Tag Archives: lxde

Today’s Featured Distribution – Sidux

Sidux is a Linux distribution based on Debian’s unstable branch, known as “sid”, along with many free and open source applications.

Sidux is a very well documented and supported distribution complete with an excellent manual and wiki. It’s a rolling release, meaning the entire installation is updated via a single command. This eliminates the need to continuously reinstall newer versions as they are released.

I installed Sidux on my system using LXDE/Openbox desktop environment and windows manager. However, Sidux can be run with your favorite desktop environment… Gnome, KDE, Xfce, etc. I found it to be extremely stable and well supported.

The package management is accomplished using the rock solid legendary Debian Advanced Package Tool (apt). You can’t go wrong here, folks. You get a top notch Linux distribution with the solidity of Debian and the additional features and apps from the Sidux maintainers. A simple command (dist-upgrade) upgrades your entire system painlessly.

Don’t confuse the name “unstable branch” with instability in the operating system. Debian’s “unstable branch” is so named because it has yet to be subjected to the rigorous testing for stability and conflicts that the main branch of Debian has been subjected to. Sidux may be based on the unstable “sid” branch of Debian, but it is enhanced with Sidux packages and thoroughly tested before release. I’ve never experienced even a small blip in operation with Sidux. It’s perfectly capable and suited to be your main operating system for home or business. Give it a shot when you get a chance.

Until next time…

~Eric

An Alternative Desktop for Linux – LXDE

LXDE is lean and mean compared to Gnome or KDE, but it’s also FAST and uses resources efficiently.

I run LXDE in my Sidux installation. With Openbox as its windows manager, it is a great desktop environment. Fair warning though, as Juliet Kemp from Linux Planet* found out in her testing of it, LXDE is not graphically conducive to customization. Most customizations, as with Xfce, are going to require editing configuration files. This is something that doesn’t always appeal to GUI penguins (users who prefer graphical environments).

Ms. Kemp says:

Strictly speaking LXDE isn’t a window manager but a desktop environment, using Openbox as a window manager (alternatively you can swap in other window managers). Openbox allows you to show the LXDE desktop menu on right-click (right-click on the desktop to edit this option). Unfortunately, once I turned this on, I couldn’t find an option in the Openbox configuration editor to turn it back off! Still, it’s a useful enough menu. It would be more useful, though, if it were easier to add applications to the Applications sub-menu. It seems that the only way to do this is either to edit /usr/share/lxde/openbox/menu.xml, or to copy that file somewhere in your home directory, edit it there, and change the reference in ~/.config/openbox/lxde-rc.xml. This isn’t that hard for experienced Linux users, but it’s not exactly user-friendly, and still less so as I had to dig around to find that out.

As you can see from her last sentence in that paragraph, she gives folks pretty much the same warning as I did above. LXDE is not really for the new Linux Explorer. You might need a wee bit of Linux experience under your belt or you’ll find it a bit frustrating and too minimalistic for your comfort.

Checking out the default apps on the bottom bar, I found that the file browser, PCMan, started up fast, and has a useful left-hand pane showing the filesystem.

PCMan is actually a very cool file manager application. It’s similar to Thunar, but has some advantages that Thunar does not possess… tabs, for one.

LXDE is certainly extremely fast, and according to its own CPU monitor, uses very little CPU. However, its configurability is less convincing – some options don’t seem to work properly, and others require you to directly edit an XML file, which is not something I really expect from a modern graphical desktop environment. (Having said that, the fact that the config files are easily human-readable is definitely a plus point!).

Again, not really for folks with heavy preferences for graphical tweaking. LXDE does require some editing (text and XML) to achieve certain configurations and customizations. One annoyance that I found right off was that if you allow PCMan to manage the desktop, it will change and display your wallpaper as you want, but it will NOT let you remove the desktop icons. I don’t like icons on my desktop, so I had to forego allowing PCMan to manage my desktop in LXDE. Instead, I ended up using the image application Feh to do that chore.

Even with an odd inconvenience or two, LXDE is still a righteous desktop environment. Give it a shot when you get a chance.

Have fun while exploring your Linux world!

Until next time, folks…

~Eric

*Ms. Kemp’s entire article at Linux Planet can be read by clicking HERE.


KDE4… Pretty? Pretty Ugly? Just Plain Ugly?

In 2008, KDE developers released the much awaited total rework of the K Desktop Experience… version 4.

It didn’t start showing up in the mainline Linux distros’ repos until a few months later with version 4.2. My first experience with it was with my install of Slackware 13 x86_64 back in mid-’09. It was an ugly first experience. I had continual issues with instability and random desktop errors using 4.2.

Having been a KDE fan for quite a few years already, I was sorely disappointed, to say the least. It was just not usable on my system. Slackware is my primary operating system, folks. I couldn’t continue like that. I ended up nuking the KDE completely and running Slackware with Xfce. I never looked back. I was an Xfce fan already, anyway. I used it in my Zenwalk Linux installation.

A while later, after reading a few better reviews regarding KDE 4.3, I decided to install it in a new Mandriva Free installation that I was putting on my system a few weeks back. Hmm… I did notice some improvement, but the same ol’ instability bugs started jumping up again. I ended up trashing the KDE in Mandriva and using LXDE/Openbox. Sad.

I saw this article at Linux Journal today and thought I’d post a bit about my own KDE experiences. Well, now I have… and now you know why I’ve had to exorcise this demon from all my installations.

Until next time, folks…

~Eric