Over the years, Lubuntu and Xubuntu have been two popular flavors that have provided an alternative to a lot of folks who have preferred something other than vanilla Ubuntu with the Unity desktop. Lubuntu and Xubuntu have been the choice of Linux enthusiasts and users who would rather have a lean or lightweight Linux distro or one that will provide the best performance on an old desktop or laptop. But how do these two distros compare, which one would I recommend and why? Let’s read along as I weigh the strengths and weaknesses of these two awesome Ubuntu flavors.
Xubuntu Vs. Lubuntu
Most of these two distros are put in the same brackets because there is a lot of commonness between them. They are always recommended when one is looking for a lightweight Linux desktop OS. When you have a really old PC and you are looking for a replacement for something like Windows XP to bring the life back to it, or even if you want to devote all of your “new” PC's resources and power to your software and tasks, these two distros are always recommended. This is because these two specialize in taking your PCs resources to the barest minimum. Also, these two distros are official Ubuntu flavors. That is why they pack all you’d expect from vanilla Ubuntu with Unity minus the Unity desktop plus either XFCE or LxQT(LXDE). This means they both provide the stability and security of Ubuntu.
When to choose either of them?
Lubuntu for sheer leanness
Lubuntu achieves shear leanness by virtue of two things; one being the choice of the LxQt(LxDE) desktop environment. LxQt(LXDE) is a desktop environment that seeks to do one thing and do it well; run on low spec systems. This means it makes a lot of compromises in ease of use and aesthetics. You are provided with the barest of bones of a desktop meaning all the tweaks and features that you would expect on a modern computer desktop are all but completely missing. You are provided with a barebone desktop reminiscent of Windows XP with a similar menu XP-like menu to access your installed applications.
The desktop is also simple and allows for you to place icons. It also supports a right-click menu and that’s about it. There are no desktop effects or animations, there is little you can do in terms of customizations and what you get is well what you get. The second reason Lubuntu achieves leanness is the choice of applications and software that come packed with this particular distro. Instead of LibreOffice or something similar, you are provided with Gnumeric and Abiword as replacements. There are just a handful of applications provided by default. These are the kind of choices Lubuntu makes to provide you with the barest minimum a distro can. It will run perfectly on a PC with as low as 256MB of RAM.
Xubuntu for the better performance and modernity
Xubuntu achieves leanness but without compromising or performance or aesthetics. Xubuntu provides a desktop with a lot of bells and whistles while still striving not to impact too much on your PC system’s resources.
Unlike Lubuntu, Xubuntu comes with the sort of refinement you would expect from a modern desktop. It does not compromise on aesthetics or features in order to provide the lean desktop it seeks. Xubuntu ships with the XFCE desktop. XFCE is not as bare as LxQT(LXDE) but it is way lighter when compared to GNOME, Unity or KDE. Xubuntu does not skimp on software either. It comes with LibreOffice and not any washed down alternative. It requires at least 512MB of RAM.
So there you have it. If you are looking for the most lightweight, Lubuntu is the choice to go. It uses the least system resources and comes with the fewest installed applications, unlike Xubuntu which packs some punch in polish and features meaning a lot more resource use. Xubuntu is relatively lightweight, as in, it's lighter than Ubuntu and Kubuntu but Lubuntu is actually lightweight. If you prefer some polish or can spare little more system resources, then go with Xubuntu. Xubuntu is more elegant and better looking, and it comes with more features and is more user-friendly than Lubuntu which looks outdated and bare allowing very minimal customization. Unless you have a very old PC with some pretty old specification.
I recommend that you go with Xubuntu. Xubuntu because of the polish, user-friendliness and the customizations. Have you tried either of these distros? Why and what was your experience? Still not convinced on which way to go? Just take them for a spin on live USBs and decide for yourself.Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.