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.
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:
- The Gimp
There could also be a multi-media package that includes the following apps:
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.
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 jackwallen.com.