Tuning Lubuntu 16.04 Xenial for a 2008 Macbook

I just installed Lubuntu (LXDE-based Ubuntu) on a 2008 white plastic Macbook, and stuff didn’t work properly out of the box. Here is how I got Lubuntu working better on my Mac.

Touchpad

This was the first and worst problem. The touchpad wasn’t disabled when typing, and it was too sensitive. Solution: edit ~/.config/lxsession/Lubuntu/autostart and add the following lines:

syndaemon -d -t
synclient PalmDetect=1
synclient FingerLow=38
synclient FingerHigh=44

Note that you may want to tune FingerLow and FingerHigh. From the synaptics ‘synclient’ man page:

Option "FingerLow" "integer"
       When finger pressure drops below this value, the  driver  counts
       it as a release. Property: "Synaptics Finger"

Option "FingerHigh" "integer"
       When finger pressure goes above this value, the driver counts it
       as a touch. Property: "Synaptics Finger"

Adjust the numbers to your liking; FingerLow=38 / FingerHigh=44 is perfect for my Macbook, but you may want something different.

You’ll need to either restart your session or maybe reboot for these settings to take effect.

General System Tuning

Some of these tips are from “10 things to do first in Lubuntu 16.04,” which is a great in-depth post. I’ve streamlined the instructions here, and it should be noted my Macbook has an SSD. So this is tuned for a machine with 3GB RAM and an SSD.

Reduce swappiness

I’m taking it on faith that you want low swappiness with low RAM, so, edit /etc/sysctl.conf and add: vm.swappiness=20 and reboot.

Applications on Lubuntu

Lubuntu is nice and lean, but you may want more than just the default applications. Here is what I use.

Install Chromium and a couple extensions

For Reasons, I prefer Chromium to Firefox, despite Google’s data mining.

My main tips: install uBlock Origin as your ad blocker (it’s memory-efficient, which matters on old machines), and install Privacy Badger, because it’s also memory-efficient and can block threats which are not yet filtered by uBlock Origin.

If you’re concerned with privacy, it doesn’t hurt to install HTTPS Everywhere.

Install minimal Libreoffice

For the office-y tasks I do, I need at least Writer and Calc. I gotta say, the default word processor (Abiword) managed to handle basic tasks without pissing me off at all, which is a high bar. But I need the more fully-loaded Libreoffice apps. Fortunately, you can keep it lean for Lubuntu.

sudo apt install libreoffice-writer libreoffice-calc libreoffice-gtk

The libreoffice-gtk package apparently improves integration with LXDE.

Next, turn off some bloat (I dunno what bloat, but I’ll take it on faith) in Libreoffice by disabling Java features:

Fire up Libreoffice Writer, click the Tools menu, click Options…

Under LibreOffice > Advanced, uncheck “Use a Java runtime environment.”

 

I’ll update this post as I have to fix more out-of-the-box settings.

 

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