The plan is to choose an LXDE distro to put on a USB Drive to boot directly into Linux. The plan will be a distro that will be fast and responsive but also includes a usable selection of software.
In this post, I am focusing on a basic overview of three distros; Lubuntu, Peppermnit 5. and LXLE.
I ran Lubuntu 14.10 in Virtualbox which is the most recent version of LXDE. As expected my overall experience was fast and responsive.
Pro - Lubuntu Software Manager and Iconify Windows. Anyone who has ever used Ubuntu or Linux Mint's Software Center will be confronted with a sluggish experience. Lubuntu Software Center opened quickly and was very responsive. The Apps basket was also a big plus. A neat feature of LXDE / Lubuntu is the ability to iconify windows. This can be done individually or as a way to give the panel a dock like feel.
Con - Lubuntu did not include Chromium, Libre Office, or Gimp. For my needs these are basic programs. I use Chrome OS and if I need a Linux distro for some task chances are that Libre Office or Gimp are needed. As far as an email program Lubuntu ships with Sylpheed rather than Thunderbird.
Peppermint has been a long time favorite of mine for a light distro. Peppermint 5 felt fast and responsive and continues to utilize cloud based apps.
Pro - Chromium web browser and cloud integration. I love that Peppermint is one of the few distros that includes Chromium. I also like that the vast majority of apps in the file menu are cloud based. As a Chrome OS user this makes Peppermint a good fit.
Con - Software Updater. Peppermint uses the Linux Mint Software Manager but Ubuntu updater. It would be nice if they used Linux Mint's leveled update system.
LXLE is an optimized LXDE user interface based upon Lubuntu. I downloaded the 32 bit version which is based off of Lubuntu 12.04. I was cautiously optimistic because the distro is well over a year old.
Upon booting LXLE I was pleasently surprised. The desktop looked really sharp with a professional presentation.
Pro - PCManFM, Random Wallpaper, Iconify Button, Conky, Weather, Claws, Libre Office. While I generally do not like a lot of apps installed in Linux distros, I was quite impressed with the choice of apps in LXLE.
Con - I needed the 32 bit version for Virtual Box which was based on 12.04, the 64 bit version uses 14.04. Even so a year is pretty old for a Linux distro.