We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
 
Desktop OSs Reviews
15,114 Reviews

Ubuntu Light review

Free

Manufacturer: Canonical

Our Rating: We rate this 3.5 out of 5

Ubuntu Light is a lightweight Linux operating system, a fast-booting environment now pre-installed on Dell laptops.

Ubuntu Light is an alternative OS designed to sit on a separate partition to a PC's Windows operating system. With a look and feel that'll be familiar to users of Ubuntu Netbook Remix – whose Unity interface has now been rolled out across all versions of Ubuntu – it's neither full featured nor powerful. But it is fast.

So fast, in fact, that there's no real comparison with the Windows start-up time on the same AMD Athlon II-powered Dell Inspiron M101z laptop with 4GB RAM.

This took two to three minutes to boot and surf to a web page with Windows 7 Home Premium. Canonical says users with hard-disk drives in their systems should expect 20 seconds boot time. On our Dell with its stock Seagate Momentus 320GB hard disk? Eight seconds.

Ubuntu Light is intended only as a quick-launch alternative to Windows, for some of the basic tasks we require on a laptop: instant messaging (IM), internet browsing, browsing music, video and pictures, as well as social networking.

In fact, all the non-work-related tasks you might use a notebook PC for - except email.

You can access Windows media files from within Ubuntu Light, so there are no issues with partition space. Ubuntu Light itself takes up less than 1GB on the hard disk, of a 4G partition reserved by the OEM when setting up the laptop.

Ubuntu's Unity interface has been criticised by long-time Linux users for its simplicity: but that misses the point here at least. Ubuntu Light exists only to be simple, and fast. As such, it may be better to think of it as more like smartphone or tablet skin, and less 'Linux OS’.

Instead of Firefox, you get the Chromium web browser (Chrome, in essence), and an IM client that allows you to chat via Google Talk, AIM, Yahoo, Windows Live and Facebook.

There's a media player, Skype beta, and links direct into Yahoo Answers and Facebook. There are no native social apps, however, just web links.

And why no email app? It's difficult to work out. A quick launch into web and email is all many computing sessions entail. You can use webmail, of course, but you can't install Thunderbird or any another email client. If it's real email you want, you have to boot into Windows.

A handy Windows logo on the bottom left of the Unity interface lets you leave Ubuntu easily and wait for the full Windows boot; but you can't make the return journey back to Linux without restarting the machine (despite a confusing Ubuntu Light logo in the Windows start menu).

Ubuntu Light Expert Verdict »
Intel or AMD processor
  • Ease of Use: We give this item 8 of 10 for ease of use
  • Features: We give this item 5 of 10 for features
  • Overall: We give this item 7 of 10 overall

There’s a place for Ubuntu Light on many Windows laptops. At present, it's only present on certain Dell models. If getting online quickly and listening to the occasional track is useful to you, this is a brilliant tool. But it’s limited. We’d have preferred to see an email client and the ability to add and remove apps... but perhaps that would make it Ubuntu Netbook Remix, and that’s a whole other product.

There are currently no price comparisons for this product.
  • Ubuntu Netbook Edition review

    Ubuntu Netbook Edition

    Ubuntu Netbook Edition is precisely what it sounds like: a version of the Ubuntu Linux operating system modified for use with netbook laptops.

  • GNOME 2 Linux review

    GNOME 2 Linux

    GNOME 2 remains king of the Linux desktop. Here's our GNOME 2 Linux review.

  • Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin review

    Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin

    Ubuntu 12.04, also known as Precise Pangolin, is the latest version of the popular desktop Linux distribution, featuring a new Head-Up Display to provide keyboard shortcuts to essential menu items.

  • Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal review

    Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal

    Ubuntu 12.10, otherwise known as Quantal Quetzel, is a landmark release from Canonical, if not entirely for the right reasons...

  • Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition review - Linux laptop an Ultrabook in all but name

    Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition - Linux laptop an Ultrabook in all but name

    Dell's Linux laptop has good hardware and a decent toolkit. Here's our Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition review.


IDG UK Sites

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 release date, price and specs 2014

IDG UK Sites

iOS 8 features wishlist: the changes iPhone and iPad users want in Apple's iOS 8

IDG UK Sites

25 Years of the World Wide Web: Happy Birthday, Intenet

IDG UK Sites

Developers get access to more Sony camera features