At the Working Centre’s Computer Recycling Project we still install Xubuntu 20.04, codename: Focal Fossa, on almost all of the systems we refurbish. Xubuntu 20.04 was released to the public in April, 2020, making it 3 years old now. Xubuntu 20.04 is considered a Long Term Service (LTS) release, meaning it gets updates and support for 5 years (2025).
Xubuntu 22.04 was released April of 2022. Xubuntu 22.04, codename: Jammy Jellyfish, is also a Long Term Service release. Why install Xubuntu 20.04, which will only be updated until 2025, when Xubuntu 22.04 gets updates until 2027? In our testing at the project we found that the benchmarks we do on all our machines produced worse results in Xubuntu 22.04 than Xubuntu 20.04. Xubuntu 22.04 also replaces more programs with “snaps” rather than programs from apt repositories.
Snaps tend to be slower loading, but our real concern with snaps has to do with the fact that snaps only live on Canonicals snap server(s). In our experience we’ve found the snap store slow to download from. We prefer to have multiple mirrors to download from like apt repositories. That said, our project uses snaps from time to time to deal with issues (for example: on some hardware we find the apt version of vlc crashes when we insert a video DVD, the snap package of vlc seems to deal with it fine on the same machine).
We have started to deploy Xubuntu 22.04 on some computers at the project, but they’re the exception, and tend to be a bit more beefy (better specifications) than other machines.
At home I’m testing Xubuntu 22.10, codename: Kinetic Kudu, on my personal laptop. Xubuntu 22.10 was released in October of 2022, but it’s not a Long Term Service Release and only gets updates for 9 months. That means I have to update it by July of 2023, or install a different version by then. Non-LTS releases like 22.10 (not 22.04, which is LTS) tend to be considered “experimental” releases. New features, new versions of programs, new themes, are introduced in these non-LTS versions as a way of testing to see how they work with the rest of the new software/updates. Eventually, some of these features, new programs, theme updates may or may not get rolled into a future LTS release of Xubuntu (the next LTS will be April of 2024, version 24.04). Version 24.04 is a long way away, but if Xubuntu 22.10 is any glimpse into things, it looks like a step in the right direction.
Compared to Xubuntu 22.04, Xubuntu 22.10 “feels” faster. I’ve tested both versions on my personal laptop, a Lenovo ThinkPad T430s, and the user interface of Xubuntu 22.10 Kinetic Kudu is more responsive than 22.04 is. The non-LTS Kudu also looks better, but this my personal opinion. The main icons in the whisker menu have a brighter, more polished look, and some subtle shifts make some of the programs look more compact and sleek.
I’ve been running 22.10 on my laptop for a couple of months and have not had any issues with crashing, or program stability. That said, I don’t do a lot of work on my laptop, mostly writing, research, and running the odd low-end game through Steam.
It’s worth mentioning that I haven’t had an issue running Bit Heroes, a game designed for Microsoft Windows, using Proton through Steam. Bit Heroes isn’t particularly graphical, or demanding, but it does need an active Internet connection.
One of the downsides to running a non-LTS version of Xubuntu is that Personal Package Archives (PPAs) are generally not available. If you don’t use PPAs, or don’t know what they are, then this shouldn’t be a concern. We don’t use PPAs at the Computer Recycling Project, but they can come in handy if you need a bleeding edge version of something that’s not available in other package formats.
The “software” program in Xubuntu, used for installing new software, got an update in Xubuntu 22.04, and continues the same look in 22.10. It’s a more polished feel than Xubuntu 20.04, but the window toolbar doesn’t really look the same as other program toolbars, it’s a bit thicker and the minimize/maximize/close icons are surrounded by a round circle.
Xubuntu 22.04’s software program changed some of the details of each program to appear more graphical. That appearance continues in this newer version of Xubuntu where information about each program is categorized across the interface, rather than down it (which is how Xubuntu 20.04’s software program displays extra details about each program). Icons have been added to replace text, and some of the details have been shifted around. Overall, this change to the software (installation) program, makes is easier to see more details at a glance since you don’t have to scroll as much.
I do have one feature request for a future version of Xubuntu: I’d like to see support for previewing the webp image format in Thunar. As of Xubuntu 22.10, Thunar does not display webp images, but creates a thumbnail for them. Thunar is capable of previewing png images with no problem, so I can’t imaging adding webp previewing would be difficult. Of course this would likely have to happen in a new version of XFCE, which may mean waiting a couple more years (hopefully not).
So far, I love the look, feel, and apparent speed of Xubuntu 22.10. While I haven’t benchmarked it across a bunch of systems, like I have with 20.04 and 22.04, it does give me the impression optimizations have been made to speed things up. The future looks good for Xubuntu 24.04. Hopefully speed improvements and user interface improvements continue.