It’s been quite a while since I last looked at MoonOS. The last review covered version 3.0, this time around it’s MoonOS 4.0. MoonOS is another Ubuntu-based derivative, so if Ubuntu appeals to you then MoonOS 4 might be right up your alley.
What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:
New File System
The default environment for MoonOS used to be Enlightenment; that has obviously changed in this release. Don’t worry though; there will be an Enlightment (and LXDE) version released later. Until then you’ll have to get by with GNOME. As somebody that really likes GNOME, I have no problem whatsoever with this change. But your mileage may vary. The developers are smart to offer an Enlightenment version for their devoted users; it’ll help soothe any ruffled feathers for sure.
There is also a new, unique file system. The developers think it’s more user friendly and modern. You will have to make up your own mind about it. I personally don’t mind it, but I can see how it might annoy some of the more experienced MoonOS 4 users who were used to the old file system. Still, I give the developers props for trying to make things easier for less experienced users.
The Appshell Framework lets you download and install applications in a way that is similar to Mac OS X. Everything needed to run the application is included with the download file. In the short term this probably isn’t going to matter a whole lot to typical desktop users, but as more apps are available it has the potential to add value for some users.
I’ll cover Docky in the desktop section of the review.
Synapse is a search tool that lets you search all files or particular kinds of files (images, documents, audio files, etc.). I did a little searching with it and it seems quite fast to me. Granted, I am running MoonOS 4 without having a ton of files on it since this is just for a review. But Synapse still seemed to work well for me and I think most users will be pleased with it. To access it click the Applications drop down menu in the panel, then choose Accessories.
Hardware Requirements & Installation
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:
The ISO file weighs in at 872 MB, so it’s not the most petite distro download. The install itself is very easy since MoonOS 4 users the Ubuntu installer. The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.
Booting & Login
Here’s what the boot menu and login screens look like:
The MoonOS 4 desktop is not cluttered at all. The only thing that appeared on mine was the link to the install CD. Navigating the desktop is easy, especially if you’ve used Ubuntu before. The panel at the top contains the usual links to applications, places, system management, etc. There are also icons on the left to access networking, multiple desktops, volume, email/social media, date/time, and the start up/shut down menu.
Beyond that the first thing you notice is Docky at the bottom of the screen. If you have used Mac OS X’s Dock then you’ll be familiar with Docky, it’s quite similar. When you put your cursor over an icon on Docky, the icon magnifies and you can click it (you can easily turn this off by clicking the anchor icon to open Docky’s preferences menu).
Docky is the kind of thing that most people will either love or hate; it’s hard to have a middle ground with it. I’ve used Macs a lot so it doesn’t bother me at all, but I suspect that some will dislike it intensely. Just remember that you can still use the panel at the top to open applications, etc. So Docky is more or less an extra feature that you don’t need to use if you don’t like it.
The default theme is MoonOS (duh), but there are others available including Clearlooks, Dust, Dust Sand, and New Wave. I think the default theme is quite attractive, so I had no desire to change it to anything else.
I actually preferred the old wallpaper from version 3 (in the screenshot below) to the new wallpaper in version 4. The new wallpaper is just rather bland and doesn’t add anything unique to this distro. Yes, I know you can change the wallpaper in a second but the default wallpaper should always be unique and inviting for each distro. It’s just a small thing that helps set a distro apart aesthetically from other distros.
Oddly, the old wallpaper isn’t available in the Appearance Preferences menu either. Many distros will let you use the older versions of their wallpaper if you want, but not MoonOS.
System Management & Preferences
MoonOS 4 comes with the usual array of tools to manage your system and to change it to your liking. The screenshots below illustrate what you’ll find available in the system menus.
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.
Shotwell Photo Manager
Banshee Media Player
Brasero Disc Burner
Cheese Webcam Booth
MoonOS 4 uses the Ubuntu Software Center, thus it’s quite easy to use and you should have no problem finding applications when you need them. The default software selection covers most of the basics that you’ll need on your desktop, but it doesn’t hurt to spend a little time browsing the Software Center. Be sure to check out the Featured Applications page, there are some apps there.
Adding & Removing Software
It’s quite easy to add or remove software. Simply find the application you want in the Software Center and then click the Install or Remove button.
Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
I was very pleased to note that MoonOS4, unlike generic Ubuntu, comes bundled with multimedia codecs. So you can watch videos and other multimedia content without having to take the time to install additional software.
MoonOS 4 comes with some good multimedia software including Totem Movie Player, Banshee, Brasero and the imitable Cheese Webcam Booth. It’s enough to get you started and there’s plenty more in the Software Center if you find yourself lacking for some reason. MoonOS 4 does not include cloud-based multimedia links like Hulu in its menu, however (unlike Peppermint OS, another Ubuntu derivative).
Problems & Headaches
I didn’t run into any noticeable problems with MoonOS 4. The install went well and it ran perfectly fine for me. I didn’t see any overt burps, application crashes or other issues with it. That’s not really surprising though since it’s an Ubuntu derivative and most of them run fairly well for the most part.
Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.
You might also want to check out the MoonOS discussion forum to connect with other users.
Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
MoonOS is an interesting alternative to generic Ubuntu, and to other Ubuntu derivatives such as Linux Mint. This release has some positive things for existing MoonOS users. However, I don’t see anything here that’s likely to grab users from other distros. There is not real standout feature that might possibly attract people and get them to switch to MoonOS 4.
I think it probably appeals most to those who are looking to remain in the Ubuntu family, but in an offbeat niche. If you’re one of those folks then you might want to give MoonOS 4 a download. It’s a Live CD so you can play with it without having to actually install it on your system.
Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users can use MoonOS 4.
|Product:||MoonOS 4 Neake|
|Pros:||New file system; GNOME desktop; appshell framework.|
|Cons:||Docky and the new file system could be turnoff for experienced users.|
|Suitable For:||Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.|
|Summary:||MoonOS 4 is a viable, offbeat alternative for Ubuntu Linux users.|