Sick of GNOME, Snap and Flatpak? You might like Linux Lite, but beware rough edges
6.4 is based on Ubuntu 22.04.2 with a lot of the questionable aspects fixed
Linux Lite version 6.4 is the latest point release from this Ubuntu remix aimed at new migrants from Windows.
The updates in this version are fairly modest. For instance, although it's based on Ubuntu 22.04.2, the latest point release of the current Long Term Support version, it doesn't include that version's HWE (Hardware Enablement) kernel. As we noted when we looked at the new Ubuntu Real Time edition, the upstream distro uses kernel 5.19, but Linux Lite 6.4 sticks with the original "Jammy Jellyfish" kernel, 5.15. That's a legitimate choice: kernel 5.15 is a LTS kernel and it's still getting updated, whereas 5.19 reached its end of life back in October.
We looked at Linux Lite 6.0 when it came out and again at the first update, version 6.2. Along with the older kernel, it also has Xfce 4.16 – in some ways, the project hews closer to its parent distro than, say, Linux Mint, the next point release of which will have Xfce 4.18.
Linux Lite is a simple friendly distro, but we're baffled why the installed distro has a big bold INSTALL NOW button front-and-center on the Welcome screen
This version is a small update. Many of the changes are updates to the bundled Lite apps, which are handy little tools for tweaking the system config and gathering troubleshooting info. For instance, the Lite System Report tool now includes some systemd diagnostics. Version 6.4 adds support for WebP thumbnails to the Thunar file manager. Many of the bundled apps have been updated, including new versions of Thunderbird, LibreOffice, and Google Chrome.
- The return of the classic Flying Toasters screensaver
- Double BSD birthday bash beckons – or triple, if you count MidnightBSD 3.0
- Fancy trying the granddaddy of Windows NT for free? Now's your chance
- Ubuntu 23.04 'Lunar Lobster' beta is here in all its glitchy glory
Otherwise, it's not radically different from before, and our comments from the previous releases stand: we feel that the development team could be a little more imaginative in its choice of components. For instance, most distros bundle LibreOffice, but Windows migrants might well be more used to a suite with a ribbon-based UI. Linux Lite uses GNOME's Evince document viewer, with its clunky "CSD" combined titlebar-cum-toolbar, while MATE's Atril, with a more traditional UI, was right there in the repositories. The Docklike Taskbar plugin would bring Xfce's panel more into line with the Windows look and feel since Vista in 2007.
There are some rough edges here and there. For example, on a fresh install, we were surprised to find that the root shell had this command in its history:
rm -rf /usr/share/applications/libreoffice7.2* && rm -rf /usr/share/applications/libreoffice7.3* && rm -rf /usr/share/applications/libreoffice-startcenter.desktop && rm -rf /usr/share/applications/libreoffice7.4-draw.desktop && rm -rf /usr/share/applications/libreoffice7.4-math.desktop
A little more housekeeping before shipping was needed, we feel. As we noted before, the Welcome screen offers to apply updates even to the live install medium, and offers to install the OS even in the installed system. That's actively unhelpful and really needs to be fixed.
Still, while it's a relatively heavyweight distro, it has a lot of nice touches. For Ubuntu users who are disenchanted with Snap, sandboxed Firefox, GNOME, the various Software Stores and cross-platform packaging tools such as Flatpak and AppImage, all of these are banished here. ®