Following on from my recent article about installing a minimal XFCE based desktop I thought I would take LXDE a spin. For an extra challenge I’m interested for this article the next generation LXDE called LXDE-QT.
The LXDE team have now merged with Razor-QT – both teams have a similar goal of producing a very lightweight desktop and they have chosen QT as the toolset rather than something like GTK3.
As this is very experimental at this stage, my recommendation is to use something like Virtualbox to play-around with this brand-new but still developing desktop interface – you can easily snapshot various check-points and use the rollbacks to back out of stuff.
The challenge here is to take the already lightweight LXDE-QT desktop and slim it down to its core components.
First download the minimal ISO. This is a tiny basic installer containing very little itself. Everything is downloaded from the internet. So make sure you are using a wired connection – no wireless at this stage.
Write this to a CD using your favourite burning software such as brasero. Alternatively use unetbootin to write it to a USB stick – or if using Virtualbox, attach the ISO to a new virtual machine.
On boot you will receive a screen like this:
Press Enter and just answer each of the questions posed.
When you get to this screen you have a choice of choosing one of the standard desktop environments or just continuing to a basic text only interface. Lets choose the latter:
Let the wizard complete and install the remaining basic packages.
Reboot – remove the CD/USB/virtual CD drive and login using your username and password you defined during the text wizard stage above.
Next – make sure the repositories are up-to-date:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
Lets ensure we configure our system to not install suggested packages or recommended packages:
sudo nano apt.conf
Type in the following:
Save and quit nano – CTRL+O, CTRL+X
Quick Tip: when typing package names, type the first few characters and press TAB. This will either autocomplete the package name or display the matching package names allowing you to narrow down the correct full package-name.
Lets now install the basic graphics stack:
sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg xserver-xorg-core xfonts-base xinit x11-xserver-utils x11-apps x11-session-utils x11-utils xinput xorg
Now we need to add a couple of PPA’s where the development LXDE libraries and QT stuff can be found.
sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lubuntu-dev/lubuntu-daily
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gilir/q-project
sudo apt-get update
Now lets install the basic LXDE-QT packages such as the file-manager (pcmanfm-qt), session, panel
sudo apt-get install lxqt-metapackage lxinput-qt lxqt-policykit lxqt-runner lxqt-config lxrandr-qt obconf-qt lxqt-session pcmanfm-qt lxqt-powermanagement openbox
Finally lets install a basic graphical login manager – lets stick with lightdm:
sudo apt-get install lightdm lxqt-lightdm-greeter
Reboot and login graphically:
sudo reboot --
That is the basics. Everything else that follows is your customisation requirements.
Lets make the desktop aesthetically beautiful
sudo apt-get install oxygen-icon-theme
These will install some very nice icons for the menus and panel and also allow you to change the appearance of the desktop.
Next, lets give the menu’s less of a windows 95 look…
sudo apt-get install kde-style-qtcurve
Next install your chosen browser – in my case the lightweight QT based Qupzilla.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nowrep/qupzilla
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install qupzilla
For Virtualbox you should also install dkms before installing the guest-additions:
sudo apt-get install dkms
Remember to add the permissions for your user:
sudo usermod -a -G vboxsf <username>
This desktop runs well with 256Mb – and brilliantly smooth at 512Mb