Since Lubuntu changes its desktop from LXDE to LXQt there have been changes in icons of the panel and PCmanFM, the file manager. I am not an experienced user but I am wondering why a change in technology also has to come with changes in the look and feel of the desktop environment.

Especially when Lubuntu 18.10 is also using PCmanFM (qt version) I don't understand why PCmanFM does not simply look as clean as it did in 18.04.

Is there a way to use settings, e.g. openbox configuration manager or others, to make the new Lubuntu look like the last one(s)?

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    You have the concept inverted. The "look and feel" come from those basic LXDE/LQXT technologies. You are essentially asking why oranges and limes don't taste the same, and can this orange please be tweaked back into a lime. – user535733 Oct 19 at 17:26
  • I don't understand this. When I open up the start menu in Lubuntu 16.04 all the icons have the same color. How can this not be implemented easily in LQXt? – Ben Oct 19 at 20:54
  • I don't think that installing an older LXDE is possible. Installing it as answer two suggests brings up original LXDE and not the clean Lubuntu desktop. – Ben Oct 20 at 17:01
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    You just have to remember to upgrade the LTS releases before they go EOL. 16.04LTS will go EOL in 2021. So, if you did like the look and feel of 18.04LTS it will go until 2023. Just won't get the updates to Lubuntu until then. By the way, it's the way they package LXDE into Lubuntu that makes the difference over installing it on your own. Most of that can be theming to make it look that clean. – Terrance Oct 20 at 19:29
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    After the LTS goes EOL it can be upgraded still, but there are files that need to be changed, etc. where this answer shows how to do the changes so the upgrade can occur. I do think though that they gamble on the user not making it the full 5 years and upgrade their systems in 2 with the LTS release cycles. So, I can see your frustration too. You get used to something and it does make it hard when they change it especially to a way that you don't like. – Terrance Oct 21 at 14:53
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Since Lubuntu changes its desktop from LXDE to LXQt there have been changes in icons of the panel and PCmanFM, the file manager. I am not an experienced user but I am wondering why a change in technology also has to come with changes in the look and feel of the desktop environment.

It's because it was a complete rewrite of the desktop. It wasn't just a single underlying technology change; the whole release should be considered a new feature.

The Lubuntu theme, Box, was starting to bitrot. There's no way currently to get that theme back, because not only would it require reworking for LXQt, it needs maintenance.

Sorry; if you enjoyed the old Lubuntu, it's still supported for the next 2.5 years.

  • 2
    @Terrance LTS for 5 years is only for core Ubuntu, other flavors are 3 years if I remember my data right. – Thomas Ward Oct 19 at 17:23
  • Yes, but since I already upgraded there is no way to go back. – Ben Oct 19 at 17:23
  • @Ben that's why folks are encouraged to read the Release Notes. – user535733 Oct 19 at 17:33
  • @Ben you could probably go through your dpkg/apt logs and unroll all the changes. Also, you had backups, right? – wxl Oct 19 at 17:58
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    @Ben, I've gone through many of your other questions. You're being unfair to yourself by claiming to be "a normal end-user". I think your competence exceeds that. I suggest you get more involved in any distro you use during its development. Your assistance and opinion in the formative stages of Lubuntu LXQt would have been most appreciated. Even now, if you engage with the community, you can help make the next LTS rock-solid. After all, the intermediate releases are recognized as test beds for the next LTS. – DK Bose Oct 20 at 13:15

You can log into the new LXQt desktop and install LXDE.

In a terminal, type

sudo apt install lxde

It will install lxde and many other packages.

After it finishes, log out. Choose LXDE from the drop down menu in the upper left, and log in again.

enter image description here

It should look more familiar.

enter image description here

Tested in a virtual machine on 10/19/18.

  • The question is about making an install look like Lubuntu 18.04. Your answer is just simply how to install LXDE, which is simple enough in and of itself but it doesn't answer the question asked. – Simon Quigley Oct 19 at 22:08
  • The answer is not so bad. I am wondering why this kind of LXDE works but LXDE in the Lubuntu-way wont work (or gets released). But I am pretty sure that I will re-install Lubuntu 16.04 anyway. – Ben Oct 19 at 22:16
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    Well, all the best to you. Didn't you mean 18.04? But on the bright side, your questions have brought two senior Lubuntu guys here! – DK Bose Oct 20 at 12:56
  • I meant 16.04 because with 18.04 I also have troubles with my Samba share (crashes when reading from a filesystem called mp3fs) and PCmanFM crashes a lot in itself. Thank you very much for your help and effort. Lubuntu with its clean surface (simple scan, Abiword, PCmanFM etc.) is a healing experience! – Ben Oct 20 at 17:00
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    I'm a huge Lubuntu fan myself, and if I started today, I'm sure LXQt would be fine with me. But I've invested a lot of time in learning how to customize the menus, etc in LXDE and I'm not ready to do that over yet. – Organic Marble Oct 20 at 17:49

I am going to leave this here even if it is told that it will not be supported coming up with GTK 4. These steps do also install into Xubuntu nicely so you can apply the same look and feel.

EDIT: 2018-10-21 I changed the answer to cover only Lubuntu 18.10 with LXQt and not using LXDE.


I think I understand what you are trying to do here. To get the older look and feel before they changed everything it can be done. First determine what default Lubuntu Art you liked the most and download it from https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/lubuntu-artwork I chose Bionic Beaver 0.71.

Open a terminal window and go to your ~/Downloads folder.

cd ~/Downloads

Now extract the downloaded file.

tar -xvf lubuntu-artwork_0.71.tar.xz

Go to the lubuntu-artwork folder that has been created

cd lubuntu-artwork

In there you will see a bunch of files. All that we are concerned about is the src folder. Go into that folder.

cd src

In there it will contain a usr folder. All we have to do is copy that folder to the root of your drive

sudo cp -Rv * /

It will copy all the files to the correct locations.

Now, click on the Menu -> Preferences -> LXQt Settings -> Appearance

In Widget Style make sure the Lubuntu-dark-panel is selected for both the GTK 2 and GTK 3 theme

enter image description here

Then for Icon Theme choose Lubuntu-dark-panel

enter image description here

Then in LXQt Theme choose Lubuntu

enter image description here

Right click anywhere on the panel at the bottom and choose Configure Panel. Then select Override Icon Theme and choose Lubuntu-dark-panel

enter image description here

PCManFM is not installed by default, but you can still install it after if you like and don't want to use PCManFM-Qt

sudo apt install pcmanfm

PCManFM-Qt (Left) and PCManFM (Right). PCManFM is found under the Menu -> System Tools

enter image description here

Here's what I got the LXQt desktop looking like

enter image description here

Hope this helps!

  • This is a really comprehensive answer. As I learned now Qt offers a different (probably better) technology than DE. Combined with your findings and the high appreciation of my question I was wondering if it would be possible to apply the changes to Qt more fundamentally and for the future. This should also include other features, for example beeing able to set up fast launch icons in the panel via a context menu and not just by drag and drop. Also, PCmanFM-qt should be made as clean as in the DE-version. That way we could use the future technology but with the clean looks. – Ben Oct 21 at 5:55
  • While I thank you for the detailed response, I would really discourage people from doing this en masse because the theme is completely maintained at this point. If someone wanted to fork Box and modernize it though, that would be appreciated. – Simon Quigley Oct 21 at 7:05
  • what do you mean by "completely maintained at this point"? – Ben Oct 21 at 7:28
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    Ugh, typo. I meant unmaintained, sorry. It'll break for sure as GTK upgrades versions. – Simon Quigley Oct 25 at 2:26
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    @Ben Simon is a maintainer. wiki.ubuntu.com/tsimonq2 – Terrance Nov 4 at 2:32

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