Recently I wrote that desktop Linux is now a practical alternative to Windows. Especially Windows XP, for which Microsoft has discontinued support and security updates.
I based this suggestion on my delightful experience with Ubuntu Linux — the most popular of many Linux variants. (It has so many because it’s open-source freeware. Anyone can customize it, and many talented tinkerers do.)
Linux, however, comes in many flavors other than Ubuntu. Plus, Ubuntu alone has given rise to Lubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, the Zorin OS, and probably others. Each version has its pros and cons.
Straight Ubuntu is a super-powerful operating system, with endless bells and whistles. Even though it works pretty well on older computers, it’s massive. It’s also optimized for the newest and most popular hardware.
The Skinny on Lubuntu
Enter Lubuntu: It’s a slimmed-down, streamlined version of Ubuntu made specifically for old, underpowered, even obsolete machines. The ones with tiny hard disks, very little RAM memory, and slow processors.
Lubuntu dispenses with resource-hogging features you probably never use. Heavyweight add-ons are replaced by zippy, small ones that do most of the same things. (For example, the beefy LibreOffice suite is replaced by tiny AbiWord and the Gnumeric spreadsheet.) Gone is the fancy Ubuntu desktop. In its place is the fast-and-light LXDE desktop — which happens to look and feel more like Windows!
What can Lubuntu do for you? Here’s an example:
My “New” (Old) Portable Workhorse
My ʟᴇᴀsᴛ impressive computer is a 2004 IBM ThinkPad X40. RAM, half a megabyte. Hard drive, 40 gigabytes. Processor, Pentium-M. All in all, a toy by today’s standards. Six or seven years ago this machine became unusable. It had been left behind by too many bloated and buggy Windows “updates”. I tried all the prescribed antivirus and malware sweeps, registry cleanings, disk defragmenting and decluttering. Nothing helped.
Until Ubuntu. After I installed Ubuntu Linux, my ThinkPad worked again — adequately. That was fine by me: Adequate was thrilling for something on which I’d given up.
Yesterday, however, I swapped out Ubuntu for Lubuntu. Now my “obsolete” ThinkPad sings and dances! It’s not just adequate, but snappy. This machine now is working better than it did when new.
It’s not quite as fast, or quite as muscular, as my thoroughly modern Windows 8.1 machine with maybe a hundred times the hardware. It is, however, infinitely more portable, weighing just 2.7 pounds.
There was a time when I loved this little machine. Now I love it again, even more. Thank you, Lubuntu!