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Lubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

After an update today, Lubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander, the LXDE Ubuntu flavour, has switched to Firefox as the default web browser, replacing Chromium, which is a bit of a surprise, considering that Ubuntu 13.10 may switch from Firefox to Chromium. Other Lubuntu 13.10 changes include the addition of zRAM by default and the removal of Xscreensaver, Lubuntu now using LightDM for the lock screen.

Lubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

According to Julien Lavergne, lead developer, among the reasons behind the decision to replace Chromium with Firefox are: good behaviour on old hardware, PowerPC support, customization support and no "It's dead Jim" bug, which happens often on old hardware, this being Lubuntu's main target:

  • Good behaviour on old hardware: thanks to your tests, Firefox seems to behave well on old hardware. I also saw it on my own testing system. It's difficult to say if 1 is better than another one, but a 1 tab use of Firefox seems a bit better, and many users still use only 1 tab;
  • PowerPC support: Firefox support is still limited, but Firefox exists on powerpc. No need to advertise the fact that we have 2 different browsers;
  • Customization support: you can add bookmarks and other customization to Firefox. Chromium doesn't have it (yet ?). There is also (still ?) a module to install flash support;
  • No "It's dead Jim" bug. It may be fixed in the future, but I'm not sure it will be critical enough for Canonical to but a lot of effort to fix it. It mostly affects us only, not Ubuntu.

He also adds that "in a politic view, it's better to have a product managed by a foundation" because even though Chromium is open source, "it's still very close to Chrome and Google".

You can read Julien's complete email, HERE.

Another change that has landed in Lubuntu 13.10 today is the addition of zRam by default. zRam is useful for low-RAM machines - it increases the performance by creating a RAM based block device which acts as a swap disk, but is compressed and stored in RAM instead of swap disk (which is slow), allowing faster I/O and increasing the amount of memory available before the system starts swapping to disk. More about zRAM (including installation instructions).

Julien Lavergne says zRAM will be tested in the Lubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander cycle to see if it's useful or not. According to some messages on the Lubuntu mailing list, one of the main reasons for the zRAM addition is to prevent the installer from crashing during graphical installation on computers with very low RAM (256MB-512MB), which seems to have happened for some users.

And the third interesting change in Lubuntu is the removal of Xscreensaver. For the lock screen, Lubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander is currently using LightDM, a change that was announced for Ubuntu as well a while back, but didn't make it for now:

Lubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander

Lubuntu 13.10, just like the other Ubuntu flavours, will be released on October 17th. The complete release schedule can be found HERE.