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Thread: Desktop Alternatives for Precise Pangolin 12.04

  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Desktop Alternatives for Precise Pangolin 12.04

    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?
    Intrepid User of Xubuntu & LXDE on:
    (1) Dell Latitude, CPi R400GT, PII 400 MHz, 256MB SDRAM, 66MHz.
    (2) Toshiba Portégé 3490CT, PIII 700 MHz, 256MB SDRAM, 100MHz.
    Both using NETGEAR MA521 Wireless PCMCIA (no issues!).

  2. #2
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    Re: Desktop Alternatives for Precise Pangolin 12.04

    gnome-session-fallback
    mate
    Cinnamon
    Gnome-Shell

  3. #3
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    Re: Desktop Alternatives for Precise Pangolin 12.04

    A few questions, and observations:

    • I was wondereing about MATE and Cinnamon, but then I wondered why I wouldn't just use Mint instead of Ubuntu in that case. Is there a reason to choose one instead of the other for either desktop?
    • Both seem very classic. Windows 8 is making a lot of classic stuff look a bit dated. I think I might be ready for something more adventurous.
    • Just tried Unity 2D, and it seems to have the same speed as before, or really close to it. I don't understand the difference with 3D though.
    • The shortcuts are also very different from Lucid Lynx, but I think I could get used to those. Maybe Unity 2D could be my solution.
    Intrepid User of Xubuntu & LXDE on:
    (1) Dell Latitude, CPi R400GT, PII 400 MHz, 256MB SDRAM, 66MHz.
    (2) Toshiba Portégé 3490CT, PIII 700 MHz, 256MB SDRAM, 100MHz.
    Both using NETGEAR MA521 Wireless PCMCIA (no issues!).

  4. #4
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    Re: Desktop Alternatives for Precise Pangolin 12.04

    Quote Originally Posted by Kixtosh View Post
    A few questions, and observations:

    • I was wondereing about MATE and Cinnamon, but then I wondered why I wouldn't just use Mint instead of Ubuntu in that case. Is there a reason to choose one instead of the other for either desktop?
    • Both seem very classic. Windows 8 is making a lot of classic stuff look a bit dated. I think I might be ready for something more adventurous.
    • Just tried Unity 2D, and it seems to have the same speed as before, or really close to it. I don't understand the difference with 3D though.
    • The shortcuts are also very different from Lucid Lynx, but I think I could get used to those. Maybe Unity 2D could be my solution.
    Unity 2D will be deprecated. Future versions of Ubuntu will use llvmpipe to run Unity on systems without a dedicated GPU.
    Pantheon, from the elementary project, looks very nice and works well--but the keyboard shortcuts take some getting used to, and are still in development.

  5. #5
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    Re: Desktop Alternatives for Precise Pangolin 12.04

    Quote Originally Posted by quequotion View Post
    Unity 2D will be deprecated. ...
    Not before the end of Long Term Support for Precise Pangolin, in 2017, right ... or is that something completely different?
    Intrepid User of Xubuntu & LXDE on:
    (1) Dell Latitude, CPi R400GT, PII 400 MHz, 256MB SDRAM, 66MHz.
    (2) Toshiba Portégé 3490CT, PIII 700 MHz, 256MB SDRAM, 100MHz.
    Both using NETGEAR MA521 Wireless PCMCIA (no issues!).

  6. #6
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    Re: Desktop Alternatives for Precise Pangolin 12.04

    Yep, you will get support till 2017. If you want the old desktop look (10.04) there's gnome-classic which can run with effects (compiz) or without (metacity).

    https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&...desktop%20pics

  7. #7
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    Re: Desktop Alternatives for Precise Pangolin 12.04

    That's great news ... I think I'll try Unity 2D to see if I can get used to it. I like the novelty and some of the shortcut options are actually better for me than before, so I like that too (the Super+X digit to call up items in the dock launcher, for example). Others don't seem to be there at all (and I don't seem to be able to add them either, at least, not yet).

    By the time 2017 comes around, I'll be ready for new laptops anyway. They're two or three years old already.
    Intrepid User of Xubuntu & LXDE on:
    (1) Dell Latitude, CPi R400GT, PII 400 MHz, 256MB SDRAM, 66MHz.
    (2) Toshiba Portégé 3490CT, PIII 700 MHz, 256MB SDRAM, 100MHz.
    Both using NETGEAR MA521 Wireless PCMCIA (no issues!).

  8. #8
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    Re: Desktop Alternatives for Precise Pangolin 12.04

    What's unpolished about XFCE/Xubuntu? What do you need that XFCE doesn't offer?
    I've been using it for 2+ years and love it.

  9. #9
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    Re: Desktop Alternatives for Precise Pangolin 12.04

    Have you seen the wiki page describing how to make 12.04 fallback look like Gnome 2?
    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Pr...eClassicTweaks
    Cheesemill

  10. #10
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    Re: Desktop Alternatives for Precise Pangolin 12.04

    Quote Originally Posted by drfox View Post
    What's unpolished about XFCE/Xubuntu? What do you need that XFCE doesn't offer?
    I've been using it for 2+ years and love it.
    Thanks for commenting, drfox. Part of this may be personal perceptions, or just not knowing how to do certain things, but this is what I remember about my trials with XFCE:

    • Didn't work well with older laptops. There was little to no performance gain compared to Ubuntu Lucid Lynx with Gnome. LXDE or Puppy Linux seemed much better choices for older or limited hardware. I don't use my older hardware much any more, however, so that's no longer really a concern.
    • The default desktop backgrounds are somewhat "washed out", which is also true of LXDE frequently. I'm sure this is not that difficult to change, but by default, I find the desktop backgrounds offered to be bland and lacking in contrast.
    • I love the XFCE default right click options on the desktop to access extended menus, including applications. Pupply Linux uses these too, but this is still much slower for me than Unity 2D where Super+X (digit) will open applications shown in the dock in the order 1 to 9 (or "t" for trash). You can open anything in one second, with just two keys pressed at the same time.
    • I could not get shortcuts to change keyboard layouts to work (I type in French a lot, so I'm constantly switching from USA to FR).
    • I could not get shortcuts for frequently used functions to work (such as ALT+F1 for Panel menus in Gnome, ALT+home, Super+B for Browser ...).
    • I just find the Lucid Lynx flavor of Gnome more predictable and trustworthy when trying to set it up. With XFCE, I find myself embarking on constant internet searches for each and every tweak to see if I can get them to work.

    I also like certain aspects of Unity 2D in Precise Pangolin even when compared to Gnome in Lucid Lynx. Basically, I like that Unity 2D allows me to use the dock with fast shortcuts, and I like the the Dash search feature. I've set the dock to auto-hide so it doesn't use up my screen, and the Super key pulls it up, but thanks to those shortcuts, I don't even wait for it to appear before executing the command I want. The performance gains with XFCE on my newer hardware (which is still not very powerful) seem very minimal to imperceptible.

    I'm happy to be proven wrong though, and I don't mind trying stuff out if there's a performance benefit in return.
    Intrepid User of Xubuntu & LXDE on:
    (1) Dell Latitude, CPi R400GT, PII 400 MHz, 256MB SDRAM, 66MHz.
    (2) Toshiba Portégé 3490CT, PIII 700 MHz, 256MB SDRAM, 100MHz.
    Both using NETGEAR MA521 Wireless PCMCIA (no issues!).

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