Fedora 23 LXDE Spin Review + Setup

21 May 2016

And now for something completely different. A few weeks ago, I ripped out the spinning platter harddisk from my Lenovo Z510 and transplanted a SSD (the process was just a tiny bit scary, but worked out well thanks to youtube).

I’ve been using LUbuntu for a few years now and since I had a blank slate to play with, I had looked for other distros, finding Fedora Core LXDE spin, which I installed. From the start, I was impressed with the bootup speed. It looked like a decent system, too, though some things I was accustomed to from LUbuntu were missing.

So, since a few weeks have passed, I’m going to review the distribution and of course share my customizations so others that may find the same things can use them, too. First, the verdict:

As the main systemd developers work at RedHat, I expected the best low-level integration possible, and was not let down. The system looks very much like what an admin would setup for themselves given free reign and enough time. I like that a firewall is part of the default setup, and that the system forgos too many downstream patches (as far as I could see).

dnf appears to be faster than apt, and it also appears very solid. The software selection seems to mostly be pretty new, though I found a few outmodes here and there.

As well-integrated and -tuned the technical foundations are, the UI can use some customization. For example, with LUbuntu, muting and raising/lowering volume by Fn-keys works out of the box (mostly, there’s a bug that makes unmuting fail), whereas pressing those keys on Fedora did nothing. Same with keyboard shortcuts to quit the session, start a file manager or a terminal (However, I prefer my own shortcuts for those anyway). Also the touchpad only reacted on clicks; I rather tap than click for less noise and improved targetting. I cannot reorder tabs in LXPanel’s task bar. mplayer did not stop the screensaver, so I’d get a blank screen while the movies’ sound would continue every 10 minutes.

I’ll come back to solving those things in a minute, for now I should say that those were really minor niggles. Overall I’m very happy with the system as it is today, and would recommend Fedora Core LXDE Spin 23 to everyone seeking a lean, fast and solid distribution.


Setting up the base system was a breeze. The first problem I had was the broadcom wlan drivers, but installing akmod
solved this nicely. The system is pretty bare, but that’s what I get for choosing an LXDE spin. I installed LibreOffice, some programming tools, ΤɛχLive, Pinta, Inkscape and a few other amenities.

sudo dnf install SimpleScan sane-backends-drivers-scanners


To get tap-to-click behavior, I first typed synclient TapButton1=1 TapButton2=3
, but that does not survive a reboot. So here’s my /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/51-tweaks.conf

# user settings for synaptics touchpad
Section "InputClass"
        Identifier "SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad"
        MatchDriver "synaptics"
        Option "TapButton1" "1"
        Option "TapButton2" "3"


Next, keyboard shortcuts. The following openbox configuration snippet takes care of both volume control and screen brightness control:

        pactl set-sink-mute alsa_output.pci-0000_00_1b.0.analog-stereo toggle
        pactl set-sink-volume alsa_output.pci-0000_00_1b.0.analog-stereo -5%
        pactl set-sink-volume alsa_output.pci-0000_00_1b.0.analog-stereo +5%
        xbacklight -time 0 -steps 1 -dec 2
        xbacklight -time 0 -steps 1 -inc 2


I wanted to print something, but the system had no printer service by default (I like this: Some systems really don’t need it). So I installed CUPS, but could not add a printer, CUPS just gave me a “forbidden” message (perhaps some group was missing?) Installing system-config-printer
and running it as root let me setup the printer easily.


Setting up a scanner (I use a flatbed for some tasks) required me to install both SimpleScan (my weapon of choice) and the sane-backends-drivers-scanners
package (because else no scanner could be found). I actually installed sane-backends-drivers-cameras
first by mistake, so the first “successful” scan showed my bemused face as captured by my notebook’s webcam.


I don’t like waiting for grub, so I put GRUB_TIMEOUT=0
into /etc/defaults/grub
and ran grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg


Fedora by itself has incomplete media playback capabilities, however, setting those up with the help of RPMFusion
isn’t too hard. One small glitch was that, as noted above, mplayer would not disable the screensaver. Adding a ~/.mplayer/config
file with:

heartbeat-command="xscreensaver-command -deactivate > /dev/null"

solved the issue.

The Verdict

Tip of the hat to the Fedora developers – they’ve created a solid distribution that I can heartily recommend to others. The above items were simple nits that were easy to fix (and may not hit other people with different needs or hardware anyway), and I’m very happy with my current setup.

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