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  1. #1

    A simple distribution, no fancy 3D interface, no window transparency..

    Hi all,

    I'm using Linux at work, essentially for doing big computation.

    I've been using Ubuntu for a while but it has become a pain, essentially because the graphics are too demanding. I'm considering changing, but I don't want to get into the same trouble after installing another one.
    I need a neat interface (gnome was just perfect!) that will let me use my tools (developed in a programming environment called MATLAB), with minimal 3D support (OpenGL), and broadcast X screens to individual stations, ideally using NX, which everybody uses to log into our main computer. 64bit architecture is a must, as we are using lots of RAM (24GB installed at the moment).

    In sum, I need a simple interface, no fancy look, no window jiggle, no transparency, just something that works. Will I find this somewhere?

    Any suggestion is appreciated, thanks a lot!

  2. #2
    Just Joined! maba001's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    First of all, I don't think it is a question of Ubuntu versus other distros. I comes down to which window manager to use. There are many to choose from: Gnome, KDE, ...

    Xfce is very minimalistic.


  3. #3
    Thanks Maba,

    Ok, I understand. Now my problem is that Ubuntu uses this compiz window manager, which is just a pain. Crashes all the time. Apparently there is no way to revert to a gnome window manager, that was just fine...
    So perhaps what I'm asking for is a neat gnome-using distro... Makes more sense?

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Just Joined! maba001's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Debian uses Gnome by default. The latest Debian squeeze (6.0) does. For Debian you have to make sure though that you have all the non-opensource drivers and firmware packages. Debian is very strict when it comes to licensing. They have these packages as well but they are not bundled into the standard distro due to the non-free licenses.

    Those firmware packages are needed for some network drivers (which is the main concern as you can easily lock yourself out of internet connectivity). All other non-free stuff can be installed later on if required.

    Also good to know - Firefox is called "IceWeasel" in Debian (due to the non-free license of the Mozilla brand). So to get Firefox later on, you have to add LinuxMint to the list of package repositories.

    I personally have only tried Ubuntu, Debian and LFS. So I don't know about the default Window Managers that other distros have.

    Best regards

  6. #5
    If you like everything about Ubuntu, other than the desktop environment, I would recommend Lubuntu. It uses the LXDE desktop environment, which would seem quite natural for, say, Windows XP users. Very lightweight.
    If you already have Ubuntu installed, you can easily migrate to Lubuntu while keeping your files and programs intact by doing (I think)
    sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop
    and restart. You should have the choice in the "Sessions" part of the login screen (i.e. the little Ubuntu logo to the right of the login field in the recent default Ubuntu login screen).

    If installing from scratch, I would pick debian stable with the Xfce desktop environment, or Linux Mint (Xfce). But it's a matter of personal choice...I like Xfce better than LXDE.

    As maba pointed out, your issue is more closely related to choice of desktop environment (or window manager) rather than distro.

    By the way, cudos to you for using Matlab. I've had to do some numerics with it in the past...I didn't find it too fun. My bro uses it for engineering applications all the time though.

    Good luck.

  7. #6
    Based on what you're asking for, I'd recommend Crunchbang (, very straight-forward, and Debian based. It is a lot more lenient on licensing than Debian however. It comes with all the codecs you'd need for mp3 support and such.
    Also, I'd recommend Archbang ( It's a lot like Crunchbang, they both use the Openbox window manager (which I use and love), but Archbang is based on Arch Linux. Which has a big community with lots of resources (and well documented might I add). Unlike Arch Linux though, it comes with most everything you'd need already set up!

    Only issue here, as was implied if not mentioned by others, would be re-installing and having to backup data and etc. Unless you're interested in actually changing distros, do the lubuntu-desktop install!

  8. #7
    Linux Engineer MASONTX's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Mason Texas
    If you like *buntu, just not compiz, try Xubuntu or Lubuntu. AntiX, cruchbang, and SliTaz are also options.
    Registered Linux user #526930

  9. #8
    Linux User zenwalker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Inland Empire
    Salix is Slackware made easier and offers as four of six Editions the XFCE and LXDE desktop environments (DEs) and the fluxbox Windows Manager. Fluxbox is about as simple a WM, but not quite, as ratpoison (no mice) WM as a person would want. It makes the user right-click anywhere on the desktop to bring up the start menu. So remember that.

    As sagely said previously, stay away from KDE. Salix is compatible with Slackware repos and provides a simple chance to try at least these four or more other than KDE DEs and WMs.

    A person could always go back to Gnome or Mate

    Slack ware is highly customizable.

    Just a thought.
    "All that is required for evil to triumph is for a good human to say nothing"
    _______________________________________________| Salix, Puppy & antiX

  10. #9
    As mentioned earlier: Just install another DE and when you login, choose the newly installed DE if you don't like Unity or Gnome.
    XFCE and LXDE from Xubuntu and Lubuntu are your best choice since you do not have to install a whole new system. You only add an extra DE. All applications and configurations stay.

  11. #10
    I would second the recommendations for some version of Linux with the Xfce or LXDE lightweight desktops. If you have the patience to tinker, the KDE desktop also has 3D effects that can be totally turned off ( Alt-Shift-F12, go to System Settings -> Desktop -> Desktop Effects and turn everything off. )

    Debian GNU/Linux is excellent, but it updates slowly. If you don't need the latest version of your software packages, just stable versions, that's a great choice. If, on the other hand, you want something newer, you can pick popular distributions that update frequently and offer LXDE, XFCE, or KDE. That includes Fedora, Ubuntu (Lubuntu, Xubuntu, and Kubuntu have those desktops as the default, respectively), Mageia, and OpenSUSE. All are pretty beginner friendly.

    Linux Mint is an excellent distribution, but their recommended upgrade process if you want a new version is a complete re-install. If you love to tinker, that's fine - if you don't, it's an annoyance.

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