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Xubuntu, pronounced "ZOO-bun-tu", is a solid windows manager for X, and runs incredibly snappy on older hardware with all the eye-candy you could want. Basically, Xubuntu is the XFCE version of Ubuntu, the most promising Linux distribution. I made the install this morning, and I am impressed! Check out my screenshot to see the 1024x768 version:

Installing Xubuntu is easy, so long as you are running Ubuntu Breezy 5.10. You will not find the Xubuntu packages in any earlier respository other than Breezy. Simply pull up a terminal and type:

aaron@pthree: ~$ sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

Of course, installing KDE and Gnome are similar replacing "xubuntu" in the expression above with either "kde" or "gnome". You can then have the 3 most popular windows managers, Gnome, KDE and XFCE. Unfortuantely, KDE brings with it large memory consumtion, with Gnome taking second. XFCE, modeled after the CDE environment for UNIX systems of The Day, can run on as little as 16MB of RAM! Of course, 32MB would be recommended.

I am running this server on older hardware. It's a Pentium II at 450Mhz with 128MB of RAM and a 10GB hard drive. Because its main task is to be just a web server, plus a couple other minor functions (like taking screenshots), I really don't pay attention to speed, and I don't spent a lot of time on the machine. However, when I am on, Gnome seems to have too much overhead, as synaptic, Firefox and Gimp take a bit to load. Not the case the XFCE. Everything is snappy as if I were running a Pentium III at 3Ghz with 1GB of RAM. It's amazing!

Needless to say, I am happy. I might actually spend more time on this machine rather than my laptop now that XFCE is installed. It brings a pleasant atmosphere back, rather than waiting for applications to load. If you don't have Xubuntu installed, and you have older hardware, I would highly recommend giving it a try. You may find yourself spending more time on the computer than before.

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