Lubuntu: fast and lean Linux distribution

Lubuntu is an Ubuntu spin-off that is particularly lean and fast. Although the operating system has the reputation of being particularly suitable for old computers, the newer versions are great for a more modern desktop environment.

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What is Lubuntu?

Lubuntu is a derivative, i.e. a spin-off of the popular Linux distribution Ubuntu. The name Lubuntu stands for “Lightweight Ubuntu” and gives a first indication of what the system is primarily intended for. Even computers with poor performance and old hardware can upgrade to a Lubuntu operating system that offers many possibilities with only low demands. Lubuntu uses LXQt as a desktop environment in order to be able to make as few demands as possible.

The origins of Lubuntu go back to 2009, when Mario Behling started the minimalist system as a community project in March of that year. The first version could be tested from September 2009 as a live CD, but could not be installed. Installations were possible the following year. Initially, however, this option was unofficial, since the status as a genuine LTS version had not yet been granted at that time. This step was taken in 2013 with version 11.10, which was shipped as a 64-bit live CD and counts as the first official member of the Ubuntu family. Ever since, new versions and updates have followed every six months, being released at the same time as Ubuntu.

What are Lubuntu’s system requirements?

Lubuntu lives up to its self-proclaimed reputation as a lightweight by way of its hardware requirements. Even comparatively weak or old computers are often compatible with Lubuntu. Exactly what the requirements are depends on the version. Over time, requirements have become a bit more demanding, but compared to most other Linux distributions, they are still very manageable. The minimum requirements are a 700 MHz single processor, 512 MB of RAM, and 5 GB of memory. Since version 19.04, which was released on April 18, 2019, 32-bit systems are no longer supported.

What programs does the system offer?

Besides the mentioned desktop environment LXQt, Lubuntu offers some pre-installed programs that run without problems and ensure that even an older, weaker computer can still be used for daily work. These include the office tools Featherpad as well as LibreOffice Writer and Calc, the scan program Skanlite, Mozilla Firefox as the default browser, the VLC player for media playback, NetworkManager, and some other applications for daily needs. Many other programs can be additionally installed.

What defines Lubuntu?

Lubuntu is based on Ubuntu. Both distributions not only release simultaneously, but also share software resources. However, the biggest differences between them are the graphical user interface and the low hardware requirements. The user interface LXQt, which Lubuntu uses, is very clean and minimalistic. It’s therefore resource-saving and ensures that all applications run quickly and without delays, even on old computers. Due to its tidy structure, even new users quickly find their way around. In turn, the slim system forgoes some graphic effects.

The low hardware requirements ensure that Lubuntu gets the maximum out of weaker computers and gives slower notebooks or older desktop PCs a new lease on life. Simple activities are still or again feasible. As long as the appropriate applications are installed, Lubuntu runs very reliably.

The advantages and disadvantages of the Ubuntu derivative

When considering whether Lubuntu is the right operating system for your purposes, it’s worth taking a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the Linux distribution.

Advantages of Lubuntu

  • Low requirements: Lubuntu doesn’t have any major requirements and can run on numerous different computers. Nevertheless, the system is very fast and reliable.
  • Free: You don’t have to pay for Lubuntu. The system is not only free, but also comes without advertising.
  • Software: In many cases, this also applies to the software. There are numerous applications for Lubuntu that are not only free, but actually make working with the system much easier. Office work, media consumption, or even Internet access are possible with almost any computer. In addition to the pre-installed programs, there are numerous other compatible applications.
  • User-friendly: Especially since Lubuntu relies on LXQt, users easily find their way around and get an appealing interface to boot. Once the system is set up, it’s very intuitive to use.
  • Support: Just like Ubuntu or Xubuntu, Lubuntu is regularly updated. This means that not only are bugs fixed quickly, but support for all applications is also always up to date.

Disadvantages of Lubuntu

  • Limitations: Not all programs are able to run on Lubuntu. Especially bigger applications can push the operating system to its limits. Windows software often only works in conjunction with additional help.
  • Optics: Although Lubuntu has become more aesthetically appealing, the system is primarily designed for fast and energy-efficient use. Effects and the like are therefore found in vain.
  • Set up: For experienced Ubuntu users the setup of the derivative isn’t a problem, as they are almost identical. But if you’re switching from Windows or Mac to Linux then it quickly becomes clear that a little know-how would be helpful. If you’re looking for a quick and seamless transition, then this may pose a little disadvantage.

Who is Lubuntu suitable for?

Lubuntu has the reputation of being an operating system for old and underperforming computers. The derivative definitely lives up to this reputation. Due to the low requirements, the system acts as a lifesaver for old notebooks or desktop PCs that would otherwise no longer be usable. However, newer versions of Lubuntu are no longer only suitable as an operating system for old models. With its modern desktop environment, the Ubuntu descendant is also worth considering for newer computers due to its efficiency and speed. However, if you want to prioritize performance and use many different applications, there are more suitable Linux server distributions out there.


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