|Company / developer||Lubuntu Community and LXDE Foundation|
|Working state||Active development|
|Source model||Open source|
|Latest stable release||13.10 / 17 October 2013|
|Latest unstable release||13.10 Beta 2  / 25 September 2013|
|Kernel type||Monolithic (Linux)|
|Default user interface||LXDE|
|License||Mainly the GNU GPL / various others|
Lubuntu (// loo-BOON-too) is a lightweight Linux operating system based on Ubuntu but using the LXDE desktop environment in place of Ubuntu's Unity shell and GNOME desktop. LXDE is touted as being "lighter, less resource hungry and more energy-efficient".
Like Xubuntu, Lubuntu is intended to be a low-system-requirement, low-RAM environment for netbooks, mobile devices, and older PCs. Tests show it can use half as much RAM as Xubuntu, making it an attractive choice for installing on older hardware being refurbished for charitable distribution.
The name Lubuntu is a portmanteau of LXDE and Ubuntu. LXDE stands for Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment, while the word Ubuntu means "humanity towards others" in the Zulu and Xhosa languages.
The LXDE desktop was first made available for Ubuntu in October 2008, with the release of Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex. These early versions of Lubuntu, including 8.10, 9.04 and 9.10, were not available as separate ISO image downloads, and could only be installed on Ubuntu as separate lubuntu-desktop packages from the Ubuntu repositories. LXDE can also be retroactively installed in earlier Ubuntu versions.
In February 2009, Mark Shuttleworth invited the LXDE project to become a self-maintained project within the Ubuntu community, with the aim of leading to a dedicated new official Ubuntu derivative to be called Lubuntu.
In March 2009, the Lubuntu project was started on Launchpad by Mario Behling, including an early project logo. The project also established an official Ubuntu wiki project page, that includes listings of applications, packages, and components.
Initial testing in September 2009 by Linux Magazine reviewer Christopher Smart showed that Lubuntu's RAM usage was about half of that of Xubuntu and Ubuntu on a normal installation and desktop use, and two thirds less on live CD use.
On 30 December 2009 the first Alpha 1 "Preview" version ISO for Lubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx was made available for testing, with Alpha 2 following on 24 January 2010. The first Beta was released on 20 March 2010 and the stable version of Lubuntu 10.04 was released on 2 May 2010, four days behind the main Ubuntu release date of 28 April 2010.
Lubuntu 10.04 was not intended to be a long-term support (LTS) release, unlike Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx, and was only going to be supported for 18 months. However, since the infrastructure of Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat (and thus Lubuntu 10.10) dropped support for i586 processors, including VIA C3, AMD K6, and AMD Geode/National Semiconductor CPUs, the release of Lubuntu 10.10 prompted the community to extend support until April 2013 for Lubuntu 10.04, as if it were a long term support version.
In reviewing Lubuntu 10.04 Alpha 1 in January 2010, Joey Sneddon of OMG Ubuntu wrote, "Not having had many preconceptions regarding LXDE/Lubuntu i [sic] found myself presently surprised. It was pleasant to look at, pleasant to use and although I doubt I would switch from GNOME to LXDE, it can give excellent performance to those who would benefit from doing so." In writing about the final 10.10 release, on 10 October 2010 Sneddon termed it "A nimble and easy-to-use desktop".
Writing about Lubuntu 10.04 in May 2010 Damien Oh of Make Tech Easier said: "If you are looking for a lightweight alternative to install in your old PC or netbook, Lubuntu is a great choice. You won’t get any eye candy or special graphical effects, but what you get is fast speed at a low cost. It’s time to put your old PC back to work."
Also reviewing Lubuntu 10.04 in May 2010 Robin Catling of Full Circle magazine said: "The first thing that impresses on running Lubuntu on my modest Compaq Evo laptop (Pentium-M, 512 MB RAM) is the small memory footprint...It beats Karmic on Gnome, and Xubuntu on Xfce, by a mile. The Evo used to take 60 seconds-plus to boot to the desktop, LXDE takes exactly 30. Yet you're not restricted; gtk2 applications are well supported, and Synaptic hooks up to the Ubuntu repositories for package management (so you can pull down Open Office to replace the default Abi-Word without crippling the machine)." Catling did note of the file manager, "The PCManFM file manager needs a little more maturity to compete with Thunar, but it's a competent and robust application that doesn't hog resources like Nautilus or Dolphin."
In June 2010 Jim Lynch reviewed Lubuntu 10.04, saying, "One thing you’ll notice about using the Lubuntu desktop is that it’s fast. Very, very fast. Even on an underpowered machine, Lubuntu should perform very well. It’s one of the best things about this distro; it leaves behind the bloated eye candy that can sometimes bog down GNOME and KDE...I didn’t run into any noticeable problems with Lubuntu. It was very fast and stable, and I didn’t see noticeable bugs or problems. I hate it when this happens since it’s so much more interesting for my readers when I run into one nasty problem or another. Hopefully the next version of Lubuntu will be chock full of horrendous problems and bugs. Just kidding."
In September 2010 lead developer Julien Lavergne announced that the Lubuntu project had not been granted official status as a derivative of Ubuntu as part of the Ubuntu 10.04 release cycle, but that work would continue on this goal for Ubuntu 10.10. Lavergne explained the reasons as "there is still a resource problem on Canonical /Ubuntu infrastructure, which was not resolved during this cycle. Also, they are writing a real process to integrate new member in the Ubuntu family, but it’s still not finished."
Lubuntu 10.10 was released on schedule on 10 October 2010, the same day as Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat, but it was not built with same underlying infrastructure as Ubuntu 10.10. Developer Julien Lavergne said about it, "Lubuntu is actually not part of the Ubuntu family, and not build [sic] with the current Ubuntu infrastructure. This release is considered as a «stable beta», a result that could be a final and stable release if we was [sic] included in the Ubuntu family." Version 10.10 introduced new artwork to the distribution, including new panel and menu backgrounds, a new Openbox theme, new Lubuntu menu logo, splash images and desktop wallpaper. Lubuntu 10.10 was not accepted as an official Ubuntu derivative at this release point due to "a lack of integration with the infrastructure Canonical and Ubuntu" but work is continuing towards that goal.
Developer Julien Lavergne wrote that while 10.10 incorporated many changes over 10.04, not all of the changes were considered improvements. The improvements included a new theme designed by Rafael Laguna, the incorporation of xpad for note taking, Ace-of-Penguins games, LXTask the LXDE task manager in place of the Xfce application, replacing the epdfview PDF reader with Evince, due to a memory leak problem, and removing pyneighborhood. The minuses included a last minute re-write of the installer to integrate it properly, which resulted in some installation instability and the raising of the minimum installation RAM from 180 MB to 256 MB. The other issue was the incorporation of the Ubuntu Update Manager which increased RAM usage by 10 MB. Lubuntu 10.04 had no indication of updates being available, so this was deemed necessary.
The minimum system requirements for Lubuntu 10.10 were described by Mario Behling as "comparable to Pentium II or Celeron systems with a 128 MB RAM configuration, which may yield a slow yet usable system with lubuntu." Chief developer Julien Lavergne stated that the minimum RAM to install Lubuntu 10.10 is 256 MB.
In reviewing Lubuntu 10.10 right after its release in October 2010, Jim Lynch of Eye On Linux said "Lubuntu’s biggest appeal for me is its speed; and it’s no disappointment in that area. Applications load and open quickly, and my overall experience with Lubuntu was quite positive. I detected no stability problems, Lubuntu 10.10 was quite solid and reliable the entire time I used it." Lynch did fault the choice of Synaptic as the package manager: "One of the strange things about Lubuntu is that it only offers Synaptic as its package manager. Xubuntu 10.10, on the other hand, offers the Ubuntu Software Center as well as Synaptic. I’m not sure why the Ubuntu Software Center is missing from Lubuntu; it would make a lot of sense to include it since it is a much easier and more attractive way to manage software. Synaptic gets the job done, but it’s less friendly to new users and can’t match the Ubuntu Software Center in terms of usability and comfort."
By mid-December 2010 Lubuntu had risen to 11th place on DistroWatch's six month list of most popular Linux distributions out of 319 distributions, right behind Puppy Linux and well ahead of Xubuntu which was in 36th place. In reviewing Linux distribution rankings for DistroWatch in early January 2011 for the year 2010 versus 2009, Ladislav Bodnár noted, "Looking through the tables, an interesting thing is the rise of distributions that use the lightweight, but full-featured LXDE desktop or the Openbox window manager. As an example, Lubuntu now comfortably beats Kubuntu in terms of page hits...."
Lubuntu 11.04 was only released as a 32-bit ISO file, but users could install a 64-bit version through the 64-bit Mini ISO and then install the required packages. An unofficial 64-bit ISO of 11.04 was also released by Kendall Weaver of Peppermint OS.
Improvements in Lubuntu 11.04 included replacing Aqualung with Audacious as the default music player, elimination of the hardware abstraction layer, introducing movable desktop icons, Ubuntu font by default, improved menu translations and reorganized menus. The release also introduced a new default theme and artwork designed by Raphael Laguna, known as Ozone, which is partly based on Xubuntu’s default Bluebird theme.
Lubuntu 11.04 can be run with as little as 128 MB of RAM, but requires 256 MB of RAM to install from the graphics installer.
While Lubuntu 11.04 had not completed the process for official status as a member of the Ubuntu family, Mario Behling stated: "The next goals of the project are clear. Apart from constantly improving the distribution, the lubuntu project aims to become an official flavour of Ubuntu."
Mark Shuttleworth remarked to the Lubuntu developers upon the release of 11.04:
|“||Thanks for the great work and progress of Lubuntu in the past 2 years. The fact that you are now 100% in the archive, and using PPA's and other tools effectively, makes it possible for us to consider recognising Lubuntu as an official part of the project. ... From my perspective, I see no problem in providing Lubuntu with the means to book sessions at UDS [Ubuntu Developer Summit], and for us to call attention to Lubuntu in the project release notes. ... Our goal with Ubuntu is to ensure that the archive contains the full richness of free software. LXDE is definitely part of that, and with the other desktop environments making greater demands on PC resources, LXDE has a continued role to play.||”|
In reviewing Lubuntu 11.04 just after its release, Joey Sneddon of OMG Ubuntu commented on its look: "Lubuntu’s 'traditional' interface will be of comfort to those agitated by the interface revolution heralded in GNOME 3 and Ubuntu Unity; it certainly won’t appeal to 'bling' fans! But that’s not to say attention hasn’t been paid to the appearance. The new default theme by Raphael Laguna and the use of the Ubuntu font helps to give the sometimes-basic-feeling OS a distinctly professional look." On the subject of official status Sneddon said, "Lubuntu has long sought official sanction from the Ubuntu Project family to be classed as an official 'derivative' of Ubuntu, earning a place alongside Kubuntu and Xubuntu. With such an accomplished release as Lubuntu 11.04 the hold out on acceptance remains disappointing if expected."
In a review on 12 May 2011 Jim Lynch of Desktop Linux Reviews faulted 11.04 for not using the Ubuntu Software Center, the lack of alternative wallpapers and the use of AbiWord in place of LibreOffice. He did praise Lubuntu, "speed is one of the nice things about Lubuntu; even on a slow or older system it’s usually quite fast. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you cut out the unnecessary eye-candy and bloat."
Also on 12 May 2011 Koen Vervloesem writing in Linux User & Developer criticized the applications bundled with Lubuntu, saying "Some of the software choices are rather odd, however. For instance, Chromium is the default web browser, which is a sensible move for a distro aimed at low-end computers, but the developers also ship Firefox, so Lubuntu shows both web browsers in the Internet menu. Also, the default screenshot program is scrot, but this is a command-line program and it is not shown in the Accessories menu, so not everyone will find it. Another odd choice is that you install your applications with Synaptic: by default Lubuntu doesn’t have the Ubuntu Software Center, which has been the preferred software installation program in Ubuntu for a good few releases now. These are just minor inconveniences, though, since you get access to the full Ubuntu software repositories, meaning you can install your favourite applications in a blink of the eye."
Lubuntu 11.10 was the first version of Lubuntu with official sanction as a member of the Ubuntu family. As part of this status change Lubuntu 11.10 used the latest Ubuntu infrastructure and the ISO files were hosted by Ubuntu. The release did not include many new features as work focused on integration with Ubuntu instead.
In September 2011 it was announced that work on a Lubuntu Software Center was progressing. The Ubuntu Software Center is too resource intensive for Lubuntu and so Lubuntu has been using the less user-friendly Synaptic package manager in recent releases. The development of a new lightweight application manager for Lubuntu is intended to rectify this problem, although users can, of course, install the Ubuntu Software Center using Synaptic.
Changes in Lubuntu 11.10 include that it was built with the Ubuntu official build system using the current packages by default, alternative install and 64-bit ISOs were provided, use of xfce4-power-manager, a new microblog client, pidgin-microblog and a new theme by Rafael Laguna.
The Lubuntu 11.10 ISO file contains a known issue that causes it to fail to load a live CD session on some hardware, instead loading to a command prompt. Users are required to enter
sudo start lxdm at the prompt to run the live CD session.
In a review of Lubuntu 11.10 on PC Mech, writer Rich Menga described it as "simple, rock-solid, reliable, trustworthy". He added "Ubuntu at this point is suffering from major bloat on the interface side of things, and you can even say that about Xubuntu at this point – but not Lubuntu, as it gets back to what a great Linux distro should be."
In a review in Linux User and Developer in November 2011, Russell Barnes praised Lubuntu 11.10 for its low system hardware requirements, for providing an alternative to GNOME and KDE, saying that its "aesthetic appeal and functionality is minimally compromised in its effort to be as sleek and light as possible". Barnes noted that Mark Shuttleworth may have been wise to offer full status to Lubuntu for this release given the "fuss and bluster surrounding Unity". Of the aesthetics he stated "the now trademark pale blue of the desktop is almost hypnotic. It’s incredibly clean, clear and logically laid out – a user experience a million miles away from that of Ubuntu 11.10’s Unity or GNOME Shell counterparts. In comparison there’s an almost cleansing nature about its simplicity." Barnes rated it as 4/5 and concluded "While it’s not as flexible or pretty as [GNOME 2], Lubuntu 11.10 has certainly got everything you need to keep your computer happy and your desktop clean and clutter-free"
Lubuntu 12.04 was released on 26 April 2012. Planning for this release took place at the Ubuntu Developer Summit held in early November 2011. Changes planned at that time for the release include the use of LightDM as the X display manager and Blueman instead of gnome-bluetooth for managing bluetooth devices.
The Lubuntu Software Center was added with this release to provide a more user-friendly graphical interface for managing applications. Synaptic package manager is still installed by default and allows users manage all packages in the system and GDebi allows the installation of downloaded .deb packages.
Lubuntu 12.04 was released with the Linux v3.2.14 Linux kernel and also introduced a large number of bug fixes, particularly in the LX panel and the PCManFM file manager. Also the Ubuntu Backports repository was enabled by default, meaning backport packages were not installed by default, but once installed were automatically upgraded to newer versions.
Lubuntu 12.10 was released on 18 October 2012 and includes a new version of the session manager, with more customization and integration options. It also includes a new version of the PCMan File Manager, with external thumbnail support. This version has new artwork, including a new wallpaper, a new icon set entitled Box and adjusted GTK themes. The notification-daemon has been replaced by xfce4-notifyd on the default installation. Previous versions of Lubuntu did not have a GUI search function and so the Catfish search utility was added to the default installation.
This version of Lubuntu uses the Linux kernel 3.5.5, Python 3.2 and OpenJDK7 as the default Java implementation.
The installation requires a CPU with Physical Address Extensions (PAE), which indicates an Intel Pentium Pro and newer CPU, except most 400 MHz-bus versions of the Pentium M. In the case of PowerPCs, it was tested on a PowerPC G4 running at 867 MHz with 640 MB RAM and will also run on all Intel-based Apple Macs. There is also a version that supports the ARM architecture, but the developers currently only provide installation instructions for one ARM-based device (the Toshiba AC100 netbook).
This release of Lubuntu does not support UEFI Secure Boot, unlike Ubuntu 12.10, which would have allowed it to run on hardware designed for Windows 8. Lubuntu 12.10 could be run on UEFI secure boot hardware by turning off the secure boot feature.
Lubuntu 13.04 was released on 25 April 2013.
This version only incorporated some minor changes over Lubuntu 12.10, including a new version of the PCManFM file manager which incorporates a built-in search utility. Due to this particular file manager update, the Catfish search utility was no longer required and was deleted. Lubuntu 13.04 also introduced some artwork improvements, with new wallpaper offerings, new icons and a new installation slideshow.
The minimum system requirements for Lubuntu 13.04 are a Pentium II or Celeron CPU with PAE support, 128 MB of RAM and at least 2 GB of hard-drive space. This release also still supports PowerPC architecture, requiring a G4 867 MHz processor and 640 MB of RAM minimum.
Julien Lavergne announced in June 2013 that Lubuntu 13.10 will ship with Firefox as its default browser in place of Chromium. This release will also use LightDM for screen locking and include zRam.
In reviewing the beta release in September 2013, Joey Sneddon of OMG Ubuntu said: "Lubuntu has never looked as good as it does in this latest beta." He noted that the new "box" icon theme had been expanded, progress bar colours softened and window controls enlarged along with a sharpened "start button".
This release incorporated only minor changes over 13.04. It included a new version of PCManFM that includes a file search function, which allowed the Catfish desktop search to be removed. There was also new artwork included and bug fixes for gnome-mplayer and the gpicview image viewer.
In reviewing Lubuntu 13.10, Jim Lynch said "Sometimes less can be much, much more when it comes to Linux distributions. Lubuntu 13.10 offers some of the advantages of Ubuntu but in a much more minimalist package."
Tentative plans were announced in April 2013 to make Lubuntu 14.04 a long term support release. In November 2013 it was confirmed that 14.04 will be the first Lubuntu LTS release with five years of support. This release will also replace light-locker with xscreensaver.
Lubuntu includes the following applications:
|Release no longer supported||Release still supported||Future release|
|Version||Code Name||Release date||Supported Until||Remarks|
|8.10||Intrepid Ibex||30 October 2008||April 2010||Available as an optional desktop package only|
|9.04||Jaunty Jackalope||23 April 2009||October 2010||Available as an optional desktop package only|
|9.10||Karmic Koala||26 October 2009||April 2011||Available as an optional desktop package only|
|10.04||Lucid Lynx||2 May 2010||April 2013||First stand-alone version, supported as if it were an LTS to provide longer term support for old CPUs|
|10.10||Maverick Meerkat||10 October 2010||April 2012||Considered to be a "stable beta"|
|11.04||Natty Narwhal||28 April 2011||October 2012|
|11.10||Oneiric Ocelot||13 October 2011||April 2013||First version with an official x86-64 live CD. First version with official sanction as a member of the Ubuntu family.|
|12.04||Precise Pangolin||26 April 2012||October 2013||Ubuntu 12.04 is a long term support release, but Lubuntu 12.04 is not.|
|12.10||Quantal Quetzal||18 October 2012||April 2014||Includes new Box Icon Theme|
|13.04||Raring Ringtail||25 April 2013||December 2013|
|13.10||Saucy Salamander||17 October 2013||June 2014||Chromium will be replaced with Firefox. Current version.|
|14.04||Trusty Tahr||17 April 2014||TBA||Future version|
- Similar Linux distributions
- Linux Mint LXDE - a similar project based on Ubuntu and LXDE.
- Manjaro Linux - a similar project based on Arch Linux with various desktops to choose from, including LXDE.
- Peppermint OS - based on Lubuntu with Linux Mint's utilities.
- Xubuntu - a related distribution, using the XFCE desktop environment.
- Other links
- Computer technology for developing areas
- Free culture movement
- Linux user group
- List of Ubuntu-based distributions
- Open-source software
- Ubuntu Certified Professional
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