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Revisiting LXDE

Posted: Wed Mar 13, 2019 10:36 pm
by That Random Guy
Hello,

After not using LXDE for a really long time, I found myself getting exposed to it again when I decided to reformat my Kali USB with the latest image.

It then occurred to me that LXDE is still probably one of the nicest desktop environments around, despite my aversion for it and LXQt's ascension.

Although I find LXQt a lot more user-friendly, it still suffers from the one and only thing I personally found lacking in LXDE and that is the LXpanel menu plugin in LXDE or simply, the panel menu as some may consider it.

Quite honestly, that's largely the only issue I ever had with LXDE. The only reason I can settle with it in LXQt is because they included a search utility and they even have their own launcher. So, being one of those people, I just feel a lot more productive when having those options.

LXDE's menu plugin was not only non-user-friendly out of the box but it didn't allow easy modification to make it so. Yes, I could make my text bigger, but that by itself didn't mean it was designed well nor rendered well on all screens.

I think, however, and to its prolonged use/success, LXDE wins the "lightweight" argument and does so because it follows the KISS principle to its core.

That is why I've found justification for using it on my Kali live pen drive. It includes what I need (and then some), it's simple as heck, and it's fast.

TL;DR:
The reason I felt like posting this at all was because I felt that I perhaps criticized LXDE too much in the past. I still wouldn't choose it as my favorite desktop and I still think there's no excuse for a lacking in usability when it comes to GUI components, but that doesn't mean I don't see where it fulfills most people's needs. I think it allowed a lot of basic things you'd see in any "modern" desktop environment and perhaps even had its own quirks. It was by no means perfect, as none are, but whenever I used it, I had what I needed—whether that was a text editor, a terminal, or a file explorer—I had it.

In my opinion, if LXDE had simply modernized that one thing, that one desktop component, there wouldn't have been much justification to move on to LXQt. Obviously, I don't know the real reason why things moved on aside from built-in limitations but I'm not a dev, so I can't give any concrete insight.

If it were me, however, and they did simply make the menu more user-friendly, I wouldn't have minded sticking with LXDE.

So, if there's anything to take from this aside—and not that anyone should care—it's that I didn't hate LXDE per say, I just couldn't use it. :?

Re: Revisiting LXDE

Posted: Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:04 pm
by Coen Naninck
I've followed the LXQT project for a long time but didn't install until Lubuntu first included it as an option. I absolutely hate it.

I've used Lubuntu LXDE for about two years, always uninstalling a lot of the default software.

Eventually I figured out how I can go even more minimal creating my own Ubuntu distro of sorts. I now have a system that boots into command line, I type my username and password and then it starts the display server automatically; no login manager necessary. My desktop only contains a clock and vertical taskbar icons in the bottom-right corner (without titles) showing which programs are running. Almost every program on my system is launched with a keyboard shortcut, the rest with the lxpanel Run popup and the wine programs with PCManFM's Applications menu; I don't use menus. It's lightning fast.

I will probably never stop using LXDE, it's light and highly configurable. And Openbox's rc.xml makes it a breeze to configure the OS in any way you like.

In my eternal quest for even more minimalism I recently removed my laptop's internal SSD and installed my OS on an external drive without any loss of speed, it's just as fast. I can take it with me on the go and plug it in a friend's system, enter their BIOS and boot from the SSD, using their hardware with my SSD. If my computer gets stolen they only have the hardware, not my files. Total freedom.

LXQT also uses more RAM; I for one don't understand why Lubuntu switched to it while it's heavier on system resources. They said it was because LXDE is not actively developed anymore. What else does it need? Last I checked the LXDE blog showed a software update in 2019. Oh well.

Re: Revisiting LXDE

Posted: Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:40 pm
by Rex Bouwense
For what it is worth, I heard an unsubstantiated rumor that the decision to move Lubuntu to LXQT was made because of a few individuals on the team who wanted to work on something new and exciting. Lubuntu in my opinion is no longer one of the "go to" distros for under powered, low Ram, or older computers. In any event LXDE is still alive and well and is supported on over 40 Linux distributions.

Re: Revisiting LXDE

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2020 11:44 am
by That Random Guy
Coen Naninck wrote:
Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:04 pm
I've followed the LXQT project for a long time but didn't install until Lubuntu first included it as an option. I absolutely hate it.

I've used Lubuntu LXDE for about two years, always uninstalling a lot of the default software.

Eventually I figured out how I can go even more minimal creating my own Ubuntu distro of sorts. I now have a system that boots into command line, I type my username and password and then it starts the display server automatically; no login manager necessary. My desktop only contains a clock and vertical taskbar icons in the bottom-right corner (without titles) showing which programs are running. Almost every program on my system is launched with a keyboard shortcut, the rest with the lxpanel Run popup and the wine programs with PCManFM's Applications menu; I don't use menus. It's lightning fast.

I will probably never stop using LXDE, it's light and highly configurable. And Openbox's rc.xml makes it a breeze to configure the OS in any way you like.

In my eternal quest for even more minimalism I recently removed my laptop's internal SSD and installed my OS on an external drive without any loss of speed, it's just as fast. I can take it with me on the go and plug it in a friend's system, enter their BIOS and boot from the SSD, using their hardware with my SSD. If my computer gets stolen they only have the hardware, not my files. Total freedom.

LXQT also uses more RAM; I for one don't understand why Lubuntu switched to it while it's heavier on system resources. They said it was because LXDE is not actively developed anymore. What else does it need? Last I checked the LXDE blog showed a software update in 2019. Oh well.
You and I differ for what we seek out of a "minimal" system. I seek minimalism with utmost usability while it appears you seek utmost minimalism with minimal usability.

I do use menus and it impacts what I do when I'm using a desktop with a GUI... LXDE just never cut it for me for that one item.

Granted I've never tried what you've mentioned regarding configuration, I do understand your sentiments with Lubuntu's decision.

TBH, I have no clue why they moved in the direction they did. LXDE did do everything one would need but perhaps the maintainers have more insight as to why they needed a lift and shift away from LXDE.

I don't understand the folk who say Lubuntu is the goto for minimal/lightweight distro when there's others that are notably better for that, even before the switch....

Since I don't have super old hardware, I'm not that big on Lubuntu's new RAM consumption as some software have started to use up more RAM over time.... like Firefox. It's only a matter of time until using older hardware that can't even hold 2 gigs of RAM just won't be usable.

For the moment, I'm OK with LXQt despite it's minor shortcomings.

Re: Revisiting LXDE

Posted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 12:55 am
by abacus7
Rex Bouwense wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:40 pm
For what it is worth, I heard an unsubstantiated rumor that the decision to move Lubuntu to LXQT was made because of a few individuals on the team who wanted to work on something new and exciting. Lubuntu in my opinion is no longer one of the "go to" distros for under powered, low Ram, or older computers.
Part of that is true. But the main reason seems to be the doiminance of the GTK-3 graphical toolkit designers and their desire for a DE to be featureful and modern with little or no care about resource usage. Lubuntu/LXDE used the GTK-2 toolkit and that kept resource utilization low. The early versions of GTK-3 were okay, but the developers have been adding more and more bloat. PCMAN, the developer of PCMANFM and an apparent principal in Lubuntu/LXDE, saw the writing on the wall. If they were to stay with GTK, LXDE would no longer work as a DE for low-spec computers. He tried developing PCMANFM in a QT version, liked it, and the rest is history.

But getting back to your original comment, after the decision was made to go with LXQT, the development team had a problem: they no longer had a mission statement. Before, it was something like: Create a full-fledged distro/DE for low-spec computers. Now, some of the developers wanted to include the goal of making it a "modern" desktop, not even including low resource usage as a goal.

Those are things I got from reading some of the discussions between the developers. (Any errors are of my own limited memory). I found the discussions on the web maybe 1-2 years ago.

TLDR; It appears one of the goals of going with LXQT was noble: to try to keep resource utilization to a minimum by abandoning the GTK trend of ever bigger resource utilization, and replacing it with something lighter.

The less noble goal was to make a more "modern" DE, which likely plays into the desire of a lot of developers to have something new and challenging to do.

It should be noted that many have thought, well, might as well graduate to xfce. From what I understand, xfce has fully made the shift away from GTK-2 and is adopting the bigger-is-better trend of GTK-3 and 4. That means that distros like Xubuntu may use more resoruces than expected than Lubuntu -LXQT.

KDE, on the other hand, has been making a concerted effort to "tighten up" and lighten up, and users have been saying that it is surprisingly low on resources.

If LXDE goes away, KDE may be a better bet than XFCE. We'll just have to see.

Re: Revisiting LXDE

Posted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 12:36 pm
by drooly
Just want to add that GTK2 is still a maintained GTK version; it exists alongside GTK3.
In other words, there's no pressing reason to move away from it.

Re: Revisiting LXDE

Posted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 7:28 pm
by edward
Why couldn't Lubuntu offer two images, Lubuntu (the original) and Lubuntu/Qt?

Fedora offers both and I believe there is at least one other distro that does as well.

Re: Revisiting LXDE

Posted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:43 pm
by Rex Bouwense
To develop and maintain a version requires manpower. There are some of us that were sorry to see Lubuntu change. However, since the team is small it is very likely that the team knew that it could not maintain both and a choice had to be made. As edward pointed out there are other distros that have continued to support both DE's. Unfortunately the Lubuntu team has chosen not to do this.