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VTPoet
December 28th, 2011, 03:23 PM
Half question. Half discussion.

In terms of environments - how do Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Gnome Classic (effects & no effects), and Unity 2D compare? I've been reading different opinions as to whether there's any significant differences between Unity 2D, LXDE or Gnome Classic (no effects). Do any of you happen to be using these environments? Seems like both Gnome and Unity have created their own "lightweight" alternatives. What's your memory usage like, and speed? I'm wondering what to recommend to a friend with an older laptop (4 years old, I think). He's a very non-technical user.

I seriously hesitate to recommend Xubuntu (or XFCE) because of the XFWM4 bug (no windows borders). I would consider Lubuntu, but whether it's LXDE or their implementation, the DE strikes me as amateurish (deservedly or not), what with system tray icons moving around and colliding (at least in my experience). On the other hand, I've been impressed by the seeming rock, solid finish of Gnome Classic. He's the kind of user who doesn't customize. He could care less - just wants his browser to work, but loves the speed of Linux (compared to VISTA on the same computer).

I guess I'm deciding between Mint Linux 12 (Gnome Classic) or Ubuntu 11.10 Unity 2D? -- but open to other experiences & suggestions.

Dragonbite
December 28th, 2011, 04:43 PM
Unity / Unity 2D are not too bad once you get used to them. My systems all revert to Unity 2D except for my wife's new computer which I am experimenting on.

What about KDE? Especially with Kubuntu's "lite" version which turns off a number of resource hogs. I've been impressed with how much faster it feels even though the eye candy is turned off.

The laptop I test these on is a Dell D400 Pentium M @ 1.6 GHz with 1GB of Ram, if that provides any sort of reference.

I am actually using openSUSE's KDE installation (because it gives me desktop effects) which is slower but very usable. When I've fooled around with Kubuntu on it, I don't get the desktop effects but everything feels very snappy.

stalkingwolf
December 28th, 2011, 04:48 PM
Ive tried several. one to look at is zorin. It aside from its "new user" usibility has a feature that i found nice. it is called look changer. it changes the desk top look , has Gnome, windows, and a third that i dont remember. i installed it on my desktop ( older than 4 yrs) and two Hp laptops (6-7 yrs old) and it ran fine.

VTPoet
December 28th, 2011, 04:52 PM
Thanks Dragonbite. I'll consider that. My only thought is that if and when he calls me up, it helps if I'm familiar with the DE. (I don't use KDE on any of my own systems.) The other problem with KDE is that (when I have used it) I've never, not once (in all seriousness), had a good experience with its wireless network manager. However, given that your system is similar to his, I won't be close minded about it.

Thanks again for responding. :-)

keithpeter
December 28th, 2011, 04:52 PM
Hello All

Unity 2d/11.10 works acceptably to me on a Dell D610 laptop (P3 coppermine 850MHz with 512Mb ram, 2001 vintage). I wrote most of the Unity 2d tutorial on that machine, including using shotwell for screen grabs. Using LibreOffice, Firefox and Shotwell had me into swap, but apart from the paging delay when switching application it seemed quite responsive.

I have a Thinkpad T60 (dual core with 1Gb ram, 2006/7 vintage) - no problems with Unity 2d or 3d on that machine, everything just works, responsive, can run LibreOffice, Firefox, GIMP, Gedit no issues. I think classic on that would be fine. That dual boots with Windows 7 which jogs, ok, more sort of walks :twisted:

VTPoet
December 28th, 2011, 05:04 PM
Ive tried several. one to look at is zorin. It aside from its "new user" usibility has a feature that i found nice. it is called look changer. it changes the desk top look , has Gnome, windows, and a third that i dont remember. i installed it on my desktop ( older than 4 yrs) and two Hp laptops (6-7 yrs old) and it ran fine.

Hey, that's an interesting possibility I hadn't thought of. I'm going to download it and try it in VB - looks like it uses Gnome 2.X?

VTPoet
December 28th, 2011, 05:08 PM
Unity 2d/11.10 works acceptably to me on a Dell D610 laptop (P3 coppermine 850MHz with 512Mb ram, 2001 vintage).

Thanks, that's good to know. If 2D works on an old system like that, then it would certainly work on my friend's.

Out of curiosity, if you're not running any other software, what do you get when you type [free -m] at the command prompt?

lykwydchykyn
December 28th, 2011, 05:48 PM
A four year old laptop is not what I would consider "older" -- at least not in the sense that it would immediately drive me to use an alternative DE. I just got a couple of 4-5 yr old desktop systems for my kids -- one is running Unity and the other KDE, neither with any problems to speak of.

Obviously, it all comes down to specs and video driver support, but until you get into pre-Vista hardware I don't think there's a need to look past mainstream environments (unless you're like me and you just enjoy it).

VTPoet
December 28th, 2011, 06:44 PM
A four year old laptop is not what I would consider "older" -- at least not in the sense that it would immediately drive me to use an alternative DE.

His laptop runs VISTA s-l-o-w-l-y. He bought a stripped down "business" laptop to begin with. What he likes most about Linux is how snappy and quick it is. I don't want to disappoint him. I'm obviously going to be turning off all compositing and "effects" when I upgrade/replace his current installation. Eye-candy means nothing to him. When he runs VISTA, he likes the Win2000 "look".

keithpeter
December 28th, 2011, 09:13 PM
Thanks, that's good to know. If 2D works on an old system like that, then it would certainly work on my friend's.

Out of curiosity, if you're not running any other software, what do you get when you type [free -m] at the command prompt?

Below from 11.10 in Unity 2, haven't tried the fallback session.


keith@C610:~$ free -m
total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 496 488 8 0 16 232
-/+ buffers/cache: 238 257
Swap: 1905 26 1879

Above with default vm.swappiness settings and no software running except terminal.


keith@C610:~$ free -m
total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 496 487 8 0 12 174
-/+ buffers/cache: 300 195
Swap: 1905 72 1833

Above logged in here using Firefox and the update notification dialogue box has just joined the party.

Youtube is basic, stick to non hd and don't try full screening and they play but the frame rate is low.

A centrino based laptop with plenty of ram should be noticeably better than this old clunker.

lykwydchykyn
December 28th, 2011, 10:55 PM
His laptop runs VISTA s-l-o-w-l-y. He bought a stripped down "business" laptop to begin with. What he likes most about Linux is how snappy and quick it is. I don't want to disappoint him. I'm obviously going to be turning off all compositing and "effects" when I upgrade/replace his current installation. Eye-candy means nothing to him. When he runs VISTA, he likes the Win2000 "look".

That makes more sense then; just saying I wouldn't go there based on the hardware. If the user wants simple and conservative, then I'd steer clear of Unity/GNOME3/KDE4.

Personally I've always thought LXDE reminded me of the simplicity of windows 2000, but you've already said you don't care for it. I'd hesitate to go with anything GNOME 2 at this point, because sooner or later it's going to have to go to GNOME 3 or something else.

I don't know what XFCE bug you're talking about, but I've always found it to be pretty stable and (for better or worse) boring.

VTPoet
December 29th, 2011, 01:25 AM
//If the user wants simple and conservative, then I'd steer clear of Unity/GNOME3/KDE4. //

Yes, but I was wondering about Unity 2D & Gnome Classic. I'm running Xubuntu right now and love it, but every so often it will start up without window borders and you have to find a way to kick start the window manager. I don't want to have to field that phone call. It's a PITA. It's been mentioned at Distrowatch and here (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1846266). The Xubuntu debs think they'll have it fixed in 12.04.

Looking at Keithpeter's memory usage with Unity 2D, it doesn't seem all that much more than LXDE. I'll have to look up how much memory Gnome Classic, without effects, uses. He's already fairly comfortable in Gnome2, so Gnome Classic might feel familiar.

keithpeter
December 29th, 2011, 12:01 PM
Hello All

Windows 2000 eh?

Below on the P3, I just installed gnome-shell which adds the gnome-fallback stuff and gives me Gnome Classic (no effects) in the log-in session menu.

I deleted the top panel, added indicators, clock, main menu, and a few launchers to the bottom panel. Used spacers between the launchers as you don't seem to be able to move the panel items to random positions.

Seems solid enough, but I'm sure I'll find a way of breaking it :twisted:

VTPoet
December 29th, 2011, 02:32 PM
I deleted the top panel, added indicators, clock, main menu, and a few launchers to the bottom panel. Used spacers between the launchers as you don't seem to be able to move the panel items to random positions.

Hey, I'd like to delete the top panel in the same fashion, and add the menu the bottom. That's what he's used to. Did you ALT-RIGHT CLICK to make those modifications? Can you point me in a useful direction?

Edit: Just answered my own question: Classic Gnome Guide (http://mandriver.users.sourceforge.net/classic-gnome-guide.html)

VTPoet
December 29th, 2011, 02:37 PM
Another question: I've been reading up on Gnome Fallback. My understanding was that this was Gnome Shell's version of Unity 2D, but some sites imply that Gnome Fallback is a temporary, to be discontinued, DE?

lykwydchykyn
December 29th, 2011, 03:37 PM
Another question: I've been reading up on Gnome Fallback. My understanding was that this was Gnome Shell's version of Unity 2D, but some sites imply that Gnome Fallback is a temporary, to be discontinued, DE?

That's my understanding of it, which is why I'd recommend steering clear of it. New wine for new wineskins and all that.

There's also cinnamon (http://cinnamon.linuxmint.com/), maybe that fits the bill.

VTPoet
December 29th, 2011, 03:47 PM
That's my understanding of it, which is why I'd recommend steering clear of it. New wine for new wineskins and all that.

There's also cinnamon (http://cinnamon.linuxmint.com/), maybe that fits the bill.

So is Gnome going to have an option for older systems? - are they going to come out with something like Gnome Shell 2D? Or have they written off older systems?

Dragonbite
December 29th, 2011, 04:10 PM
Another question: I've been reading up on Gnome Fallback. My understanding was that this was Gnome Shell's version of Unity 2D, but some sites imply that Gnome Fallback is a temporary, to be discontinued, DE?

I think what they mean is the "fallback" mode is going to be akin to Unity 2D, where it runs without requiring the desktop effects/hardware acceleration but otherwise looks similar.

If the system can handle it, it goes into full glory Gnome-shell/Unity mode. Otherwise it goes to Gnome-shell-2D/Unity 2D (the Gnome-shell-2D is just a guess ).

That's my guess but I don't have any citations or reference that says exactly that, just that the fallback mode (as we know it now) is being eliminated.

Keep an eye on Fedora 17 (due out in April or May), as that is supposed to be the first with this Gnome version available.

VTPoet
December 29th, 2011, 04:41 PM
I think what they mean is the "fallback" mode is going to be akin to Unity 2D, where it runs without requiring the desktop effects/hardware acceleration but otherwise looks similar

Got it. So it will use something like Metacity, like Unity 2D maybe.... or nothing at all. That's too bad. Gnome Classic, while it lacks the customization of Gnome 2.x, seemed like a good option for a user like my friend; but then I don't know what their Gnome Shell 2D will look like. The advantage to Gnome Classic was that it came with or without effects. The disadvantage to a Gnome Shell 2D (I'm guessing) will be that compositing won't be available (at all). Now I'm thinking that the Mint Cinnamon Session might be the best option for him. That, at least, has a future. Cinnamon is probably familiar enough that he won't have to relearn the ins and outs of Unity. I just don't want to have to field frustrated phone calls about Gnome Shell or Unity. If he wants to try them, he can, but the idea is that he'll have a familiar option.

Here is mem usage for Gnome Shell on Mint Linux 12:


total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 3016 1289 1726 0 156 887
-/+ buffers/cache: 245 2771
Swap: 5859 0 5859Here is Cinnamon, same machine:


total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 3016 1227 1788 0 157 867
-/+ buffers/cache: 203 2813
Swap: 5859 0 5859Here is MATE with no effects:



total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 3016 1218 1797 0 158 858
-/+ buffers/cache: 201 2814
Swap: 5859 0 5859Gnome Classic with Effects (Compiz)

total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 3016 1268 1748 0 159 906
-/+ buffers/cache: 202 2814
Swap: 5859 0 5859Gnome Classic without Effects

total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 3016 1231 1785 0 159 870
-/+ buffers/cache: 200 2816
Swap: 5859 0 5859
And Unity 3D

total used free shared buffers cached
Mem: 3016 1441 1575 0 169 1027
-/+ buffers/cache: 244 2771
Swap: 5859 0 5859

So... don't know if this is useful to anybody at all, but there it is.

ssam
December 29th, 2011, 04:54 PM
There is also the Mate (http://mate-desktop.org/) project if you want to keep using gnome2.

keithpeter
December 29th, 2011, 05:21 PM
Hello All

http://askubuntu.com/questions/83334/will-12-04-default-into-unity-the-way-11-10-did

Good chance the gnome-fallback-session will be around for the next LTS cycle. There is a Gnome Classic mega thread in Ubuntu + 1

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1873765

Fallback customising: I just used the ALT-right click to customise the bottom panel after deleting the top one (ALT-right click delete panel). Added indicators, main menu and the launchers. Looks a bit clunky but it works.

P3 Dell does not like Cinnamon. It was fine and customisable to one panel easily when I tried it on the desktop the other day.

@VTPoet: I bet you an Ubuntu sticker that your friend goes out and buys an iPad before LTS 14.04. 'Ordinary' people I know are doing this over here.

doorknob60
December 30th, 2011, 12:32 AM
I'd just go with XFCE. Not necessarily Xubuntu either, Debian or Arch with XFCE, if set up properly, is a very quick, light, and stable option (much lighter than Xubuntu). Xubuntu would be fine too though (or maybe something like Mint XFCE?).

mamamia88
December 30th, 2011, 12:52 AM
I'd just go with XFCE. Not necessarily Xubuntu either, Debian or Arch with XFCE, if set up properly, is a very quick, light, and stable option (much lighter than Xubuntu). Xubuntu would be fine too though (or maybe something like Mint XFCE?).
Using xubuntu 11.10 right now on my 3-4 year old netbook and it feels brand new. Don't know how much difference arch or debian would make.

VTPoet
December 30th, 2011, 02:29 AM
Good chance the gnome-fallback-session will be around for the next LTS cycle. There is a Gnome Classic mega thread in Ubuntu + 1

That's good to hear. Once I started experimenting with Gnome Fallback, I decided it wasn't quite as bad as it was made out to be.


(http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1873765)@VTPoet: I bet you an Ubuntu sticker that your friend goes out and buys an iPad before LTS 14.04. 'Ordinary' people I know are doing this over here.

Well, I would accept your bet but that would be like taking candy from a baby. My friend is a flinty New Englander as tight as bark on a tree.

I, however, was just gifted two first generation IPod touches. I didn't realize how useful they were until I started using them. I can download podcasts straight to the IPod. That's kinda' cool. But that's about the only thing they're really useful for (as far as my needs go).

VTPoet
December 30th, 2011, 02:33 AM
I'd just go with XFCE. Not necessarily Xubuntu either, Debian or Arch with XFCE, if set up properly, is a very quick, light, and stable option (much lighter than Xubuntu). Xubuntu would be fine too though (or maybe something like Mint XFCE?).

Yeah. That'll be the day. ;) He only just barely knows how to turn his computer on and off. Like I'm really going to give him an Arch or Debian install! Ha! But I hear you. For someone a little more knowledgeable, your recommendation is a good one.

Dragonbite
December 30th, 2011, 03:06 PM
My friend is a flinty New Englander as tight as bark on a tree.

Ha! I'll have to remember that description, it's so apt! I take it he was raised up there as well?

VTPoet
December 30th, 2011, 03:23 PM
Ha! I'll have to remember that description, it's so apt! I take it he was raised up there as well?

Aye-up, he was raised up here. An IPad with him would be a ten dollar hat on a ten cent head (as we like to say up here).

mips
December 30th, 2011, 07:58 PM
Don't know how much difference arch or debian would make.

Well Crunchbang XFCE (Debian 6) is way faster than Xubuntu. I'm using Xubuntu at the moment.

stalkingwolf
January 1st, 2012, 06:07 PM
Hey, that's an interesting possibility I hadn't thought of. I'm going to download it and try it in VB - looks like it uses Gnome 2.X?

yes gnome 2 is one of the choices.

VTPoet
January 2nd, 2012, 02:25 AM
yes gnome 2 is one of the choices.

Well... I downloaded and tried out Zorin. For some reason, they felt it necessary to enable a variety of compiz special effects, like wobbly windows. :rolleyes: I guess it's easy enough to disable these, but what a bother. The interface only marginally imitates Win 7. I wanted to try the Zorin "Look Changer", but in the live session I had to log out and log back in. Naturally, none of these distros tell you what the password is. Bother.

Although I swore off KDE, I tried Netrunner 4 (just released) and was impressed with it. Everything worked. One minor glitch (which wouldn't affect *him*) is that deleting the Firefox text Menu doesn't produce a Firefox Button. I might try it on his laptop just because it's the most like Windows (Vista/7). If it lags, I'll try something different.

I keep coming back to Xubuntu with Docky (despite the XFMW4 bug), Gnome Classic or Unity 2D.

BrokenKingpin
January 2nd, 2012, 05:58 PM
I seriously hesitate to recommend Xubuntu (or XFCE) because of the XFWM4 bug (no windows borders).
I have never seen this and I have been running Xfce for years? Is it only in certain weird configurations?

Xubuntu is my distro of choice right now, it is a perfect balance between functionality and lightweight. It runs great on my old slow netbook, and also looks very nice on my main desktop with desktop effects and transparency turned on. Highly recommended.

VTPoet
January 3rd, 2012, 03:25 AM
I have never seen this and I have been running Xfce for years? Is it only in certain weird configurations?

Xubuntu is my distro of choice right now, it is a perfect balance between functionality and lightweight. It runs great on my old slow netbook, and also looks very nice on my main desktop with desktop effects and transparency turned on. Highly recommended.

Can't explain it, but under "Desktop Environments" (here in the forums) there have already been several users affected by it and it was discussed at Distrowatch when 11.04 was reviewed. Anyway, you can read all about it here: Bug 495361 (https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xfwm4/+bug/495361).

But, I set him up tonight. After all the hemming and hawing about which DE I should use, I went with Unity 11.10. :biggrin:

Lubuntu -- Didn't like that it didn't come with Ubuntu Software Center (though that's easy to remedy). Don't like PCMan. Turning off touchpad tap (and other missing little refinements) was going to be a PITA. Don't like how some apps don't initially fit within the allotted screen space (as also described by Dedoimedo). Feels too rough & basic for someone I'm trying to impress.

Xubuntu-- I use Xubuntu, but the bug mentioned above is a deal breaker for a newbie. It also takes more tweaking (than I was willing to invest), to make it as fluid as I like: like making Xubuntu Window List Menu accessible from at all times, turning off the touchpad tap, installing docky or AWN.

Zorin -- Didn't like that it was built on Gnome 2. Time to move on...

Linux Mint 12 -- I like Mint but Cinnamon is still alpha, Gnome Classic is OK but I didn't like the "no compositing" bug, and the Gnome 3 extensions still aren't enough, in my view, to save the DE. It still doesn't feel very flexible. Also seems like there's just too much fiddle faddle, mousing and keystrokes to do what used to be done much more easily.

DreamLinux -- Just released, based on Debian Testing, XFCE, docky read to go, wine, Softmaker and other goodies. Based on my experience with LMDE, Debian testing can be rough around the edges. I tried installing it in VB, but it hung. That was enough to make me steer clear of it (for him). I myself might try it again.

Netrunner 4 -- Wow. I *really* like this Distro's implementation of KDE. Wine, Codecs, VLC... everything is ready to go. I would have considered installing this for him except that KDE can be heavy, convoluted to configure, and I just don't like Muon for a new user. From what I've read, it seems unstable and fitful; and it's def. not as new-user friendly as Ubuntu's software center. As for me? I'm going to install this over my Linux Mint 12 partition and start using it.

Ubuntu 11.10 -- Easy to turn off Touchpad tap. Installed the Classic Menu Indicator (http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2011/06/classicmenu-indicator-puts-old-school-gnome-menus-in-unity/) so he wouldn't have to search, and search, and search through those &%#$! lenses. Installed Ubuntu Tweak, Codecs, Compiz Config Settings Manager, Grub Customizer (so the Grub Menu looks swanky), Synapse, wine and he's good to go. His computer seems happy in terms of speed. His 3-1 printer, scanner, & fax machine now works. He's in clover.

stalkingwolf
January 7th, 2012, 07:21 PM
I have never had to use a password in a zorin live session. hmmmmmmmm

VTPoet
January 7th, 2012, 08:36 PM
I have never had to use a password in a zorin live session. hmmmmmmmm

Have you ever tried to log out and back in during a live session?

stalkingwolf
January 10th, 2012, 06:39 PM
Yes. ill have to play with it some more.

VTPoet
January 11th, 2012, 01:41 AM
The installation is a success.

My friend seems thrilled with Ubuntu but, so far, he has two complaints. First, he doesn't like how the launcher frequently pops up when he moves his mouse leftward to click on the browser's "back button". (I would move the launcher to the bottom but...) Secondly, he wanted a windows style task bar. I had him install the xfce4-panel and moved it to the bottom. No more complaints for now.

Dragonbite
January 11th, 2012, 04:53 AM
The installation is a success.

My friend seems thrilled with Ubuntu but, so far, he has two complaints. First, he doesn't like how the launcher frequently pops up when he moves his mouse leftward to click on the browser's "back button". (I would move the launcher to the bottom but...) Secondly, he wanted a windows style task bar. I had him install the xfce4-panel and moved it to the bottom. No more complaints for now.

It's supposed to be easy to move the launcher to the bottom. There's even a PPA for that.

Assuming you are referring to Unity's launcher.

stalkingwolf
January 11th, 2012, 06:28 PM
Yes. ill have to play with it some more.

i played with it some yesterday and got the result you did. Ill see if i can find an answer.

VTPoet
January 11th, 2012, 10:25 PM
It's supposed to be easy to move the launcher to the bottom. There's even a PPA for that.

Assuming you are referring to Unity's launcher.

Yes, but the unity launcher doesn't allow him to minimize, for instance, a window the way the xfrce4 panel does (or Windows). There are some other niceties absent from the launcher that I can't think of now because I don't use it often enough. The first thing he told me was that he missed "the windows in the bar that tell you what programs are running" - or something like that. I don't want to turn this into a bash Unity thread because Unity is growing on me, but the launcher is still fairly primitive and limited. So... I put xfce4-panel at the bottom of the screen. This meant I couldn't put the launcher there. You see the dilemma? I wish it were possible to move the launcher to the right or simply turn it off. It really doesn't do Unity any favors. At this stage of its development, there are much, much better options.

VTPoet
January 11th, 2012, 10:39 PM
i played with it some yesterday and got the result you did. Ill see if i can find an answer.

You'd think they would provide that information somewhere - especially since a key feature involves logging out and back in. A remember a year or so ago there were some distros that required me to log in during a live session -- half of them didn't tell me what username or password I should use!