Bodhi 1.0

Ubuntu has many different derivative distros and now there’s a new one called Bodhi Linux. Bodhi derives from the Buddhist term for enlightenment and, not surprisingly, it uses the Enlightenment desktop environment. The leaf logo used throughout this distribution takes meaning from its name since the word “bodhi” also denotes a sacred tree in Buddhism.

I know that some folks will roll their eyes and probably think “do we need yet another freaking Ubuntu derivative?” Well yes, I think we do. There’s always room for another good distro and Bodhi Linux is definitely a good distro.

Bodhi Linux is the exact opposite of Ultimate Edition. UE throws in everything including the kitchen sink while Bodhi Linux goes in the opposite direction. Bodhi installs a minimal number of applications and lets the user make his or her choices as to which apps they want installed on their system.

While this won’t appeal to some people, it works very well for what it is as you’ll see in this review.

Preinstall Boot Menu

Preinstall Boot Menu

Live Desktop

Live Desktop

What’s New In This Release
Since this is a 1.0 release, there’s no “what’s new” to include. However, here are a few more details about what Bodhi Linux is based on and what it includes.

Based on Ubuntu 10.04
Enlightenment .16
Kernel 2.6.35

Since some folks reading this review may not be familiar with Enlightenment, here are a few details about it from the Enlightenment site:

Enlightenment is the flagship and original name bearer for this project. Once it was just a humble window manager for X11 that wanted to do things differently. To do them better, but it has expanded. This can be confusing so when we refer to Enlightenment, we may mean the project as a whole or just the window manager proper. The libraries behind Enlightenment are referred to as EFL collectively, each with a specific name and purpose.

The window manager is a lean, fast, modular and very extensible window manager for X11 and Linux. It is classed as a “desktop shell” providing the things you need to operate your desktop (or laptop), but is not a whole application suite. This covered launching applications, managing their windows and doing other system tasks like suspending, reboots, managing files etc.

Enlightenment libraries already power millions of systems, from mobile phones to set top boxes, desktops, laptops, game systems and more. It is only now being recognized for its forward-thinking approaches, as products and designers want to do more than the boring functional user experiences of the past. This is where EFL excels.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

300mhz i386 Processor
128megs of RAM
1.5g HD space

Installation
Bodhi Linux is a live distro so you don’t need to install it to check it out. You can just pop the DVD into your system and boot off of it to try Bodhi Linux.

If you do decide to install it, you will find it’s quite easy since Bodhi uses the Ubuntu installer. You can watch a slideshow during the install as well. The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login menus look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

The Desktop

When you first boot into Bodhi you’ll need to choose the profile for the kind of environment you want. I opted for the “desktop” option but there are others including a compiz enabled environment, a bare bones (geared toward advanced users) as well as a few other options.

After you pick the desktop, you can choose the theme, wallpaper and a selection of applications. Note that the applications are utilities and that sort of thing, not desktop applications. You’ll need to get those separately (see the software section).

Selection Menu

Environment Selection Menu

Theme Choice Menu

Theme Choice Menu

Application Selection Menu

Application Selection Menu

One of the things I always notice when booting into a desktop is how attractive it looks. Many distributions can be rather…er…ugly looking when it comes to desktop wallpaper and the overall look and feel. That’s not the case with Bodhi; it’s a fine looking desktop environment. The colors are bright and uplifting, unlike some of the dreary and depressing themes I’ve seen over the years in certain distributions.

Many of the things you need to use your Bodhi system are included on the desktop panel. If you need to access other things just click the desktop and a menu will popup, or simply click the Bodhi button on the panel to access additional items that way instead.

The Enlightenment desktop is a joy to use; it’s fast and quite beautiful to look at. It’s definitely one of Bodhi’s big selling points and will be appreciated by anybody that wants a fast desktop environment that also looks good. If you aren’t already a fan of Enlightenment, you probably will be after using Bodhi Linux.

Desktop

Desktop

Menu

Menu

Panel

Panel

Themes & Wallpaper
If you want additional themes and wallpaper, you can download them from the Bodhi Linux art page. There’s quite a lot to choose from so I think most people will be happy with the selection of goodies for their Bodhi Linux system.

Art

Art

Bundled Software

Remember that Bodhi is a very minimalistic distribution that lets you pick the applications you want to run rather than picking them for you. So after booting into Bodhi you will find that there is very little desktop software available.

Here’s what you’ll find installed by default:

Midori Web Browser
LeafPad Text Editor

Software Management
Synaptic is the default software management tool but you can also download software from the Bodhi Linux site (see below).

Synaptic

Synaptic

Adding & Removing Software

If you want to add software, you can find it directly in Synaptic or you can download it from the Bodhi Linux site. If you click the Bodhi button on the panel then choose Bodhi Linux then Add Software, you can choose from a list of packages on the Bodhi site.

Add Software

Add Software

There are two large package sets:

Nikihila Application Set
Pratibha Application Set

The Nikihila set provides full-featured software while the Pratibha set offers lightweight packages that retain high levels of functionality.

There are also categories of applications such as:

Graphics
Internet
Multimedia
Office
Extra

Email Applications Category

Email Applications Category

Evolution

Evolution

You can choose individual applications in each category then opt to click Install Now or Download.

It’s safe to say that the way Bodhi handles application installs and software in general is somewhat unique among Linux distros. I give the developers credit for going in a completely different direction than most distros.

Which way is better? That’s totally up to you. I suggest at least browsing the stuff that’s on the Bodhi Linux site before using Synaptic. You may find what you need without having to bother with Synaptic.

Sound and Multimedia

YouTube & Flash
Flash is not installed by default in the Midori browser so you’ll need to add it yourself. Not to worry though, you can get Java and Flash from the browser plugins page on the Bodhi Linux site.

YouTube

YouTube

Flash Plugin

Flash Plugin

Multimedia Applications
Bodhi Linux does not come with multimedia applications but there are about 29 applications available on the Bodhi Linux site that should meet the needs of most users. Here’s some of what you’ll find there:

Banshee
Clementine
VLC
Rhythmbox
Boxee
XBMC
Acidrip
Handbrake
Non Free Codecs
Cheese
PiTiVi
OpenShot
Audacity
Rosegarden

Problems & Headaches
Some folks might be irritated that the Ubuntu Software Center is not included in Bodhi Linux. That wasn’t a problem for me but it’s something to be aware of if you are expecting all Ubuntu derivatives to contain it.

It might also be helpful to add the Nikihila and Pratibha software bundles to the software selection menu when you first boot into Bodhi. While that goes against the mission of this distro, some people might appreciate being able to install them right off the bat.

Beyond that, I don’t have much to complain about. Bodhi Linux performed very well for me. It was fairly zippy and I didn’t see any application crashes or system hangs up while I was using it.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Bodhi Linux community/support page. There are links there to the Bodhi Linux forum, IRC and other helpful resources.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
I really enjoyed using Bodhi Linux; I will be keeping it available as one of my regular virtual machine distros. Its mission is to provide a minimalist distro for those who want to choose their applications and it very much succeeds at that mission.

Bodhi Linux is definitely not for those who want tons of applications installed by default though. Those folks would be much better served by installing Ultimate Edition instead. Bodhi is perfect though for those looking for a minimalist distro; it’s especially good for those who can appreciate what the Enlightenment desktop has to offer.

Distrohoppers would also do well to check it out and give it a test drive in VirtualBox.

Bodhi Linux is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users. Beginners should take heed of what I covered in the software section of the review though so they know how to get additional software from the Bodhi site.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Bodhi Linux 1.0
Web Site: http://www.bodhilinux.com
Price: Free
Pros: Enlightenment desktop environment; minimalistic distro that doesn’t overload the user with unnecessary software; based on Ubuntu; easy to install; attractive desktop wallpaper & theme.
Cons: Installing software takes the user to the Bodhi Linux site or requires use of Synaptic; the Ubuntu Software Center is not included in this distribution.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4/5