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Archive for March 2, 2011

My Thoughts on Bodhi Linux

Bodhi Linux is a relatively new Linux distribution that is based on Ubuntu but uses the Enlightenment desktop environment/window manager. I’ve recently mentioned Bodhi here, but since then I’ve installed the second release candidate (0.1.6) of Bodhi Linux on my upstairs computer, and after using it for about five or six days I can definitively say that I love it!

My current Bodhi desktop:

Bodhi Linux began in the mind of Jeff Hoogland who writes a blog called Thoughts on Technology that I’ve enjoyed reading for a while. Jeff wanted to create a Linux distro using Enlightment instead of the most popular window managers like Gnome, KDE or Xfce. He wanted to built it from the stable Ubuntu base, but be very light on system resources and minimalistic, allowing the user to add their preferred utilities and applications and make it into whatever they want. And despite the incredible degree of desktop customization and the beautiful visual effects available without the need for proprietary drivers, Enlightenment is extremely fast and light. It makes a great choice for older computers with slower hardware, and runs like lightning on newer machines.

The only drawback I can see with the Enlightenment Desktop is, because of its intricate degree of customizing options, it could be a little confusing for anyone new to Linux. Or even people used to using KDE or the Gnome desktop. Enlightenment does things differently and takes a little time to learn. But it’s well worth it! And Bodhi Linux has some great resources on their website with a Quickstart Guide, numerous tutorials and a web page of software compiled especially for Bodhi that allows you to install a growing number of plugins, codecs and many applications with one click. The list of software seems to be growing daily. Or you can install software using the Synaptic Package Manager. That’s the other nice thing about being based on Ubuntu; if you’re familiar with the tools in Ubuntu-based distros it makes it much easier to use Bodhi. The current release of Bodhi Linux even comes with the Nautilus Elementary file browser (though PCMan may also become available in the future) and using GTK themes as well as having numerous Enlightenment themes available to install from the web site.

When you first install Bodhi Linux, or boot from the Live CD, you’re presented with a number of Enlightenment desktop profiles to choose from. The installation process is very easy, based on the Ubuntu ubiquity installer. After installation Bodhi boots really quickly (I think about ten seconds or so on my six-year-old HP Compaq). The initial installation comes with hardly any applications; Network Manager, Firefox 4 beta 12, and LXTerminal, if I remember correctly. The network manager in the top shelf (equivalent of panel/taskbar) connected to my wi-fi connection with no problem. When I opened Firefox and checked out Youtube, I discovered that Flash was not installed as it is with Linux Mint or Pinguy OS, which I’ve become accustomed to. It’s not installed by default in Ubuntu, either. But a quick trip to the Bodhi Software page allowed me to easily install the Flash and Java plugins, as well as most of the other applications I wanted. Between that and Synaptic all the extras you might want are a couple of clicks away. Plus over the next couple of days I added more Bodhi/Enlightenment themes and icons, as well as GTK themes and anything else my little heart desires. So at the moment I have my Bodhi system set up with just about everything I could want. And for still being in beta, until the final first release coming out shortly, Bodhi Linux runs great! I had used an Enlightenment distro two years ago on my laptop (Moon OS 3) and thought it interesting, but the Bodhi team has done an excellent job with this distro. I’m really loving Enlightenment!

Things I love about Bodhi:

The main menu can be accessed by left-clicking anywhere on the desktop. As seen in my desktop picture above. What a great idea! When I use our other desktop computer downstairs I miss this little convenience. Also, you can configure application Favorites to appear when you right-click anywhere on the desktop. So basically I put all the applications I use regularly and my home directory in Favorites, so I can instantly launch those applications by right-clicking. Which saves on desktop real estate instead of using a dock or putting launchers in the shelf.

Desktop effects work without proprietary drivers. The computer I’ve installed Bodhi on is not capable of using extra drivers (Intel Pentium 4 with integrated graphics) unlike our other desktop box with Nvidia graphics. Enlightenment cannot use Compiz window manager, which provides extra effects for other Linux desktop environments, but instead uses Ecomorph, which is based on Compiz and works on E17 (the current version of Enlightenment). I think I’ve got that straight. But what it means is my old computer has beautiful window transitions, transparency, wobbly windows and lots of other groovy visuals ‘out of the box’, as they say. Because for me, the way an operating system looks is almost as important as how well it works!

The Bodhi development team is amazing! In a few short months Jeff has added numerous people to this project. And what they have created and how quickly development has taken place is really astounding! From the recourses available on the web site, to the quality of detail of the distro, I can’t wait to see what the future brings. I think Bodhi Linux will have a big influence on bringing the sleek and innovative Enlightenment Desktop to the attention of current and potential Linux users.

The Enlightenment Settings Window:

I think the only thing lacking for me is E17 doesn’t appear to have settings to automatically put the computer into sleep mode after an allotted period of time, like other Ubuntu derivatives. There’s a setting in power management to put the display to sleep, but not to suspend the computer itself. I’ll have to look into that more.

I think Bodhi Linux has become tied with Linux Mint as my two favorite Linux distros. So for anyone with some experience using Ubuntu or Linux, I would recommend giving Bodhi a try. With a little patience and exploration, Bodhi Linux can be quite Enlightening! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!)

And check out the links…

Bodhi Linux Home Page –  Eight Reasons to give E17 a Try

Bodhi Screenshot Tour & E Updates

Bodhi Linux 0.1.6 RC2 – First Look and Initial Impressions

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