Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Linux Lite 1.0.0 Review: A good beginning!

Advent of Ubuntu actually spurned up quite a few Linux distro releases, giving users plenty of options as well as some very interesting flavors to play with. For example, you think Unity is buggy, you can either try out gnome fallback or have all the goodness of Ubuntu and lightness of XFCE or LXDE in Xubuntu or Lubuntu. A cross with E17 and you have a Bodhi! And who can forget Linux Mint - right now the God of Linux!

From Linux Lite 1.0.0

The latest entrant in the Ubuntu derived distro series, is Linux Lite 1.0.0, with their (possibly) first release. It is derived from Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and has 5 years of long term support. Their mandate is to provide easy Linux solution to new switchers and they have really an interesting flavor to offer - XFCE 4.8 with PCManFM 0.9.10 and a host of useful applications. The developers provide Windows XP kind of settings. The distro is targeted towards new Linux users to showcase how simple Linux can be and hence, choosing Windows XP or 7 kind of desktop is understandable. XFCE is quite flexible and you can make it look like anything you want to - just like Gnome2.

From Linux Lite 1.0.0
As you note, the XFCE is not the latest available version, nor the file manager. However, the users can actually add the Ubuntu 12.10 ppa's and download XFCE 4.10 and PCManFM 1.0.1. But, these are really minor issues, and except a serious Linux enthusiast, it won't matter to any user even if their desktop manager is not the latest one.

I  did a live boot of the 916 MB ISO (32-bit) as well as installed it in my Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 GHz Intel 2nd Gen Ci3 processor and 2 GB DDR3 RAM. Live-boot landed me to a user name and password screen - the release announcement came to my rescue. User name is root and no password! I guess the developers could have avoided the requirement of root login at live boot.

Like any other Ubuntu distro, it detected my LAN and Wifi settings without any issue. Sound card and other drivers were detected accurately. It booted up nicely to a black Linux Lite desktop. I must say, I have used PCManFM in Lubuntu as well, but it never looked nicer than Linux Lite - awesome finishing! Further, Linux Lite has some really good looking wallpapers to offer as well.


In general, I see some very useful applications offered by Linux Lite: GIMP 2.8 for image editing, VLC 2.0.3 for video playback, Firefox 16 for web browsing, Thunderbird 16 email client, mumble voice chat, xchat, etc. For office, only LibreOffice Writer and Calc are present, that too of build. Complete LibreOffice suite could have been provided and I had expected LibreOffice 3.6!

From Linux Lite 1.0.0
From Linux Lite 1.0.0
From Linux Lite 1.0.0
From Linux Lite 1.0.0

From Linux Lite 1.0.0
For PDF files, PDF viewer is there which is good news. Leafpad is the default notepad application here. Further, to simplify, developers have provided some direct download and install links for utility softwares like wine, torrent, file and folder search, IM, virtualbox, restricted codecs, video editing software, etc. Clicking any of the links would take you to the terminal and ask for your password and permission to install the software. From the instant messenger icon, I successfully downloaded and installed Pidgin. In essence, definitely it simplifies life by not having to write a command at the terminal, for the newbies!

From Linux Lite 1.0.0
From Linux Lite 1.0.0
From Linux Lite 1.0.0

Further, settings manager gives an unified view of all the setting changes commonly possible and would help new users.

From Linux Lite 1.0.0
One thing surprised me, there is no separate music player, neither in the multimedia section, nor in the install application list! Is it deliberate, by choice?

Second, synaptic is the only way to install/uninstall software. It may be really difficult for any new Linux user to use synaptic and here an interface like Ubuntu Software center would have really helped. Point to note possibly for the next release!

From Linux Lite 1.0.0

Third, a lot of the users who use systems for production purpose, requires LibreOffice Impress in addition to Writer and Calc. Please include it in your default application list. Else, please include Impress link to the Install additional software list to make life easy for new users.

Else, the out-of-the-box application list is decent with Java support and Adobe Flash Plugin 11 by default. Further, VLC is there and I could play a movie or two and watch youtube videos in Firefox immediately after installation.

From Linux Lite 1.0.0

It took me flat 15 minutes to install. Process and questions asked are typical of any Ubuntu distro, mostly centered around language preferred, keyboard language, where I want to install, use entire disk or I would like to partition, my location and time zone, etc. I downloaded the third party codecs and updates as well. Overall, it took me 15 minutes - half the time of Ubuntu itself! Commendable!

CPU and RAM Usage

Given the distro has a lightweight desktop manager, XFCE and a lightweight file manager, CPU and RAM utilization are on the lower side - 1-5% and 130-140 MB. It offers good multi-tasking options even at low spec machines. With Firefox running an youtube video, a writer and a calc file open along with two task managers (yes, it has two system monitoring options!), I could see about 22% CPU and about 260 MB RAM usage. Quite impressive indeed.

From Linux Lite 1.0.0
Is it lighter than Xubuntu 12.04 or Lubuntu 12.04?

On the same machine, I recorded the results for both Lubuntu and Xubuntu. Definitely lighter than Xubuntu 12.04 but not lighter than Lubuntu 12.04 or 12.10.


In overall, Linux Lite 1.0.0 really holds promise. Definitely it is a lightweight distro offering interesting ensemble of applications. Desktop looks similar to XP or Windows7 which will help new switchers to get adjusted to it easily. Ubuntu with Unity may be a little alien to them, agreed. However, there are some rough edges as well like no separate music player, no software center for easy download or uninstall of applications, etc. Synaptic is not really ideal for Linux Lite's purpose and may easily break the system if users unintentionally delete critical files. The developers got somethings really right like low resource usage, easy and fast installation, etc. but there are development areas as well.

On ease of use, I used it for a 3-4 days and Linux Lite is really smooth to use. It feels very light and anyone familiar with Ubuntu, can use it without any hassle. Definitely worth recommending not only for new users but even for experienced Linux users.

You can view the release announcement and download link here.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Puppy Linux 5.4 "Precise" Review: Amazing is a lesser word for it!

Last week I was really busy testing out the Ubuntu Quantal Quetzal releases on my Core i3 and Core i7 laptops. Lubuntu, inarguably, was the fastest of the lot and I was amazed by the speed it offered. However, there is a desktop in my house, from my student days, a 2.4 GHz Pentium IV (single core), 1.5 GB DDR RAM PC. Mostly it is used by my kid to watch rhymes or my wife/parents check their mails. I no longer use it for any production work. It runs Bodhi Linux but struggles a bit to play media files even in Bodhi. Last month I tested quite a few modern distros, but except Bodhi none of them did actually work smoothly on it. There is also a separate installation of Linux Mint Julia on it - just to play live stream of television channels or sports matches. Adobe flash plugin 11 actually runs really slow on my system and Julia still has flash plugin 10.

From Puppy Precise 5.4

From Puppy Precise 5.4
Why I am giving so much of an intro? Because yesterday I booted up Puppy Precise 5.4 on it and was floored by the speed and multi-tasking ability it offered! Amazing is a lesser word for it! I don't think I've ever used any distro faster than this on the Intel P4 PC that I have!

From Lucid Puppy to Precise Puppy, interface remains more or less the same - JWM desktop manager, but it is more refined in Precise. Booting time has reduced perceivably, wifi and display settings (1366x768) are picked up automatically now - no need for any manual settings. It has really a long list of applications to offer and you can access to Ubuntu repositories to download more!

From Puppy Precise 5.4
From Puppy Precise 5.4
From Puppy Precise 5.4

Puppy Precise 5.4 ISO is around 165 MB but if you look at the application list, it'll keep you amazed! It may not have all your preferred applications but it has at least one app for your every computing need. Puppy has a long list of applications - some of the major ones are mentioned below:
  • Office: Abiword wordprocessor, Gnumeric spreadsheets, PDF creator & viewer, calculator, some financial tools, etc.
  • Graphics: Mtpaint, scanner, JPEG Resizer, webcam tool, etc.
  • Internet: Seamonkey browser with flash support, IRC chat, bit-torrent client, IP telephone, download manager, etc.
  • Multimedia: Gnome MPlayer with all codecs, Music player, Blu-ray DVD player, Audio CD ripper, ISO editor/creator, etc. 
Audio-video codecs are in-built and things work out of the box. Immediately after booting, I could watch movies and listen to music without any hassle. Online live stream and youtube videos work really well with Puppy. Puppy uses Adobe flash plugin 10, which is a better option for hardware with limited capacity.

From Puppy Precise 5.4

Puppy Precise 5.4 offers both Ubuntu Precise repositories as well as Puppy Precise apps. I downloaded VLC 2.0.3, GIMP 2.8, Pidgin, etc. from the repositories and they worked without any dependency issues. So, in nutshell, majority of the Ubuntu applications should work on Puppy Precise.
From Puppy Precise 5.4

From Puppy Precise 5.4
How Puppy performs on modern hardwares? 
Understandably Puppy worked well with my antiquated system - but, isn't it supposed to work in that way? What's so great about it? How about a really really modern system? With these questions in mind I booted it up on my Asus K55V with Core i7 3rd generation processor and 8 GB RAM. To my amazement it worked equally good there as well - detected wifi within one or two setting changes, detected the touchpad automatically, played media files out of the box and I could browse youtube videos without requiring to download anything extra! Most amazing part - it detected my 8 GB RAM as well! So, the same Puppy can work on both 32-bit and 64-bit machines with equal efficiency. That is commendable!

And think about it, only a 165 MB distro! Truly, amazing is a less word for Puppy.

CPU and RAM Usage

Puppy Linux boots up entirely on RAM and the specs required for it to run is very low. I have run Puppy even on 128 MB RAM desktops. Puppy Precise takes about 47-48 MB RAM to load and have 0-2% CPU usage.

From Puppy Precise 5.4
Even with Flash video running on Seamonkey browser, the RAM consumption is well below 230 MB and CPU usage ~4%. In the picture below, you can see that it detects the 8 GB RAM in my 64-bit Core i7 laptop.

From Puppy Precise 5.4

Carry your own desktop wherever you go
Now with Puppy Precise live usb boot, I downloaded VLC Player, virtualbox, Skype 4, and a host of other familiar applications and saved them to the USB drive only before exiting. I can carry my computer with preferred set of applications in my USB only!

So, you can understand Puppy Precise is amazing! Offering the versatility of Ubuntu within an ultra-lightweight OS!

Pain areas in Puppy Precise
Is everything good about Puppy? Possibly no - there are improvement areas as well. Agreed that the operating system is highly functional and is more refined in Puppy Precise, but still there are improvement areas in terms of looks. Also, Quickpets were very handy in Puppy Lucid but are not there in Puppy Precise, though SFS downloader is there to download few applications like GIMP 2.8, Opera, Nvidia drivers, etc. I miss Quickpets!

From Puppy Precise 5.4

Second, settings has too lengthy a list and also spread all over the place. These days most of the Linux operating systems are going for an integrated settings window and it is easier to use. Puppy, too, can have an integrated settings tab where I can find all the settings menu and choose which one I need to edit.

Third, it is a pain to take snapshots. Key button to take screenshot doesn't work and every time I had to scroll down the menu to take it. Added pain is that every time it kept me waiting for 13 seconds to take the desired screenshot! A smarter snapshot tool is urgently required in Puppy Linux! <---One correction - earlier I was using mtpaint-snapshot capture and it is painful. But, there is also another program Screeny, it is better and doesn't take 13 sec! However, the Print Screen button of keyboard still doesn't work!-->

Fourth, live usb works perfect but if I have to install it to hard disc along with other Linux operating systems, editing the grub requires some technical expertise and may not be be very conducive for Linux newbies.

Fifth, Puppy Linux never asks for any password by default, as the user login is by default as root. Hence, there is always a security concern in my mind though firewall and encryption options are there. The last distro I used which never asked any password to install any software, was Windows XP and I had such a nightmare with it that I now hate anything that even looks like XP! It may be only me but somehow I am more comfortable if the distro asks for password before installing any application.


In overall, Puppy Precise is an amazing combo offering best of both the worlds. No other distro works faster and offers a complete range of applications as Puppy Precise. It is definitely the best Puppy Linux ever and is recommended to anyone looking for a solid stable operating system with lots and lots of speed!

My association with Puppy Linux dates back couple of years ago. My parents have a PC (P4 with 128 MB RAM) with a damaged hard disc. They were about to sell it as scrap. But, I bought couple of 16 GB USB drives and installed Lucid Puppy in one of the USBs and used the second one as a storage. It is still working and good enough for most of their limited use! And the speed it offered can make my Core i7 with 8 GB RAM running Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon, hide in shame! Such is the power of Puppy Linux! And did I mention that Puppy Linux "Precise" is long term support OS with 5 years of support? That is truly icing on the cake!

24 Oct: I received a few queries on how to install Puppy Precise 5.4 on hard drive. Assuming you already have a Linux OS (like Ubuntu, Mint or Debian, etc.) installed, below set of instructions will give you a Puppy Linux boot option in Grub:

1. Note the partition where Puppy Precise is installed - opt for frugal installation
2. Go to your Main Linux OS (in case of multi-OS computers) and type the following command in the terminal
ls -l /dev/disk/by-uuid/
Note the uuid of your hard drive where Puppy frugal installation.
3. Edit grub by the following command:
sudo gedit /etc/grub.d/40_custom

Edit the 40_custom file to enter a menuentry. Say  I installed  Puppy Precise in sdb1 (with uuid 5ddaba1b-a977-4409-a78d-09f6993275a8) in root (hd1,0) folder /precise5.4frugal then my menuentry will be:

menuentry "Puppy Linux 5.4 (frugal on sdb1)" {
set root='(hd1,0)'
search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set 5ddaba1b-a977-4409-a78d-09f6993275a8
linux /precise5.4frugal/vmlinuz pmedia=atahd psubdir=precise5.4frugal initrd /precise5.4frugal/initrd.gz

4. Update grub by sudo update-grub
5. Reboot and you'll see Puppy Linux as one of grub entries.
6. Happy puppying! Woof! Woof! If you need further details, please visit my article on how to modify grub in Puppy frugal installation.   

Puppy Precise is now the primary OS in my HP Pentium 4, 1.5 GB DDR RAM PC, along with Lubuntu as a backup. It runs with fantastic speed and stability. However, somehow I could not make a lot of programs from Ubuntu repo work even after resolving dependencies. But, a bit of research on Puppy Linux and Lucid Puppy packages came to the rescue. Puppy Linux documentation wasn't that helpful - more help came from the murga-linux forums. I downloaded sfs/pet files of Java, VLC, Chromium, Opera, Firefox, Asunder, Audacity, Audacious and a whole lot of other programs. 

Further, the Puppy Precise desktop theme actually bored me a lot. Hence, I downloaded a lot of icon themes and JWM themes from different Puppy version repositories, changed the desktop wallpaper, added quite a few icons, changed default programs and finally to match the background, changed the icon font colors as well. Currently my Puppy Precise desktop looks like this! 

From Puppy Precise 5.4
 I am trying to add a conky as well. Lucid conky didn't work that well in Precise, may be I need to tinker a bit with it. Will keep you posted once I resolve the conky and make it work.

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Lubuntu 12.10 Review: Upgrade to the latest Quantal Quetzal!

This is my fourth review of the Quantal series  with Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Xubuntu already reviewed. Lubuntu, the fastest of them all but the one with the most boring look. Nope! Like the other three, in my article, I'll compare the latest release with Lubuntu 12.04 (no there was no 12.04.1 like others!). However, a reminder - the previous release was not a Long Term Release (with 3-5 years of support). Support is for 18 months in both and it makes sense here to upgrade to the latest distro, possibly.

From Ubuntu 12.10 Comparison
To the uninitiated, Lubuntu is a lightweight LXDE based operating system from the Ubuntu stable and it offers a complete package of applications for daily computing needs, plus it allows users to access and download thousands of applications from the very rich Ubuntu repository. Primary applications in Lubuntu are:
  • Graphics: GPicView, MTPaint, Simple scan
  • Multimedia: Audacious music player, Gnome MPlayer for videos, guvcview webcam
  • Internet: Chromium, Sylpheed email client, Pidgin IM, Bittorrent client
  • Office: Gnumeric spreadsheet, Abiword wordprocessor, Xpad notes, Osmo calendar, Evince pdf viewer and pdf writer
  • Accessories: Calculator, Leafpad (notepad), Screenshot, Xfburn CD burner, Archiver, Catfish search 
  • Games: Ace of penguins
  • Programming languages supported: Perl, Python, Bash 
I booted up both 12.10 and 12.04 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
Parameters Lubuntu 12.10 Lubuntu 12.04
Size of ISO 726 MB 722 MB
Booting time (post installation) 8 sec 8 sec
Linux kernel 3.5.0-17 3.2.0-29
CPU usage (live boot) 1-5% 1-5%
RAM usage (live boot) 134 MB 149 MB
CPU Usage (post installation) 0-5% 0-5%
RAM usage (post installation) 123 MB 119 MB
Installation time (with 1 MBPS connection) 30 min. 30 min.
Wifi detection Immediate Immediate
Touchpad detection Works by default Wnorks by default
Ease of use Really smooth to use Really smooth to use
Eye candy factor Interface still looks bland in spite of a new icon theme and a new wallpaper Interface looks bland
Repository Lubuntu Software Center Lubuntu Software Center
File Manager PCManFM 1.0.1 PCManFM 0.9.10

Essentially, you see here not much difference between 12.10 and 12.04, except for an updated Linux kernel (3.5.0-17.28 Ubuntu Linux kernel which is based on the v3.5.5 upstream Linux kernel). The developers have tried to give a face lift in Lubuntu 12.10, through a new set of icon theme, Lubuntu Box and a new wallpaper but still eye candy factor is missing from this incredibly fast and high functional distro.

From Ubuntu 12.10 Comparison
From Ubuntu 12.10 Comparison
Incremental changes
Ubuntu did undergo a major change in the new release through web apps, but none of the other three did. The incremental changes in Lubuntu 12.10 are limited to:
  • A new version of pcmanfm (file manager), including at lot of bug fixes, external thumbnailer support, multiple screen support.
  • Notification-daemon have been replaced for xfce4-notifyd on the default installation, to display notifications.
  • Catfish, a searching utility, have been added to the default installation. 
  • A new grub to account for the UEFI secured boot in Windows 8 machines.
  • 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.
So, in nutshell, more or less, very limited change from Lubuntu 12.04. The distro still retains its no-nonsense functionality, works very well on systems with limited resources and has every time worked out-of-the box for me detecting all the drivers, sound card and wifi/lan connection. In overall, inarguably a splendid distro - possibly the best of the Ubuntu clan in terms of resource utilization. Not surprisingly, today Lubuntu ranks higher than Xubuntu or Kubuntu in the distrowatch ranking.


Thus the bottom-line, in my mind, is to upgrade to the latest 12.10 to avail the latest applications and security features. Desktop is slightly better in look and feel in Quantal. You can upgrade through the upgrade option or by typing the following on the LXDE terminal:

sudo do-release-upgrade -d

Lubuntu 12.10 is a good stable OS and really smooth to use. Alongside, it is very light on resources and very useful for low resource computers as well. 

Only thing that goes against Lubuntu, in my mind, is its bland looks. Even the face lift hasn't helped much and the other themes, provided by default, make Lubuntu worse than the default theme; I tried them all! Even a bit of web search didn't actually provide me useful suggestions to transform Lubuntu. I did my experiments and here is the result:

From Ubuntu 12.10 Comparison

From Ubuntu 12.10 Comparison
It can be made to look whatever you want to, just an hour or two of experiment can do wonders to the look of the distro and make it really appealing. Possibly the developers want to retain the no-nonsense look of this amazing distro but who is stopping us, the users? The more I use Lubuntu I fall in love with it! It is and will remain in my mind as the most amazing distro from the Ubuntu stable. Thanks developers for working hard to make it better. LTS or no LTS, I don't mind, till I get such a functional and efficient distro!

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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 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
  • Parole, media player, has moved to new upstream version
  • 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.

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