Adventures with a Trusy Tahr

I’m not a technical computer user, despite the nerd points I get for using Linux. I’m comfortable doing text computing to fix the occasional problem, but I don’t have an immediate and ready knowledge of text commands for things. As such, I keep it user-friendly. So I use Ubuntu, and since they brought in Long Term Support I tend to stick with those releases so I only have to upgrade my software every couple of years.

My current computer is a Toshiba Sattelite Pro 450, vintage 2007/8. It came with Windows 7, but didn’t run it spectacularly efficiently. And when I tried Unity-flavoured Ubuntu at around the 11.04 or 12.04 stage, that sat on my system like a hippo. So for the last couple of years I’ve been trying to use as lightweight an operating system as possible. I started with Xubuntu, but even that was a little slow. So I tried Lubuntu 12.04 and that was as good as it got.

So support was winding down, and I had a level of wariness about Trusty Tahr: two years on, my laptop may be virtually obsolete. Or so low-rent that I can only run Puppy Linux on it. So it was a real concern that even the latest Lubuntu would run slowly on my venerable machine. As it happens, I needn’t have worried.

The only real problem I encountered was during installation. I tried to go with the “encrypted hard drive” option, but it got upset with the hard drive cache and crashed, having already wiped the disk. Apparently, a small cache is normal now, to increase the speed of hard drives, so this is probably a flaw in Trusty, but I don’t have the expertise to even try to express this in a bug report (I suspect several of my computer programmer friends are probably laughing at my neandertahlish ignorance here…). Furthermore, despite my selecting the UK keyboard layout during installation, Trusty thought I had an American keyboard after installation. It had a ‘UK with winkey shortcuts’ option, but when I set that up, my calculator button brought up the Shutdown menu.

Those shortcomings are niggles. In every other respect, Lubuntu 14.04 is everything I want from an OS. Somehow, it’s even more lightweight than 12.04. Even the demo version (my mum, scared of deleting a Windows system on her netbook that’s full of viruses, browses the internet with an Lubuntu demo on a stick) is faster than Precise’s. This has probably been achieved partially by the removal of the screensaver options (who needs a graphical screensaver anyway?). This is fine. I could never get my chosen screensavers in 12.04 to stick after finishing a session anyway. At least now my choices as to when the screen goes blank actually save in Trusty. Plus, the panel customisation in Lubuntu 14.04 is intuitive and actually works. This is a first for me in 9 years of Linux use. Overall, I have to say “well done” to Canonical and the LXDE foundation.

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~ by Scary Rob on 29 September, 2014.

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