Semplice 7 desktop GNOME 3

This is a review of the latest edition of Semplice, a desktop distribution based on the unstable branch of Debian.

Before this review, Semplice 5 was the previous edition last reviewed on this website. See Semplice 5 review – High Hopes.

Where Semplice 5 featured a custom graphical installer and the Openbox window manager, Semplice 7 still featues the same custom graphical installer, but a different desktop environment and window manager.

If you’ve never used Semplice, this cursory review will provide enough information about the distribution to bring you up to date on what to expect from it.

The Graphical Installer: Though Semplice is based on Debian, it does not use its parent distribution’s graphical installer. And that’s something I’ve come to expect from Debian-based distributions. Kali Linux is the only Debian-based distribution that I’m aware of that uses Debian’s graphical installer.

Semplice 7 graphical installer
Figure 1: First step in the installation process of Semplice 7

This distribution’s custom graphical installer, like that of thers like it, has automated and manual disk partitioning options. However, the automated option does not have support for disk encryption and the Linux Logical Volume Manager (LVM). Only by using the manual option will you be able to encrypt the target disk and/or configure LVM.

Semplice 7 automatic manual disk partition
Figure 2: Manual and automatic disk partitioning options of the graphical installer on Semplice 7.

It gives you the option to set up a user account system that uses sudo or the traditional UNIX root account. The default is to use sudo.

Semplice 7 installer user account
Figure 3: User account setup step during the installation of Semplice 7.

This image shows the manual disk partitioning tools window.

Semplice 7 installer manual partition
Figure 4: Manual partitioning tool of the graphical installer on Semplice 7.

And this one shows the manual partition editor.

Semplice 7 installer partition editor
Figure 5: Partition editor window of Semplice 7’s graphical installer.

There’s a facility to enable/disable certain fetures of the system during installation.

Semplice 7 installer feature selection
Figure 6: Extra features that may be enabled/disabled from the graphical installer on Semplice 7.

And a smiley face to greet you at the end of a successful installation. One last point about this installer: I did not attempt an installation on a computer with UEFI firmware, so I don’t know how or whether it can handle such systems.

Semplice 7 installed
Figure 7: A smiley face signals the end of the installation process on Semplice 7.

The Desktop: The desktop environment that comes with Semplce 7 is a custom one that’s called Vera, a plugin-based, GTK+3 Desktop Environment. In Vera, Openbox is a plugin. The login screen is shown in Figure 8.

Semplice 7 login screen
Figure 8: Login screen of Semplice 7

And this, shows the default desktop. By default, there’s a panel at the bottom, with the usual icons in the systray but no menu icon. You’d think from the message on the desktop that you wouldn’t be able to do anything until you’ve right-clicked on the desktop, but you’d be wrong.

Semplice 7 desktop GNOME 3
Figure 9: Default desktop of Semplice 7

Just start typing and a fullscreen app launcher appears. The effect is really nice. About the best implementation of a fullscreen app launcher that I’ve seen.

Semplice 7 app menu
Figure 10: Fullscreen application menu of Semplice 7

And if you do right-click on the desktop, you’ll get the menu.

Semplice 7 desktop context menu
Figure 11: Desktop application context menu of Semplice 7

By default, there are no application launchers on the panel, but you can add icons for your favorite applications using the Panel module of the system’s control center (see Figure 13). I think a better option would be to have a default set of the most popular applications on the panel, like you’ll find on other desktop environments.

Semplice 7 top panel
Figure 12: Semplice 7 desktop with the panel on top

Vera features a brand new Control Center, with several modules already implemented. Here’s a quote from the release announcement:

…In Semplice 7 you can find a brand new Control Center, a new desktop launcher, a new power manager, a new screenshot applet, a new music player (pragha), a new music control menu extension that supports every MPRIS2-based music player (yes, you can control Spotify with it), a new artwork and many other (new :P) things.

And the best thing? You change the wallpaper and the System adapts the theme color to it. It’s truly amazing!

You can tell that the developers are really excited about the Control Center. And about that wallpaper, it also comes with a slideshow capability. Figure 13 shows a screenshot of the control center. A total of 13 modules have been implemented, but I couldn’t find one that controled the settings for the login screen.

Semplice 7 Control Center
Figure 13: System Settings or Control Center of Semplice 7

Semplice 7 ships with a nice collection of installed applications, but there’s no Office suite. In place of an Office suite, Abiword and Gnumeric are installed. LibreOffice is, however, in the repository, so it can be installed if you have need for a complete Office suite. In line with a distribution based on Debian, Iceweasel, a rebranded Firefox, is the default browser. Firefox itself is not in the repository, but Chromium is.

Related Post:  Netrunner Rolling 2014.09 review

For managing applications on the system, Synaptic is the installed graphical package manager. It’s an old application, but it still works.

Semplice 7 graphical package manager
Figure 14: Graphical package manager of Semplice 7

From a security perspective, Semplice 7 does not offer very much by default. There’s no firewall, even though FirewallD and UFW are in the repository. AppArmor, Tomoyo and SELinux applications are also in the repository, but none is installed. So Semplice 7 is one of those distributions that give you a very minimal system that you have to customize yourself, down the creating folders in your home directory that most other distributions offer by default.

Semplice 7 file manager
Figure 15: File manager on Semplice 7

To sum, Semplice 7 is a good distribution and I like the desktop environment, but do we really need a desktop environment for every distribution? That’should be the subject of a separate blog post, but do we truly want to see a different desktop environment on every distribution?

Related Post:  Fusion Linux 14 review

Resources To download ISO installation images of Semplice 7 visit the project’s download page at You may also read the Release Notes.


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31 Responses

  1. I confirm MH’s statement on the forum. Members are not allowed to edit their own posts (closed almost immediately).
    This makes a “solved” marking impossible. The community is simply not trusted to edit their own posts.

    For a “community driven” distro they are incredibly clumsy and distrusting.

    1. It’s not a matter of trust. It’s just the tools being used.
      Mageia is just as open as — if not more than — any other distro.
      Some of the structure, such as the permanent wiki, are still being set up.
      And we’re still reviewing basic policy on all sorts of things.
      (The starting point being that of Mandriva, from which Mageia forked.)

  2. The one big strike against Mageia is the way it treats its users. Here’s two examples:

    Recently, users who wanted a voice regarding the direction of the distro were told that they MUST join the “dev” mailing list (even though a perfectly good “discuss” mailing list exists). When users expressed some hesitancy, they were basically told “do it this way or don’t do it.”

    Mageia also has the most restrictive forum policies I’ve ever seen. Users are not trusted to do something as simple as mark their own posts as “solved.” When users expressed concern, they were, once again, told that their input, their opinion, simply didn’t matter.


    1. Normally users can discuss on the Mageia-discuss mailing list. But in certain (very limited) cases, a discussion to decide an important aspect of the development process of Mageia was started on and limited to a particular thread on Mageia-dev, the development mailing list. However previous contributions on Mageia-discuss were taken into account, as well as previous and current discussions on the forum.

      Sometimes such limitations are required in order to come to a decision. If a user is involved in the development process, they would normally already be subscribed to the development list. If not, they can join the list to actively contribute their ideas to the particular discussion.

      Seriously, who are most likely to have ideas practical enough to be accepted for the development process, if not those actively involved in the development process, or at least following the development mailing list ?

      As far as marking your own posts to the forum as solved, I’m sure there must be some misunderstanding. Unless some other contributor to your post raised points that were not solved. Or maybe there was a problem with how you were marking it ? All forums have rules, including Mandriva, from which the forum rules were inherited.
      I haven’t yet contributed much to the Mageia forums, as I’m now mostly focused on development and policy.

  3. Thanks for the detailed review. As a past user of Mandrake Linux, hoping mageia develops in the Mandrake’s spirit of making Linux accessible to non-techy users,

    1. That’s our orientation. Trying to be even more friendly to non-techy users.
      In our initial refining of our development process, based initially on Mandriva policies, we are having a lot of techy discussions, but our goal is to have a community-oriented distro, not subject to the whims of a commercial distro like Mandriva.
      Based on the already user-friendly tools of Mandriva, we are already working on developing better such tools — more friendly to non-techy users.

        1. There is a new web-based tool in an advanced stage of development that provides a more friendly front end/link to the installer, called for the moment mageia-app-db. It also provides a database to available packages – on Mageia and elsewhere. I haven’t yet tested it, although I was involved early on in some design discussions.
          There is also a fair bit of discussion on enhancing the installer itself, inherited from Mandriva. (Which is written in Perl.) Despite it being fairly friendly, it does have some weak points.
          We are still heavily involved in redefining policy and developing infrastructure, inherited from Mandriva. We’ve already made a fair number of changes.
          And there are a lot more improvements to come
          You’re welcome to join — Mageia is a community distro 🙂

  4. I have Mageia installed on a 500 gig HD. I have used Mandrake/Mandriva since 7.2. I switched over to PCLOS in 2008. and then to Mint 10 in 2010. Mageia left me wanting in several areas. Nvidia driver has to be located, right driver selected, and installed. Mint does this almost automatically. I had no sound, had to configure that, and, like Mandriva, some of the programs would not run, had to mark ‘select all dependencies’ manually. I think this is one of the reasons I left Mandriva. My system is: MSI 760GM-E51 mobo, 600 watt power supply, AMD 640 quad core processor, 16 gig DDR3, 1.5 TB HD, and I have 3 500 gig HD spares to play on.

  5. It are about 320 Linux distributions already. Do the world need any more? I don’t thinks so. More competition? Well look how many car brands it was. To many, So some brands are gone. Are it any point to sell like Vauxhall and Opel and the only difference is some cosmetic features? Or Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth.Same car but different names.And the same will happends with Linux distributions to. Some will survive and others will be gone. I think if Mandriva and Mageia would work as one distribution they would compete better as two different distributions.

    Who know, maybe the new Mandriva 2011 would not have been delayed at all then?

    1. Well the core of Mageia contributors come largely from those laid off by Mandriva as, apparently due to financial problems, moved to employees in Brazil and Russia.
      This core, plus many other key contributors to Mandriva, started a new distro as they wanted a community-based distro that wouldn’t be subject to the whims of a commercial enterprise, and already had many good ideas as how to make a better Mandriva — which became Mageia.
      Mandriva is more or less what it would have been without Mageia.
      Myself, a longtime Mandriva user, would have been left to go to another distro anyway, as Mandriva cut back some of my favorite applications.
      Some parts of Mandriva are definitely worth keeping, like the easy-to-use package installation manager, which is why I really appreciate Mageia.
      I don’t have any stats, but I suspect that Mageia is already one of the top 10 distros. This is not some excentric going off in a corner to start his or her’s own version of an ideal Linux. I think it already has a vibrant community, which has encouraged me to make a lot more contributions in the past. If you follow the mailing lists, you might notice a lot of controversy from time to time, but that is part of the growing pains of Mageia, already showing lots of promise.

      By the way, Mandriva was already delayed before they laid off most of their key employees. Who were already considering starting a community distro due to internal problems.
      One could say that Mandriva, in releasing these employees, indirectly created Mageia.
      (Mandriva 2010.2 was just 2010.1 with about 6 months of updates, and not a regular release. You can see that in the 2010.2 DVD’s, which contain update repos.)

  6. Of course Mageia will improve unlike PCLinuxOS. First of all the name isn’t just plain dumb. And second of all Mageia is being produced but a lot of experienced developers, many of which worked for Mandriva SA. PCLinusOS is produced by one individual who gets butthurt if you say anything negative about his work.

  7. “Regarding the Tainted repository, I do not think that I completely understand the developer’s stance on Free/Nonfree software. If you must include “dirty” applications in your repository, which means you are distributing, you might as well install it by default, especially if it makes the system to “just work.” ”
    I like how they did it. They put it straight – using some items (depending of the law of your state) may violate some rights and effectively act as tainted so they literally mark them “tainted”. Those things might be ok – but you must check it for yourself. And if those things are ok, why shouldn’t you get them from one of official repositories?
    Mageia team seems to care that you don’t compromise security of your system in a reckless way (by downloading some malicious stuff) just to use some perfectly legal (in your country, but illegal in France, where headquarters of Mageia are) software.

    1. (by downloading some malicious stuff) !! ?

      If think you are really new to UNIX world :-))…

      The quality of this distrib is higher than Mandriva 2010.2 … in terms of global integration !
      Perfect for developers !


    2. Packages in “Tainted” aren’t illegal in France, which doesn’t have software patents.
      (If they were, they wouldn’t be in Mageia.)
      Also, few if any such packages are required to make a system “just work”, but can be useful to provide full functionality. (Personally I’ve never found such versions useful.)
      It is more packages (or versions of packages) suspected to possibly be subject to legal claims in a few other countries, such as the U.S.A., where software patents are sometimes legally enforceable.
      Note however that packages in “non-free” are often very useful for a properly functioning system.

      1. Also, few if any such packages are required to make a system “just work”, but can be useful to provide full functionality.

        How do you define “full functionality” if you cannot play a video DVD, which is available only if you install libdvdcss, which is available only if “Tainted” is enabled.

          1. I disagreed with you because you said “… few if any such packages are required to make a system “just work”, but can be useful to provide full functionality. (Personally I’ve never found such versions useful.)”

        1. @finid
          ok, the part of my post that you cited can be devolved to 3 statements.
          you respond referring to the second statement, seeming to disagree with it, then give an example that seems to support the same statement.
          So either you agree with my post, and have a somewhat original manner of expressing yourself, or you don’t quite understand English.

          Unless, of course, you are trying to say that “tainted” is not useful to provide full functionality.

          By the way, in many cases the same package is available in “core”, with certain functions disabled.

          1. I think somebody has been spending way too much time in front of a PC monitor. I hope I’m not the guilty party. 🙂

            To your last point, yes, some packages in Tainted are also available in Core with some features disabled. If Tainted is enabled, for example, you will have a choice between installing vlc or vlc tainted.

  8. Just remember, this is the first release. It’s important that we understand it’s only purpose is to launch Mageia, and that further improvements are yet to come. I think it’s obvious to most that the first release would be nothing more than a clone of Mandriva, as the work required just to launch it was enormous. I have no doubt they’ll improve upon what Mandriva has done, and even move in a different direction in some areas. Give it time to mature.

    1. With recent “un”-improvements in Mandriva, I suspect that Mageia already passes Mandriva, especially for those that don’t use the KDE desktop.
      (They stopped officially supporting the other desktops, which now depend on only community support. Since so many contributors went to Mageia, there is a lot less support for the other desktops.)

      As well, Mandriva went to another version of the package manager system. They are still trying to get the bugs out.

      In any case, Mageia and Mandriva still have a lot in common (much of which there are no plans to change), and thus a lot of potential synergies, as well as a lot of contributors to both.

      1. “I suspect that Mageia already passes Mandriva, especially for those that don’t use the KDE desktop.”

        I suspect Bigfoot is real and that he likes to ride the Loch Ness Monster. Suspect all you want…until a frame by frame comparison exists…Mandriva has nothing to prove…they’re not a new distribution trying to organize themselves. Mageia is.

        1. Considering that bigfoot is another name for the grizzly, I doubt the second part of your “suspect”.

          My statement was based on my experiences with Mandriva and Mageia, and the feedback I get from other’s involved in the 2 distros.
          For one, Mageia seems to be already better organized than Mandriva. By default, Mageia follows old Mandriva policy until decided otherwise, so it is not functioning in a vacuum. And we are progressing nicely on defining new policy.
          You base your reaction on what ?

  9. You seem to have missed out the most important part – which repo to select and why?

    Most new users will be lost at the selection of repositories.

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