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I was reading the only Xubuntu themed blog I have ever come across, Living With Xubuntu, and there was a link to a reddit thread about why people are switching from Ubuntu to Debain. The general theme from the thread was one that I’ve heard many times before: Ubuntu is bloated and Debian or Arch or Gentoo is lighter and better and you Ubuntu morons will see the light one day and switch to a real man’s distribution. And not once have I seen anyone mention that Ubuntu can be as light, if not lighter, than every distribution suggested. The trick is not to install the 700 mb GNOME Ubuntu turd that is their main edition, or even Xubuntu (which is a great distro/spin, but is a tad on the bloated side), but install the frickin UBUNTU MINIMAL CD . There’s a reason they call it the minimal cd, it’s only 12.7 mb. You want to avoid bloat, install a 13 mb system.

You want a lightweight functional Xfce system? Install the ubuntu minimall cd and then run “sudo apt-get install xfce4”. That’s it. You get an absolute bare bones Xfce desktop and all the goodness that comes with Ubuntu. Like drivers, tons of packages and a huge support system of forums and blogs. And if you want a GNOME free login manager to round it out, just run “sudo apt-get install lxdm”. And as a free bonus, you get LXDE as well! For all of 9 additional mbs! Not bloated! You get two bloat free desktops, on a system that actually frickin works out of the box.

Stay GNOME free by adding NetworkManager, Chromium, Pidgin, Parole, Aqualung, Mousepad, etc. It’s pretty easy to check and see if you’re “bloating” up your system: after you run “sudo apt-get install whatever” look at the list of dependent packages and the total size of the install. If there are a ton of packages that start with “gnome” or “libgnome” try to find another application. And there you go, a lightweight Ubuntu running a full featured Gtk desktop. This may become more common if the Xubuntu team blimps up their spin at the same rate the Unity team did with the main edition.

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And it comes full circle

The first linux distro I ever used was Xubuntu 8.10. That was so long ago, I don’t even remember why I switched. I switched to Crunchbang, Debian testing + LXDE, minimal Ubuntu + LXDE, Linux Mint Debian and then Lubuntu. I would have been fine sticking with Lubuntu if I thought they would have a 64-bit edition out anytime soon, but it doesn’t look like they will. I know I could use the 64-bit minimal Ubuntu and add the Lubuntu-desktop package, but I’m lazy. I wanted to see how much better my 64-bit machine would preform with a 64-bit OS. So I just went with a 64-bit Xubuntu and tacked on the LXDE desktop. At first I started just randomly picking a desktop, then one day I just stopped logging into LXDE all together. This past weekend I formatted both my machines with Xubuntu and have yet to install any LXDE apps other than PCManFM (I need tabs in my file manager), LXRandR and GPicView. In fact, I like the look of the Xfce desktop more.

Openbox was always one of the things I liked about LXDE, but Xfwm is just as good. And as a bonus, I can get a shiki theme for Xfwm to match my shiki gtk theme. I could never get it to quite look right with Openbox, and that always bothered me. Also, LXPanel never looked right with the shiki theme, but the xfce4 panel looks great with it. Xfce looks better, has better default apps and is just as fast as LXDE. There’s also a 64-bit version and the live installer always works (I’ve had some problems with the Lubuntu one in the past).

The final straw was that I got really comfortable using Tilda as a terminal with full transparency. For whatever reason, that just does not work with LXDE. I’m sure there’s a way to fix that, but I don’t have time. Like everything else with Xubuntu, it just works out of the box. Why Xubuntu isn’t more popular, or Xfce is never discussed as being the default desktop for any major distribution is beyond me, I can’t think of one aspect of any desktop that suits my needs better than Xfce. My goal is to make it 6 months without switching, and I feel pretty good about being home again.

Guake is good shit

I work a lot in the terminal, and much like text editors, I like to have a few on hand to keep things interesting. There is probably no lamer way to keep things “interesting” but whatever. I usually scan the Crunchbang and Arch forums to see what the trendy apps are, and while they are usually a great source, they seemed to miss is a very solid terminal, Guake. Guake is modeled after the popular KDE drop-down terminal Yakuake, which apparently is modeled after something in the game Quake. I played that game, and I don’t remember any drop-down menus, but whatever. While a drop-down terminal doesn’t sound like a must have, after playing with Yakuake for a few hours, I was convinced that it was worthwhile. But that was on a virtualbox where I didn’t have to infest my system with any KDE crap. After looking around for GTK based drop-down terminals I found two: Guake and Tilda. I ran my standard heuristic to decide which one I should install: if one has both a cleaner looking webpage that seems to be actively updated AND has less dependencies (relative to what I already have installed) then that’s the winner. Guake won both tests, and thus was installed. Guake has some really nice features that make it better than Yakuake in my opinion.

The first is a tray icon. Since this app pretty much runs in the background, it’s very nice to know when its running. You can also quit it from the tray icon, as well as access the preferences menu.

The second is that it feels like Terminator, my default terminal, which makes using it that much more seamless. It also has keyboard shortcuts, so you can make it feel however you like.

It does get a little intrusive, installing both an icon in the “Preferences” menu as well as setting itself to autostart when logging in. There is also not ability to split the screen, as there is in Terminator, which is probably my favorite feature of Terminator. But these two things aside, Guake is a very nice terminal application, and fits in very nicely into the rest of my Lubuntu configuration. Anyone looking for a nice GTK terminal compliment to Terminator should give Guake a chance.

Adobe vs Apple

Oh man I am torn on this one. Usually I agree with any argument that is anti-Apple, just on principal. Apple makes inferior products but is able to remain in the market because they target a group of people dumb enough to believe Apple is “cutting edge”. What’s so special about Mac OS again? It has an animated task-bar? And? That’s it? You’re shitting me, you paid how much for an animated task bar? Oh, and you like the keyboard? I guess that’s worth the extra $800. There flagship products the iPod and iPhone force you to use the steaming pile of crap that is iTunes, while offering nothing extra to offset that huge pain in the ass. So I root for Apple to fail at everything they do, which is why the iPad is currently making me so happy.

But Flash on websites sucks. I use FlashBlock for Chrome, and when it’s not installed it takes me a few minutes to figure out why I’m so angry. It’s because Flash slows down sites to the point of frustration. I’ve even begun using the text only browser Lynx, to avoid my interaction with Flash. So Apple essentially blocking Flash from the iPhone and iPad doesn’t bother me all that much. Even if Apple adopts a competing technology, such as HTML 5, web developers will be forced to give pause before deciding to add some crappy animation to their site. Apple playing hardball with Adobe should at the least slow down the proliferation of Flash across the web, and that’s great. Because Flash is bad for the web. Some critics of Flash blockers have argued that you’re hurting the sites you visit by blocking Flash based ads, because those ads pay for the site. That’s partially true. Those ads pay for sites only if WE visit the site. No traffic equals no revenue. And I’m not going to visit a site that I know will piss me off. The use of Flash blockers at least allow me to visit sites with the possibility that I might click on a non-Flash ad. Flash blockers don’t cost websites money, shitty Flash ads cost websites money.

So for the first, and probably last, time in my life I’m siding with Apple. Weird.

It’s like Christmas except my step-mom is sober (maybe).

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