The issue:

I started using Ubuntu in 2009 and have been using it ever since. What I like about it:

  • Running on a laptop with a core 2 duo 1.2 GHz CPU and a maximum allowed 2GB of RAM, boot requires about 17 seconds from the GRuB menu. Halt takes 3 seconds flat.
  • This laptop uses a 64GB Samsung SSD that looks like a mSATA, only bigger, and it's PATA. It has a funky proprietary connector, so I haven't found a way to upgrade it. Fortunately, dual booting with Windows, I only need to reserve 7GB for Ubuntu.
  • On a second laptop with a Celeron 900 single core 2.2 GHz and 2GB of RAM, boot requires about 35 seconds and halt takes about 4 seconds. This laptop uses a regular 7200 rpm hard drive.
  • Firefox opens from cold in 1-2 seconds on both laptops, or 1 second when "hot" (already booted previously during the same session).
  • I use shortcuts I like for various tasks, such as Super+B for browser, CTRL+ALT to switch desktops, ALT+F1 to access the panel menus ...
  • Using Lucid Lynx 10.04, I've had three years of trouble free usage without having to tweak things every six months.

With long term support for Lucid Lynx coming to an end, I've finally taken time to try out Precise Pangolin 12.04. I know that Unity has not been liked by many, but I actually do like it. However, it slows everything down on my two laptops. They must just be too modest in capabilities for it to shine. Boot is still pretty fast, maybe just a few seconds slower, but halt now takes twenty seconds. This is actually slower to halt than either W7 or W8, which take about six to ten seconds. Firefox also seems to have more lag. I haven't played with Windows much, but I do need to dual boot for some infrequent stuff, so ...

I've tried switching around a few desktops, like LXDE and XFCE, and both give me back the exact same fast operation as before, but I don't really like either of these all that much. I'm now wondering what else might be out there that I should try. Here would be my preferences:

  • Something a bit more "polished" in my view than Puppy, standard LXDE or XFCE.
  • Something equally fast as Lucid Lynx 10.04, or Precise Pangolin 12.04 without Unity.
  • Something where keyboard shortcuts are available, easy to customize, and the more of them the better!

Any ideas?