(You can read DAY 2 here and DAY 1 here.)

Day 3, and today we took a look at Xubuntu.

Xubuntu is the original lightweight Ubuntu. XFCE has long been considered the perfect balance between light weight and feature completeness.

What does Xubuntu offer then?


Xubuntu looks startlingly similar to Ubuntu at first glance. It does not look like you have an XFCE desktop in front of you.

The layout of the panels is very similar to Gnome Ubuntu, and the icon set and panel applets are almost identical.

I have an issue with the right-click menu, it gets very cluttered since XFCE uses right-click as the menu for everything instead of being task specific like most other desktop environments.

These days Xubuntu is more a mid-level distro and not a true lightweight. It ways a hundred megs or so more than Lubuntu or Mint LXDE, and it has some heavier packages installed.


One thing that I noticed immediately is that the Windows buttons are opposite to that of Ubuntu. Being an Ubuntu user on the home computer I became used to the buttons on the right, Xubuntu has them on the left.

I am beginning to wonder when they will make up their minds.

Xubuntu is not overly complicated – except for the right-click menu.

Speed was fine. We have it on a different machine since my Laptop is in need of a harddrive.

I still prefer Linux Mint LXDE – a more complete and simpler package.

Questions and Answers

  1. Is it reasonably quick?
    Yes. Xubuntu is better suited to newer low end computers these days. Not meant for that old clunker you have. Previously when we had Xubuntu on the old Laptop it was noticeably slower than Lubuntu or Mint LXDE.
  2. Can You Use the Internet With Ease?
    Yes. Firefox is the default browser. You do need to take care of installing flash though.
  3. Can You Edit Documents and Spreadsheets with ease?
    I am a bit puzzled that they included Thunderbird and Gimp, but not OpenOffice.
  4. How Easy is Email use?
    As easy with our other contenders since it comes with Thunderbird.
  5. Are Codecs Available for all common formats?
    Like Lubuntu or Ubuntu you need to install the codecs yourself. I would love to give Mint 9 XFCE a spin when it arrives.
  6. How Hard is it to Join Networks?
    Again it uses the same network manager that Ubuntu uses.
  7. Is it a Swap In for a higher ended distro?
    Yes. Xubuntu is possibly the best “companion distro” to Ubuntu of the three we have tested so far. It looks the same, is powerful enough for serious tasks, and you can customize it to your darkest desires.


Xubuntu is the compact sedan to Ubuntu’s Saloon, and Lubuntu’s Sub-Compact. It is good for those who do not want UNR on their netbook, or who have a computer that is maybe two to five years old and of decent spec for those days.

Lubuntu has now become the distro for the hardware you salvaged from that yard sale. Xubuntu is too heavy for that.

Our vote for the best lightweight distro is still with Linux Mint LXDE, with Xubuntu gettin the nod for the best middleweight distro. We fully expect it to be replaced in that department when Mint 9 XFCE is released.

Get the version of Xubuntu we tested HERE. (Download Page for Xubuntu, Lucid version on top.)

(Day FOUR is available HERE)

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Related posts:

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  3. Lightweight Distro Roundup: Day 5 – Dreamlinux
  4. Lightweight Distro Roundup: Day 4 – Sabayon Five-Oh LXDE
  5. Lightweight Distro Roundup: Day 1 – Lubuntu