Not too many distributions use Enlightenment as a default desktop environment, and that puts Bodhi Linux in a kinda unique category. Also, unlike most other desktop distributions, a Bodhi Linux edition is not designed to just work out of the box. From the official description of the project:
Minimalism is one of Bodhi Linux’s two core ideals. The combination of Enlightenment and the core utilities included in a default Bodhi Linux install lead to exceptional speed and low system requirements, while providing a beautiful, useable, and customizable desktop experience.
User choice is another important feature embodied in Bodhi Linux. By only including a small set of default utilities, the user is free to make Bodhi Linux their operating system. Users can install applications from our extremely easy to use AppCenter, apt-get, or Synaptic to suit their individual needs. You make the decision!
If you’re the kind of person that wants to make your own choices, this might be the distribution for you.
Once upon a time, this type of distribution appealed to me. But that was a long time ago. Now, I like distributions that just work by default. When it comes to desktop computing, I like to hit the ground running. No time to fix stuff that should be installed or enabled by default. But that’s just me. There are very many people who still find these distributions exciting.
A minimalist distribution does not present a very good candidate for the type of reviews I normally write, but I’ll do my best to give non-Bodhi users an idea of what it brings to the table.
So, here is my review of Bodhi Linux 2.2.0, the latest edition, which just happens to be the first review of a Bodhi Linux edition on this website.
Installation: As noted above, Bodhi Linux is based on Ubuntu, but the latest edition, Bodhi Linux 2.2.0, is based on Ubuntu 12.04, not the Ubuntu 12.10. As such, the installer does not have support for LVM, the Linux Logical Volume Manager, and full disk encryption available in the installer of Ubuntu 12.10. If you’ve installed any distribution that uses Ubiquity, the Ubuntu Desktop installer, then you know all there is to know about the Bodhi Linux 2.2.0 installer. I wish a much better installer is used on these distributions. If anybody from the Bodhi’s development team is reading, please consider forking a much better installer. YALI is a good candidate.
Desktop: The version of Enlightenment that ships with this edition of Bodhi Linux is Enlightenment version 0.17, or E17. Enlightenment is a desktop environment designed to run on high-end and low-resource computers.
Enlightenment has its own set of jargons that you wont find associated with other desktop environments. So if you intend to jump in and start using Bodhi or any other distribution that uses this desktop environment, a familiarity with terms such as Modules, Profiles, Shelves, Gadgets, etc will come in handy. A link to a definition of those terms is in the Resources section.
On first boot, a new installation of Bodhi Linux lets you select a Profile and Theme of your choice, in line with the developers goal of giving you a highly customizable desktop. You can find a screen shot of the profiles available on Bodhi Linux 2.2.0 at The many Profiles of Enlightenment’s E17. OF the desktop profiles available, my favorite for a standard desktop is Desktop profile. A screen shot from a test installation is shown below.
My other favorite Profile is the Tablet profile, designed for use on tablet and other touchscreen devices. Below is a screen sot of the applications interface of the profile.
Note that even though this edition of Bodhi Linux ships with E17, the latest stable edition of Enlightenment, feature-for-feature, especially when it comes to changing certain system settings, it’s still not at the same level as, say, a KDE, GNOME 3 or a Cinnamon desktop. For example, I found that changing the screen resolution is not as easy as it is on those other desktop environments. Maybe it’s because I’m not a regular user of Enlightenment, but I never had to consult a documentation just to change the screen resolutions on any other desktop environment.
Resource Usage: As you read from the quote above, out of the box, Bodhi Linux is a minimalist’s dream. Aside from a browser and several system utilities, very little else is installed. Consequently, a fresh installation uses just about 1.7 GB disk space. Memory consumption is also relatively low, typically running less than about 500 MB, with Midori, the default Web browser, and one or two other applications running.
Being minimalist also means that very little else works out of the box. To get a new system to the point where it just works, you’ll have to expend some time and effort finding and installing the type of applications you’ll need. That, of course, entails knowing what’s available in the repository.