Thursday, May 16, 2013

Ubuntu 13.04 vs Kubuntu 13.04 vs Xubuntu 13.04 vs Lubuntu 13.04 vs Ubuntu 13.04 GNOME: A brief comparison

Every Linux novice goes through this phase - confusion to decide which Ubuntu to install when now you've got so many versions of Ubuntu coming out of the stable. The aim of this article is to facilitate taking decision by briefing about what distro has to offer and a comparison of their performance.

I take up here the latest Ubuntu release 13.04, codenamed "Raring Ringtail". Released in April 2013, it comes in five distinct desktop environments

Unity in Ubuntu 13.04
It started as a net-book OS environment and gradually gained favor from Canonical. The much criticized (and rightly so because of its initial instability) desktop environment is now gradually improving in terms of performance and stability. It is kind of a minimalistic desktop with a left hand side strip, accommodating the user's favorite applications, along with a heavy integration to social networks (like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc.) through its unique dash. It is still not as stable as I would like it to be but, I feel, Unity has the potential to challenge the operating system biggies like Windows and Mac OS X. It is intuitive and very easy to use but not as customizable as a KDE. Right now, its use is limited only to Ubuntu. Unity leverages the Gnome 3 ecosystem of applications with Files (forked from Nautilus) as the file manager. My review of Ubuntu 13.04.


From Ubuntu 13.04 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

KDE in Kubuntu 13.04
Possibly the most popular desktop (based on the queries and visits I get everyday), it has gained more prominence in last couple of years with serious deficiencies and instability in  GNOME and Unity. KDE itself had its share of brief instability (in 4.8.* series), but things settled down with the release of 4.9.* series of KDE desktops. With the introduction of KDE 4.10.* series, performance has improved significantly. Looks-wise, it hasn't changed much in last one year and it resembles Windows 7 a lot. Further, KDE has its own ecosystem of applications with Dolphin as the file manager and is self-sufficient in that aspect. With easy usage, increase in stability and efficiency, KDE has found admirers among Linux experts as well. Almost every distro has a KDE version to offer. Ubuntu KDE version is called Kubuntu. Earlier it was owned by Canonical (the corporate funding Ubuntu) and now it is funded by Blue Systems (who funds Linux Mint as well). My review of Kubuntu 13.04.


From Kubuntu 13.04 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
XFCE in Xubuntu 13.04
My favorite desktop environment! XFCE is lightweight and extremely efficient; further, it offers enough customization options for the users to make it look very exceptional and different. XFCE has gained prominence among Linux old timers who used to prefer Gnome 2. XFCE, too, has some ecosystem of applications and has a power file manager Thunar. Functionality-wise, XFCE is equivalent to KDE and GNOME, intuitive and easy to use. My review of Xubuntu 13.04.


From Xubuntu 13.04 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
LXDE in Lubuntu 13.04
A bit less popular than GNOME, Unity, KDE and XFCE but is extremely powerful. It offers plenty of flexibility but requires users to have some prior experience in Linux. For a Linux newbie, at times, LXDE can be a bit difficult challenge than an XFCE, for example. LXDE is lighter than XFCE and works really well on ever on systems with limited resources. If you've a low powered / antiquated PC/laptop, Lubuntu with LXDE desktop environment can work better than other desktops mentioned here. Even on high powered systems, if you follow the "Go Green" motto, LXDE can help you to leave less carbon footprints on the planet. My review of Lubuntu 13.04.

From Lubuntu 13.04 http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

GNOME 3 in Ubuntu 13.04 GNOME
Gnome 2 used to be my favorite desktop couple of years ago. It is still the best desktop environment that I have used till date. But, Gnome developers thought of shaking up the Linux world and made a lot of drastic changes in Gnome 3.* releases. As an user, Gnome 3 became less intuitive, heavy and inefficient for me and I had to give up using Gnome for production purposes. Imagine a desktop without shut down button! But, with GNOME 3.4 onwards, things started looking better. For me, GNOME 3.8 is actually the best release in the GNOME 3 series and it corrects a lot of vices and inefficiencies that existed in their previous releases. Like Unity, GNOME 3.8 too offers very good social network integration and should appeal to today's youth looking for more than an operating system. My review of Ubuntu 13.04 GNOME.

From Ubuntu 13.04 Gnome http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
Ubuntu vs Kubuntu vs Xubuntu vs Lubuntu
With the brief introductions above, I take you through the actual comparison in a tabular format. All RAM & CPU usage given here are based on the results from the same laptop (Asus K54C) and measured under identical conditions.


Parameters Ubuntu 13.04 Kubuntu 13.04 Xubuntu 13.04 Lubuntu 13.04 Ubuntu 13.04 Gnome
Size of ISO 835 MB 1 GB 827 MB 720 MB 1 GB
Base Ubuntu Ubuntu Ubuntu Ubuntu Ubuntu
Desktop Unity with Gnome 3.6 KDE 4.10.2 XFCE 4.10 LXDE Gnome 3.8
Linux kernel 3.8.0 3.8.0 3.8.0 3.8.0 3.8.0
CPU Usage 1-10% 1-10% 1-5% 1-5% 1-10%
RAM usage 320 MB 276 MB 160 MB 103 MB 280 MB
Installation time 30 min. 30 min. 30 min. 30 min. 30 min.
Wifi detection Immediate Immediate Immediate Immediate Immediate
Touchpad detection Automatic Automatic Automatic Automatic Automatic
Office LibreOffice 4.0.2 suite – Calc, Writer, Impress, Draw, Document viewer LibreOffice 4.0.2.2 suite, Okular Document viewer, KAddressbook, Korganizer Abiword, Dictionary, Gnumeric, Orage calendar, Document viewer Abiword, Gnumeric, Document viewer LibreOffice 4.0.2 suite – Base, Calc, Writer, Impress, Draw, Document viewer, Dictionary,, Documents
Internet Firefox 20, Empathy, Transmission, Thunderbird 20, Ubuntu One Ktorrent, Blue Devil, Akregator, KDE IM, KPPP dial up tool, Kmail, Rekonq web browser, Firefox installer, IRC client Firefox 20, Pidgin, Thunderbird, Transmission, XChat IRC Chromium 25, Pidgin, Sylpheed, Transmission Firefox 20, Empathy, Transmission, Evolution, Desktop sharing
Graphics Image viewer, Shotwell, simple scan Krita digital paint, Skanlite image scan, Gwenview image viewer, Kamoso picture retriever, Ksnapshot GIMP 2.8.4, gThumb, Ristretto Image viewer, simple scan Image viewer, mtPaint graphic editor, simple scan Image viewer, Shotwell, simple scan
Sound & Video Rhythmbox music player, Totem movie player 3.6.3, Brasero, music lens, video lens Amarok, Dragon Player, Kmix gmusic browser, parole video player, Xfburn Audacious, Gnome MPlayer, guvcview webcam, Xfburn Rhythmbox music player, Totem movie player 3.6.3, Brasero, Cheese, Sound recorder
Accessories Archive manager, calculator, gedit, terminal, screenshot Kate text editor, Ark archiving tool, Klipper clipboard, Nepomuk backup, Knotes, Kcalc, Kmag screen magnifier Archive manager, Calculator, Leafpad, Notes, Screenshot, Terminal, Catfish file search Archive manager, Calculator, Leafpad, Xpad, LXTerminal Archive manager, calculator, gedit, terminal, screenshot
File Manager Files 3.6.3 Dolphin 2.2 Thunar 1.6.2 PCManFM 1.1.0 Files 3.8.1
Repository Ubuntu Software Center 5.6.0 Moun Package Manager 2.2.0 Ubuntu Software Center 5.6.0 Lubuntu Software Center Ubuntu Software Center 5.6.0

As evident, Lubuntu is the most efficient followed by Xubuntu. Kubuntu and Ubuntu Gnome perform almost equivalent. Though Ubuntu with Unity is less resource efficient but expect all future innovations from Ubuntu stable to first land in Ubuntu with Unity and then gradually roll down (or not at all) to other OSs. For example, photo lens, video lens, etc.

So, if you have a laptop/desktop with at least a dual core processor (AMD or Intel), go for Ubuntu with Unity/Gnome and Kubuntu. If it is first generation dual core or less than dual core, than possibly a Lubuntu or a Xubuntu will give you better results. Also, if you are eco-conscious, then also you may like to use a resource friendly OS like Xubuntu or a Lubuntu. However, if you are heavily into social networking, I would recommend you an Ubuntu with Unity or Ubuntu 13.04 GNOME.

Thus, the inference is that which of these five operating systems are good or bad essentially depends on your requirements and the system you are using. I have used all five of them and they are fantastic in their own rights. 

28 comments:

  1. I think that you should every distro default desktop, not those with Conky and docks. That may be deceiving for people trying Ubuntu for the first time, waiting to get what they see in the pictures and getting another thing instead.

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    1. Good point. I'll change the snapshots in my write up.

      Thanks
      Arindam

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  2. Good job Arindam and I am truly impressed it with the work KDE devs have done, it has less RAM consumption than Unity and Gnome and all them wonderful bling.

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    1. Yup, especially I am very impressed with KDE 4.10.* series. It runs even on my P4 antiquated desktop! And thanks for liking my article :).

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Please correct 'its' when it's a possessive. It's a common mistake we all make with typing behind the speed of thought)

    As for the advice, anyone who doesn't favour living on the bleeding edge would enjoy longer battery time with LXDE or XFCE.

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    1. Thanks Viktor, corrected :). However, on resource usage - have you used KDE 4.10.2? It's giving me equivalent battery time as an LXDE/XFCE distro would give.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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    2. I guess I will wait for the next Mint KDE. Currently I am a bit frustrated by my Lubuntu 13.04: it's kind of a bare bones distro and there are some rough edges. I am past my early Ubuntu days when tweaking was a prerequisite even with that mainstream a distro. I guess since Hardy I have become more and more lazy, to the point that bloated distros (all the Ultimate-based family, Hybride, Cubuntu) are now a way to do a comprehensive fresh install. Haven't yet tested the synaptic option to save software preferences and do a batch install though.

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    3. Lubuntu is a bit bare bone - I agree. You can try out Ultimate Edition 3.5 - it has a combo of Ubuntu to Lubuntu and provides all possibly applications under the Ubuntu hood! It looks a bit ugly and require some polishing from the user but is fun to use. I used it for sometime - it gives option of KDE, Unity, GNOME 3.4, GNOME fallback, Cinnamon, LXDE, XFCE, Openbox, etc.

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
  5. I am a bit unsure of the ram values.
    I have been using linux for quite a few years. Have xubuntu 13.04 on 3 pc's.
    It cannot be 160mb. Its always around 260-300mb.

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    1. Hi Tanmay:

      The RAM usage shoots up once you open any application. These numbers are recorded 5 minutes after boot up with no application except the DE and system monitor running. And all from 32-bit installations. If you are using 64 bit then even at steady state RAM usage will be excess of 250 MB. I know the numbers I have recorded.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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    2. Yes maybe its the 32/64 bit diff.
      I also did not open any app.
      BTW siduction 13.1 64bit is around 190mb.
      I dont not what the hell does xubuntu do.

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    3. Maybe its time i get back my distribution.
      http://sourceforge.net/projects/bitbyter/ ;-)

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    4. Siduction is damn good, only thing I fear is its stability. Otherwise very light on resources.

      Bitbyter OS is your distribution? Cool! Which Ubuntu is it based on? 12.04? May be I'll download a copy for my own use and review as well.

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
  6. Hi, I'm using Ubuntu 12.10 with the classic Gnome Shell on all my home PCs and found it very stable. I'm reluctant to upgrade to 13.04 because of the features they removed from Nautilus. I may try Mint. On a test machine I added the Thunar File Mgr. Nice review. Keep up the good work. Jim from PA.

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    1. Hi Jim:

      The main instability for Ubuntu comes from the Unity DE. Else, with other desktops like XFCE, LXDE, GNOME & KDE, it is quite stable. I agree with you on the stability point - with GNOME fallback, Ubuntu is very stable.

      And thanks for liking my blog :).

      Regards,
      Arindam

      Delete
  7. Your efforts are excellent. I agree with the comment about comparing the standard desktops (without enhancements) so it is like comparing apples with apples rather than an enhanced fruit of some sort. I totally agree with your observations, and used Ubuntu for many years until the change to Unity. Now, I use Mint (although I have Kubuntu downloading to another machine as I write this). Again, thanks for helping to clarify some of the confusion with the multiple OSs.
    Tay

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    1. Thanks for liking my article. Even I rate Mint as an exceptional OS.

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  8. nice article!!!
    after seeing this now i can actually decide which one to use thanks bro!!!

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  9. That's pretty awesome comparison, exactly what I was looking for. I've a one question though. I've fairly old PC with 3GB of Ram and 2.23 GHZ of single core AMD processor should I install LUbuntu or KUbuntu? Which one has better community support?

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  10. My 6 year old Toshiba has run Windows Vista flawlessly but a little choppy, and a million other distros of linux amazingly. I just installed Lubuntu on it and I have never seen it work so fast. This is a good review though, I've used all of them on different computers.

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  11. You sold me on Xubuntu! Thanks I love it, runs much smoother than Ubuntu on my old laptop.

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