Disenchanted Windows user? Pop open a fresh can of Linux Lite

Version 7.0 has landed – the Ubuntu Noble based one

Linux Lite 7.0 "Galena" is out, the new release of this simplified and Snap-free distro based on Ubuntu 24.04, aka "Noble Numbat."

The release announcement is at the bottom of the forum thread here – you will need to scroll all the way to the end to find it.

The Reg FOSS desk looked at the previous major release, Linux Lite 6.0 as well as the subsequent version 6.2 and version 6.4. This new release isn't wildly different to the 6.x series: it updates the base OS to the latest Ubuntu LTS, and that in turn brings the new Xfce 4.18 desktop.

Linux Lite 7 beckons you in with a Windows-like app menu plus lots of little helpers including a Welcome screen.

Linux Lite 7 beckons you in with a Windows-like app menu plus lots of little helpers including a Welcome screen. - Click to enlarge

Linux Lite is deservedly one of the higher-profile third-party Ubuntu remixes. It resolves many of the issues first-time migrants from Windows might face, while avoiding some of the complexities that other Ubuntu downstream distros, such as Linux Mint and Zorin OS, introduce. Linux Mint is a safe bet, and it's entirely free, but it does make would-be users choose between three different desktops, and it replaces Canonical's Snap packages with the equally heavyweight and complex Flatpak. Zorin OS too comes in multiple editions, some of which come with heavily-customised versions of GNOME, some of which cost money and include a lot of bundled Flatpak apps.

Linux Lite cuts through this: it offers just one desktop, Xfce, which in this vulture's opinion is the most solid choice available. Xfce has been configured with a sensible desktop layout to resemble Windows XP, with the optional Whisker menu rearranged to match. It isn't bloated with freebie addons that many users won't need, but there is a selection of handy extras, including the Timeshift backup tool (which offers a function akin to Windows System Restore), plus over a dozen helpful little tools to tweak and clean up your system, a custom terminal prompt and other helpful tweaks. We especially like the helpful Welcome screen, and the link to an extensive manual provided on the desktop.

The default web browser is Google Chrome, with the VirusTotal extension pre-installed. You don't see Chrome in many distros, but while it isn't FOSS, it is pretty much the industry default browser. The office suite is LibreOffice, but surprisingly, the stable version 7.6, not the newer version 24.2 found in upstream Ubuntu.

We gave it a quick spin in VirtualBox and it performed fine. It takes about 13 GB of disk and 850 MB of RAM at idle. For 2024, that is quite lightweight. There's nothing very experimental here, no fancy filesystems, partitioning schemes, packaging formats or anything. One gotcha is that Linux Lite does not support major-version upgrades: you will have to reinstall from scratch. This important feature finally came to the latest Zorin OS earlier this year, but for now that's still based on Ubuntu 22.04.

The tweaks continue below the hood, with a custom shell prompt and apps like Neofetch and Htop preinstalled.

The tweaks continue below the hood, with a custom shell prompt and apps like Neofetch and Htop preinstalled - click to enlarge

We are hearing about increasing levels of interest in Linux from Windows users. You can't upgrade to Windows 10 for free any more. If you're still on 7 or 8.x, you're stuck: machines which are that old remain perfectly serviceable and useful, but won't run Windows 11, even if you bypass the restrictions. The unpopular new Recall feature isn't helping, even if Microsoft doesn't see a problem. As mentioned in that last article, it's led SF writer Charlie Stross to ask Is Microsoft trying to commit suicide?

As we said in previous articles, we would like to see Lite maybe veer away from Ubuntu's choices more than it does. Microsoft Edge is surprisingly popular, complete with a vertical tab bar. There are more Microsoft-like Linux productivity suites with a Ribbon UI. There are some unwelcome GNOME accessories with their weird CSD button-bar, such as the Evince document viewer. Some built-in ad-blocking would be good, but the Linux Lite homepage is quite ad-heavy and it helps fund the distro – as does its custom search page – and we can't blame them for that.

If you already know your way around Ubuntu, Asmi 24.04 is similarly simplified and makes both Snap and Flatpak optional, but has some power-user tweaks that impressed us. Endless OS might be more resistant to damage, but again, GNOME is strange and unfamiliar to Windows folks.

If you are looking for a simple, uncluttered Linux OS, without a fancy new desktop like Ubuntu's GNOME – or anything based on it, like in Mint or Zorin OS – then Linux Lite is looking ever more appealing.

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