Monday, October 22, 2007

Narrowing down the choice in Linux

You know I really wish there was a directory that listed all the available Linux software in one place and reviews so that it would be a little easier to explore what's out there. You could find it in Synaptic (the package installer) after you install it but not so much before you install Linux. Anyway I switched from Kubuntu Linux to Xubuntu Linux last week. Kubuntu has the KDE desktop which is a large complete desktop environment. I doesn't lack for much in the way of installed software and is configurable for a variety of looks. I liked it but thought that it perhaps was too much, too big, like MS Windows. The Gnome desktop environment which comes with Ubuntu is also complete and has a large footprint like KDE. It is a little less configurable than KDE. Xubuntu has the Xfce desktop. It, in comparison to KDE and Gnome is leaner and is less of a resource hog. It is faster, snappier and even less configurable than Gnome. It probably could stand some theme work, but it is OK. I like Xfce because it is a solid design whose elements don't get in the way (less integration). I was a little disappointed with Xubuntu because it was skimpy with the installed applications. They could have taken a page from the Wolvix playbook, small but adequate. I did take the liberty to add the applications I like. Xubuntu is like Ubuntu only it is like driving with a standard shift. It is lacking fully automatic CD mounting and unmounting for one. And another thing is that if you have to edit a file as root you can't just right click it and choose edit as root. You have to use the command line to evoke the editor in root mode. Once you get the work flow down I think it is pretty efficient. Xubuntu does give you a sense of stability. People in software circles talk of polish, look and feel, other subjective things. Xfce is OK for someone who is not overly critical with comparative looks and more into overall resource use. So, for the record, KDE and Gnome both have some amenities that make computing easier. In Xfce you learn to do things a little different, not much. One thing is for certain, Xfce is still growing and developing. It is very impressive that you can do so much with less.

Another thing I did was switch email clients. I am using Thunderbird. I have used Kmail/Kontact, Evolution and a couple of other email programs. Thunderbird does the same things and also lets you insert pictures into the body of the email. That is very handy because pictures as attachments are often not sent in a format that can be read by the reciever. Thunderbird has a number of plug-ins and add-ons to round it out. Pretty good stuff.

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