Moving from Ubuntu to Xubuntu

Unity??? Seriously?? what where they thinking! Also the alternative, Gnome 2 just doesn't seem ready to work with. Let's face it, to productively work with a Desktop computer or a Notebook all those tablet-friendly interfaces with their big icons and no real taskbar are just useless. While unity is entirely impossible to work with Gnome2 at least has some good concepts.. however, there is so much missing in Gnome 2 and it kills me that i don't have a Applications menu with apps sorted nicely in Folders accessible by a single mouse click.. It just got all so complicated for no reason at all and don't get me started on using any of these new interfaces on a multi-head configuration! ridiculous!

but luckily there is Xubuntu which is based on xfce which is a nice clean and fast desktop environment that looks almost the same as good old gnome 1. So if you have a computer to work with and not to show off, i think this is the first choice in desktop environment right now.

at first i simply installed the xubuntu-destkop package and changed the desktop session default to xubuntu in my session manager.. but this just did not work properly.. it sure worked well enought that i switched from ubuntu to xubuntu on all my computers including desktops and laptops, but every now and then there where hickups which where hard to find a fix for. as a consequence i have decided to dump my long working setups and start over again eventually.. and it was worth it.. on my newly installed xubutnu machines i have none of these annoying issues which first made me think xubuntu might not be quite there yet as far as reliability goes.. so if you can invest a little bit of time now and do a fresh xubuntu install rather than installing all xubuntu packages to do the switch manually i strongly recommend that.. you will save at least as much time later on. of course, don't forget to backup your data..

what followes now are some applications i had to install to get comfortable with xubuntu after using ubuntu for several years.. you should know that one of the main targets of xubuntu is to be light weight and not so memory and processor intense as ubuntu is. in my case however this is not an issue as i have modern computers which where running ubuntu just fine, all i wanted was a usable desktop environment :) so there are a few applications in xubuntu which have better working alternatives that use a little more cpu and memory though..

Office suite

  • abiword/gnumeric –> libreoffice

for example open office or libre office .. abiword is fine and so is gnumeric if you just do simple spreadsheets.. but already on the first excel-sheet that i opened had some errors in the formatting of cell borders and i was instantly missing the brush tool for copying the style of one cell to another.. that might exist somewhere but it was not where i expected it to be.. so let's just go “back” to libre office :)

Thunar -> Nautilus

well i gave up on that one.. it just messed up my whole desktop.. the filemenager obviously does far too much to simply replace it.. so i decided to live with thunar which is pretty okay, i only miss the bookmark feature which is located in a separate application called gigolo and thus a little less comfortable to operate.

Living with Thunar

in order to overcome the missing bookmark feature i started to use gigolo. i select the mount at startup option on all bookmarks that i enter there and i created a symbolic link in my user home directory

cd
ln -s .gvfs/ Shares

so now i can see all my bookmarks in a subfolder called Shares in my user home.. that works fine for me

Image Viewer

  • ristretto → gpicview

the standard image viewer of xubuntu is missing an important feature imho .. you can not double click an image in a directory and then simply hit next to see the next one.. that is annyoing.. so i removed ristretto and installed gpicview which does all that and more..

movie player

  • parole → totem

the main problemw with parole is that it does not keep the aspect ratio when resizing the window.. parole worked so well in ubuntu that i decided to use this as my primary media player..

Text editor: leafpad/mousepad -> gedit

choosing the right text editor seems to be a little bit of a regligious thing in linux :) i got used to gedit and therefore am not satisfied with the limited functionality that leafpad (default in xubuntu) provides.. so i switched to gedit instead