Lubuntu alternative sessions


Introduction

It's not so rare for me talk with people with old computers who want to switch to Linux. Lubuntu is the best choice for me but many users are scared because they have to learn to manage a new graphical interface and would like something more familiar, or simply want something more "eye-candy". The purists will not agree with that but there's nothing wrong to having a more pleasant interface or with some more effect, the final result will be the same: have more linux user. But you know, linux is not for all, and use a terminal for a neophyte could be a problem. Why not help then? This is the basic idea of this wiki page: create alternative sessions automatically, leaving the choice of a more comfortable environment to the user. The preliminary script on this page is based on a sample given by Jonathan Marsden and allows you to create a desktop that recalls the settings of OSX. It's just a preliminary script but is fully functional, in the near future other types of sessions will be added with the typical appearance of WindowsXP and Windows7 for those who have problems to migrate.

The new sessions will not modify the stock one.

What you will get

To achieve this first version I used Cairo-Dock, present in the repositories of Lubuntu, and a composite manager, Compton, which is added by a PPA as well as "Faenza" icons. The rest of the script creates a top panel and the necessary configuration files. I have chosen Cairo-Dock over others docks because it offer a good customization level trough a good settings manager GUI. My preferential composite manager was Compton, a fork (and an evolution) of xcompmgr that has the advantage to be lighter than Compiz, just 1.8MB ram. The configuration is simple, too. A composite manager was required to manage the transparency and shadows typical of OSX, things not available without this additional layer. The downside is a certain heaviness for all operations concerning the management of the video. Not many slowdowns actually but certainly present.I have tested this script on different machines and with one in particular: a Dell C400 notebook I bought in 2002 equipped with an Intel Mobile Pentium3 866MHz and 768MB RAM, the video card is an integrated Intel 830 with (max) 20MB of VRAM and the HDD is a 30gb 4200rpm. The resolution of the 12" screen is 1024x768x16bit. With these specifications can not really push hard but I managed to get good results after all, the cpu usage is 2% and the ram used 128MB. Other specification of this old laptop can be found here.

Footprint.png
Lubuntu-OSX session running on a very old notebook @1024x768x16bit

What we need to do next

  • find a good alternative for Cairo-Dock to avoid use of a composite manager to increase speed and save precious ram -- Edit by Fabounet: actually, Cairo-Dock is able to run without a compositor, by using "fake transparency", and uses very few RAM when running with the "cairo" backend instead of the OpenGL one.
  • Alternatively use lxpanel on bottom, or left side as a dock with most common programs (internet, email, music player, office program, file manager, etc...)
  • add additional packages without a PPA, at least as an option
  • make a package
  • you told me!

Know issues

  • Menu cache disappear randomly with Clearlooks theme, seems less frequent wth Lubuntu Theme. Do a logout and then a login on the same session solve the problem.
  • Sometimes Compton create a shadow on top panel
  • xcompmgr is included in the repos, and works to create transparency quite well

Desktop Environment Ideas

Windows XP

  • Use bottom panel with similar colors, and a similar window decoration.
  • Use a slightly different Icon, or add ability to have Text with the menu icon (I do this by using the clock applet which when clicked launches the menu and onmouseover displays "Run Installed Applications" or something similar
  • disable workspaces (so as not to confuse new users)
  • we may need to use thunar-volman unless PcManfmQt starts handling volume management better (mainly for inserted media like DVD)

  • we may need to use a specific Icon set that is similar enough
  • any additional features

Windows 7

  • Use a larger panel for the bottom, and make it semi-transparent, Use a slightly different menu icon (just the circle)
  • disable workspaces (so as not to confuse new users)
  • we may need to use thunar-volman unless PcManfmQt starts handling volume management better (mainly for inserted media like DVD)

  • install xcompmgr by default and enable it to autostart for transparent panel (though fake transparency is still fine for the panel)
  • we may need to use a specific Icon set that is similar enough
  • any additional features

Gnome 2

  • Use a top panel with 2 Menus (this will require migrating the system menu to a separate menu file)
  • add the File system browser set to ~/
  • add a bottom panel with "show desktop" "task manager" "workspace switcher"
  • we may need to use thunar-volman unless PcManfmQt starts handling volume management better (mainly for inserted media like DVD)

  • install xcompmgr by default and make it easy to enable
  • install gnome icons, and humanity icons.
  • any additional features

OSX

  • Put panel on top, and button on left
  • Use a similar openbox theme (circular buttons) not to hard to make, though different colors for buttons is not possible AFAIK
  • use a Dock (lxpanel, or Cairo Dock, or Docky, etc...)
  • we may need to use thunar-volman unless PcManfmQt starts handling volume management better (mainly for inserted media like DVD)

  • install xcompmgr by default and enable it
  • consider adding expo functionality by default
  • not sure if hot corners could be supported as well
  • we may need to use a specific Icon set that is similar enough
  • any additional features

Download

To download the script head to here. You must keep that area open as you need to md5checksum the script once you have it.

Check the download

IconsPage/important.png You need to check if the script is correct or not. Any script could potentially damage your system if something is corrupt. To check it simply open a terminal, move to where you store your downloads (usually ~home/Desktop/Downloads) directory then copy and paste the following:

md5sum create-alternative-session.sh
  • The result of the check must be:

a086c12525a7de39d8108a7c8595f85a

If it is not, you must download the script again.

Run the script

To run the script, from terminal copy and paste the following:

sudo chmod 775 create-alternative-session.sh
sh create-alternative-session.sh

That's all.

Lubuntu alternative sessions (last edited 2013-11-20 20:41:53 by israeldahl)