Open Source

Bodhi Linux could easily become a desktop distribution contender

Find out why and how Jack Wallen thinks Bodhi Linux could become one of the most popular desktop distributions on the market.

 

Bodhi Linux
 Bodhi
 

Desktop Linux. It's a bacon-wrapped conundrum with a donut-flavored bun. You know the separate pieces are delicious, but you're not quite sure how they would taste together. Many distributions are working hard to come up with the exact combination of flavors to entice computer users around the world to come try their goods. Some, such as Ubuntu, are starting to see success. Others, such as Bodhi Linux, are so close to creating the right combination that  you can smell the goodness wafting through the air.

Additional Bodhi Linux resources on TechRepublic:

I've covered this particular Linux distribution a number of times. For a long while, it was my favorite flavor of Linux. Eventually, once audio recording became a must-have, I had to sadly leave Bodhi behind. During my absence, both Bodhi and Enlightenment, the window manager (Figure A), have matured quite a bit. Both are incredibly stable and lightning fast (the speed of Bodhi on a solid state drive is almost mind blowing). But even with its incredible growth, Bodhi is still relegated to the fringes of desktop usage.

Figure A

 

Bohdi
 

The Bodhi desktop with just a few minor tweaks.

A solution for Bodhi

This solution is two-fold. The first is primarily regarding Enlightenment. When you complete the installation of Bodhi and log into the desktop, you're presented with simple wizard to set up Enlightenment. This needs to go away. Yes, it's awesome that Enlightenment can be configured more than probably any other desktop interface. I was weened on such window managers, but for users not accustomed to such configurations, this can be an issue. And since everything about Enlightenment is drastically different than any other window manager ever used by the average person, much of this is gong to be confusing at best. With that in mind, it would be smart of Bodhi to eliminate this step in the process. Instead, it needs to have a default configuration, one that both shows off the incredible power and flexibility of Enlightenment, yet makes the whole of the environment easy for new users. It will be necessary to leave all of the configuration options available, so that familiar users can tweak their desktops to their hearts content.

The second solution might cut to the heart of the essence of Bodhi. This particular distribution prides itself on being a minimalist flavor of Linux. That's all fine and good, because it allows users to really pick and choose what applications to install. The problem is that new users are going to take one look at Synaptic and turn away. Don't get me wrong, I've used Synaptic for years and have always found it to be an outstanding tool. But let's take a look at a simple scenario...

One of the first things a user will want to install is an office suite. To do this, they fire up Synaptic and click on the "office" category. This is where things get a bit confusing. Quite a number of libraries reside within the office category, to the point where it could easily become a chore just to get LibreOffice installed.

Instead of this, I believe a new package manager needs to be developed -- one that's in line with the likes of the Ubuntu Software Center or any given smartphone app store. It needs to be painfully obvious how to get applications installed, and even groups of packages. For example, there could be a productivity package that includes apps such as:

  • LibreOffice
  • The Gimp
  • Scribus

There could also be a multi-media package that includes the following apps:

  • Clementine
  • VLC
  • OpenShot
  • Audacity

These packages would need to be a single click away from installation. Yes, it would mean a lot of development on the part of the Bodhi developers, but I strongly believe in making the Linux desktop as user-friendly as possible -- even for those distributions that pride themselves on being a tinkerer's dream. A new, end-user-friendly package manager would go a long way to help getting a distribution worthy of success into the hands of the masses.

Don't get me wrong -- as it is, Bodhi Linux is an outstanding distribution for users who really want to get their hands dirty with Linux. It could, however, with just a bit of work, easily become one of the best looking distributions available and one of the most popular distributions on the market.

Of course, to do that, they need help. One way to help is through a donation drive. The developers of Bodhi are raffling off a Chromebook with Bodhi Linux pre-installed. For a chance to win this special Chromebook, hop on over to the Bodhi donation page. For every $5.00 you donate, your name will go into the raffle for a Bodhi-powered, Samsung Chromebook with the following specs:

  • Screen size: 11.6 inches
  • Process 1.7 GHz Exynos 5000 Series
  • RAM 2 GB DDR3L SDRAM
  • HD: 16 GB eMMC
  • Graphics: Integrated
  • Wireless: 802.11 a/b/g/n

It's a sweet little machine and a great cause. Your donation will help one of the more unique flavors of Linux continue to grow. Hopefully, the developers will consider my advice and look to expand their reach. With just a couple of changes, Bodhi could quickly rise in the ranks of popularity for desktop (and mobile) computing.

What are your thoughts about Bodhi Linux? What changes and/or improvements would you make to this distribution? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

 

 

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

40 comments
Tegra250
Tegra250

Nice article, Jack.

But did the Bodhi AppCenter not meet your package requirements?

I agree that Synaptic is not newb-friendly, but the web-based AppCenter (<http://appcenter.bodhilinux.com/>)  is friendly and has useful 'Software Bundles' (in Lean and Generous sizes)  that will get one started as well as more specific "Bodhi Software Packages" for Audio, Education, Scientific Publishing, Web Dev and more.  You get a sensible bundle of software in a few clicks.  Pretty easy to use.


We've been with Bodhi since 1.0, and do really like it's stability and speed on old hardware. 

Done many installations for friends and family, lost count a long while back.  

Yes, the Configuration wizard on first startup is a bit less simple than the vanilla  of other desktops, but all it asks is:

 1) where/how do you like things on your desktop? (choose one picture from a list) 

...and 2) Which wallpaper (with matching theme) do you prefer? (choose another picture)


I'm arguing against myself, since I've seen n00bs hypnotised by this unprecedented level of choice!

Those same n00bs will (of course) click cheerfully on: "You have Viruz! Click here 4 Free Scanz!".

Which is why I end up helping them to clean their hard drives. < s i g h >


But there's a solid reason for offering the choice, since one of the first list of Bodhi options is the Touch-screen/Tablet one that works well on our ancient touch-screen iTronix GoBook (despite the P3 CPU and 256MB RAM) as well as a P3/512M RM Tablet that dual boots with Win XP Tablet Edition.

If you fail to offer this config choice on first booting  a tablet, you are left with a keyboard problem!


Sadly, yes, a boot-to-boring-desktop would be better suited to your average n00b.  

Let's not forget, we all started there! I'm not unsympathetic.


I've even been tempted to do a Bodhi spin that is marginally less minimal, boots live from DVD/USB, and has a default set of Apps from the AppCenter pre-installed. 

Been done before - see: 'Bloathi'


What's stopping me?  

Old age, and the cynical suspicion that helping some people in that way might populate the excellent, friendly Bodhi Forums with people who have yet to learn Netiquette.

pierrewinnipeg
pierrewinnipeg

Jack, 


Quelitu offers both an Lxde and a fully-configured Enlightenment interface.  To use the Enlightenment interface on the Live CD, simply log out and log back in using the Quelitu Jazz session.  The full instructions are at the link below.


Few people know about Quelitu because it is not yet on Distrowatch (but coming soon to it), but it has very good features, including an HUD-like app, a simpler Lxde interface, all that Enlightenment has to offer (minus the initial wizard....), backup, rescue, easy config, etc.


See the details at:

http://wavesofthefuture.net/computers/download-telecharger-descargas-free-gratuit-gratis-quelitu.shtml

chuck.warren
chuck.warren

You guys might want to take another look - Bohdi has added an Ubuntu-esque  software package installer called the Bodhi Linux App Center, which you can see (even without Bodhi installed) if you go to software.bodhilinux.com. They have individual one-click packages under the most common categories, and also bundles that make it easy to completely configure a computer with different groups of packages. 


As an IT professional I really want to see Linux succeed in the desktop space, but even though I use it every day as my primary computing platform there are things that must change first before it achieves widespread acceptance. Unfortunately for Ubuntu the Unity interface is one of them. In the case of Bodhi, the old "click anywhere on the desktop" menu access is another. As Microsoft discovered for themselves the average home user wants a Start button, and an All Programs list. Any other configuration will struggle to find acceptance, especially in the home. 


i have sold computers configured with Ubuntu to people with kids who can not keep clear of virus and spyware issues and have had great luck with that. However, in every case the only way I was able to get it to "stick" is to set up a flavor loaded with LXDE or something similar where the task bar is at the bottom and the Start button is on the left. Any other setup meets with immediate resistance. I have even gone so far as to configure these with a rolling grassland and blue sky background similar to Windows to ensure the end user's initial interaction is familiar to them. 


I know the purists will scream "FORCE THEM TO ACCEPT" but the truth is you can not. Any distribution of Linux that is going to succeed as a commercially viable Windows desktop replacement will have to look and act somewhat like Windows, or at least a bit more like OSX. 


Bodhi is a great distribution but it is still too Linux for non Linux users. Lose the initial Enlightenment configuration, add a system configuration that is at least more like the standard Ubuntu set up, and get rid of the click anywhere menu access and you have a Linux contender that is another step closer to the the home user's computer. 


Until then, Windows and OSX will rule. 

francesco44
francesco44

Bodhi is fast, higly configurable, works astonishingly well on old computers like Thinkpad x30 with a pentium3; but as you recomend it, it would be great if they could propose one or two preconfigured install for desktop. It is definetly difficult to remember all the tweakings. Personnaly I was able to configure it up to my taste but it took me four hours.....and now six month later I forgot how I did it. My main problem was having a stable config for Youtube. It worked fine but the config seemed to vanish at reboot. For this reason I installed Mint on my main work desktop (X61)...it works perfectly.....but it is slower and not a rolling distro. I would rather use Bodhi...if it was a little more easy to configure as you suggest it. Long Life to Bodhi, Enlightment, and Jeff Hoogland. Also some effort on icons choice and paperwalls would be nice. Everything is there to produce what could be one off the better distro. For me its a pity to have no time to collaborate....my main work on climate change on energy...takes all my daywork

cfg83
cfg83

Hi Jack - 


I am hoping Bodhi will grow as well.  Since the Enlightment core is also inside of the Samsung/Intel Tizen OS, I think this is having a positive effect on Enlightenment development.


cfg83

LouDamelin1
LouDamelin1

Linux is not ready for prime time.  I wish it were. As non techie coming from Windows I don't want a minimal O/S that requires hours of typing at the command line to make it work.  Unless you are a geek who enjoys creating software, it's just not fun. Not knowing what to type, I spend hours searching forums trying to solve a problem.  When I do find something that might work, eighty percent of the time it doesn't.


I don't want an O/S as an end in itself.  I want an O/S so I can browse the web, read email, burn a disk, print something, etc.  How radical is that?


I have tried live CD's of Puppy, Mint, Zorin, and PCLinux on my four computers.  All of them have different problems with all of my computers - I kid you not.  Wireless and graphics card drivers are a common problem.  I like Mint with the Cinnamon desktop, but the partitioning tool in the installer could not see my hard drives.  After experimenting with different flavors of Mint I found that the XFCE version will install on one of my desktops. 


I just bought a compatible wireless card so I'm ready to try, try again.  


Forgive the rant.  I'm usually more upbeat, but Linux hasn't been fun yet.



at78rpm
at78rpm

Linux Mint is the most stable flavor of Linux I've ever used.  I'm one of those who think the Gnome desktop is the pinnacle of human existence, so that's the interface I'm using.  It's like Ubuntu for people who've used Ubuntu.

erc
erc

Linux Mint has mintinstall, which is MUCH easier to use than Synaptic!

howard.blake
howard.blake

You know, I like Linux.  I'm currently diggin' on Linux Mint - Cinnamon desktop - it's great!  However, with that said, Linux is _still_ not for everyone and has a long way to go to shed the "geek" portion of Linux to make it acceptable for the casual user.  Yep - those of us that are IT professionals can love it's sleek curves and power, but if you really want to blow away the average person out there that is running either Mac or Windows, just show them the Terminal and have them try to do something.  It's gonna be ugly.  Linux on a tablet - great!  As long as the user NEVER HAS TO SEE the command line, they'll love it.

ittico
ittico

It looks very clean and easy to navigate, gonna have to try it.

Arnis1937
Arnis1937

It is a long time ago that I wrote programs in machine code, assembly, COBOL, Basic and early versions of 4GL. I no longer want to do it.

I liked the Linux/Ubuntu speel. Even manged to get it installed on one of my XP machines, but what about printing. Until Ubuntu can provide a complete working package without the need to resort to use of a variety of command phrases and search the world for printer drivers it will never take off, even if you pay people to use it. Ease of use is everything these days. 

Shawn Quinn
Shawn Quinn

i'm running a Bodhi vm, but haven't had much time to explore it.

breenmt
breenmt

I hate to rain on the *nix parade here - but have been in the business since CPM and thourobred Basic before MSDOS. Been there through Haiku and BeOS - Saw the HP OS die with the touchpad... Until you can make it easy enough for your mother or grandmother to load, use and get something out of it - you might as well be working in assembler or designing something in Cobol. Leave the geek bubble for a while and see that ease of use is what sells (iPhone anyone). Blackberry and Palm never figured it out - maybe they listened to the ideas propagated here. When you need a TechRepublic article on how to change the Bodhi wallpaper - you have already lost the battle.

Nigel Whelan
Nigel Whelan

Ubuntu is a great ,free, easy to use ,and did i mention .FREE. Put a bit of effort in and the results will amaze you.

Razzo Martínez Salazar
Razzo Martínez Salazar

Linux is so boring, you must know first computer science in order to know how to use it full... "Stop trying to make linux distro popular , it's not gonna happen"

Piyush Saxena
Piyush Saxena

1. Ubuntu 2. Fedora 3. Debian 4. Mint 5. Mageia 6. Tails 7. Ubuntu GNOME (Y)

Крис Скотт
Крис Скотт

Gentoo Linux is the only distro I use from my Pentesting platform for work to my daily desktop and servers to my ARM toys. Everything next to Gentoo well they can hardly be considered Linux.

marcushh777
marcushh777

hi Jack,


  I have a couple of critiques of the article... first, gnu/linux is not on the market... nor does it have market share... that is one of the most irritating and fundamentally disturbing of the gnu/linux concepts to master. Please give it a try.


   Second, it is counter productive to refer to "getting ones hands dirty in linux".  Gnu/Linux is arguably the cleanest operating systems available for free download.  Please, no talk of getting dirty.


   Third, Gnu/Linux distributions should not be minimalist in this day and age. Back in the day when hardware, drives and memory, were limited small was better....  not today.  If Bodhi is minimalist, that's the main reason for leaving it behind, until it comes up to the 21st century.


   I do agree with your spot-on analysis of "default" for the desk, and the need for a simple elegant installer. 



   Most of what your article talks about can be lumped under the category of state-of-the-art.  Bodhi is lagging behind in this regard.  


   But, once again, I laud the effort and I appreciate the diversity. Welcome Bodhi... and keep up the good work.


Cheers

hotleenie
hotleenie

I have used Bodhi. It is fast like you said, and a sharp looking desktop. E17 was easy- once you learn where the settings are. I had it running on 128 mb ram and 433 mhz processor. I still haven't used the newest version of Bodhi, you have inspired me to download it again. Thank you much.


Debian base is surely the way to go. They still support those really old pcs. You cannot find an Ubuntu distro that will run on i586 architecture today. (That is why I can't use Bodhi for my really old pcs)


I agree, they need a software center.  Synaptic can be confusing. I remember looking for Linux distros with software centers...


The gdebi package installer is another way to get what I want in Bodhi.


The Midori browser does not work with Hotmail the last time I used it. Qupzilla is also very light and functional browser, easier to use than Midori. Maybe it could be a replacement?








garfield_c2277
garfield_c2277

i installed Bodhi on a laptop, and loved it for briefly (month or two I recall), then decided I didn't & it was gone the next month..  (can't be specific as Nov'13 is too long ago but do recall deciding I was no fan of enlightment)

I do recall it using a browser to install software & was no fan of that though thankfully I install most software via apt-get | bash.  

Gisabun
Gisabun

Oh here's another Linux distro taking it's [eventual] 0.15% of the OS market share. What they gain will probably be those moving away from their current distro. But at least it beats the Chrome OS. :-)

Oh. The raffle isn't really a "Chromebook" if Chrome OS isn't on it. Call the hardware what it really is - a netbook.

JohneKerr
JohneKerr

I did use Bodhi Linux on my Asus EEE 701. this is the original EEE and has that SD drive that is permanently partitioned. Bodhi installed quite well, and ran fast. I run Crunchbang on it now  due to the desktop layout takes less screen space but I would strongly recommend Bodhi Linux. for other computers.  If you have one of those old eee computers you still may want to try Bodhi as the desktop layout looks more efficient now.

sslove
sslove

bodhi really is an awesome distro, and the 2nd version really looks slick with the matte grey, easy on the eyes default look. e17 is really great  if you want to tweak your system, but it always looked super tacky. the new default theme is simple and clean. 


as for the installing of packages, bodhi has always had the super simple one click install via a web browser, including installing bundles of software. i don't know any other distro that has either of those features. bodhi's beginner documentation is great. i'm really surprised it isn't way more popular. 


i have installed it for computer dumb friends who have really old computers because it was the only thing that would run on those computers, well, maybe puppy and the like, but out of what i had on hand, bodhi ran fast, surprisingly fast, when nothing else would even boot to a desktop. bodhi uses less resources and looks way nicer and has tons more features than the other lightweight DE's/WM's out there.


tested against openbox and lxde, bodhi was lighter and faster. pretty amazing when you consider how feature rich it is and how nice it looks (nowadays). aside from the current default theme(bodhi 2), most of the others are still in cheesey, bad acid land, so i'd say stick with that default theme, and thank goodness it's the default, the bling in e17 themes is ridiculous.

sslove
sslove

bodhi really is an awesome distro, and the 2nd version really looks slick with the matte grey, easy on the eyes default look. e17 is really great  if you want to tweak your system, but it always looked super tacky. the new default theme is simple and clean. 


as for the installing of packages, bodhi has always had the super simple one click install via a web browser, including installing bundles of software. i don't know any other distro that has either of those features. bodhi's beginner documentation is great. i'm really surprised it isn't way more popular. 


i have installed it for computer dumb friends who have really old computers because it was the only thing that would run on those computers, well, maybe puppy and the like, but out of what i had on hand, bodhi ran fast, surprisingly fast, when nothing else would even boot to a desktop. bodhi uses less resources and looks way nicer and has tons more features than the other lightweight DE's/WM's out there. tested against openbox and lxde, bodhi was lighter and faster. pretty amazing when you consider how feature rich it is and how nice it looks nowadays. aside from the default grey theme, most of the others are still in cheesey bad acid land, so i'd say stick with that default theme, and thank goodness it's the default, the bling in e17 themes is ridiculous.

jlwallen
jlwallen

@chuck.warrenI did take a look at the AppCenter on Bohdi. Although it is a step in the right direction, it's still a step behind. Effectively, the AppCenter is a web site (http://appcenter.bodhilinux.com/) that allows you to click on various packages so they can be installed. This is certainly much more in tune with the needs of the new user. However, it would benefit Bodhi greatly to distance the AppCenter from the web browser. It may be just a matter of perception, but it must be remembered that so many users (new users, specifically) have been burned so many times from installing apps from a web site.


I wouldn't think this much of a challenge for such a talented group of developers.


But outside of what I mentioned, Bodhi is an amazing distribution that needs just a few tweaks to be seriously considered among the finest of desktop distributions.

johnpiers
johnpiers

@at78rpm  You have obviously never used ARCH Linux then and sorry to say Gnome is full of shit! That said I do use it but has plenty of things that go pear shaped from time to time! Linux Mint is just another offshoot of Ubuntu which in turn is based on Debian.

howard.blake
howard.blake

Nigel - free is good, but MAC OS is free now (granted, you have to have a proprietary box to use it!).  But Linux is still too "geeky" for the average person out there and is doomed to failure until it can be as easy to use, install hardware/software as Windows or MAC.

ojomann
ojomann

Razzo, That would probably be one of the lamest replies I've seen on a tech site. Of course one need some basic science. It's a computer. And more - you'd be a fool not to know some of it when launching Windows. Nowadays, even Linux Mint is easier to handle. And dude, to know Windows in full wouldn't you need some more science than just learning the difference between msconfig and secpol.msc?

thebaldguy
thebaldguy

Such an intelligent reply from that incredible collection of brains, Facebook...

sslove
sslove

@hotleenie if you want an e17 distro with a debian base, check out elive.


also, like i said in a previous comment to this article, bodhi has a one click install via a browser, what can be easier? it's super simple and a nice way to install software for anyone. currently you can do that with midori and chromium.

sslove
sslove

@Gisabun worse than a netbook i'd say, at least netbooks had storage. chromebooks have a fraction of the storage of my cellphone (a 32GB model with 64gb micro sd)


*written from a netbook with a 1TB hd

sslove
sslove

@JohneKerr i'm a stickler for screen real estate, that's exactly why i love bodhi/e17. you can right click a title bar and select border, then select borderless and then check the little box that says something like, remember this for  setting. now my opera browser, for instance, or any app i like, launches full screen automatically. IF i NEED to resize a window, you can simply right click the window button on the "shelf" and you have your window menu there. the shelf is auto-hidden on my netbook as well.

at78rpm
at78rpm

@howard.blakeNot at all so.  My wife uses Ubuntu 10 and never, ever has a problem.  I am a network admin at my school district, and the last thing I want when I get home is a computer problem; hence my installation of Ubuntu on her laptop 6 years ago.  Bear in mind, my lovely wife seems to have a magnetic field surrounding her: electronic things tend to break when she comes into close proximity.  Not so her computer, to both my and to her astonishment.  That's testament enough for me to the ultimate simplicity of Linux -- and U10 is not even of recent vintage.

Winlinuser
Winlinuser

@ojomannMy 88 year old father swapped from XP to Ubuntu 3 months ago and found Ubuntu easier to use than XP, quicker and more secure.  How easy can it get?

chuck.warren
chuck.warren

@at78rpm @howard.blake My wife is a complete technophobe and the baseline by which I measure ease of use. My primary computer is Ubuntu (13 right now but might drop back to 12.04) and I desperately wanted to install some flavor of Linux for her to avoid virus and spyware issues. However, I settled on Windows 8 and a touchscreen. Although most people power users and admins scream about the "big button" interface at first I find that end users with minimal abilities become comfortable with it quickly. I think it's because they do not immediately start looking for all of the same controls and adjustments they want to make and once they are on the desktop they don't care about anything but IE, Chrome or Firefox. 


Ubuntu and it's many offshoots are great contenders but they are not "cooked" quite yet. 

howard.blake
howard.blake

@Winlinuser @ojomann  I'll bet he's not living on the command line daily (unless he's a computer pro and been around this a long time) or he wouldn't find it easy.  GUI is GUI, but once you have to leave it to do hardware/software installs from the Linux command line, it becomes an entirely new ballgame for the casual user.

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