Xubuntu 9.10 - User Review

This is the review for Xubuntu 9.10 presented to you by Shewsbury Land.

Before you read further, please take note that the opinion on this review is just an opinion from a user point of view (advanced user in Microsoft Windows stuff- but a truly beginners in Linux/Ubuntu/Xubuntu OS environment). I have no specific technical knowledge about Linux/Ubuntu/Xubuntu nor did I guarantee that the experience and information shared in this review will be the same for other user or early adopters of this open source OS - Linux/Ubuntu/Xubuntu.

Eversince last Friday, when our accounting staff gave me this old laptop, I've been busy looking at the machine and somehow try to salvage it.

The machine is Acer 5502WXMi, I can't remember how old this machine nowadays, but surely in computer world anything after 3 years is obsolete... or so they said.

To get some idea about this old machine, this is the basic specification;

Acer Aspire 5502WXMi
-Intel Pentium M Processor 740 (1.73GHz, 533MHz FSB, 2MB L2 Cache)
- ATI Mobility Radeon X7000 PCI Express - 64MB VRAM
- 80GB HDD
- DCD/CD Writer
- 1GB DDR2 RAM (was 512MB and then upgraded)
- Wifi/Bluetooth/Ethernet etc.

So from the spec above, I think some of you might be able to guess how old this machine is now.... nowadays even a budget netbook will have at lest 120GB space on HDD - when was the last time we have a laptop - a full pledge laptop - with 80GB HDD?

So originally this machine was running Windows XP Professional Edition.

It was OK, but then since last late 2008 our accounting staff start complaining that the machine is getting more and more annoying (in other words slow).

Luckily he just use it as a second machine mostly for basic internet stuff, for your info, some of us in the office tend to use 2 or more extra machine - usually a PC and a laptop each.

By 2009 however, the performance of the machine is getting worse and worse and to make the long story short... he gave up and I said to him, OK let me have this machine and see what I can do with it - after all - in the company book, this machine is now depreciated and considered as junk.

So last Friday I have the machine and try to be smart, I try to perform some maintenance stuff - you know, Disk CleanUp, Disk Defragmenter, Msconfig stuff, Services.msc stuff and plenty of other tweaks that I knew and after spending the whole day and the result is the same... I just gave up.

And so I decided to reformat the laptop but after searching high and low, I cannot find the System Restore option on the menu and I also look at the "backdoor" and analyze the HDD and after a while I understand that there is no recovery partition on the HDD to easily restore the Windows XP and all the factory settings stuff and our IT Department can't locate the recovery disc anymore.... and thus the only option I can think of is to install one of those free open source Linux OS where I don't have to worry about licensing and all those stuff and hopefully if everything works fine, this machine can still be used without offending Microsoft (by using pirated copy of their Windows OS) and therefore I can rest assured that the machine is using a free OS and it is legal to do so because it is provided by the wonderful open source community in the cloud.

So that's the story about the machine, and now a little bit of story about my encounter with this Linux. I first learn and experience using Linux way back in 2007. Back then I bought this Asus Eee-PC and they installed that custom Linux OS in it and though at first (being an old fashion Microsoft Windows loyalist) I thought this Linux must be lousy but after spending some time with the Eee-PC in which we nicknamed as "Jessica" I then realized that the idea of using Linux into that small machine with old fashion hardware in it is not that bad at all and as we all know Asus Eee-PC (or what I called Jessica) is the grandparent of the more modern generation of today's "netbook" which mostly now also adopt Windows XP Home as the main OS selection as demanded by most of the buyers (coz most of the buyers only knew Microsoft Windows OS in their entire life and nothing else).

And then there is this concept of "netbook" where we suppose to have it for portability purpose, being able to run the basic office application (word processing/spreadsheet/presentation etc.), check some e-mails and ultimately browsing the web using the WiFi and carrying it around without the heavy burden of our previous generation big size laptop - which possibly more powerful but still they're heavier and tend to be a little pricey.... surprisingly though, many people bought the netbook and expect it to be a powerful work horse and run Adobe Photoshop (which is still OK but you have to be patient with it) and Adobe Premier - a video editing software - in which I think is a super heavyweight application that is not intended for the low spec budget netbook.... but hey, the buyers being typical buyers will then say; what is the point of me buying this NETBOOK if it's only for some basic usage?

Well then, ask yourself before you spent your money - you get what you pay...

So then back to Linux, along the way between 2007 to 2009, being an adventurous kind of person, I have downloaded and experiments few other type of Linux OS and the variant of it. I've tried Kubuntu, Ubuntu 8.04 and few others that I forgot about their names as there are almost look alike and sound alike but somehow still a little bit different from the other.

But having said that... I always being disappointed by hardware detection problem during installation - which is most probably also hardware driver issue. Installation went well, but this not working, that not working and so on... and thus I just gave up again.

But it has to be mentioned here though that the reason for me to gave up easily is because I'm quite lazy to do some "Google search" and some "forum reading and research" in which in fact is there somewhere on the cloud... one just need to put some extra effort to look for it...

But even then, every time I failed, I always hope that someday in the future, maybe this Linux and open source and Ubuntu thingy will get better and will improve further. It takes time and I will wait for it. I hope that someday I can just install the OS and everything works perfectly out of the box.

And last weekend... my dream come true... I download Xubuntu 9.10, burn it into DVD and install it on this old machine that we mentioned earlier and yes... my dream come true...

Just like the way I always did in the previous experiment, I prefer to install using CD/DVD and formatted the HDD and follow the guided installation process.

The installation will ask you to answer a few question, set this and that and after a while everything went well and installation is complete.

Phase 1 is completed... now the most crucial part - Phase 2.

Desktop Environment - "Out of the box"
This is what I mean with Phase 2... first thing first I check the network connection section and YES... the WiFi stuff is working, the system automatically informed me that it managed to detect WiFi signal and I just do the "connecting stuff" and I am connected to the internet and from there onwards I know things is much easier and the future looks promising.

Also included in the Phase 2... I try to connect that Ethernet Network Cable and YES... the system managed to connect into our office network and I can go to internet as well... this is fantastic.

Obviously if the network thingy (WiFi/Ethernet) is not working it would be difficult for me, I need to maybe find a way to make it work which can be a daunting task for a lazy bum like me.

Looking around testing this and that
This is basically Phase 3... I just browse the menu, opening the pre-installed applications and program, the web browser this and that and so far everything is OK.

Apparently, out of nothing, I decided to test using my mobile phone as the alternative dial up internet connection, you know that 3G stuff, get connected where ever you are using your laptop and bla bla bla...

My phone for now is Sony Ericsson C702, with any Microsoft Windows OS, basically I have to install the Sony Ericsson PC Suite that comes with it. It will install all the drivers and all the program/software that includes easy customized user interface. Though there are also other way of using it by just installing the driver (most important) and the rest is a little bit of self know how.

But with this Xubuntu 9.10 out of the box.... I just connect phone with the machine using the standard USB cable, choose PHONE MODE (on my phone screen), and there you are... the Xubuntu automatically guide me on how to set up my "Mobile Broadband Modem" and all I have to do is just to select the Country, and the list of the local GSM Operator then appear, I choose mine, then I just choose "USe Default Settings" click OK and just like that, I can get connected to the internet....usually the Chinese will say "WALAO EH" while the equivalent of that in English probably is the word of "WOW!!!"

This is basically the Phase 3 which probably the last step that I need to do before I can just enjoy using the Xubuntu to the max... installing additional and extra application and programs and it is so easy... I just need a few click and the system will download it from the internet and once the downloading process is completed, it will install it automatically and once all that is done, I check the menu and all the extra application and programs that I choose and wanted is there - ready to use.

And just like Microsoft Windows OS where they always have that Windows Update or Microsoft Update, this Xubuntu is also the same. So I just update my system to make sure it have all the latest stuff to make it better.

User Experience
Well... this is when after your restart the machine and you start using them and again testing this and that and all I can say is that everything is just works perfectly fine and I am very happy with it. I'm not someone who is expert with all those extra technical stuff or programming language thingy but for what I need, this old machine now perform better and faster than it was previously and I would say that it start and shut down quicker. Additionally I feel that overall now this old machine running a little but faster than my main office laptop - Sony Vaio VGN-SZ38GP/C which is of coz hammered by the demanding and resource eater Microsoft Outlook 2007.

I have to admit that there are improvement in Microsoft Outlook 2007 over Microsoft Outlook 2003 but if that improvement makes my machine slower... then I hate it, I guess no body would like it anyway...

But for Microsoft Excel 2007 and Microsoft Word 2007 I certainly hate it as I prefer the old menu type style of Microsoft Excel 2003 and Microsoft Word 2003. Well yes, many other people don't mind using the new ribbon menu system, some said it is much better than the old one but then again it's a matter of personal taste and after using almost the same menu and icon layout in both Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word since 1996, my personal taste tells me that the good old fashion ways is just fine - which give me a another reason to love OpenOffice suit which we will see later.

Below are some photos about this Xubuntu 9.10 that I mentioned in this review - you can click them to view the bigger size;

The desktop in idle mode (Click for bigger size)...

And now here are some screen shot on menus (please take note that this is after me doing the System Update and Adding/Installing additional application from the internet using the easy graphical UI to include/exclude the specific items that you want)

In the System section is basically where you can find all the advanced setup/customization and maintenance features. In fact not many people will really explore this part.

In the Office section, we can find all those office application that you need - word processing, spreadsheet and presentation viewer. It's the equivalent to that Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

The best part is, the Open Office application can still read your Microsoft Office formatted files easily (unless of coz if someday Microsoft make it impossible to be compatible with others - well, you know Microsoft business empire and how they work).

The Open Office applications also have this PDF maker automatically embedded in it so you don't have to worry about getting Adobe Acrobat Professional to make PDF documents.

You can also download and install Open Office for your computers running Microsoft Windows, they're absolutely free and you can use them legally. Just go to Open Office website to read further and to try their free productivity software for your Windows PC.

In the Network section, I basically will just need Firefox browser and of coz the Mozilla Thunderbird to do what Microsoft Outlook can do (composing/sending/receiving e-mail).

The Multimedia section... they will give you the program to copy CD/DVD (CD/DVD burning) like what you always use from the similar program in Windows - Nero or Cyberlink or Roxio.

Additionally, I also installed the VLC Media Player to handle all music and video files... I also use the same player in Windows XP/Vista.

In fact from this section, only the Brasero CD/DVD Burner and VLC Media Player.

VLC Media Player


And maybe if you like Adobe Premier or Windows Movie Maker... you might like to try this Kino a video editing software - I haven't try it though.

For those who like to do photo editing and manipulation and most of the times using Adobe Photoshop, you can in fact have the same program to do what Adobe Photoshop can do. They call it GIMP. This GIMP is available both for Linux and also Windows PC. You can Google it and download and try to use it... again, it's free.

In the Games section you can find so many games... I'm not that interested for now but maybe someday for the sake of time wasting, I will try them out... after all, it's free.

I also download some Education program (which is stored in the Education section obviously) just to try it out for fun sake... It's a Geography and Painting stuff....

In the Accessories section you can find all those extra stuff that maybe some of us might use and some don't even need to use it at all... things like Calculator, Notepad, Screen Shot etc.

In the Settings section you will find further advanced setup/customization features that could help you to customize everything - if in case you ever need it...

And this is the Menu that I use to choose and download additional programs/software from the internet...

And now some additional screen shot on some of the programs and features on this Xubuntu 9.10 that I use or may use in the future;

Firefox browser... obviously important...

Need Microsoft Outlook? No problem, Thunderbird can do what Outlook can do...

Changing Desktop Wallpaper or Screen Saver...

Computer Janitor from the System menu section will do something like "Disk CleanUp" in your Windows PC

KDiskFree to view how many free space available in your HDD...

The Network features that I mentioned earlier... you can find them on the Top Right of the screen...

Here you can see the system is telling me how many WiFi networks is available so I can choose and connect to the one that I could... I have to censored the information using the red color for privacy reason....

This is the Log Off, Shut Down or Hibernate screen....

System Monitor for you to view how the computer system works (how much memory is being used, how much processor power is being used and so on) while doing this and that... again not many people will be interested to see this anyway....

This is the icon that will help you to do the System Update easily...

Usually we familiar with "My Document" in Windows PC and in Xubuntu 9.10 (and probably in all Linux based OS) they call it "Home" - you can see all those Documents, Pictures and Videos folder in here and as always you can add or customize it as you like.

This is me doing some multitask testing and viewing the "engine performance" using the System Monitor... I'm browsing internet - YouTube page and at the same time I also burning some "ISO" files into DVD and the you can see the rest of the data in the System Monitor screen shot.

Overall, my wish or my dream finally come true. After direct installation using the CD/DVD the Xubuntu can detect all the hardwares and make everything works perfectly fine and there is no further hassle and buzz that I need to think or do... everything is just works...

I can now finally enjoy and explore further this Xubuntu 9.10 further and since everything works perfectly fine so far, I'm leaving this machine as it is...

By the way, just some additional info, you can try Ubuntu 9.10 if you have the latest machine will all the latest hardware (though it might possibly still works for older/slower machines) but for those older machines with lower spec, it would be better for you to first try the Xubuntu 9.10

I understand that every user have different way to use their PC/Notebook and obviously will use many types of different programs/applications.

But if you are just like me, who use the computer for the normal office application (Word Processing and Spreadsheet), internet browsing and e-mail, storing photos and porn videos, a little bit of image editing and once in a blue moon simple video editing, frequent usage of chatting stuff like YM, MSN, Skype etc. and you want them all to be cheap or free - then I guess, netbook is already good enough for you and Xubuntu 9.10 is probably all that you need.

But of course, if you play those special computer games that comes with CD/DVD which mostly developed for Windows OS and/or you are in need of using certain specific business or multimedia graphics that only runs on any of the Windows OS and of course you happen to have lot's of extra money to spend or you just want to be "classy" than others, then you should stick with Microsoft Windows OS or those premium products provided by Apple.

For normal home and education usage purpose, I believe and old machine or netbook with Xubuntu 9.10 is basically enough - but then again, it's never easy to satisfied everybody - the choice is yours.

I like to give credits and praise and thanks to all the people involved with the open source Linux/Ubuntu/Xubuntu and all their variants as well as those people who make the additional programs/application and make it available for free in the concept of "open source" in the cloud. This is truly a wonderful experience for me.

Thank you, Shewsbury Land likes Xubuntu 9.10

Well, 1 week has gone, everything is now settled, I can now forget about this old machine and go back to my usual Gundam and figure stuff.... my 1/144 HG Seven Sword still stuck in the box, I will start working on it this week for sure.....

You can get further information about Ubuntu and Xubuntu by visiting the site below;



  1. for ppl like to use window software there is always this program call WINE in linux. it is the window emulator but like most emulator it is not 100% work on all software. another way is make ur hdd into 2 partition n format XP on 1 partition and linux on the other. o if u r like me can run the linux in VMWARE so you can xperience both os at the same time hahaha. as the spec for ur laptop go i think it can run ubuntu just fine

  2. basically I can use all OS but ^^ yeah windows still the on i use more often hahaha


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