UbuntuLxdeDesktop

Summary

LXDE is a very lightweight and minimal desktop environment using the openbox window manager, the pcmanfm file manager, and a very select list of default applications. It is compatible with basic freedesktop standards and all needed parts are already packaged in Ubuntu today.

Release Note

Lubuntu has been introduced as a lightweight and minimal desktop environment that works particularly well with older legacy PC hardware and devices with less than 256 megs of Ram.

Rationale

LXDE fulfills a goal that currently Xubuntu, while often suggested, actually fails at, which is working well as a very lightweight desktop environment on "minimal" or very old legacy hardware. This may also be particularly relevant to the introduction of early arm and sub-netbook (such as handheld) devices which may have as little as 64 - 256 megs of ram.

User Stories

Lubuntu is designed to serve several distinct interests:

  • Reuse of old PC equipment where a need for a true lightweight distro exists, while still offering Ubuntu branding and visibility. This is a community driven end user story.
  • Prototype and development of new and lightweight platforms where we need to have something that can be initially made running quickly and easily. This is an internal development story.
  • Use on handheld devices. Apparently lxde is already used in this role for some devices sold in Asia. This is a potential vendor and end user story.

Assumptions

All packages that are needed for a lubuntu desktop either already are or will shortly be available in the archive. Any ui work needed will be minimal.

Design

Although we are not explicitly spinning a lubuntu distribution (that is, a live cd or usb) at this moment, the goal is to make it possible and easy for someone to do so or otherwise create a lubuntu root image. Hence, an explicit ubuntu-lxde seeding meta package will be created, which brings in lxde itself, along with a selection of packages that match the environment, and any ubuntu-izing artwork or default configurations that are chosen. This gives the community a baseline to spin an effective lightweight distro if the community wishes to do so.

The following additional applications are suggested for addition to a ubuntu-lxde seed: A volume control/mixer setting application for "settings". A number of "Recommended" applications (can be stripped out with --no-install-recommends) would also be offered through this seed, including abiword and gnumerics for "Office" applications. The CUPS printer setup and support would be added to the seed, with the CUPS admin available under the "Settings" menu. "connman" will likely be the network/wifi settings agent, and the newer gnome power settings added for battery/power display. HAL will be added as a "recommended" packages (but not required, so it can be stripped out with "--no-install-recommends") as lxde supports desktop auto-mounting removable media when HAL is present. The update manager and "Add/Remove" applications will also be added to complete lxde as an Ubuntu based desktop environment.

Please note at this time no specific or default media applications are being recommended for this seed. This will happen by community preference and is also not needed for some user stories / use cases. Similarly, there are no default "games" being recommended initially. Other default application choices may be added based on evaluation of other lxde distros.

Implementation

  • A new ubuntu-lxde seed/meta-package will be created that can be used to generate a base "lubuntu" desktop or root images with root from scratch / livecd creation scripts. This seed will is specified based on needs outlined in the Lubuntu community and the goal of a very lightweight distro.
  • conman will be packaged for the ubuntu archive, or alternately wicd selected, for a lightweight connection manager.
  • Selection of human GTK & Ubuntu-Look for LXDE and LXDE apps as part of meta package install. There is a community team to help support artwork.

Community

There already is an active Lubuntu community team in Launchpad to support a LXDE targeted distribution.

Effort

  • It is estimated perhaps a week or two would be required to setup a seed for this, including tracking down / deciding on base applications.
  • Maybe a few days design (art) team & usability to review with human GTK/Icon theme for "Ubuntu-ness" consistency.

  • Maybe a week to get a variant of conman updated and to work in place of network manager for user level wifi/network support.
  • Once a baseline seed and theme have been established, the community is anticipated to continue any further efforts.

UI Changes

The Human GTK and icon themes will be installed and enabled for the lxde desktop environment. We will not however use the top/bottom panel approach of the other -buntu's since lxde is targeted at lower resolution devices where this loss in screen space would be undesirable.

GDM Configure may need to be modified to support a x600/x575 line vertical resolution. This should be needed for unr spin already as well.

Community efforts will fill in other missing ui customization for Ubuntu and for low resolution devices.

The "settings" menu will be expanded to include a mixer and printer configuration.

Code Changes

None anticipated as part of this spec?

Test/Demo Plan

Unresolved issues

  • Minimal resolution of a LXDE device may be 800x600. GDM configuration GUI is not usable at this resolution.
  • This spec depends on connman spec.

BOF Notes

Upstream site: http://www.lxde.org/

* What is LXDE?

  • LXDE is a very light desktop environment widely used in Asia with a large user community, runs fast and currently fits in 64MB memory.
  • It's themable, adjustable, has a light filemanager (although horrible usability, maybe something worth investigating)

Could possibly leverage the usability team in order to ready lxde for ubuntu

* current gnome infrastructure (network manager, gnome-keyring, etc): are there any light replacements ?

  • xfce just uses the existing gnome tools, runs gnome-settings-daemon and gconf
  • there is a Soc project for writing a lightweight NM frontend in its early stages
  • there is also a gconf like system in the works for lxde
  • .xsession or similar file may be required to launch network manager, update manager, etc since LXDE doesn't load xdg startup apps

* What would it take to integrate it into Ubuntu?

  • Connman was mentioned for Network management potentially
    • wicd as well
  • Ubuntu'ish theming
  • Update Manager
  • See if the configuration menu has everything the user expects
  • Launchpad Integration (ie, translate this application/desktop environment)
  • About Lubuntu(whatever) menu entry
  • The filemanager (pcmanfm) needs usability review and likely having to be cut down on options in the UI
  • Gnome Power manager will be massively cut down in the next release
  • test lxde in context with the 2D UNR launcher
  • we will not build an image but a metapackage (i.e. ubuntu-lxde or ubuntu-light) should be created, so users can for example use https://wiki.ubuntu.com/ARM/RootfsFromScratch to roll an arm rootfs

  • lxrandr is the display management tool used in lxde
  • examine the already existing ubuntu based lxde images out there
  • check if lxde tools work properly on 1024x576

ACTION items

  • lxde testing: ogra, Dan Martin (ARM)
  • missing packages: NCommander
  • highvoltage will give an ubuntu'ish theme a bash (just switching to the Human GTK and icon theme already makes a *massive* difference)


CategorySpec

Specs/UbuntuLxdeDesktop (last edited 2009-06-27 14:42:15 by dyfet)