Basically I have been using the same distribution, Ubuntu, on my work laptop and my private desktop since my change over to Linux. On my desktop Ubuntu was the main distro and the “spare” partitions (4) were used to test other distributions and/or alpha/beta releases of upcoming Ubuntu versions.

However, what I ran into since (mainly) Oneiric that resource usage was becoming more and more an issue on my desktop. My desktop PC, a Dell Dimension 2400, “only” has 512Mb of memory and that was already mostly consumed when Ubuntu was started. Since it was about time to completely clean out my desktop PC, which I do every now and then, I figured this was a good moment to also look for another main distro to use for my desktop.

It would seem logical to use either one of the lightweight distributions which I monitor quite closely and on which I have blogged before, namely Dreamlinux or Liquid Lemur Linux. Both are aimed to be lightweight and I am familiar with both distributions, however … both are currently still at a RC (Release Candidate) status and I prefer to have a final release of a distribution as the main distro. So for now they did not make it into the selection.

My first try was with Bodhi Linux, because of the claim for being low on resource, being Ubuntu based and the looks. I had “played” with the Enlightenment desktop and liked it back then. However, once installed I just could not remember too much of how to alter the desktop to my liking (probably has to do with age ;)) and since my time to “play” around has been limited lately I decided to drop it and look for an alternative.

This lead me to Peppermint OS. As Bodhi Linux based on Ubuntu and claims to be low on resource. The desktop environment is LXDE, which I am more familiar with then Enlightenment. Installation was a no brainer but then … Peppermint is very, how best to put it, “cloud oriented”. Which is probably very useful for a notebook or tablet but for my desktop, on which I also do “normal work”, it just wasn’t that. Furthermore the latest Peppermint is not Oneiric based and I do like to be up to date.  ;-)
So also this distribution was wiped.

However, Peppermint OS has shown to me that I indeed still knew my way around LXDE and thus the step was easily made to Lubuntu. As they state on their site:

“lubuntu is a faster, more lightweight and energy saving variant of Ubuntu using LXDE, the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment. It is targeted at “normal” PC and laptop users running on low-spec hardware.”

As with all Ubuntu (based) distributions installation was easy and setting it up was quickly done. Added, besides Firefox also Google Chrome as a browser and altered the desktop and the panel slightly and was set to go.

Lubuntu - Full screenNow for the resources … does it indeed use as little resources as it claims? It surely feels that way. Start up is swift and when I type the letters appear immediately. With Ubuntu I had to pause every once in a while so the display could catch up with my typing and trust me … it was not my typing speed that caused this.  :D
But, this is just the feeling. How about facts? So started “htop” from a terminal and the result speaks for itself.

Lubuntu - Low resource usageOccasionally, after a reboot, the system will respond sluggish but this is caused by something that I have noticed being the case with Ubuntu (and maybe other distributions have this as well) already a while back. This is when “update-apt-xapian-index” is running. Particularly on my desktop this consumes all “power”.

Lubuntu - Update Apt Xapian indexI currently am running Lubuntu for a few weeks now and I am very pleased with both performance and the way I can “tweak” the desktop to my liking. So, if you are running a “low performance” machine as I do I seriously can recommend Lubuntu.

As a system monitor I often also install conky. If you check my blog you will notice there are various posts describing conky and how useful I think it is. One thing I noticed when running conky is that the memory indicated to be used was much higher then htop or Task Manager indicates.

Lubuntu - Conky vs TaskManagerHowever, a quick search using Google lead me to this thread on the CrunchBang Linux forums. Altering the value for “no_buffers” in the .conkyrc indeed cleared the differences. Which one is more accurate remains to be seen.  ;-)

NOTE 1: The .conkyrc file used is one that is based on the .conkyrc file that shipped with the Dreamlinux 5 RC.

NOTE 2: Initially conky appeared on a black background. Googling around it was indicated that this had to do with LXDE as, for example, described in this blog post. However, fiddling around with the conky parameters lead to a transparent conky without having to resort to feh.

For reference, this is the .conkyrc I am currently using on Lubuntu:
background yes
use_xft yes
xftfont 123:size=8
xftalpha 0.5
update_interval 0.5
total_run_times 0
own_window yes
own_window_type normal
own_window_transparent yes
own_window_hints undecorated,below,sticky,skip_taskbar,skip_pager
double_buffer yes
minimum_size 80 5
maximum_width 240
alignment top_right
gap_x 20
gap_y 35
no_buffers yes
uppercase no
cpu_avg_samples 2
net_avg_samples 1
override_utf8_locale yes
use_spacer right
text_buffer_size 256

TEXT
${color grey74} ${font Helvetica:size=36}$alignc${time %H:%M}
${voffset -170
0}
${color white}
${font}
${font Arial:bold:size=8}${color grey74}SYSTEM ${color grey74} ${hr 1}
$font${color white}$sysname $kernel $alignr $machine
${alignc}${pre_exec cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep "model name" -m1 | cut -d":" -f2 | cut -d" " -f2- | sed 's#Processor ##'}
Real time CPU clock $alignr${freq_g cpu0}Ghz
Uptime $alignr${uptime}
File System $alignr${fs_type}

#Total CPU Usage
${font Arial:bold:size=8}${color grey74}PROCESSORS ${color grey74}${hr 1}
$font${color white}
CPU0  ${cpu cpu0}% ${cpubar cpu0}
#For multiple CPUs uncomment lines below
#CPU1  ${cpu cpu1}% ${cpubar cpu1}
#CPU2  ${cpu cpu2}% ${cpubar cpu2}
#CPU3  ${cpu cpu3}% ${cpubar cpu3}
#CPU4  ${cpu cpu4}% ${cpubar cpu4}
#CPU5  ${cpu cpu5}% ${cpubar cpu5}
${voffset -12}

${font Arial:bold:size=8}${color grey74}MEMORY ${color grey74}${hr 1}
$font${color white}MEM $alignc $mem / $memmax $alignr $memperc%
$membar

${font Arial:bold:size=8}${color grey74}HDD ${color grey74}${hr 1}
$font${color white}/ $alignc ${fs_used /} / ${fs_size /} $alignr ${fs_free_perc /}%
${fs_bar /}
$font${color white}/boot $alignc ${fs_used /boot} / ${fs_size /boot} $alignr ${fs_free_perc /boot}%
${fs_bar /boot}
$font${color white}/home $alignc ${fs_used /home} / ${fs_size /home} $alignr ${fs_free_perc /home}%
${fs_bar /home}

${font Arial:bold:size=8}${color grey74}NETWORK ${color grey74}${hr 1}
$font${color white}IP on eth0 $alignr ${addr eth0}

Down $alignr ${downspeed eth0} kb/s
Up $alignr ${upspeed eth0} kb/s

Downloaded: $alignr  ${totaldown eth0}
Uploaded: $alignr  ${totalup eth0}

#${font Arial:bold:size=10}${color grey74}GMAIL ${color grey74}${hr 2}
#${font}${color white}
#${font}${color grey74}You have ${color Red} ${texeci 100 python ~/.scripts/gmail.py} ${color YellowGreen} email(s).
#${voffset -2}
${font Arial:bold:size=8}${color grey74}DATE ${color grey74}${hr 1}
${voffset -2}${font Helvetica:size=12}$alignc${time %d %b. %Y}

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