The Ubuntu 11.04 release is getting tons of attention thanks to the switch to Unity as the default desktop interface. But what about the rest of the Ubuntu family? While the main Ubuntu release is far and away the most popular, that doesn’t mean that it’s the only arrow in the ‘buntu quiver. For users who want a more traditional Linux desktop, have older hardware, or just happen to have much love for Xfce — there’s Xubuntu. And it’s looking pretty good as of the Natty Narwhal release.
I won’t dwell on the pros and cons of Unity here, but suffice it to say that more than a few Ubuntu users are not quite ready to move to Unity. For some, the 3D requirements rule out their hardware. For others, the interface is just too much a departure from what they’re used to with the standard GNOME 2.x desktop they’ve been using with Ubuntu for some time.
With Xubuntu, you don’t get an exact replica of the GNOME desktop — but it’s a pretty slick desktop in its own right that offers a similar experience, with the added benefit that it doesn’t require 3D and is pretty snappy even on lightweight hardware.