Bodhi Linux 3.0

There are times in life when less is really more, and that’s quite true with certain Linux distributions. Bodhi Linux 3.0 is a desktop distribution that uses the Enlightenment window manager to provide a light-weight alternative to other distros that use full-blown desktop environments such as Cinnamon, MATE, Unity, etc.

Bodhi Linux 3.0 is also quite sparing in its inclusion of desktop applications compared to other distributions. I’ll have more to say about that in the software section, but the bottom line is that Bodhi is geared toward minimalists rather than users who want tons of software installed by default.

Bodhi Linux 3.0 Desktop

Bodhi Linux 3.0 Desktop

What’s new in Bodhi Linux 3.0
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Enlightenment E19.3
Terminology 0.8.0
ePad 0.9.0
Numix Icons
Linux Kernel 3.16
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Core

Bodhi Linux 3.0 download and install
You can download Bodhi Linux 3.0 from the official download page. You can get Bodhi Linux 3.0 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. There’s also a legacy version, and a version for Chromebooks. Bodhi Linux 3.0 is a live distribution, so you can check it out without having to do an install on your computer.

The Bodhi installer is easy to use and you will see a slideshow while your install completes. The slideshow provides some basic information about Bodhi, and it will probably be appreciated by those who are completely new to this distribution.

During the install you’ll have the option to completely erase your disk by using the default partitioning, or you can opt to set up your own preferred partitions. For this review I opted to use the default partitioning.

My install was quick, and I had no problems with it.

Bodhi Linux 3.0 Install

Bodhi Linux 3.0 Install

Bodhi Linux 3.0 desktop
The first thing you’ll see when your desktop loads is a browser window that pops up with the Bodhi Linux Quick Start Guide loaded in it. Don’t just close this window if you are new to Bodhi, take a moment to look at what’s listed there as it covers some important things such as how to use the Enlightenment window manager, and how to install software. There are also links to an FAQ and other helpful resources.

If you’ve never used the Enlightenment window manager then you’re in for a bit of a treat. It’s quite different than Cinnamon, MATE or other desktop environments. Speedy is one word to accurately describe Enlightenment. It is very fast indeed compared to some of the chunkier desktop environments found in other distributions.

Bodhi Linux 3.0 Quick Start Guide

Bodhi Linux 3.0 Quick Start Guide

You’ll find a panel (called shelf in Enlightenment) at the top with the usual icons such as the menu, web browser, file manager, updates, multiple desktops, volume, date/time and shutdown. If you prefer you can simply left-click the desktop to pull up the same menu that appears when you click the white arrow in the panel.

The menu lets you access applications, navigate, take a screenshot, tweak your desktop or Windows, access system settings and other useful items. If you’re new to Bodhi then it’s worth browsing the main menu to familiarize yourself with what’s there because you’ll probably need one thing or the other at some point.

If you prefer, you can move the shelf by right-clicking it, then clicking shelf then on orientation. From there you can move it to the bottom or wherever else you feel like putting it. I left it at the top as I found that it worked fine for me there. But others users might feel more comfortable with it in a different spot on the desktop.

The desktop itself has three icons on it: Home, Root and Temp. The wallpaper is dark, as is the theme, and the Bodhi Linux logo appears in the center of the wallpaper. If you find that you want a change in scenery, pull up the Settings panel and then click on Wallpaper. There are a number of colorful wallpapers you can choose from that will brighten up the Bodhi Linux 3.0.0 desktop.

The overall experience using the Bodhi Linux 3.0 desktop is quite different than most other desktop environments, and that’s mainly because it uses the Enlightenment window manager. If you’ve never used Enlightenment then be sure to read through Bodhi’s Enlightenment Guide to help you learn how to use it. Enlightenment is a very different cup of tea indeed than full-blown desktop environments so it’s worth spending a few minutes familiarizing yourself with it before trying to use Bodhi Linux.

I rather enjoyed using Enlightenment since I tend to be a minimalist at heart. As I noted earlier, it’s very fast. I never had to wait for windows or applications to open up, everything happened immediately. And I had no problems finding my way around the menus when I needed to tweak Enlightenment to suit my own tastes.

If you are completely new to Enlightenment then I counsel patience when you first start using it, especially if you are coming from some other desktop environment that you’ve spent a lot of time using. You may initially be thrown off by Enlightenment, but if you give it some time I think you will be very pleased with it.

Bodhi Linux 3.0 system settings
If you want to change Bodhi Linux 3.0 then just left-click the desktop and move your cursor over the Settings option. You can access various settings right from the drop-down menu or you can click on Settings Panel to open that panel and make your changes.

You’ll also find an All option at the bottom of the drop-down menu. If you put your cursor over that you’ll see the following list of settings options:

Look
Apps
Screen
Windows
Menus
Language
Advanced
Input
Launcher
Settings
Extensions
Files
Preferences

Click on any of the ones I listed above and you can tweak whatever you want in that settings category. You can access all of the categories above by also just opening the Settings panel, but make sure you make the default Settings panel window bigger so you can see all of the settings. When I first opened it I only saw the first four categories of settings, the rest appeared when I dragged the side of the window to make it bigger.

Bodhi Linux 3.0 System Settings

Bodhi Linux 3.0 System Settings

Linux software included in Bodhi Linux 3.0
Here’s a sample of the software included in Bodhi Linux 3.0.

Games
None

Graphics
Ephoto

Internet
Midori Web Browser

Multimedia
None

Office
ePad Text Editor

As you can tell from the list of software above, Bodhi Linux 3.0 comes with an extremely minimal amount of software. This is not because the developers were too lazy to include it, but rather because Bodhi Linux is at heart a minimalist’s distribution. It makes a point of not overloading you with applications that you might not want or need.

Don’t worry though because you can easily add more software. Remember I mentioned how I mentioned that the Quick Start Guide was important? Well if you take a peek at it you’ll see a link labeled Installing Software. If you click that link and scroll down you’ll see a link to Bodhi’s AppCenter. That’s where you can get more software for your Bodhi Linux 3.0 system.

Bodhi Linux 3.0 AppCenter

Bodhi Linux 3.0 AppCenter

Yes, you need to use your web browser to add or remove software in Bodhi. When you load the AppCenter you’ll see a search box, with a categories drop down menu. You can search all categories or opt to search a particular one.

You’ll also see a list of common application categories at the bottom of the AppCenter page. Click the one you want to browse and you’ll see all of the apps available for that category. Click the application you want to install and then click the Install button. A menu will popup asking for your password, and you can then complete your install.

I added Chromium to my system and had no problems installing it. It was listed on the Applications menu under the Internet category after the install was finished. The default browser Midori seemed to work well enough, but I’d opt for Chromium if I had to choose between the two applications.

Bodhi Linux 3.0 Chromium Install

Bodhi Linux 3.0 Chromium Install

One thing I liked is that after I installed Chromium, the Bodhi Linux Quick Start Guide also appeared as the default page in Chromium (just as it does in Midori). I thought that was a nice touch for users who might want to switch browsers but still have the convenience of seeing the QuickStart guide each time their browser loads.

It’s important to note here that Bodhi’s AppCenter has a relatively limited amount of software compared to other software management tools such as the ones found in Ubuntu or Linux Mint. The emphasis seems to be on quality rather than quantity so don’t expect to have 30,000 different applications available. The ones that you’ll find in each category should work well for most desktop users though, and I doubt most Bodhi users will be disappointed.

One problem I noticed with the AppCenter is how hidden it is in the Quick Start Guide. I’d actually like to see the Bodhi developers put a link to it right on the desktop and in the panel. That would make it much easier for users new to Bodhi to find it without having to go to the Installing Software page then scrolling down to find the AppCenter link.

A software management tool are one of the things that no user should ever have to look around for when they first load their desktop. It should be right next to the browser on the panel or in some other prominent place. Otherwise the user ends up spending his or her time poking around trying to find out where to get more applications.

Note that if you want even more applications, you can easily install Synaptic via a large green “Install Now!” button on the software install page in the Quick Start Guide. I couldn’t resist clicking the button and I had no problems getting Synaptic installed in Bodhi Linux 3.0. After the install, Synaptic was listed in the Other section of the Applications menu.

Where to get help for Bodhi Linux 3.0
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below. You might also want to check out these Bodhi Linux 3.0 resources:

Bodhi Forums
Bodhi Live Chat
Bodhi Wiki

Final thoughts about Bodhi Linux 3.0
Bodhi Linux 3.0 is clearly geared toward minimalists. If you’re someone that wants a zillion apps installed by default or that wants to browse through thousands and thousands of apps in an app store, then it’s probably not for you. In that sense Bodhi is almost the exact opposite of a distribution like Ultimate Edition, for example.

But if you’re someone that wants a very light-weight desktop, and that only needs or wants certain core applications then Bodhi Linux 3.0 might be a perfect choice for you. It really is a minimalist’s dream in that sense. It compares quite well with other minimalist distros such as Lubuntu or Xubuntu.

The Enlightenment window manager is a breath of fresh air in Bodhi, and it provides a compelling alternative to Cinnamon, MATE, Unity and the rest of the usual desktops found in other distributions. Once you get used to using it, you may find full-blown desktop environments to be a bit overbearing and stodgy.

I highly recommend checking out Bodhi Linux 3.0 if you are a true minimalist.

What’s your take on Bodhi Linux 3.0? Tell me in the comments below.



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