I take special delight in keeping this ancient Dell desktop running and out of the landfill. With it’s very low resources, it doesn’t really run the full-blown version of Xubuntu as well as it used to, and when 32-bit support ends it’ll finally be time to retire the faithful old box. It runs xubuntu-core like a dream though! Well-chosen lightweight applications (Geary and Midori instead of Thunderbird and Firefox, for example) and the very basic Xfce desktop with the wonderful Xubuntu default settings (but no compositing, not a bunch of daemons running in the background, etc) make this old beast race along as sweet as ever.
But I also have a laptop with 3 gigs of RAM and a dual-core processor and it’s 64-bit. So just for grins, I’m giving Linux Lite a try. It’s Xubuntu-based and designed to be even more novice-friendly (if that is even possible). It has some pretty special little features that are great for folks trying out Linux for the first time.
Once installed (using the super-awesome Ubiquity installer that makes all the Ubuntu-based distros installable in minutes with wonderful simplicity), the first boot of Linux Lite offers this interactive step-by-step guide to getting started. After updating installed software, you can upgrade within a series with a great little Linux Lite application that changes repository settings as needed to the next point within a “series.” Each series is based on the LTS releases of Ubuntu and compare with point releases. Very cool. Now check out the “Tweak tool:”
This is a sweet little all-in-one-screen utility that does a little bit of housekeeping and customizing. Newbies can simply check all the “Safe” options to keep the system clean and fast. All of this can be done in any Xfce distro from the Settings menu, but Linux Lite has made it more convenient and reassuring for novice users. Now they can tweak and peak their OS fearlessly. That extra little safety assurance is similar to what Linux Mint has done with their Updater, with levels of risk clearly labeled and explained for the user.
The interactive online Help Manual opens in a tabbed web page and helps users navigate through many of the tasks that sometimes frustrate newbies (and technophobes like me), like getting the wireless to work, finding the right driver (or even updating existing ones!), getting the sound to work, etc. For most users, all that stuff works right out of the chute anyway! But if not, this Help Manual is about the simplest and best I’ve ever seen. Not a Wiki or a searchable database, but a step-by-step guide with pictures and everything.
If you’re installing Linux yourself for the first time, Linux Lite is an awesome beginner’s distro with all of Xubuntu’s awesomeness made super simple and a lot less scary for the technically challenged / phobic novice than most distros, even “beginner friendly” ones. And it’s lightweight enough to run on most computers that used to run Windows XP or Windows 2K.
If you’re not a “rank beginner” and can find your way around or want to provide a little bit of support for a friend, I still recommend Xubuntu. I also recommend Xubuntu-core if you’re like me, using an ancient dinosaur relic fossil that can barely manage full-blown Xubuntu or Linux Lite, which is not lighter than Xubuntu in any way, but you don’t need to settle for a bare-bones desktop interface that doesn’t offer the fantabulous configurability and beauty of the Xfce desktop. I remain a
but heartily recommend Linux Lite for rookie beginner novices, with older hardware that is too nice to just throw away.