Although this blog is titled “Launch into Linux,” I could probably call it “Launch into Lubuntu” given the amount of posts I’ve dedicated to the LXDE-based variant of Ubuntu. (See for yourself.) The reason I’ve focused on Lubuntu so much is because its lightweight nature makes it run much better on older hardware than vanilla Ubuntu would. Since many people come to Linux in an attempt to get some extra life out of older computers that can no longer run Windows, I figured that it would be best to introduce them to a distro that would make the best use of their aging hardware.
To be honest, though, the other reason I’ve focused more on the lightweight end of the spectrum was because my Linux test box was a 7 1/2 year old Dell Dimension desktop that ran on a Pentium 4 processor and had a less-than-stellar onboard graphics chip. That being the case, my options were quite limited as far as what it would run well. For instance, I could run Ubuntu 12.04 on the machine, but Lubuntu (with its lightweight desktop environment) ran far more smoothly. Since this “test box” was in reality a computer that was being used by my parents on a daily basis, I had to go with what worked best.
I do try out a bunch of distros using VirtualBox, which is a great way to dabble without constantly having to partition hard drives and backup data. However, for something that I’ll be recommending for others to install on their own computers, I like to at least have some experience with the distro in a real-world setting, where it’s being used by normal people for their daily computing needs, as opposed to merely through a virtual machine. So, for a long time, I was stuck with writing about a more lightweight Linux distro like Lubuntu, which was the only thing I could comfortably and reliably run on the hardware I was using.
Now, however, all that has changed. The old Dimension desktop has finally bit the dust, and its replacement is an approximately 3 year-old Dell OptiPlex running on a Core 2 Duo processor—not brand new by any means, but more than capable of running even the heftiest distros out there. With that in mind, I’ll try to expand my focus to include fuller, more heavweight distros (such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, etc.). I won’t be forsaking the lightweight end of the spectrum—look for posts in the “Lightweight Linux” category—but for people with hardware that’s not quite as ancient, there are some options out there that provide more bells-and-whistles and eye candy.
In the coming weeks, look for more content focused on the regular version of Ubuntu, which is what I’ve been running on the new machine. We’ll take a closer look at the Ubuntu family of distros, get up close and personal with the Unity desktop interface, and delve into some of the exciting things you can do in the latest version of Ubuntu.