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Bodhi 1.0

April 14, 2011
By

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

 

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13 Responses to Bodhi 1.0

  1. David McCann on September 7, 2011 at 5:26 am

    Installing software from the website is the preferred option, and much easier for the beginner. Wondering where the media codecs are? They're listed right after the media players. Compare that with most installation methods.

    The one problem for me is Enlightenment. Do you set sub-pixel smoothing with a tool in the Settings menu? No, it's in Applications. You can't read the clock? Hard luck, neither it nor the panel can be re-coloured. Need a Compose key? Write a script with setxkbmap. How do you get that script to run at start-up? Ah, that's a secret!

  2. Barista Uno on June 9, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Today I installed Bodhi Linux 1.1 on my workstation (a vintage IBM with a 1.2GHz processor and 500MB ram) to replace the PCLinuxOS lxde which got messed up after a kernel upgrade. I am very happy I chose Bodhi instead of re-installing PCLinuxOS. I love the speed and the Enlightenment desktop. Simply superb.

  3. Mark Wood on June 3, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Thanks for the review. I've run the live cd on two different old laptops with fantastic results. Wireless worked right off (broadcom chipsets), and there was just enough eye candy even with low end graphics. Considering wiping a xubuntu install and replacing it with bodhi. Perhaps a little more VM testing is in order.

  4. Kaleb Elwert on May 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Just wanted to point out a few things.

    One: In the new release (1.1.0), package signing checks have been removed. Simply put, in order to even have issues with this, you would need to inject malicious packages into the repo which has an almost zero chance of happening. Alternatively, someone could give you a .deb to install, but that's no different than someone installing something on Windows. Stick to the repos and you'll be fine.

    Two: As mentioned before, Arch Linux does not have package signing and there have been no issues. Arch Linux has a fairly simple build system (The ABS) which is similar to a gentoo ebuild in that it's a set of instructions to download and build the package.

    Three: The run dialog is called Run Everything which you can find more info about here: http://www.bodhilinux.com/quickstart/quickstartEN

    If you have any questions, comments, or (I suppose) snide remarks, feel free to pop on by #bodhilinux on freenode.

    Hope you enjoy Bodhi! There's been a lot of time put into it.

  5. halfbaked on May 2, 2011 at 8:40 am

    cannot even get a run dialog!

  6. Brian Masinick on April 21, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Jeff Hoogland wrote:

    @ David (FSF Supporter):

    A fix is coming for this, all of you people wearing your tin-foil hats and crying MiM attacks just need to wait. Signing packages still makes these attacks possible, just slightly more difficult.

    Nine years later and Arch still doesn’t sign their packages and it’s doing alright for itself. If it was getting MiM attacked all the time, fairly certain we would know.

    Stop being paranoid.

    ~Jeff Hoogland

    I think you are right, Jeff, in the sense that there is no reason to get all hot and bothered, but by the same token, I also think that it is important to take full advantage of authentication technology when it is available. As for Arch, I do not know whether they have been compromised or not. Debian has, once or twice though, and they got all the more vigilant and it hasn't happened again.

    Chances are, as a small, not very well known distribution, would-be hackers may not be quite as likely to target you, especially if they rarely bother with Arch, but exercising due diligence is always a wise thing, so I am glad that you have plans to at least put a few "road blocks" in the way of would be attackers.

    Common sense says that robbers first look for open doors, keys in the ignition, windows open, stuff like that, so closing and locking the doors, keeping the keys with you, closing the windows – in other words, taking reasonable precautions, is still a good idea. I trust that you know that and are planning accordingly.

    Good luck with your distro. I'm still planning on finding time to test it and a location where I can keep it; sounds quite interesting!

  7. Neal on April 16, 2011 at 4:12 am

    Bodhi is a beautiful and fun way to use Ubuntu 10.04.

    I was even able to use it on a dinosaur laptop I keep around for testing "lightweight" distros. An IBM A20p 700mhz p3 with 256 mb ram….worked pretty good. Only sluggishness I found was using the browser. I find Midori somewhat of a pia to use. I guess I've been spoiled by ff and chromium.

    All and all though Bodhi's DE is very light and snappy….a pleasure to use and I've never been an enlightenment fan……till now.

    Jeff, keep up the good work! And Jim, Thanks for reviewing Bodhi.

  8. Pablo on April 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    "The same was true of Arch but there, at least, the developers have worked to fix the issue while with Bodhi they seem unwilling to do so."

    They maybe working on it (since 2006!) but the issue is not solved yet. Only a temporarily and partial solution is in AUR, paccheck.

    I tried Bodhi and I quite like it as an easy, beautiful and simple distro for mouse users, but for an openbox/keyboard user it is no alternative.

  9. Marcos Luna on April 15, 2011 at 6:19 am

    I have used bodhi since 0.6 that was an early adoption approach but I can say it was stable enough to work as my primary OS, what i really like was the apt-get availability, I have installed only the necessary software for me. And for PCs with low resources this is perfect, even my scanner was working since the 0.6 release.

    Belive me, It deserves a try.

  10. Jeff Hoogland on April 15, 2011 at 5:39 am

    @ David (FSF Supporter):

    A fix is coming for this, all of you people wearing your tin-foil hats and crying MiM attacks just need to wait. Signing packages still makes these attacks possible, just slightly more difficult.

    Nine years later and Arch still doesn't sign their packages and it's doing alright for itself. If it was getting MiM attacked all the time, fairly certain we would know.

    Stop being paranoid.

    ~Jeff Hoogland

  11. David (FSF Supporter on April 15, 2011 at 12:25 am

    What a shame it has a huge security hole in that the entire repository is unsigned. The same was true of Arch but there, at least, the developers have worked to fix the issue while with Bodhi they seem unwilling to do so. The issue leaves users vulnerable to man in the middle type attacks. I do hope is is resolved as Bodhi is not a distribution I would recommend in its current state.

  12. Christopher on April 14, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    That was a good review. I think Bodhi is a great distro with what appears to be a very good, dedicated team. I loaded it, but ended up replacing it because I prefer 64 bit, rolling-release distros. But, I'll definately make a long term switch to Bodhi if they continue with their plans for an Arch base.

    E17 is awesome considering what it can do with such light resource usage. I have a modern computer and I still prefer E17 over the other choices. I'm not trying to advertise another distro here, but I think Unite17 is the most beatiful E17 I've seen. It's not my primary since it's 32-bit, but it gave me some ideas on setting up my desktop (I'm a big fan of the Drawers module now).

  13. Brian Masinick on April 14, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    It was worth reading the review about Bodhi Linux, Jim. I had not previously considered grabbing it, but now I believe I will, at least to give it a decent look.

    It's amazing how long Enlightenment has been around, yet how little attention it gets. Interesting, with all the hoopla around GNOME 3 Shell and Unity, it seems to me that some of the styles and metaphors they are looking into may be better met and already working in Enlightenment. I've seen other Enlightenment implementations that use wbar for a task bar and they can be made very similar in appearance and operation to a Mac-like system, but they are nearly always quite nimble and fast, enough so that you'd need a pretty powerful Mac to equal their performance. I suspect that Bodhi, with its light footprint ought to perform in a similar fashion even from Live media or a Virtual instance, so I am at the very least going to give this a "Quick Look", and if it fits into my personal style well enough, I could see adding it to my collection of boot fast, run quickly, to use mostly when browsing the Web.



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