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.
What’s new in Bodhi Linux 3.0
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:
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 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.
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:
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.
Linux software included in Bodhi Linux 3.0
Here’s a sample of the software included in Bodhi Linux 3.0.
Midori Web Browser
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.
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.
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:
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.