Friday, January 2, 2015

Linux Lite 2.2 "Beryl" Review: Good lightweight XFCE LTS spin

On Dec 2, 2014, Jerry Bezencon has announced the release of Linux Lite 2.2, an updated build of the project's lightweight distribution based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and featuring the Xfce desktop: "Linux Lite 2.2 final is now available for download. This release is a product of the incredible contributions from both the community and the developers. We've added Backups, a very simple to use backup utility, Date & Time, File Search, and our newest members to the Linux Lite software family - Lite Cleaner, an easy-to-use point and click system cleaner and Lite Welcome which greets you on first boot, gives useful information about Linux Lite including updates, support and development. We've also added Light Locker as the new default screen locker. There are also improvements to Install Additional Software, allowing you to choose multiple programs at once to install. There is also Check Install Media that has been added to the live boot menu".

From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com
For this review I downloaded the 738 MB 64-bit ISO of Linux Lite for this review and created a live USB on a 4 GB pendrive using Linux Mint Image Writer. Linux Lite 2.2 ships with XFCE desktop and Linux kernel 3.13.0 with Thunar 1.6.3 as the file manager.


Hardware Used for the Review
Asus K55VM Windows 7 laptop with 2.3 Ghz 3rd Gen. Core i7 3610QM processor with 8 cores, 8 GB DDR3 RAM, 1366x768 resolution, 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce 630M graphic card. I installed Lite 2.2 on a 42 GB partition.

From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com
Installation
Linux Lite 2.2 has installation process similar to Ubuntu with very simple steps. To ensure that third party multimedia codecs and Adobe flash plugin are installed to play online and offline music and video, users should not forget to check "Install third party software" option while preparing to install Linux. It takes about 10 minutes to install Linux Lite on hard drive.

From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com
Score for Installation: 10/10

Hardware Recognition
Like any other Ubuntu spin, in Linux Lite 2.2 all hardware components worked as expected including screen resolution, sound, Wifi, LAN, touch pad, etc. For Nvidia graphics, I downloaded the NVIDIA binary drivers (331.113) from Menu -> Additional Drivers. Upon reboot and changing to Intel drivers, everything worked perfect to minimize laptop heat and extend battery life.

Score for Hardware Recognition: 10/10

Aesthetics
Linux Lite 2.2 ships with looks somewhat similar to Linux Mint XFCE, with a bottom line and a simple wallpaper.

From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com
The menu is whisker one and is quite functional. True to a lightweight distro the looks of Linux Lite 2.2 is simplistic with no frills.
From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com

The wallpaper section in Lite has, in addition, quite a few attractive wallpapers as well. Using one of the wallpapers and conky-manager I created an attractive interface as given here. Compositing is not enabled by default, but can be enabled from Window manager tweaks. Further, you can add a docky to enhance the appeal.
From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com

Another good feature of the distro is the Welcome screen visible both in live boot and post installation. It gives short cut to Installing updates, Release notes, etc. along with online support available and hardware database. I found it pretty handy for a beginner who wants to know more about Ubuntu in general and Linux Lite in particular.
From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com

Further, the default theme is Mediterranean White with a white bottom panel. Additionally I liked the Mediterranean Light theme with a black panel. Putting a black panel really enhanced the beauty of the distro.
From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com

Thunar 1.6.3 is the default file manager and it has an aesthetically pleasing look.
From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com

In overall, Linux Lite has professional and clean looks. I go for 9/10 in aesthetics for Linux Lite.

Score for Aesthetics: 9/10

Pre-Installed Packages
Linux Lite ships with a few basic applications for daily use, namely:

  • Office: LibreOffice 4.3.4.1 (Calc, Writer, Impress), PDF Viewer
  • Internet: Firefox 34.0, Network Connections, Thunderbird 31.2.0
  • Graphics: GIMP 2.8.14, Image Viewer, Scanner, Screenshot
  • Multimedia: VLC 2.1.4, Xfburn, Pulseaudio volume control
  • Accessories: Application Finder, Archive Manager, Backups, Calculator, File Search, Terminal, Leafpad 0.8.18.1, Lite Cleaner, NTFS Configuration Tool, gparted, Printers, System Information, gdebi package manager

Additionally there is an easy to use "Install Additional Software" to install more packages. I'll discuss in details in the Repository section.

Given I selected third party software during installation, multimedia files worked without any issue. Firefox is the default browser in the distro and I could play YouTube and other live stream online videos without any issue.
From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com

One thing to notice about Linux Lite is that it doesn't ship with exactly with lightweight packages. LibreOffice, Thunderbird, GIMP and VLC are not that lightweight and may require a more modern system to run well. Unlike Zorin Lite, Linux Lite doesn't have a shortcut application to install lightweight packages.

Some good things about this distro are that it provides ready to use configuration supporting NTFS, USB auto-mount, printer configuration, etc. just like Linux Mint. Linux Lite, like any other XFCE spin, has both integrated and discrete settings. The integrated settings is pretty handy for users who prefer all settings tweaks at one place.
From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com
From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com

I liked an utility package called Lite Cleaner as well. It is pretty helpful to free cache memory and remove additional kernels.
From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com

Overall, it is a very basic set of packages that Linux Lite provides and it is not typically lightweight. Hence, I go with a 7/10 on packages.

Score for Pre-Installed Packages: 7/10

Repositories
Linux Lite 2.2 primarily sources packages from Ubuntu Trusty repositories along with a host of third party repositories sourced from launchpad, Linux lite and Google repositories. PPAs of wine, Libreoffice, GIMP, Google Chrome and Google talk plugin, etc. are pre-added to Linux Lite.
From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com

Linux Lite does not have Ubuntu or Lubuntu Software manager but a synpatic package manager is provided to access and download packages. Synpatic is really good but may be a bit challenging for Linux beginners.
From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com

But, the Install Additional Software package is really helpful in this regard. It has the most common packages like Google talk plugin, Chrome and Chromium browsers, Dropbox, Java, PlayonLinux, Skype, Virtualbox, Wine, etc. added there along with a host of other packages. One caveat of Install additional software is that when I selected multiple packages to install from the list, I had to confirm and hit ok for every package selected. It can be a bit annoying. But, otherwise, quite handy for new users. It also provides Steam for those interested in playing games in Linux.
From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com

Similar to install additional software, there is a package to remove them as well. It is good for new users who are not sure how to remove packages.

Gdebi package installer is provided as well to install packages locally. I used it to install conky-manager, for which I downloaded the installer file from internet.

I guess the only piece missing here is adding pipelight plugin which is a silverlight substitute. To install Pipelight, add the PPA and install Pipelight using the commands below:

$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:pipelight/stable
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install pipelight-multi

Then, install the Silverlight plugin using the following command:
$ sudo pipelight-plugin --enable silverlight

Though document viewer works perfectly fine, but at times I require Adobe acrobat reader, especially for dynamic content. Installation of Adobe acroread is a bit tricky and I document here, what worked with me. I downloaded the AdbeRdr9.5.5-1_i486linux_enu.bin file from Adobe website and put it in the home directory. I opened terminal and ran the following commands:
$ sudo chmod +x ./AdobeRdr9.5.5-1_i486linux_enu.bin
$ sudo ./AdbeRdr9.5.5-1_i486linux_enu.bin
Agree to whatever options it asks and once installed it is time to install 32-bit architecture, if your OS is 64-bit.
$ sudo apt-get install ia32-libs
Post installation, Adobe Acrobat Reader should work without any issue.

Performance
Linux Lite 2.2 gave a really good performance on my system used. In my benchmarking and comparison to other lightweight Linux distros, I evaluated Lite 2.2 based on resource usage and power consumption. All the distros were evaluated on the same machine across 2013-14.

RAM and CPU Usage
At steady state Linux Lite 2.2 consumes about 308 MB RAM which is very good for a 64-bit XFCE distro. The CPU usage was around 0% with no applications running.

Boot time
With autologin enabled, Linux Lite takes about 28 seconds to boot. It takes 3% lower boot time compared to the 64 bit XFCE/LXDE distros reviewed during 2013-14.

Power Consumption
Linux Lite consumes slightly more power than Xubuntu 14.04 LTS. But, compared to other 64-bit lightweight distros, Lite 2.2 consumes 3% less power. I got a decent battery life on my laptop with Linux Lite 2.2.
From Linux Lite 2.2 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.com

Operating System (64 bit) Size of ISO (GB) Desktop Linux kernel CPU (%) RAM usage (MB) Size of installation (GB) Boot time (sec) Power Usage (Watts)
Peppermint 5 64-bit 0.7 LXDE 3.13.0 0-5% 220 4 27
Lubuntu 14.04 LTS 0.7 LXDE 3.13.0 0-5% 230 3.2 26 11.4
LXLE 14.04 64 bit 1.5 LXDE 3.13.0 0-5% 245 6.9 41
Lubuntu 14.10 0.7 LXDE 3.16.0 0-5% 246 4 30 10.21
Voyager Live 14.04 64-bit 1.0 XFCE 4.11 3.13.0 0-5% 300 4.5 25
Linux Mint 17 XFCE 1.4 XFCE 4.11 3.13.0 0-5% 300 4 30
Linux Lite 2.2 0.7 XFCE 4.11 3.13.0 0-5% 308 4.65 28 10.51
Xubuntu 14.04 LTS 0.9 XFCE 4.11 3.13.0 0-5% 310 4 23 10.29
Linux Lite 2.0 0.7 XFCE 4.11 3.13.0 0-5% 330 4 30
Xubuntu 14.10 1.0 XFCE 4.11 3.16.0 0-5% 350 4.3 31 11.67
Manjaro 0.8.10 64 bit 1.2 XFCE 4.10 3.12.20 0-5% 350 4 27
Emmabuntüs 3 3.9 XFCE 4.11 3.13.0 0-5% 412 10 29
Score for Performance: 9/10

Overall
Linux Lite 2.2 is a really good alternative to Xubuntu 14.04 LTS with a lot of utility PPA's added along with a professional interface. Lite offers a performance as good as Xubuntu 14.04 LTS and can be a good alternative for users looking for a ready to use distro. Most of the third party PPA's I could think of, are added to Lite 2.2. Further, to make life easy for novice users, Lite 2.2 offers a meta-package Install Additional Software to enable installation of critical packages. However, the application choice by the developers is not typically intended for a lightweight system. Possibly the developers can add a meta-package to install lightweight applications for users intending to use Linux Lite on old computers.

I definitely recommend Linux Lite 2.2 for users looking for an easy to use XFCE distro with all bells and whistles added. You can download both 32 and 64 bit versions of Linux Lite from here.

Overall Score

Criteria Weight(%) Linux Lite 2.2
Installation 20 10.0
Aesthetics 20 9.0
Hardware Recognition 20 10.0
Pre-installed Packages 10 7.0
Performance 30 9.0
Total
9.2

31 comments:

  1. "Compositing is enabled by default"
    Compositing is not enabled by default.

    "One thing to notice about Linux Lite is that it doesn't ship with exactly with lightweight packages. LibreOffice, Thunderbird, GIMP and VLC are not that lightweight and may require a more modern system to run well."
    LL try to strike a balance between a lightweight overall system whilst offering a number of lightweight applications. Considering our target are Windows people, familiarity is essential. LibreOffice, Thunderbird, GIMP and VLC do not require a modern system to run well.

    "One caveat of Install additional software is that when I selected multiple packages to install from the list, I had to enter password for every package selected."
    Not true, you only need to enter your password once after launching Install Additional Software from the Menu.

    "Linux Lite 2.2 is a really good fork from Xubuntu 14.04 LTS..."
    LL are not a fork of Xubuntu. I think that comment irked me the most given how LL is built from the ground up. LL starts off with a 27mb base and is built one application at a time. It's kinda like calling Richard Stallamn the 'Father of Open Source' lol

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    Replies
    1. Hi Earl,

      (1) Compositing enabled by default was a typo. Thanks for pointing it out. It is corrected now.

      (2) Linux Lite may be targeting Windows people, but as a Linux user, the apps are quite heavy to use on an old computer. I disagree on the statement that " LibreOffice, Thunderbird, GIMP and VLC do not require a modern system to run well."

      I have a P4 computer and an netbook with Intel Atom processor. Libreoffice is painful to run on them but Abiword and Gnumeric works great. Similarly, GNOME MPlayer works way better than VLC which hangs a lot. Third, lightweight image editors work a lot better than GIMP.

      (3) You are right, I had to hit ok for every package to be installed and not password. I changed it. Apologies for the same.

      (4) Thanks for the information on how Linux Lite is developed. I have removed the "fork" statement.

      Thanks for your help to make the review better.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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    2. I have an 11 year old IBM Thinkpad T40 that has no problems at all running LibreOffice, Thunderbird, GIMP and VLC. I've also never had VLC hang on any of my Linux machines. It does hang a lot on Windows though.

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    3. What are the specs of your 11 year old ThinkPad? May be it had high RAM.

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    4. Well, we have two different user groups here, as described by Carl and Arindam: The first one consists of people moving out of Windows for any reason (e.g. Windows XP machines currently unsupported) but without any knowledge over Linux. These users indeed appreciate a familiar user interface and the existence of software that they already know and use in Windows.

      On the other hand, there are users (like me) who strive to find a lightweight Linux distribution for making use of old or weak hardware (e.g. netbooks). I personally know a little about Linux but I feel comfortable installing any distro and setting up a few things following some advice. I usually look for the most lightweight alternative without caring about the looks.

      As far as I understand, Linux Lite tries to balance between these two types of users (please correct me if I am wrong), by providing options that will make users from the first group feel comfortable and at the same time offer them good performance. I personally had performance issues using Linux Lite with my Acer Aspire One 751h (a remarkably crappy netbook), so I am currently using Peppermint OS and the even more responsive Manjaro Linux OpenBox: The former is much closer to a typical Windows installation and features a wealth of options, while the latter is the most responsive Linux distro I have ever used but requires some user intervention in order to make things work properly (e.g. customization).

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    5. Hi Vassilis,

      Thanks for the valid points you have mentioned. Personally I like Manjaro openbox a lot. But, as you mentioned, people migrating from Windows may take a bit of time to settle in open box. For them, Linux lite or Zorin offer a more familiar operating system.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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  2. one of my favorite distro. pretty fast for old machine.

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  3. Hi arindam, thanks for all your efforts and once again delivering a very useful review! I've read many of them. One point to make here: I think you forgot Zorin OS Lite in the performance table.

    Kind regards

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  4. Zorin lite is only 32 bit, and the comparison is between 64 bit systems.

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  5. Thanks for great review Arindam,

    Could you please let me know your opinion on the best XFCE distro based on performance and applications you have used?

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  6. Is almost the same performance as Xubuntu, so what's the point of Linux Lite?

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  7. > but at times I require Adobe acrobat reader, especially for dynamic content

    Me too. But have you given any thought to what alternatives exist now that Adobe Reader for Linux has been discontinued?

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    Replies
    1. Wine still supports Adobe, right? :)

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  8. Lovely review as always - thank you Arindam.

    Btw, how does this distribution compare to lightweight LXDE ones?

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  9. Would you make a review on Deepin 2014.02 and Opensuse 13.2?

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  10. Respect!
    I know that is not the issue.
    I do not know what kind of Nvidia drivers installed on Porteus Kde, so please help.
    I apologize for my bad english.

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  11. p.s.
    My laptop is sony and original Nvidia GT 640M LE

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Arindam, I have an old (2008) Samsung netbook (specs: Intel Atom N270 1.6Ghz, 2GB RAM, 5400rpm HDD, Intel GMA 950 VGA). I did have Xubuntu 12 installed which worked fine, but nevertheless I'm looking for a little more responsive/faster Linux OS. Which Linux distro would you recommend? Maybe Linux Lite (without the resource heavy apps like LibreOffice), Peppermint, or maybe something else...?

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    Replies
    1. use LXLE 12.04, 14.04 or Peppermint 5

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. Thanks for these suggestions. Eventually I tried about 10 distro's in VirtualBox and installed ChaletOS. Truly a great distro. Very similar in looks compared to Windows 7, fast and without all kinds of bloatware. Very stable too.

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    4. Peppermint 5 is a great option; I would also consider Lubuntu 12.04 (I believe it's even faster than LXLE) but I guess that your hardware will handle any of these pretty fine :-)

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    5. Indeed they are. I tried both, but as an overall package and from a design point of view, ChaletOS is the winning choice for me. Besides speed which is not 'that much' different.

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    6. Thank you Daniel; I am already downloading ChaletOS and I will give it a try through a live USB ;-)

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  13. Hi Arindam, Good review . Please make a review PCLinuxOs (all flavors as possible) and Bodhi Linux. Thanks

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  14. Please provide your views on the chalet OS.
    As we know you are best reviewer.
    Thanks for sharing your reviews.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jignesh:

      Thanks for liking my reviews. Sure, I'll download Chalet OS and review.

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
  15. This linux distro's got a problem that when you close the laptop screen, it comes to suppend, then you wake it up, next you provide your password to log in. It ends up with black screen. No way out.

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