Before you go and think I’ve begun blogging in tongues, let me explain.

I’ve had Ubuntu Linux as my main desktop install for more than a year now, and I’ve been extremely happy with how it works. (Truth be told, I keep XP around for a couple of reasons, one of which is the outstanding MixMeister DJ software, but I digress.)

My Sony VAIO notebook (a PCG-R505DSK, if you must know) is getting quite old and crochety, though, so when I heard about the Ubuntu project called Xubuntu, I jumped at the opportunity. Xubuntu is a lighter and faster variant of Ubuntu made for older computers, and it’s made lighter and faster by running the XFCE windowing environment instead of Gnome.
Xubuntu installed fine. In fact, it’s really easy to switch between the various flavors of Ubuntu (there’s regular Ubuntu, there’s the KDE-based Kubuntu, and now Xubuntu).

I’m also running the lovely combination of the XGL graphics layer and the Compiz windowing environment, and they’re fine under Xubuntu. In fact, one of the reasons I wanted to check out Xubuntu was to see if it would get all ganky and ugly like IceWM, and it totally didn’t. All my custom Gnome theming (I’m using the Gnome Clearlooks-Vista theme, just ‘coz I wanted to see what it would do, and ended up liking it), fonts and everything remained as they should be.

I did notice a bump in speed; the window redraw seems faster, and apps take less time to start up. But OpenOffice still lags, just as it did under straight Ubuntu.

Compiz is a real jump in Linux desktop usability, and makes a huge difference in user-friendliness. Some of the stuff is derivative, like the rotating-cube effect you can use to switch between desktops, or the Expose-like ability to resize all open windows to switch between them, but the feature that really makes a difference for me is how, when an app becomes unresponsive, it goes to gray and white. Very elegant, and very effective. My hat is off to the Compiz folks.

Now the real test will be whether LiveSupport correctly builds and runs under Xubuntu. I’m compiling now, so stay tuned…