Lubuntu : One month later

Basil Fernie basil at
Thu Dec 4 00:44:19 UTC 2014

Good question about upgrade process!

After years on Lubuntu 12.04 as updated from time to time, I was more than  
hankering for a decent kernel upgrade and leapt at 14-04 LTS as soon as it  
was released. There were several major inconveniences which I had to learn  
workarounds for which were mainly attended to in 14.04.1, but I had to  
wait quite a while for that to come out and in fact I soon found that  
14.10 was more completely sorted out (although anything that installs  
leaving out gparted from the menu system is a little dubious, bear in mind  
it is actually available in the live version menus and, methinks, takes  
part in the installation process IIRC). Let me hasten to say that 14.10 is  
the first actual Lubuntu to run successfully on all the laptops )from  
various makers) and oddjob desktops I have lying around. (CrunchBang did  
that quite a while ago, but the user interface is a bit abstract for my  
user population.) So in this case, I would recommend 14.10 to a Lubuntu  
beginner rather than the current LTS.

Bear in mind also that after a couple of years of using Lubuntu, I think  
many ex-beginners would be feeling comfortable and confident enough to  
upgrade )with a tiny bit of handholding) to a well-established LTS version  
then. Bird in the hand is worth two in the bush kind of thing. LTS does  
not stand for Lubuntu - Totally Sorted!, at least not from the start.

The other beginner-friendly strategy I can recommend may seem a bit like  
cheating, because it is to use LXLE rather than plain Lubuntu. LXLE is a  
respin by somebody not (as far as I know) on the Lubuntu developer team  
which is by policy openly based on Lubuntu xx LTS and tends to be released  
a month or two later than the corresponding Lubuntu LTS. This extra time  
is spent to good effect polishing and stress-testing the components with  
the result that it gives a somewhat more re-assuring impression and more  
luxurious operation than vanilla Lubuntu. Kind of like a Cadillac with  
mainly Chev mechanicals under the hood. LXLE was thus solidly usable (on  
all my machines) well before 14.04 LTS was. Drawbacks include slightly  
slower bootup (but what a classy splash screen to watch!) and being a bit  
behind more adventurous distros regarding availability of updates of some  
application packages. Which, for a beginner, is perhaps not a bad thing.  
Also tends to use more RAM, apparently holding applications in RAM for  
snappy delivery when called for, giving a very smooth user experience.  
Swings and roundabouts.

Suggestion to Lubuntu team: Why not take a leaf from the LibreOffice book:  
If you go to their downloads page, you will be advised of the latest  
release for the Fresh Branch and the Still Branch (OK, not happy  
terminoogy but...) Currently the Still Branch is coming to an end with  
4.2.7, after being stuck as I remember in the 3.x.y's for quite a while.  
Basically the Still Branch has been the one recommended for  
people/organizations needing maximum reliability rather than maximum  
performance and features, thus the equivalent of what one might wish to  
offer a Lubuntu beginner. Note that this branch too has progressed, with a  
lot of feedback from the Fresh Branch users and a lot of diligent qoek at  
bugtrapping. So they've nearly caught up to the Frech Branch ( and  
while they will leave 4.2.7 available for relevant users, the effort now  
goes in to the Fresh Branch (also with heavy emphasis on bugtrapping) as  
having achieved pretty-well industrial strength now. (Know thAT you can go  
out closer to bleeding edge with  4.3.5 or even 4.4, meaning I suppose  
that the Still Branch will land up somewhere in the high 4.3s once 4.4 is  
declared to be in the Fresh Branch.

Now I know that the ODF is far larger than the Lubuntu team, and anyway  
under the covers the versioning process is probably not all that much  
different. But the 6-month Ubuntu release cycle puts a lot more stress on  
developers and, I think, may confuse especially novice 'buntu users who  
think LTS is a guarantee of quolity already. So why not openly advocate a  
latest version in the LTS series that is recommended for entry-level users  
who want minimum fuss over the next few years, versus latest version in  
any series for users wanting a fuller complement of features/performance  
with reasonable stability but having more tolerance for occasional  
oddities? Based on age of oldest known user divided by number of unclosed  
bug-reports, perhaps, and probably not less than say 8 months old?

Just my 2c worth.

Basil Fernie

> I wonder if a relevant piece of information regarding this (particularly  
> for beginners), is how reliable is the upgrade process from one LTS  
> version to the next?
> I can't yet answer that from my own experience.
> I know the upgrade process from one release to the next release has been  
> very reliable, but I haven't yet tried upgrading from one LTS release to  
> the next LTS release.
> Can anyone speak from experience on that?

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