xubuntu, ubuntu and others.... (rather long message :D)

Stefan vstefu at gmail.com
Thu Apr 20 16:37:17 UTC 2006

Hi there...

    I have a pretty old computer... Celeron 466Mhz, 128 MB RAM, 8.4 GB HDD,
Matrox 8 MB AGP 2x card on a 440BX chipset. Not really fast then... but back
in the day, when it was my primary computer (to be read quite some years
ago), I did manage to play with Windows 98, Visual C 6.0, and much about
anything... it did run Windows 2000, and Me at various stages in its life.
Not to mention Red Hat 7.0, 7.1, 7.2 - rather well I might add.

    Now my (dear) sister is using it - and she mainly wants Firefox and
Gaim, and perhaps XMMS... And yep, you've guessed it - Linux. Well she
doesn't really WANT Linux, more like I only give her Linux.

    As such I've surfed distrowatch, and the net (to be read google) to find
a lightweight distro to use on that aging piece of hardware - which still
runs well considering.... First stop was Ubuntu 5.10... really slow... till
I put IceWM on it. Next stop was Ubuntu Dapper Drake, Flight 5 - and Gnome
2.14 is really a lot lighter than previous versions were. But, again, IceWM
proves lighter still so that was nice. Then I thought I might try Ubuntu
Light, or... wait a sec... xubuntu! So I fetched xubuntu Flight 6, new
install... and... guess what?

    Really disappointed here guys... and when I say really I mean REALLY...
Flight 5 with IceWM is faster than xubuntu in all respects... and xubuntu
somehow doesn;t even have the good and thorough menus ubuntu has... in IceWM
I simply migrated all the Gnome menu entries... in xubuntu... I don't have
any. (again, the computer is to be used by a really novice Linux user - my

    And why the sluggish performance? Someone over here said he had an
Athlon at 1+ Ghz... well... that's simply too fast to be able to make a
succesfull "light" distro. My Celeron 466Mhz stubles... it takes some good
seconds to simply display the gdm background... and in its day the Matrox
was really a damn good 2D card... (hell, it can even run Quake 3 / Wolf)

    The bottom line is - regular Ubuntu with IceWM is faster and more
convenient than xubuntu, so what is the point behind it? and trust me -
xubuntu IS slow... too slow to enjoy anything...

    I've tried a DSL Live CD - boots faster than xubuntu, and works faster
than xubuntu - but you might argue that it doesn't really have many things
on it - true.... but a Knoppix derivate proved really succesful, and so I
went for "Feather Light Linux", another Knoppix / Debian derivate... this
one has a (small) 128 MB Live CD and guess what... it works flawlessly! It
has pretty much everything an average user needs (to be read - my sis)
including Firefox, Gaim, XMMS, Abiword, and a lot of other things such as
Rox-filer, and a few window managers to choose from, including IceWM.

    Right now? That Celeron is running Feather Light Linux - installed on
the HDD, and I am really happy with the results. Considering that... in its
day that old computer did a very good job of running Red Hat 7.2, I was
expecting a "light" distro to perform much like the old Red Hat - reliable
and pretty fast... xubuntu doesn't, but Feather Light does! (and it even has

    All in all, I wish you good luck with your project, though my personal
belief is that your project is more or less pointless. Better results can be
achieved by simply using Ubuntu and IceWM, and really better results can be
achieved with DSL, or Feather Light Linux.

Kind regards,
Stefan Vrabie.
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