Bodhi Linux is a beautiful nod to the old-school ways

If you're looking for a different take on the Linux desktop, one that has appeal to all types of users, Jack Wallen believes Bodhi Linux might be what you want.

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Image: Jack Wallen

I spent a number of early years working within the Enlightenment Linux desktop environment. It was lightweight and offered just about every kind of customization you could imagine. Eventually, that love affair faded, only to be replaced by GNOME. But, I did continue to pine for that cornucopia of configurations offered in E16.

Times have changed. Nowadays, I tend to prefer working in an environment that doesn't require me to tweak and twist the desktop to my liking. However, every now and then I get curious and want to harken back to those glory days of gorgeous, art-like desktops.

When Bodhi Linux 6.0 was announced, I had to immediately grab an ISO and spin up a virtual machine and see what was what.

Unlike those old days of using the Enlightenment desktop, Bodhi Linux offers its own desktop—Moksha—which is very much in line with Enlightenment. Upon installation, the smile on my face could only be wiped away when the virtual machine was powered off.

Bodhi Linux is that nice.

What makes it such a good Linux desktop distribution? Is it nothing more than nostalgia? Or, is it something more? Once upon a time, Bodhi Linux was my desktop of choice (for about a year or so). At that time, it was a relatively new distribution and suffered some growing pains. I remember it not playing well with the sound daemon (constantly having to restart the sound server). Since then I've kicked the tires of every major Bodhi release and find them nothing more than a quaint holdover to days gone by.

Bodhi Linux 6 is a different story. Although it's still very modular (as in you have to enable the bells and whistles you want), Bodhi Linux ups its game with a cleaner default theme, less intrusive onboarding and as reliable an experience as I've ever had on the desktop.

Why should you try Bodhi Linux? Let's take a look.

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A perfect mixture of old and new school Linux

If I had to give you a single reason to try Bodhi Linux, it would be that it's a perfect mixture of old-school and new school Linux. This sentiment holds true from everything to the default theme all the way down to integration. Unlike the Enlightenment desktops of old, Moksha does a great job of integrating, creating an outstanding workflow. One very telling feature is the Workspaces widget, which lives on the desktop by default (Figure A).

Figure A

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The default Bodhi Linux desktop is clean and easy to use.

Unlike most modern Linux distributions that go out of their way to tuck the virtual desktops out of sight, Bodhi celebrates that piece of Linux history by placing them front and center. This makes it incredibly easy to move from desktop to desktop. With app thumbnails showing in the Workspaces widget, you can easily see what's open on each. 

Another feature that I greatly appreciate with Bodhi is the desktop menu. This was always one feature that attracted me to Enlightenment. Click anywhere on the desktop to reveal the application menu (Figure B).

Figure B

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The desktop menu has always been a favorite feature of mine.

Using the desktop menu makes it incredibly easy to open applications, without having to move your mouse down to a start menu or panel. Click anywhere and navigate through the menu hierarchy to find the application you want.

Speaking of which, there are three different versions of Bodhi Linux:

  1. Standard (Linux 5.4 kernel)
  2. Standard (Linux 5.8 HWE kernel)
  3. App Pack (Linux 5.4 kernel)

I opted to go with the 5.8 kernel, which meant I wasn't getting the extra software and themes. That's fine because it gave me a chance to test out the Bodhi AppCenter. This take on the Google App Store is a bit different. Instead of creating a typical software center, the Bodhi developers opted to use a website with hooks that would then run /usr/bin/env to install the requested software. What you do is open the Desktop Menu and go to Applications | System Tools | Bodhi AppCenter. This will open the Chromium web browser to bodhilinux.com/a/ where you can either search for software or select from a category. Once you've found the software you want to install, click Install and, when prompted, type your user password (Figure C). 

Figure C

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Installing GIMP on Bodhi Linux.

Who is Bodhi Linux for?

Bodhi Linux has become an absolutely fascinating intersection on what Linux was and what it can be. It's both old and new, out-of-date and ahead of its time. Because of that, I believe (for the first time) I could honestly suggest this Linux desktop distribution for just about any type of user. If you're new to the Linux desktop, Bodhi Linux would be a fine first experience. If you're an old hat with Linux, Bodhi will offer up plenty of customization options. With the latest Moksha desktop, you won't be missing out on anything found on your current desktop of choice.

Give Bodhi 6.0 a try and see if it doesn't wind up your desktop of choice.

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