Thursday, 15 September 2016

An Everyday Linux User Review Of Linux Lite 3.0

Posted by Gary Newell  |  at  19:29 2 comments

Introduction

I am going to admit now that I had previously thought about reviewing Linux Lite 3.0 when it first came out but there was a reason I didn't which I will come to later.

I changed my mind however when so many people recommended it as a distribution for the Everyday Linux User.

Ok so first things first, how does the Linux Lite website describe Linux Lite?

Linux Lite is based on the Ubuntu LTS series of releases. LTS stands for Long Term Support, this means each release has a support period of 5 years. This is a great basis for stability, but not only that, you only need to install once every 5 years. During that period your system will continue to receive updates.
Linux Lite is fully functional out of the box, this means that you won't have to install extra software when you boot your computer for the first time.

We believe that a computer should be ready to use straight away on the first boot after a new install.

You're going to need this kind of functionality on a daily basis when you are using your computer so we take the hassle out of trying to find the right software from the start.

I have tried Linux Lite on a few occasions and I think it has been a really decent distribution over the years.

Whilst Linux Lite is still good there are some things holding it back which I will fill you in on shortly.

How To Get Linux Lite
























You can download Linux Lite from https://www.linuxliteos.com/download.html.

You can burn the image to a DVD using traditional disc burning software such as Brasero or you can create a USB drive using either WIN32 disk imager for Windows or the dd command in Linux.

There is a video on the download page which shows you how to create the necessary media.

If you would prefer to you can buy a copy of Linux Lite on DVD or USB by clicking here.

How To Boot Into Linux Lite


So here is the deal. It is 2016. The EFI bootloader has been around for a long time now and it isn't going away any time soon.

Linux Lite 3.0 still does not ship with the ability to boot into an EFI system therefore you have to switch to legacy mode in order to boot into the DVD or USB drive.

If you are not sure how to do this then this guide may help you understand your UEFI and BIOS boot settings.

I think the lack of EFI is a major drawback for anybody thinking of using Linux Lite.

There is a guide that shows how to install Linux Lite alongside Windows in UEFI mode but it requires you booting into a Ubuntu Live disc along the way.

I actually installed Linux Lite alongside Windows but I didn't follow that guide. I just decided that it is easier to press the F12 button on my computer every time I boot into Windows. (which isn't that often).

Installation

You can install Linux Lite by clicking on the installation icon on the desktop.

The actual procedure is fairly straight forward especially if you are installing it on its own with no other system as a dual boot.

The first thing you need to do is choose the installation language.






You are then given the opportunity to connect to a network (unless you are already connected using an ethernet connection).





You are given the chance to download updates (but only if you connected to the internet in the previous step).

You can also choose to install third party software.



The next step asks where you want to install Linux Lite.

It is unlikely you will see the option to boot alongside another operating system if you are using a modern computer with an EFI boot loader. You would need to follow the guide linked to earlier to do this.


Almost done. Select where you live on the map to set up the calendar and clock.

Choose the keyboard layout. 
Create a user by filling in your name, username and password.
Then patiently wait for the files to copy across and the system to install.

First Impressions

Linux Lite uses the excellent XFCE desktop which is both lightweight and highly customisable.

The system boots to a bright coloured background (which is nice because other systems play it too safe).

There is a welcome screen which has some important buttons on it which I will get to in a short while.

Connect To The Internet

Before you can do anything useful you need to connect to the internet.

You can do this by clicking on the network icon in the bottom right corner.

A list of networks will appear and after you have entered the network key you will be able to use the internet.

Update The System

The welcome screen as mentioned earlier has some important buttons.

The first one you should press is "Install Updates and Drivers". Actually it doesn't matter which of the buttons you press under the start here section as they all take you to the same page.

Click the "Install Updates" button. This will download the latest updates and you will be presented a list as follows:

Simply click the update button to install them.

When you have finished it is worth clicking the install drivers button to see if there are any better drivers for your hardware than the defaults that have already been installed.

Finally click on the "Lite Software" button as it contains a list of applications that you may want to install.

If you want to play MP3 audio then you should install the "Restricted Extras" package.

Interestingly I had clicked the install multimedia codecs as part of the installer and I could play MP3 audio through VLC which comes as part of Linux Lite but when I installed other audio packages like Quod Libet and Silverjuke I had issues.

Installing the "Restricted Extras" fixed the issue.

Steam

In the list of available packages you may have noticed Steam and I have found this hit and miss from one distribution to another and from one machine to another.

In this case Steam worked perfectly.

Whilst I have an issue with the Steam installer for Linux I have to say that I am impressed with the games library that is now available.

The screenshot above is from "The Pirate: Carribean Hunt" which is a free download and it is a fun game.

Applications

The website for Linux Lite stated that it comes with everything you need to get started and that you won't need to install extra software.

This statement mainly depends on what you need your computer to do. You will almost certainly need to install the "Restricted Extras" package in order to play MP3 audio.

Talking of audio, there isn't a dedicated audio package installed. You have to use VLC to play music files.

The Lite Install package provides the option to install Clementine and Spotify and I would recommend both of these.

Linux Lite does come with the LibreOffice package, GIMP for image editing, the VLC media player for watching videos, Thunderbird for email, the Firefox web browser, an image viewer and the whole raft of system tools that you would expect.

Installing Software

For the obvious stuff such as Skype, Spotify, Dropbox, Chromium, PlayOnLinux and Kodi you can use the Lite Software tool.

For everything else there is Synaptic, which is a perfectly usable graphical package manager.

Lite Tweaks



Linux Lite has a nice tool for doing basic maintenance such as choosing the default web browser, removing unused packages, regaining disk space by clearing caches and changing the hostname.

Customising Linux Lite

Linux Lite uses the XFCE desktop and so you can customise it any which way you so choose.

I have one guide here showing some basic customisations for XFCE. For a more complete guide to customising XFCE click this link.


What Linux Lite brings to the table is some stunning visuals. Check out the wallpaper above.


Hardware Support

I tried Linux Lite with my printer and it worked perfectly. It can connect via bluetooth to my phone and it can handle my Sony Walkman.

I could also connect to the WD MyCloud device.

Issues

Linux Lite is stable. I haven't seen any errors since I have started using it except when I tried playing MP3 audio in SilverJuke before installing the "Restricted Extras" package.

Summary

Lets start with the positives because there are many. The first thing is that Linux Lite works and it is easy to use.

You can install most of the major packages using a simple tool and you can install updates and drivers quite easily.

There is a major downside and that is the lack of EFI support. I could understand this if Linux Lite was targeting older hardware but it comes in a 64-bit version and I would imagine most 64-bit computers are EFI enabled.

The target audience for Linux Lite is clearly the average computer user but it is at an immediate disadvantage to Linux Mint which is easier to install and just as easy to use.

I will leave it on a positive though. The artwork within Linux Lite is excellent with really good theming and hey, Steam works.

Thanks for reading.

About the Author

Gary Newell started the Everyday Linux User blog in 2010 and has written reviews on dozens of different Linux based operating systems. He has also written a number of tutorials.

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2 comments:

  1. A cautionary statement. When dual booting with Linux Lite, always make Linux Lite the last OS that is installed. Failure to do this will mess up the MBR and you will have issues getting the other OS to load, especially if it is another Linux distro.

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  2. Thanks for the review. I'm not a Linux geek (I have Linux Mint w/ Cinnamon on an old laptop as my coffee shop machine) but I'm on the lookout for distros to revive old hardware and make it look and work well. (I tend to get a lot of "How do I replace Win 98? Win 8 and 10 suck!!") So I'll be slapping this on a flash drive and seeing what I can boot with this.

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