Xubuntu lighter

31/05/2009

I used the Distrowatch Weekly Feature “Minimal Xubuntu” suggestions for a lighter XFCE4 based desktop, using Xubuntu pacakges but leaving out some of the Ubuntu branding and overhead. The article has tables that compare the memory use of Ubuntu and Debian versions, and gives memory estimates for each new service as you add the packages.

The recipe I settled upon is…

  • Install CLI from the Ubuntu net install iso
  • sudo aptitude install xorg gdm xfce4 xfce4-goodies firefox
    which adds 360Mb of files and gives around 80 to 90Mb of memory use. I accepted the defaults when an alert box about hddtemp demon arived.
  • sudo aptitude install gnome-power-manager
    Allows hibernation on lid close! But see below for settings
  • To get hibernation working, I had to go to use XFCE | Settings | Screensaver | Advanced and tick the Power Management box
    Screen Saver | Advanced

    Screen Saver | Advanced

  • Then I was able to go to XFCE | Settings | Power Management and select Hibernate as the action to take when closing the lid. Remember to set this on both On AC Power and Battery tabs!
  • I’ve decided not to install network manager. I’ll just use wvdial on my mobile internet modem. This laptop does not have a wireless card, and the Netgear WG111v3 USB wifi adaptor is playing up on all my computers.

Applications include firefox with flash, openoffice.org, mtpaint, and mirage. I’ll see how much stuff evince brings with it and might use epdfview instead for PDF viewing. MTpaint is a light and simple photo editor, all I need is something to resize and crop screen grabs and to adjust the colour balance and contrast of snaps now and again.

I’m using mpg321, a terminal based MP3 decoder and player, for listening to mp3s as that saves installing all the restricted drivers stuff. I noticed that XFCE has a terminal based sound mixer called aumix installed. As usual, all the volume controls are turned down, so you need to use this to set levels for your YouTube and mpg321 listening.

Results with Firefox (5 tabs, flash player active with widgets in WordPress.com), OpenOffice writer with a 16 page handout loaded (280+ OLE objects), mpg321 playing some nice Bach cello

keith@l400:~$ free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:           244        237          7          0          4        104
-/+ buffers/cache:        128        116
Swap:          768         37        731
keith@l400:~$ df -m
Filesystem           1M-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda5                 7976      1811      5761  24% /
tmpfs                      123         0       123   0% /lib/init/rw
varrun                     123         1       123   1% /var/run
varlock                    123         0       123   0% /var/lock
udev                       123         1       123   1% /dev
tmpfs                      123         1       123   1% /dev/shm
lrm                        123         3       121   2% /lib/modules/2.6.28-11-generic/volatile
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