Blog Archives

Meet the ‘Buntus – Ubuntu, its official variants, and how to choose between them

Ubuntu is arguably the most visible Linux distribution out there for home users. For many, it’s the first—and maybe only—distro they use. Dell has sold (and currently sells) computers pre-installed with Ubuntu, Google uses it for its employees, and Valve Software is developing a Linux version of its hugely popular Steam gaming platform for it. Ubuntu’s prominence within the tech world at large and its user friendliness make it an excellent starting point for beginners.

Ubuntu is developed by Canonical, a company that makes money by providing technical support to businesses that adopt its freely distributed OS. In addition to the regular version of Ubuntu, which sports the Unity desktop interface, Canonical officially recognizes a handful of variants that each put their own unique spin on the OS. In this post, we’ll take a look at the Ubuntu family of distros, what makes them different and why you should choose one over the other. Read the rest of this entry

Beyond lightweight…

Tux no longer has to go on a diet for Launch into Linux. In the future, expect to see more posts about more heavyweight distros, starting with Ubuntu 12.04. (Image part of public domain)

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. Read the rest of this entry

How to replace Chromium with Firefox in Lubuntu 12.04

Chromium may be included by default in Lubuntu 12.04, but there’s nothing stopping you from swapping it out for Firefox if you’d like.

If you’ve recently installed Lubuntu 12.04, you’ll notice that the distro comes with a bunch of applications included by default—enough to cover all your basic web browsing, e-mail, media player and word processing needs. Chromium, an open-source version of the popular Google Chrome browser, is included as the default browser in 12.04. Chromium is fast, elegant, and feature-filled, and most users will probably find it perfectly suitable for them. (In fact, according to some reports, it has recently surpassed Internet Explorer as the most popular browser on the planet.)

However, if you want to use something besides Chromium, there are other options out there. My browser of choice for the past seven or eight years has been Firefox. Mozilla’s popular open-source browser is fast and has a ton of useful add-ons you can download and install. Plus, you don’t have to worry about Google tracking every move you make—a key feature for those of us who are concerned about privacy in the digital arena.

If you prefer to use Firefox, it’s very simple to replace Chromium with another browser. Read the rest of this entry

At a Glance: Lubuntu 12.04

So far, most of my posts on this site have introduced readers to Lubuntu, a lightweight variant of the popular Ubuntu distribution. I wrote guides to installing and using Lubuntu in the early months of 2012. At the time, the current version of the distro was 11.10. However, Ubuntu and its official variants are on a six-month release cycle, so by now, 11.10 is no longer the new kid on the block. That distinction now falls to Lubuntu 12.04, which was released on April 26.

12.04 doesn’t change much, so you should still be able to follow the previous installation and setup guides without a hitch—of course, you’ll need to use an updated version of the Lubuntu CD image, which you can download here. In the interests of keeping readers up-to-date, however, I’d like to cover some of the changes made in the latest and greatest version:

Lubuntu’s new login manager eliminates the need to type in one’s user name.

  • Lubuntu Software Center has been included in the default installation. The Software Center provides a sleek and easy-to-navigate interface for finding and installing new programs.
  • The login manager has been updated, providing a new look. I wasn’t all that fond of it at first, but I’ve grown to like the new login screen. User names are now displayed on screen, eliminating the need to manually type in the correct user name at each and every login.
  • As is typical for Lubuntu releases, a new theme has been created. Lubuntu still sports its trademark blue, but 12.04 gives the theme a much brighter spin.
  • Finally, although it’s probably dependent on your hardware, 12.04 shuts down much faster for me than 11.10, which tended to hang for about 5-10 seconds during the shutdown sequence.

Stay tuned in the future for some simple things you can do to get up and running with Lubuntu 12.04.

Six things to do after installing Lubuntu

If you’re reading this, I assume you’ve successfully installed Lubuntu onto your hard drive and have gotten to know the user interface. You might be feeling a bit overwhelmed from the installation experience, so the idea of doing even more fiddling around might not appeal to you at this moment. However, there are several helpful things any user should consider after making a fresh install of Lubuntu.

#1: Update

This is probably the most important thing you need to do. Fortunately, it’s also one of the simplest. Go to the menu, hover your mouse over System Tools, and select Update Manager. Update Manager will then check the Ubuntu repositories for updates. If you didn’t update during the install or if any updates have appeared since then, a list of programs will appear. Click “Update” at the bottom of the screen and your computer will do the rest.

By default, Lubuntu will check for updates automatically. If any are available, it will bug you about it, so you probably won’t have to manually update the software unless you want to. It’s good to know how to do it, however, and it’s especially critical to download updates after installing Lubuntu so any bugs can be fixed. Read the rest of this entry