From Linux Mint to LXLE

Your mileage may vary, of course. But for me the choice has been an easy one:

I bought a modest, used Dell Latitude laptop computer for school and work. It is a 64-bit machine that shipped with Windows 7 and has 6 times the RAM of my desktop, an ancient Dell Dimension desktop with 512 MB that still runs better on LXLE than when it was brand new running Windows XP! I was a Xubuntu fanboy until even Xubuntu got to be too much for the old desktop. Lubuntu (at the time) was a halting, buggy mess that while plenty fast, operated with fits and starts. It didn’t last even a day before I was trying alternatives like MX-14 which was great for a while and then troublesome and rebellious later on. So I experimented with LXLE and it has been fantastic and trouble-free for over a year now.

But when I got the new laptop with 3 GB of RAM and all that power, I thought I should try good ol’ Xubuntu again, maybe play around with some other distros that would surely run better on this new high-powered 64-bit beauty. First to find it’s way onto the hard drive was Xubuntu, my old favorite for many years. Because it is stable, functional, simple, and has that wonderful Xfce desktop I love. It refused to run the computer’s built-in wireless card, and all efforts to install the Broadcom driver failed to remedy the situation. On a desktop it wouldn’t have mattered, but for goodnessakes, a laptop is supposed to be wireless!

So I tried Linux Mint Xfce 17 (codenamed Rebecca). Same great Xubuntu base, fantastically easy and safe updater that helps avoid the whole “borked by an update” scenario that the Ubuntu flavors are famous for (not so much on the long-term-support editions though). I love Rebecca! She’s gorgeous, down-to-earth, compliant, low maintenance, and eager to please. Best Mint yet! But again, wireless didn’t work. I actually ended up buying a wifi-dongle just to regain the functionality required of a laptop! I shouldn’t have to do that, but that’s just a fact of the times when you buy a computer that is “built for Windows.”

tpe g54usb 0

This little gem from ThinkPenguin.com cost only $25 and made my laptop a laptop again.  It was the only option after spending a couple of frustrating days following every step of extracting the driver from Windows and “ndswrapping” it into Linux without success.  Money well spent.

In the meantime I have been doing most of my work on the desktop, and growing increasingly fond of that ultralight and super-simple LXDE desktop. I hadn’t liked it on buggy, frustrating Lubuntu, but that PCManFM file manager is wonderful, the management and configurability of the panels and applets is every bit as elegant and easy in LXDE as in it’s older sibling, Xfce.  Basically, I just got used to it, and since I use it here on the desktop all the time, I figured my laptop should be the same way instead of confusing myself between the two.  And in front of other people too, since I use the laptop at work and school a lot.  As much as I adore the lovely Rebecca, I decided to try out the new 64-bit LXLE 14.04 and see how it compared with my desktop’s 32-bit LXLE 12.04.

The new one very closely matches the old one, but omygoodness, the default applications are the very same ones I always use (and usually have to install, sometimes from a PPA).  LibreOffice of course, but lookie here: Seamonkey!  Heh heh!  See I’m not the only one who thinks it’s wonderful, and knows how much less resource hungry this Netscape-based suite from Mozilla is than it’s more famous and popular Mozilla siblings.  It’s even faster than Chrome!  It’s almost completely set up the way I always set my own desktop configuration up, panels and all, right from the start.  Almost no tweaking to do.  And to my surprise, the wireless card works right out of the gate in LXLE!  Even Rebecca couldn’t manage it, but here’s this “lesser” distro for older hardware that just recognized it and enabled it instantly.  No more need to plug in my USB wifi dongle.  Maybe I’ll use it on my desktop instead, so I can move my desk to where I want to without running wires around the house.  Praise be!

I don’t even miss that once-beloved Xfce desktop anymore.  LXLE does LXDE better than Lubuntu, and better even than Xubuntu does Xfce.  It is elegant, lightning-fast, absolutely gorgeous, and stays out of my way when I’m working on school stuff.

Your mileage may vary, and people have their own reasons for choosing a Linux distro. But for me, switching from Linux Mint to LXLE was an easy choice. Now my laptop offers the same familiar interface and beautiful functionality of my desktop – and no longer needs special hardware added to give it the functionality I need.

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6 thoughts on “From Linux Mint to LXLE

  1. I run the “Cinnamon” version of Mint on my desktop I can’t remember what I was using before I had my mother board died on me and I had to replace my E-Machine with a better one but I went back to Mint and loved how it worked. I had Mint on my old XP laptop until it got too resource heavy. But the new desktop has twice the memory of the old one and Mint screams along on it. I’m running Lubuntu on the laptop.

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    1. I have read that Cinnamon is actually less resource-hungry than Xfce depending on settings and such. I also really like Mint’s “safety net” when it comes to updating. It’s still the distro I recommend for novices, especially those coming from Windows. Please tell “Rebecca” I still love her… 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Robin,

    I’m glad I waited for this article; it may be real helpful in replacing my present distro with a more dependable one like LXLE.

    On this former (and ancient) XP desktop I have about 78 GB total hard drive (about 67 GB free space). I’ve been using ANTIX 13.2 stable for the past year now. The first 4 months for OK but now I’ve grown a bit disillusioned with it as it is not as “stable” as one is led to believe. I’m eternally grateful to the folks over on the AntiX forums for all their guidance and help- I’ve learned a great deal about Linux generally, from them- but I think I’m ready to move on.

    My question: given my limited capabilities on this old but reliable clunker of a machine, would I be able to install either Mint or LXLE with no problems? I would greatly appreciate your opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Lydia,

      I too really appreciate the folks in the old Mepis and AntiX communities. They do an amazing job with AntiX and the folks there are always helpful and nice. Even to novices, “ordinary” users, and technophobes like me. According to the LXLE Wiki page, the system requirements for the distro are:

      Absolute Minimum Requirement for an ‘OK’ online experience, Pentium 3 processor with at least 512 mb of ram and 8 GB of hard drive space. Recommended system requirements for an ‘adequate’ experience, Pentium 4 processor with 1gb or more of ram and 8 GB of hard drive space. (http://wiki.lxle.net/doku.php/requirements)

      My desktop is a Dell Dimension with 512 RAM. I should have an “OK” experience. In fact it’s FANTASTIC running LXLE (12.04 32-bit). No computer that old is going to be super fast doing anything in modern browsers and stuff, but mine still runs better on LXLE than it did on WinXP when it was brand new! I don’t think I like the all-or-nothing approach to updating LXLE, but using Synaptic it’s possible to avoid scary, threatening things like kernel updates. I usually refuse those until I’m sure they’re probably safe (in other words, until several weeks have gone by without any “this dumb thing quit working after that update” threads in Linux and Ubuntu forums related to the new kernel).

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  3. Great blog!! You obviously live in the real world, and my experiences and conclusions are very similar to yours.
    Having traveled much the same Linux path as you the last several months, I would like to suggest that while you are adding RAM to your old Dell (I had a 512MB stick I’d forgotten about!), check out Craigslist for used SSDs ($25 USD for 80GB), or spring for a new one for not much more money. That, plus Xfce or LXLE, and you will add another couple years of useful life to the trusty beast. Or, ‘decent’ Linux systems are typically available for $50; I bought a pair of Q8400 Dell Optiplex 760s for $80 each. (Written on a $50 Vostro 220s E5300 2.66GHz running MX-14, LibreOffice Calc, Chromium (5 tabs), Xpad, Thunar, Dictionary running–145 processes, CPU@1-4%– 500MB RAM in use.)

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  4. I had a very similar experience.
    Using my Lenovo Ideapad S205, my WiFi worked ONLY with LXLE.

    I also think LXLE should make sure they mention (and market) that they fit all kinds of computers, I’ve installed it on newer much more capable laptops as well – I just love minimalistic distros, and LXLE has found the sweet spot between features and being lightweight.

    Like

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