If this is your first time here, I suggest you first read my general post about distrohopping. 🙂
Lately, I been trying out Lubuntu, version 10.10, as my "test" distro. I haven't tested it extensively, so this is not so much a review as my short impression from installing and using it a bit.
Lubuntu is a lightweight distro, built on Ubuntu, using the LXDE desktop environment. Being based on Ubuntu gives some nice bonuses: there is a lot of software in the repositories, lots of hardware is supported, and the software is mostly (I assume) kept update. There is also a lot of help to be found in Ubuntu FAQs and forums. I have used Ubuntu very little before, so my experience is limited (I tried Unity for 2 hours and just hate it, but I digress...).
Installation was fast and also easy to understand. It pointed out when software is free (as in freedom) and not. LXDE is very lightweight, but still looks similar to desktops most users would be familiar with, I think. One panel at bottom with application menu ("Start" for you Windows users), taskbar and system tray. Lubuntu has, in my opinion, a nice look. There are, true to the idea of lightweight, not very many applications installed by default. OpenBox is the window manager. The file manager is PCManFM, which I haven't used before. A nice app, that does its work. Synaptic, the graphic package manager in Debian derived distros, is installed from start (Ubuntu and Debian packages are NOT necessarily mutually compatible, even if they have the same file ending ".deb"). Synaptic makes it easy to search for and install more applications when needed. The included musicplayer is Audacious, which is a bit barebone for me. I mostly use a music player app for podcasts, and I didn't want to install Rhythmbox, as that would pull in a rather big bunch of GNOME stuff, which could be a bit pointless on a lightweight system. I realised VLC, apart from everything else, is a nice little podcast player, so I installed that. The default web browser is Chromium, and not some really lightweight like Midori, which is in the repositories along with Firefox and others.
Lubuntu is a nice, well composed, lightweight distro, and pretty newbie friendly (meaning person used to some of those proprietary OSes), which can't be said of all lightweight environments. It is a rather lean system when installed, but there is so much in the repositories, so that is not a problem, but gives the user choice what to install. Maybe there should be a guide or something with suggestions for further software to get? The Ubuntu Software Center (a kind of app store) is not installed by default, but can of course be installed via Synaptic.
Like a few other distros (and MacOS X for that matter), lubuntu comes with root account with no password. So during installation, only the first user is created and put into sudoers file. So anything requiring root priveligies is done with sudo. I know some do not like that, but I think it is a quite good policy, and Like a few other distros (and MacOS X for that matter), Lubuntu comes with root account with no password. So during installation, only the first user is created and put into sudoers file. So anything requiring root priveligies is done with sudo, well documented by Ubuntu.
One thing I do not like, which I've seen in a fair few other distros, is that all hard drives are not only mounted automatically, but also one gets full read access to them, if one has admin rights. I could even create a file in a user directory in the other Linux installation. It may be friendly for a person who e.g. might want to copy stuff from their old installation to the new one, but having total access as default is not the best way, I think. It should at least ask for password. I created a non-admin account too, and it respected the file permissions in a more logical way. This problem (if it is seen as a problem) of course only exist if there are two or more operative systems installed. I do not have a MS Windows installation on my computer, but I guess it would be readable from lubuntu, because the ntfs-3g package is installed by default.
Lubuntu is a nice full desktop system that can run on even quite old hardware. Well worth a try, even for someone not used to GNU/Linux. Maybe now's the time to reactivate an old computer, download an iso, burn a CD, install Lubuntu and try out GNU/Linux? 🙂