see it as a reason to frighten off older people from trying Linux. My wife, who of course is a grandmother, has not problems either.

Leave it to The Experts: Same For Windows Same For linux

Anonymous's picture

Why do you speak as if one has to do this or anything similar with all distributions?

Most grandmothers will probably need help to create a table in a spreadsheet, write some meaningless formulas in a few cells and see the splendid result of a budget or a checkbook calculator. but we still have spreadsheets working mostly the same way and a few becoming mainstream.

You may not have to drop to a command prompt on Windows but that does not mean someone has not done it so you do not have to do it. most time these things will be fixed by the experts supplying the computer so grandma does not have to do it.

Going to the command prompt to fix things can sometimes be far easier than using a GUI, opening a text file and writing or copying and pasting a few lines are often times easier than mucking around in a registry.

Using the command prompt to fix something is not necessarily bad, becoming mainstream is not necessarily good. My cream of pumpkin soup is not mainstream but it is far better for my heart than a mainstream Kentucky fried chicken meal.

What's the big deal about using the command prompt?

cwl's picture

It really annoys me to see "Linux" people complaining about having to use the command prompt. I use Linux because I like it's geeky features. Heaven forbid that Linux becomes just another amusement for the masses. If you're scared of or offended by the command prompt then Linux isn't for you. Get a Mac and leave us alone.

They prefer annoyances to convenience!

jet_eloriaga's picture

Can't blame Windows users for having gotten used to all those Windows annoyances - like having to stare at the monitor while the lousy OS updates itself (Linux does it while you work!), and having to act on those really pestering alerts on the taskbar before they get off (Linux doesn't require you to- it is smart enough to know that you have already seen it!), having to click the area where you want to scroll down or up - before you can scroll up or down (which again Linux isn't so dumb to require you to do! You just hover the mouse on the area and it knows you want to work on that area!).

'neat little hack'

Colin Wright's picture

please forgive my ignorance I'm a linux 'newbie'...i also installed xubuntu 11.10 and found the fonts bland but i don't understand how to apply the 'neat little hack' that you referred to...could someone please put it in simple step-by-step terms? by the way has anyone found a strange font 'bug' in Kubuntu 11.10? i installed it on my acer aspire laptop 3 times! every time i did it; it looked gorgeous with sharp clear fonts then without going into the settings at all (remember i'm a 'noob') within a few minutes of surfing the fonts on all folders and on firefox looked terrible..this doesn't happen on any other distros i've tried so i know it's not my hardware

In a nutshell, you have to

Michael Reed's picture

In a nutshell, you have to create two new files called:
/etc/fonts/conf.d/99-sharp-fonts.conf

and

/etc/X11/Xresources/sharp-fonts

To do this, open up a command line. Then type:

sudo nano /etc/fonts/conf.d/99-sharp-fonts.conf

then cut and past the first highlighted set of contents into the terminal window. When this is done press ctrl-o and then ctrl-x to finish.

Following this, repeat for the second file with this command:

sudo nano /etc/X11/Xresources/sharp-fonts

cut and paste the second set of contents and then do a ctrl-o and a ctrl-x.

When you reboot, the fonts should look better.

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

Fonts

vadim's picture

The manual hack you have described isn't necessary.
You can change font anti-aliasing properties in Settings Manager -> Appearance -> Fonts tab.
In my experience, most customising that an average user needs can be done using inbuilt tools.

P.S. My 6 year old son loves XFCE. Having looked at Unity, GNOME3, KDE and XFCE he actually made the choice himself. That tells you something!

I fiddled and fiddled with

Michael Reed's picture

I fiddled and fiddled with the settings in the GUI but I couldn't get anything that I was happy with. I think that the trick from the blog post keeps keeps anti-aliasing enabled but it is only employed on curves.

BTW, your child has excellent taste ;-)

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

Love XFCE4

Jerry McBride's picture

I dearly LOVE XFCE4. I was big fan of KDE4 and all it's development, but the weight of it is/was becoming stagering. My current install of XFCE4 is like a quarter the size of KDE4 and just as productive. It even fools the casual observer into thinking it's KDE or WINDOWS. What a hoot! I was really surprised with 4.80, it's come a long ways. I use it every where.

Just my $0.02 worth...

---- Jerry McBride

nice reveiw

Zerin Sakech's picture

thanks for the review. I'm currently running Xubuntu 10.04 on a Netbook and was just wondering how the latest Xubuntu 11.10 would run on a netbook. Good to know not too many tweaks would be needed.

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