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Bodhi Linux: E17 and Ubuntu make a great combination

Jack Wallen returns to his roots - Enlightenment - thanks to the new Ubuntu re-spin Bodhi Linux. See if you think Bodhi should be your next Linux distribution of choice.

As anyone who has read my ramblings long enough knows, I am a big fan of the Enlightenment desktop. I've been enjoying this take on the Linux desktop since the early E16 days. For a while, however, I left E17 for GNOME simply because the combination of Ubuntu and GNOME made perfect sense. Not only was Ubuntu a very stable distribution, GNOME had come a long, long way.

You will also have more than likely read my recent trepidation regarding the changes coming to the Ubuntu desktop (Unity). Although Ubuntu 11.04 will offer a traditional GNOME desktop selection at log in, I realized that Ubuntu Unity is just not the desktop for me. So, I decided it was time to head back to the land of Enlightenment. But instead of going through the paces of installing E17 on top of Ubuntu, I decided to search out a distribution that would combine the two.

The old stand-byes were dead; so I posted in "10 Ubuntu re-spins I'd like to see" that I wanted an E17/Ubuntu combination. My request was answered in the form of Bodhi Linux.This take on the Linux distribution claims to be "a minimal, enlightened Linux desktop." And that is just what Bodhi is. But don't let the "minimal" moniker keep you from giving this a try. Although once installed, Bodhi does only include a minimal amount of user-space applications (one web browser, no email client, no office suite, no graphics applications, etc.), all of these apps are but a click away, thanks to the Synaptic package manager.

Bodhi Linux

Once the installation was complete (typical installation from Live CD to installed desktop), I was met with a very minimal E17 desktop. It only took about 10 minutes to get from that to the desktop you see at right. That desktop included the addition of various software titles, configuring the compositor, and configuring the shelves to my liking (and the addition of the zombie wallpaper).

Answering the big questions

How does Bodhi Linux perform?

Bodhi Linux has the advantage of being lightweight. Because it is not taking advantage of the heavier weight desktops, Bodhi is fast. It boots fast and it performs faster than most Linux distributions (maybe not the likes of DSL or Puppy Linux.) This statement even holds true with the compositor running. How fast? A simple, real-world test had me opening up The GIMP on two different (but equally equipped) machines. Machine A was my Bodhi Linux machine and Machine B was a standard Ubuntu 10.10 machine. Here are the average start times for The GIMP:

  • Machine A: 4.7 seconds
  • Machine B: 11.1 seconds
Those results pretty much speak for themselves. The GIMP is often one of the slower tools to start on Linux and Bodhi cut the start time by over 50%. Impressive.
Is Bodhi a worthwhile replacement for standard Ubuntu?

This is a tougher to answer. Is Bodhi Linux a good distribution for new users? Probably not. Because it requires a little post-installation work to be useful, I would say new users need not apply. But anyone wanting more performance from Linux, without GNOME or KDE, could find it to be the perfect replacement.

Generally speaking, I find users either love E17 or hate it. So whether or not Bodhi is a worthwhile replacement for you will depend on where you fall on the E17 continuum. That is not to say E17 has a tough learning curve;i's fairly easy to pick up, and you shouldn't let one of the best selling points of the distro turn you away (at least not from giving it a first try.)

Should Bodhi become a standard Ubuntu re-spin?

The answer to this question is simple: Yes! We already have the KDE spin, but many other re-spins fail to gain "official" status (Lubuntu can not seem to gain this). Although Bodhi is missing the catchy *buntu name, I believe it deserves "official" status. Why? With the change coming up to the official Ubuntu desktop, there will be users looking for alternatives. If Ubuntu wants to retain its user-base, it should certainly want to have as many official re-spins as it can. Not only will this go a long way to pleasing the users, it will also go an equally long way to appease the Linux community. Currently Ubuntu and GNOME are in the middle of a spat and who knows what the outcome of that will be. If this spat goes severely awry, Ubuntu could find itself in search of a new standard desktop. Although the chances of that happening are slim, if it were to happen the most likely replacement would be KDE. With KDE as the primary desktop a new "official" alternative would need to be put in place. I can't see any reason why Bodhi shouldn't be this "official" alternative.

Give Bodhi a try

If you are looking for a new Linux distribution to try, give Bodhi a chance. It's fast, it has a solid foundation, and offers one of the finest desktops available on a PC. Once you do try it, report back here and let us know your take.

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.

19 comments
RichardSanches
RichardSanches

I was looking to test out some lighter distros and found the official status Lubuntu distro and bodhi. I havn't tried Lubuntu yet, but I love bodhi. What I love about it is that it has a bare minimal packages installed. I love the philosophy of installing what I want. I already expect to not like Lubuntu because it has Libre office. I havn't tried Libre office, and I'm sure it's almost exactly the same as open office, but since it's new and I havn't tried it yet, so I'm already biased against it. I've been using bodhi for somewhere between 2 to 4 weeks. At first I was thinking it would take a while for me to determine if it was good. My biggest concern was stability. I'm already convinced that it's stable. For some reason, probably because of the reviews I have seen, I had a feeling that I would like Enlightenment. I was right. I love it. It's awesome. I've tried several other WMs, but none of them really stood out for me. They all just seemed like another version of the same thing, but Enlightenment rocks. I hated Gnome because it's a friggen gorilla. Unity is the same. I wanted light. I wanted performance. I mean, that's a linux thing. Right? I was wanting to explore other distros cause ubuntu is becoming a major HOG! Even Xubuntu is heavy. Now I think I might stick with at least one ubuntu distro. I'll probably still try Lubuntu on one of my other boxes, and I'll probably try another distro like slackware or arch base on one of my other boxes, but I'm pretty confident that I found one debian based distro that I can stick with. It's fine with me if they pack a version with all the essentials so the beginner will have everything they will want out of the box, but hopefully they will continue to offer the bare bones install where I can install only the stuff I want.

phil
phil

Have installed it on a few machines now and its certainly fast. There are a few minor niggles but overall its a great distro.

tjavailable
tjavailable

Design principles behind Bodhi are User centric-It is upto the user to decide how his desktop should look like, what applications are installed and how they function. Check it out Here

spearcejr
spearcejr

Attractive, flexible,easy to use, but still needs some work. Did not recognize network shares (neither Windows nor Linux). Beats Unity.

wim.dukker
wim.dukker

I tried Bodhi on several older machines (e.g. IBM Thinkpad T41) and all gave serious errors about libraries. So I stopped my survey :( wimduk

pmerighi
pmerighi

Downloading now, I'll try it on a VMachine, and see what happens

ptmbcu
ptmbcu

Enlightenment is new to me - it is an appealing and intuitive desktop. It seems to me that Bodhi Linux is a very good application for laptops and netbooks. I will be giving it a try and on first aquaintance it looks to be a good Linux replacement for current systems.

The Management consultant
The Management consultant

Some good ideas here...... but if you are partially sighted Enlightenment has not arrived....conclusion needs more development to be adopt as main UI.

apotheon
apotheon

This is a good thing. I'm not really much of a fan of Enlightenment, personally. My preference has been for more lightweight options (Enlightenment is a corpulent swine, for my purposes). Still, I like it a lot more than GNOME or KDE, and I understand that my tastes are not the same as everyone else's. I also can't fault the licensing for Enlightenment, which is certainly better than that of GNOME or KDE. I have recently been "forced" to use some kind of Linux distribution rather than my preferred FreeBSD. I chose Debian, and because Debian (and every other Linux distribution, as far as I'm aware) doesn't come with AHWM -- my preferred window manager of the last half decade -- I shopped around for what to use. I ended up going with Enlightenment for a while. It served its purpose reasonably well. Eventually, some of Enlightenment's user obsequious quirks started to get on my nerves, and I started shopping around again. I replaced it with i3, a tiling window manager that is surprisingly beginner-friendly, as well as being "power user" friendly (especially once I changed the directional keybindings from jkl; to hjkl to better match my vi muscle memory). Going back to something as lightweight as such a minimal and natively keyboard-driven window manager, even if it isn't my window manager of choice from the last half decade, was a breath of fresh air for me. I feel pretty certain that if I was more of a heavy mouse user that cared about things like compositing, however, Englightenment would be among my favorite GUI environments. I keep toying with the idea of putting together a BSD Unix system for end users that comes with Enlightenment by default, because I think people need that option, but have never found the time to undertake the task.

sinbad66
sinbad66

I just spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to install from the live cd. Only when I tried the netbook desktop did I get an icon that let me do a full install from there. Very frustrating.

Giph
Giph

I am definitely going to start testing this out... These are the elements that matter to me in a distro. lightweight + enlightenment + reliable.

johnmessa
johnmessa

Definetly I wanna try it now!

atoms
atoms

Thanks for posting this Jack! I was a huge fan of the idea of Enlightenment way back in the proverbial day ( I think like ten years ago? ) but it was kinda flakey back then so I eventually gave up on it. I was just thinking a day or two ago how it might be fun to set up a linux box (or probably dual boot my mostly unused PC) and I was wondering if E even still existed. I think I'm gonna go for it!

minderaser
minderaser

Jack, Thanks for the informative review on Bodhi Linux. As a user of Bodhi for a few months now, I feel compelled to clarify a few things: a) You say "...all of these apps are but a click away, thanks to the Synaptic package manager." Well, it's even easier than that! Check out http://software.bodhilinux.com where you will find gobs of applications neatly organized (unlike with Synaptic where you often have to know the name of an application to be able to find it) with full descriptions. And the best part: each package has an "Install Now" button that immediately installs the application, and also a "Download" button which is a nifty little package that includes the application and of all of its dependencies. That way you can install it later or on another machine (one with slow or no internet connection for example). Similarly, http://art.bodhilinux.com has tons of themes, wallpapers, and icons that are just as easy to peruse and install. b) And when you say, "Is Bodhi Linux a good distribution for new users? Probably not. Because it requires a little post-installation work to be useful." The Bodhi Linux team has addressed new user's needs with the inclusion of a Quickstart Guide. It's a HTML doc that is installed on the users drive and set as the default browser home page, but is also online at http://www.bodhilinux.com/quickstart. In it you find directions on installing software from the Add Software site, a basic E17 guide, basic instructions on connecting to the internet, and so on. (I keep saying "basic" because it IS a quickstart, not full documentation). There's also links to find more information on all of these topics. It's funny, because I think your experience and familiarity with E17 is what caused you to miss those things because you just dove straight in. Hopefully new users will go at a little slower pace and notice them, and the readers of this article will have a "heads up" about them now too. Keep an eye out for Bodhi 1.0.0 Stable, scheduled for this coming weekend (26 March)!! cheers!

meandnotme
meandnotme

I can confirm that Bodhi is a great Enlightenment oriented Distro. It come to light only at the Dez. last year, but today it it looks already like a mature, well done and well established all around distro, with a good home site, lots of documentation, wiki's and live chat to help new users to enter and learn Enlightenment, a Forum that is absolutely friendly to new users. The most important, and not mentioned in the article, regarding user friendliness, is that it has a private application store from where the users can find and install (on or off line) the applications they most appreciate, after ending installing the minimal iso. The same goes for wallpapers and themes, witch can also be installed on line, from Bodhi private Bodhi Art site, with one click. http://www.bodhilinux.com/software/doku.php http://www.bodhilinux.com/art/doku.php In the end, but not the least important: Bodhi first stable version is due to be released at the end of the current week. Although the actual release candidate is absolutely stable, for those who prefer to start with the latest and greatest, its only a few days wait.

anoneeeemouse
anoneeeemouse

I am a Kubuntu user, and used to use the pre-rolled E17 packages out there, they all disappeared (elbuntu et al). I started building my own packages, but got bored of it / didn't have the time. I was desperately searching for a replacement *buntu or any good Debian based distro with e17 support. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.. I absolutely love e17 .. I am going to download and install this on my laptop right now.

matttimpson
matttimpson

Could never get Elive to play well with my ATI Mobility card in my laptop, so I could never get compositing set up. Buntu likes my card, so wish me luck!

minderaser
minderaser

I've never heard of the problem you've had, but I can almost guarantee that if you were to post something on the Bodhi Forums http://www.bodhilinux.com/forums/ you'll get a response with a suggested solution within 4 hours, probably less - it's a VERY active and helpful commnunity. cheers

jlwallen
jlwallen

how it works and how you like it. I hope it allows you to get E17 back up and running with compositing!