Back of the Envelope

Observations on the Theory and Empirics of Mathematical Finance

[OS] Moving to Xubuntu

with 2 comments

About a year and a half back I talked about my transition to Lubuntu. I found it pretty perfect for my usage, and have had no major issues with it but Chrome has been misbehaving a bit since I moved to LTS 16.04. While fixes exist, I couldn’t find anything permanent, and since I had some time I thought it might be a good opportunity to try the slightly more endowed Xubuntu – with a slightly larger user base while remaining sufficiently lean.

In the last couple of days, I have tested Xubuntu on my office desktop (i5) and my Asus laptop (i3). Its boot time is similar to Lubuntu, and Chrome and Firefox open quickly enough (if anything, a bit quicker than Lubuntu). Many settings are similar to those in Lubuntu (e.g. setting proxy), but setting keyboard shortcuts is even easier. So far I am not missing Lubuntu.

Building upon the earlier discussion on Lubuntu, here are my settings for a minimalist Xubuntu (on an i3 machine with 4 GB RAM). I use them in the following order:

  1. Disk partitioning scheme:
    /boot = 4 GB, /root = 16 GB, /swap = 4 GB, /tmp = 4 GB
    /opt = 6 GB, /var = 6 GB, /usr = 24 GB, /usr/local = 16 GB

    /home takes up the remaining space. I also leave about 24 GB space free for emergency.

  2.  First update:
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade && sudo apt-get install aptitude
  3. Essentials:
    sudo aptitude install synaptic xubuntu-restricted-extras chromium-browser
    sudo aptitude install gdebi libboost-all-dev swig cmake git xdotool vlc
    sudo aptitude install python-gpgme mencoder curl libcurl4-openssl-dev
    sudo aptitude install usb-creator-gtk p7zip keepass2 cryptsetup cryptmount
    sudo aptitude install lame alsaplayer-common alsaplayer-text soundconverter
    sudo aptitude install pdftk pdfchain djview4 zathura zathura-ps zathura-djvu
    sudo aptitude install gparted gimp getmail4 gnome-search-tool ibritish
  4. At this stage I set-up Dropbox in a separate partition and let the folders sync. In the meantime I create the necessary documentation infrastructure:
    sudo aptitude install emacs auctex pandoc markdown texlive-full

    You may install auctex and ess directly from the emacs package manager (containing the more recent versions). I install ess after getting R.

  5. Keyboard shortcuts: Settings Manager -> Settings Editor -> xfce4-keyboard-shortcuts
  6. Printer: If you have a duplex printer, and it does not automatically respect duplex settings, you may have to set it to ON from Settings -> Printer. If you have an HP printer, hplip-gui (available from synaptic) is also useful.
  7. Speedup boot: 
    • Remove unnecessary start-up services (and add any) from Settings Manager -> Session and Startup
    • Create a file ~/.gtkrc-2.0 and paste the following: Hat-tip BinaryTides
      gtk-menu-popup-delay = 0
      gtk-menu-popdown-delay = 0
      gtk-menu-bar-popup-delay = 0
      gtk-enable-animations = 0
      gtk-timeout-expand = 0
      gtk-timeout-initial = 0
      gtk-timeout-repeat = 0
  8. Python-specific: Hat-tip  Chris’ sandbox
    sudo aptitude install gfortran g++ build-essential pkg-config
    sudo aptitude install python-dev python3-dev python-pip python3-pip
    sudo aptitude install python3-tk libatlas-dev liblapack-dev libblas-dev
    sudo aptitude install libfreetype6 libfreetype6-dev libpng-dev libjpeg8-dev

    I no longer use Anaconda for Python and install all necessary packages within virtual environments (a useful intro is here (option 3)). Jorgen Schaefer’s elpy package means that I don’t have to leave emacs at all.

    In particular, after setting the virtual environments, I have the following installed packages (in that order) for data science/financial modeling related work in emacs:

    pip install numpy scipy pandas matplotlib
    pip install sympy seaborn jupyter scikit-learn statsmodels
    pip install rope jedi flake8 importmagic autopep8 yapf

Written by Vineet

January 9, 2017 at 8:53 pm

2 Responses

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  1. I find no difference at all in speed as far as “the user experience” is concerned between Lubu and Xubu. On my ancient relic, a Dell Dimension with 512 mb of RAM, I used the ubuntu MINI iso to install only the basic minimal Ubuntu system, then

    apt-get install xubuntu-core

    This is not full-fledged Xubuntu (which is awesome), but just the Xfce desktop with Xubu’s wonderful default settings (no applications), and from there, favorite lightweight applications (Geary for email, Midori for web browsing, etc). It still runs better on this old abacus than WindowsXP did when the machine was brand new!


    February 24, 2017 at 4:14 am

    • Thanks, good to know. I would try your combo sometime on an old laptop. For now, an lubuntu + xfce works wonderfully even on an otherwise basic Lenovo-S20-30 notebook.


      February 27, 2017 at 3:07 pm

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