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Installing XFCE Desktop

Some systems with lower memory configurations will be more responsive without the extra eye candy provided by the Gnome interface. To install XFCE, a lightweight alternative to Gnome:

  • Make sure the Universe repository is enabled (see AddingRepositoriesHowto)

  • Install the package xubuntu-desktop (see SynapticHowto)

  • Once all the packages are successfully installed you may log out
  • Select xfce from the Session option on the log in screen.

Enjoy your snappy new desktop interface! You can always choose Gnome again later through the Session option if you get a memory upgrade or decide you don't mind the boggy interface.

Enabling Auto-mount

Currently XFCE has its own volume-manager so there is no need to use e.g. gnome-volume-manager. To make sure it is enabled:

  • Open Thunar (xfce default file manager)
  • Navigate to Edit - Preferences
  • Click on Advanced Tab
  • Select 'Enable Volume Manager'
  • Optionally, click Configure for additional configuration

This will enable automatic mounting of devices such as USB drives, cdroms and cameras in /media/ and bring up an icon onto your desktop.

Installing LXDE Desktop

Low-end systems with less than 384MB RAM will benefit from a lightweight LXDE desktop provided by the Lubuntu community. The LXDE desktop is supported from Ubuntu 10.04 onwards. To install LXDE,

  • Install the package lubuntu-desktop (see SynapticHowto)

  • Once all the packages are successfully installed you may log out
  • Select Lubuntu from the Session option on the log in screen

Gnumeric instead of Calc

Gnumeric is an accomplished spreadsheet package which loads in seconds and uses very little RAM. It can open files in Microsoft Excel (.XLS) and OpenDocument Spreadsheet (.ODS) formats, and can also save in Microsoft Excel format (saving in OpenDocument Spreadsheet support is still experimental).

To get Gnumeric, install the package named gnumeric. You may also want to install the online help (gnumeric-doc) and various other of the complementary packages.

To save as ODS by default,

  • Edit /usr/lib/gnumeric/1.10.17/plugins/openoffice/plugin.xml (change version if needed)

  • Find the line with <service type="file_saver" overwrite_files="TRUE" id="odf" format_level="auto" file_extension="ods">

  • Add default_saver_priority="100" among them

  • Save and restart all Gnumeric instances.

Abiword instead of Writer

Abiword is an fully-featured word processing package which, like Gnumeric, launches in a flash and uses very little RAM. It can both open and save files in Microsoft Word (.DOC) and OpenDocument Text (.ODT) formats, along with dozens of other formats.

To get Abiword, install the package named abiword. You may also want to install the online help (abiword-help) and various other of the suggested complementary packages.

To save as ODT by default,

  • Edit /usr/share/abiword-2.8/system.profile

  • Add a line with DefaultSaveFormat=".odt" inside SystemDefaults

  • Save and restart all Abiword instances

Epiphany web-browser instead of Firefox

If your system has 192 MB of RAM or less, the Epiphany web browser will probably give significantly better performance than Firefox.

To get Epiphany, simply install the Ubuntu package named epiphany-browser. You may also want to install the epiphany-extensions package, which contains a handful of extensions including an ad-blocker. One thing to be aware of is that there are fewer extensions available for Epiphany than for Firefox, however Epiphany has lots of nice features including tagged bookmarks and support for Avahi to automatically discover certain web pages (such as those offered by modern networked printers).

Midori web-browser

If you are low on RAM, consider installing Midori trough the Midori PPA.

SeaMonkey internet suite instead of Firefox+Thunderbird/Evolution+Xchat

SeaMonkey is a Mozilla project, a fork of Mozilla Suite. It includes browser, mail client and the Chatzilla extension. It's more lightweight than specialized projects. To install it, go to its site and get the latest tarball of it. Unpack it and run ./seamonkey.

Optimizing Firefox

  • The 'adblock' extension can make browsing particularly slow. You might have better results using a separate proxy server like Privoxy instead (available in the repositories)
  • You can try using the mozilla.org build of Firefox instead of Ubuntu's version. For some reason, it is significantly faster. See FirefoxNewVersion.

  • Limit the amount of memory used for caching as described at Simplehelp

Installing Ubuntu on systems with minimal RAM

For an even more bare-bones install, you may wish to refer to the following web pages.


CategoryHardware CategoryInstallation

LowEndSystemSupport (last edited 2011-08-04 08:46:26 by brummer)