MoonOS 4 Neake

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.

Live CD Desktop

Live CD Desktop

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

GNOME
New File System
Software Updates
Appshell Framework
Docky
Synapse

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.

File System

File System

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.

Docky

Docky

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.

Synapse

Synapse

Hardware Requirements & Installation

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

700 MHz x86 processor
384 MB of system memory (RAM)
8 GB of disk space
Graphics card capable of 1024×768 resolution
A network or Internet connection is neededif you want to download extra software

Installation
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.

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

Booting & Login
Here’s what the boot menu and login screens look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

The Desktop
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.

Places

Places

Application Categories

Application Categories

Desktop

Desktop

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.

Docky Config

Docky Config

Themes
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.

Themes

Themes

Wallpaper
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.

MoonOS 3 Wallpaper

MoonOS 3 Wallpaper

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.

Background

Background

Admin Tools

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.

System Preferences

System Preferences

System Administration

System Administration

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
AisleRiot Solitaire
gbrainy
Mahjongg
Mines
Quadrapassel
Sudoku

Graphics
GIMP
OpenOffice.org Drawing
Shotwell Photo Manager
Simple Scan

Internet
Evolution Mail
Firefox
Gwibber
Pidgin IM
Transmission

Multimedia
Banshee Media Player
Brasero Disc Burner
Cheese Webcam Booth
Movie Player
Sound Recorder

Office
OpenOffice.org
Dictionary

Software Management
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.

Software Center Categories

Software Center Categories

Featured Software

Featured Software

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.

GIMP

GIMP

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.

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
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).

Movie Player

Movie Player

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.

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

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.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: MoonOS 4 Neake
Web Site: http://moonos.org/
Price: Free
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.
Rating: 3.5/5

 



moonOS 3 Linux (Makara)

There have been a lot of different remastered versions of Ubuntu created over the years. Occasionally though I find one that stands out from the pack and that offers an entirely unique experience. moonOS 3 is a remaster created in Cambodia by a Cambodian artist called Chanrithy Thim.

There are two versions of moonOS, the Main Edition and the LXDE Edition. The Main Edition uses Enlightenment DR17 and the LXDE Edition uses LXDE. The LXDE version is geared toward older, less powerful computers. For this review I downloaded the Main Edition.

moonOS 3 has one of the…er…most unique mottos I’ve seen. It’s motto is “Light of Free Operating System.” Hmmm…I’m not exactly sure what to think of it but it sort of fits in with the beauty of moonOS. Anyway, it sounds cool so I’ll go with it.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a list of the new stuff in this release of moonOS:

Based on Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope
Linux Kernel 2.6.28-15
Firefox 3.5
Pidgin 2.6
Xorg 7.4
Security Updates
moonControl Improvements (new interface, change font sizes)
moonGrub Improvements (new interface, new theme creation feature)
moonSoftware (browse offline, view screenshots, sort by various criteria)
EFL Keys Added (Virtual Keyboard)
Firefox Comes With Moonlight Plugin and Silverlight Support
OpenOffice.org 3.1.1
XMPP Video and Voice for Pidgin
Enlightenment 0.16.999.60

As you can tell there’s quite a bit of good stuff in this upgrade of moonOS.

moonOS 3 features a stunningly beautiful desktop theme.

moonOS 3 features a stunningly beautiful desktop theme.

Requirements & Installation
Since moonOS 3 is based on Ubuntu 9.04 it’s appropriate to go by the system requirements for that version of Ubuntu:

The minimum system requirements for a desktop installation are a 300 MHz x86 processor, 256 MB of RAM, 4 GB of hard drive space,[62] and a video card which supports VGA at 640×480 resolution.

The recommended system requirements for the desktop installation are a 700 MHz x86 processor, 384 MB of RAM, 8 GB of hard drive space,[62] and a video card which supports VGA at 1024×768 resolution.

Even the login screen is gorgeous!

Even the login screen is gorgeous!

If you’ve installed generic Ubuntu then you should have no problems with moonOS 3. My install went fine though it took a long time in VMWare (more on that in the problems section) and I ended up doing it again in Parallels due to a login problem (again, see the problems section).

Desktop & Apps
What’s particularly unique about moonOS is its look and feel. The desktop icons, ibar and wallpaper don’t look like anything else I’ve seen in other distros. Quite frankly they are gorgeous! Aesthetically, I find moonOS 3 to be extremely appealing.

I recognize though that beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder so your mileage may vary. But I have to give the developer props for coming up with something that is strikingly beautiful to look at and unique in the pantheon of Ubuntu remasters.

Just left-click your desktop to pull up a menu.

Just left-click your desktop to pull up a menu.

moonOS 3 uses Enlightenment as its desktop environment. If you haven’t used Enlightenment before you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Here’s a bit of background from Wikipedia about it:

Enlightenment, also known simply as E, is a window manager for the X Window System which can be used alone or in conjunction with a desktop environment such as GNOME or KDE. Enlightenment is often used as a substitute for a full desktop environment.

Don’t forget that when you are using moonOS you can right-click the desktop at any time to pull up a list of favorite apps or left-click it to pull up the desktop menu.

One thing that sets moonOS apart is its desktop tools. There are four of them:

moonAssistant
moonAssistant is a small menu that will popup when you first boot into your moonOS desktop. It’ll ask you a few questions to help you configure your system.

moonAssistant will ask you a few questions to help configure your system.

moonAssistant will ask you a few questions to help configure your system.

moonControl
moonControl lets you easily change your system’s setting. The menu choices are broken down into Look and Feel, Internet and Network, Hardware, System and Other. Just click the one you are interested in and you can tweak your system to get it the way you want.

The control center for your moonOS system.

moonGrub
You can add themes to Grub via moonGrub.

You can add themes to Grub.

You can add themes to Grub.

moonSoftware
moonSoftware lets you easily add, remove or search for applications.

Use moonSoftware to add or remove software applications.

Use moonSoftware to add or remove software applications.

Here’s a list of some of the software you’ll find after installing moonOS 3:

Graphics
GIMP
OpenOffice.Org Drawing
Scanner Utility
Image Viewer

Internet
Firefox
Mozilla Thunderbird Mail/News
Pidgin IM
pyNeighborhood
Transmission BitTorrent
XChat IRC
Sun Java 6 Web Start
OpenJDK Java 6 Web Start

Multimedia
Brasero Disc Burner
Exaile Music Player
Movie Player

Office
Dictionary
OpenOffice.org  (Database)
OpenOffice.org (Presentation)
OpenOffice.org (Spreadsheet)
OpenOffice.org (Word Processor

Multimedia & Sound
I was pleased to note that I could watch my Superman cartoons DVD without having to install any other software. I was also able to watch YouTube videos. I had a problem with the sound but was able to fix it (see the problems section).

What I Liked Most
Well it’s no secret by this point in the review what I liked best about moonOS 3. It’s one of the best looking remastered distros I’ve seen in ages. But it’s not just that it’s pretty that matters. It’s pretty in a unique way that I haven’t seen anywhere else. There’s a flavor and feel to moonOS 3 that is distinct and that’s part of what sets it apart from other remasters.

I also liked moonSoftware and moonControl. Both add value to moonOS 3 and make it easy for people new to moonOS to do some of the usual stuff like configuring their system and adding or removing software.

I was able to play my Superman DVD without having to install any codecs.

I was able to play my Superman DVD without having to install any codecs.

Problems & Headaches
I ran into a problem with moonOS 3 in VMWare. I was able to get the install done but it took a very long time and when I went to login I was not able to type in the password field. I was not able to get this fixed so I switched to Parallels and did the install there.

I noticed that the install was much faster in Parallels and I had no problems typing in my password. I was able to login as usual. This login problem may or may not have been a VMWare burp so I’m not going to hold it against moonOS. But it is something to be aware of if you try to install moonOS on your system.

moonOS 3 does not seem to come with any of the usual desktop games that you might expect to be included. This isn’t a big deal for me because I don’t play them anyway. However, you will find a decent selection of games in the moonSoftware menu.

I also noticed the occasional misspelling or typo in some of the menus in moonOS 3. No doubt it’s probably because English might not be the first language of the developer. No big deal though. Given the prettiness of moonOS, I can handle a typo here or there.

I also had a problem getting sound to work. When running YouTube videos I had no problem getting the video to run but I could not get any sound. In order to get sound to work I had to go into the Pulse Audio Volume Control (under the Multimedia menu) and turn on the sound and then turn up the volume. This is a bit of a…er…non-intuitive thing to say the least. Anyway, after that the sound was perfect.

I had to use the Pulse Audio Volume Control to get sound to work.

I had to use the Pulse Audio Volume Control to get sound to work.

Where To Get Help
You can always post a note in the Desktop Linux Reviews Forum and we’ll do our best to offer feedback or at least point you in the right direction. You might also want to check out the moonOS discussion forum.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
moonOS 3 was a very pleasant surprise, indeed. I’d never used it before and wasn’t aware of what it looked like either. I’ve become somewhat jaded by all the Ubuntu remasters but moonOS 3 was a breath of fresh air in an aesthetic sense. It has to be one of the best looking themes I’ve seen in any remastered distro.

I feel comfortable recommending moonOS 3 for anybody who wants to use a better-looking Ubuntu on their desktop.

Beginners should consider it for their primary Linux desktop alongside Linux Mint and some of the other usual distros. Intermediate and advanced Linux users should also consider it and, needless to say, distro-hoppers should surely give it a download as they’ll have fun checking it out and playing with it.

moonOS 3 is well worth a download. Check it out.

Summary Table:

Product: moonOS 3 Linux (Makara)
Web Site: http://www.moonos.co.cc
Price: Free
Pros: Absolutely gorgeous remastered version of Ubuntu. Unique aesthetics, good selection of software, easy install. Features customized moonControl, moonGrub and moonSoftware tools.
Cons: Install ran very slow in VMWare and I was unable to login after it was complete. It was necessary for me to switch to Parallels and install moonOS 3 again in order to login.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Summary: A fantastically beautiful alternative to generic Ubuntu. One of the best remasters I’ve seen to date. Well worth a download just to experience the aesthetic appeal.
Rating: 4/5