Monday, October 22, 2012

Xubuntu 12.10 Review: A shinier and more attractive desktop!

Third in the series of Quantal Quetzal releases, is Xubuntu 12.10 after Ubuntu and Kubuntu. Like Kubuntu, Xubuntu also didn't have many significant changes in the new release from the LTS version. The same cannot be said about Ubuntu which did get some new functionalities like web apps, better social integration, etc. These are not there in Xubuntu, Kubuntu or a Lubuntu.
From Ubuntu 12.10 Comparison

XFCE, as a desktop, is growing on me primarily because it didn't undergo any major makeover in recent times, making it consistent to use for the users as well as for it's stability and being less resource intensive. The CPU and RAM utilizations are significantly lower for a XFCE desktop compared to a Gnome or a KDE desktop. 


From Ubuntu 12.10 Comparison
To those who are new to Xubuntu, it is a lightweight XFCE desktop environment based distro from the Ubuntu stable which offers the users a complete operating system with a range of useful applications. Further, since users can access the application rich Ubuntu repositories, there are plenty of applications like Skype, VLC, virtualbox, Firefox, Opera, PlayonLinux, etc. that can be downloaded and installed in Xubuntu. By default, the Xubuntu 12.10 ISO boots up with the following default applications:
  • Graphics: gthumb, Ristretto image viewer, and simple scan
  • Internet: Firefox browser, Thunderbird mail, Pidgin IM, Bittorrent client, and Xchat IRC
  • Multimedia: gmusicbrowser, parole video player, Xfburn CD burner (audio/video CDs)
  • Office: Abiword document maker, Gnumeric spreadsheet, document viewer to view pdf, comics archive, etc., Orage calendar
  • Accessories: Calculator, Archive manager, Leafpad (notepad), Catfish file search,  screenshot, etc. 
 
I booted up both 12.10 and 12.04.1 on my Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 GHz Intel 2nd Gen Ci3 processor and 2 GB DDR3 RAM. Post initial live boot, I installed them on the same machine, to check and compare individual performances. High level results are given below:

High Level Results

At a high level, the two distros don't look significantly different from each other and expectedly so. They are just six months apart. However, Xubuntu 12.10 has the latest applications and repository, with updated Firefox, Thunderbird among others.


Parameters Xubuntu 12.10 Xubuntu 12.04.1 LTS
Size of ISO 727 MB 715 MB
Booting time (post installation) 8 sec 10 sec
Desktop XFCE 4.10 XFCE 4.8
Linux kernel 3.5.0-17 3.2.0-29
CPU usage (live boot) 1-5% 2-6%
RAM usage (live boot) 180 MB 220 MB
CPU Usage (post installation) 1-5% 1-5%
RAM usage (post installation) 160 MB 160 MB
Installation time (with 1 MBPS connection) 30 min. 30 min.
Wifi detection Immediate Immediate
Touchpad detection Works by default Works by default
Ease of use Really smooth to use Really smooth to use
Eye candy factor Interface is brighter and looks better than ever Somehow dark in looks & not very bright
Repository Ubuntu Software Center 5.4.1.2 Ubuntu Software Center 5.2.5
File Manager Thunar 1.4 Thunar 1.2.3

Another signficant improvement is in the art work. Xubuntu 12.10 looks much brighter and aesthetically more pleasing. But, the resource efficiency is not compromised as evident from the performance in the table given above. Xubuntu 12.10 works as good as Xubuntu 12.04.1 and looks much better. It continues to be fast and responsive, and giving a highly functional desktop.

Incremental changes

Apart from updated XFCE, Linux kernel and applications, rest of the incremental changes are similar to Kubuntu, namely:

  • New Grub2 menu, to work on secured UEFI login of the Windows 8 systems. Xubuntu Precise with the older grub won't be able to work there.
  • Migration-assistant removed: The tool responsible for migration of user profiles from existing operating system(s) is no longer part of Quantal
  • Python 3: Still, Python 2 is supported. 
  • No OpenJDK6: Now Ubuntu has totally moved to OpenJDK7 as the default Java implementation.
  • In the application menu, all settings-related launchers are now grouped under the Settings Manager
  • From Ubuntu 12.10 Comparison
  • Completely rewritten offline documentation
  • Catfish search engine, has been updated to version 0.4.0.2
  • Parole, media player, has moved to new upstream version 0.3.0.3
  • gThumb, image viewer and browser, has moved to version 3.0.1 
So, net-net, no significant change between Xubuntu Precise and Quantal. Both work admirably well on my laptop and I get a high level of performance from both

So, Quantal or Precise?

Unlike Ubuntu or Kubuntu, here I'll go in favor of upgrading to Xubuntu 12.10. The support for Xubuntu Precise is for 3 years and not 5 years as you get with Ubuntu or Kubuntu; hence, possibly you don't lose much if you upgrade. Further, my decision is based on refined art work, ability to work in systems with Windows 8 and Microsoft's much maligned secured boot, latest applications available in the repository, option of adding Ubuntu web apps ppa's among others. And perhaps, I would wait for the Linux MInt 14 XFCE to come out as well before upgrading! My 2 cents.

40 comments:

  1. Thanks for the the comparison and comprehensive reviews of the different flavours of 12.10. Really helpful!

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    Replies
    1. Glad that you liked it.
      Regards,
      Arindam

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  2. Very interesting review. I have installed Xubuntu 12.10 on the back of Lubuntu 12.10, so that there are two very impressive desktop environments to chose from. Xubuntu wins by a small margin, mainly because the settings manager is more extensive than Lubuntu and rarely requires resorting to a terminal. Well done to all of the developers :)

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    Replies
    1. Yup, XFCE is more user friendly than LXDE. In Lubuntu, even to add applications at startup I need to hit the terminal! :)

      Regards,
      Arindam

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    2. And thanks for finding my article interesting :)

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  3. The only real complaint is the lack of any progress in getting a better application dock and launch toolbar with icon ZOOM (mac style) but you can easy install one from the software center. Next my recycled HD from a mac would hang the install until i ran gparted from terminial with sudo gparted & removed all partitions and formated it. Its a dam shame it didnt treat the installed HD like windows install does on installation of an OS.
    Otherwise faultless and saves me learning all the new KDE/GNOME/UBUNTU desktops as this one just works!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Xubuntu is good. Even I prefer using a docky and removed the lower panel to install a docky there. Well, even in ntfs partition, Xubuntu won't install until you format it to ext2/ext3. Almost all Linux distros I know require that for installation.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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  4. You do not have images of Xubuntu 12.04 to compare the images of Xubuntu 12.10 with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Since this review is for Xubuntu 12.10, I didn't intentionally put them in my blog. You can visit those images at http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in/2012/04/ubuntu-1204-vs-xubuntu-1204-vs-kubuntu.html and the Picasa album linked therein.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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  5. I disagree. LTS might have 3 years, but what you want is to avoid upgrading every 6 months, with the pain and risks involved (did you miss that ext4 file corruption issue in new kernels?).

    You only need 2 years to upgrade from LTS to LTS; switching to non LTS due to a desktop theme is begging for trouble.

    NON LTS should only be used for special cases, such as needing UEFI before the next LTS provides it (or grub is backported into the current LTS).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree upgrading is very difficult and painful. However, even for non-LTS support is for 18 months and not necessarily one would require to upgrade every 6 months. And by the time Xubuntu 12.10 expires there'll be another LTS release already. Hence, users don't lose much in upgrading/replacing 12.04 with 12.10.

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  6. Yes they do: 1 upgrade vs 3. If you use 12.10, you are forced to upgrade to 13.04 and 13.10 before getting into 14.04 LTS. But if you stay with 12.04 LTS, it is a single upgrade into 14.04 LTS.

    Even if you delay upgrading until the release of the next LTS, you would still have to perform these 3 consecutive upgrades in succession and hope everything goes ok with each one.

    And way too often, people forget (or are left forgotten) a non LTS version installed, way beyond the support period. With the LTS, at least this period is much longer and the chance of remaining stuck smaller.

    Even if Xubuntu LTS has 3 years support, in practice it gets benefits for 5 from Ubuntu, because the repository will remain up (and get updates) the whole 5 years which is enough to initiate the upgrade into the next LTS. With non LTS, in 18 months you would need to go and change their repositories to be even able to start the upgrades.

    For these reasons users should be discouraged from using non LTS releases. These inter releases should be for enthusiasts only, people willing to spend time fixing non production issues or testing new hardware and willing to keep their OS current.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess I have to agree with your very well laid argument. Yup, LTS makes sense even for Xubuntu and as you said, it can actually be used till Ubuntu 12.04 LTS support (for 5 years) expires. Makes sense now! I'll change my recommendation. Would you mind revealing your name so that I can quote you in my recommendation?

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    2. Can't agree with the things the person you are replying to uses as arguments. The problem with LTS is that the support from Canonical sucks. Some important parts of the systems receive updates, but the rest of the software "depends on the community" for updates and upgrades (which in practice means that nothing happens). If you take non-lts and upgrade your version every time, you always have the latest software. With LTS you are stuck with e.g. the same version of Libreoffice until the next LTS comes out (and the same goes for the vast majority of software in the repo's for that version). Your review was interesting though, thank you very much. I am going to install 12.10 on my new pc once the CD has finished burning.

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    3. Agree. Getting stuck with antiquated apps is perhaps the biggest drawback of sticking to LTS version. There are way out for some apps but not for all. Even force installing the latest apps may result in unwanted instability.

      Anyway, Why Ubuntu 12.10? You can very well install the 13.04 one? I tried it out, it is good and actually better than Ubuntu 12.10.

      Thanks,
      Arindam

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  7. Well every one made some very good points on all of the above, And yes there are a LOT of variables (IE: Sound Cards and Graphics) and of course the Compiz issues ect.

    But do keep in mind that there were kernel issues along with the fact that Ubuntu 12.04 is "Buggy" and caused my Desk Top to crash together with loosing data on my slave drive and made my new Dell Laptop hang up at times so I '"Will Not" use 12.04 or any and all of its derivatives on my computers for the simple reason that its buggy period, And I'm not the only one to complain that Ubuntu and Canonical left the Ubuntu Community out to dry by designating 12.04 as a LTS release period.........

    At this point in time I'm using Super 10.10 as it works great and is NOT buggy tho I'm weighing testing Xubuntu as it has the new 3.5 kernel and I'm not forced to put up with the 'Unity Nightmare' tho personally I like Unity on the Lap Top but in truth it has no place on the Desk Top especially on a production machine as I primarily make my living by writing and not collecting Stock Options like some and believe me by making users choose Unity Canonical has done the whole Opensource community along with business users a big disservice.

    Still let see how the new users of Windows 8 scream when they see what's on their new machines, He He.

    To end this on a positive note:

    The main things Ubuntu needs is:

    1.More testing and time between releases especially LTS releases.
    2.More software for Linux machines period, Like photoshop and printshop as nobody should have to run WINE!, Granted its ok for Gamers but we need 'Real Programs' on production machines and to run a proper workstation from, As I have to run Dreamweaver on WINE just to be able to make a good and professional Web Page with and yes the new graphics and Ubuntu Store rakes in the Bucks for Canonical and the big boys but lets not forget the little fellows too O.K.
    Memo from a User:
    EDWARD

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Edward,

      I agree with you totally on the lack of professional and refined software part. I guess a lot of improvement is required to make them more functional than where they are at the moment.

      Thanks,
      Arindam

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  8. What I don't understand is why people are lamenting the loss of gnome 2 when there is wonderful xfce to deal with. I use Xubuntu LTS on my underpowered ASUS AMD C50 CPU netbook which would run slow and hot with Unity. It works very well and I don't miss gnome 2 in any sense. Best of all I added xfce ppa from xubuntu devs and now have latest 4.10 running on it. This way I get to keep LTS and enjoy the benefits of the latest xfce.
    Unity does fine on my ASUS icore5 laptop and my AMD Bulldozer desktop but its definitely stretching on smaller underpowered netbooks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Arup:

      I agree with you. XFCE is very good and runs well in limited resources. However, somehow I could never like the inflexibility that Unity offers and on my high end machine Asus K55V (icore 7 3rd gen, 8 GB RAM, Nvidia 2 GB graphics), I am better off with Linux Mint Maya Cinnamon. It works like a charm and in last 6 months, never had any issues. Simply perfect for productivity purpose and very customizable as well. Currently I made it look Mac-ish with a docky but I keep on changing the desktop design.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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    2. And like you, I have installed Xubuntu 12.04 LTS in my Asus Eee-PC 1101HA. Xubuntu 12.04 runs like a charm - absolutely no issue in last 6 months.

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    3. Speaking on that subjecto of eeepc, I cant get the backlight working, nor on 12.04 or 12.10. any help?

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    4. Can't help. My EeePC 1101HA is 2009 bought and it doesn't have backlight.

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  9. Mint Linux with cinnamon is very good I use it very well, then my win 7 is gone and I decide to re-install it, but I do not found any way to re install grub 2 because I ignore that grub is install in my pen drive, last I install Ubuntu 11.10 it is not install grub in pen drive so I think it is not going any wrong.

    now I am thinking to install Xubuntu, but what version is good 12.04 LTS or 12.10.
    I try Xcafe in fedora 17 in live CD I am very impress. I have P4 2.6GHz 1.5 GB ram, its enough for Xubuntu ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mohammed,

      I guess 12.04 LTS will suit your system more. And yes, Xubuntu will run fast on your machine. I am using Xubuntu on a netbook with 1 GB RAM and Intel Atom 1.34 Ghz Processor, it runs really well.

      Regards,
      AS

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  10. Excellent review. However I too feel inclined to agree with Edward. If you truly want the bright desktop, simply update your environment using apt-get.
    :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I guess even I am agreeing now with Edward and change the recommendations of this article :)

      Delete
  11. Xubuntu 12.10 is not that mature. Alacarte is not working, which is a pain when installing non standard software, and proprietary graphic drivers are not available. Better to stay on 12.04 and updating XFCE if needed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even Ubuntu 12.10 is also painful too use and crashes often. I guess within 3 months things will settle down and possibly, it would make sense to install the 12.10 in Jan'13 when all the issues will sorted out/enough help available online.

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    2. I'm kinda looking at my proprietary graphics drivers right now: Nvidia 310.14. All working smooth and nice in Xubuntu 12.10

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    3. Alacarte isn't working FOR YOU maybe.. works just fine here!

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  12. Good rewiew I use Xubuntu for me is the best distro of Ubuntu family

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    Replies
    1. I agree, even I prefer Xubuntu and Lubuntu over Ubuntu/Kubuntu.

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  13. I'm running Xubuntu 12.04 and haven't got any problem at all.
    I also use it on my office computer and XFCE is very productive friendly.
    I would recommend Xubuntu 12.04 as alternative to Gnome3/Unity/Kde because very light and still more accessorised than too bare Lubuntu.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you. XFCE didn't have the kind of instability that a Gnome 3 or a KDE had. And Unity is more of an eye-candy and I find little functional element to it. A docky can very well substitute the strip. Further, XFCE is very customizable and works well for me.

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  14. don't you mean "shinier"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for pointing the typo. Corrected now.

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  15. Very good work.I luv it.Immediately bookmarked Ur site and hope Ull keep on publishing.
    I installed Xubuntu 12.10........never had a better OS (incl.win.XXXX).
    My Laptop loves it too, thats the fact!!!
    See ya......thanx!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cool. Thanks for bookmarking and reading my blog.
      Regards.

      Delete
  16. I'm looking forward to your review of Xubuntu 13.04 (which you'll hopefully do). I've been using 13.04 for a while, and it feels better than 12.10 in all aspects.

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    Replies
    1. Interesting! Even I have the same opinion of Ubuntu 13.04, it is better than 12.10. Definitely I'll review Xubuntu new release. It is one of my favorite distros.

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