LXDE, the New Lightweight Linux Desktop - page 2
The Openbox configuration manager (found under 'Preferences' from the main menu) took slightly longer than I'd expected to start up, but once it's running, you'll find that the Openbox is reasonably configurable – although I was slightly disappointed by the small range of options.
LXDE is certainly extremely fast, and according to its own CPU monitor, uses very little CPU. However, its configurability is less convincing – some options don't seem to work properly, and others require you to directly edit an XML file, which is not something I really expect from a modern graphical desktop environment. (Having said that, the fact that the config files are easily human-readable is definitely a plus point!).
I'd consider using it on a very old or slow machine, simply for the speed, in which case I'd accept the configurability niggles as a fair trade-off. On a more up-to-date machine, however, I'd stick with another of the lightweight options. To be fair, LXDE is explicitly designed for working with cloud-based applications on older or smaller machines, so it's reasonable that it should work out better on a minimalist netbook or a much older machine than on a fully-fledged modern desktop. It certainly does lightweight speed well.
If you do use a netbook, note that LXLauncher is an eeepc-style version of LXDE which is optimised for small screens. I didn't test it (not having a netbook myself), but it might be worth checking out, especially for an older machine.
About the Author
Juliet Kemp has been messing around with Linux systems, for financial reward and otherwise, for about a decade. She is also the author of "Linux System Administration Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach" (Apress, 2009).