Bodhi Linux 3.0.0 Review: Minimalist distro with superb performance

On 17th Feb, 2015 Jeff Hoogland has announced the final release of Bodhi Linux 3.0.0, a desktop distribution based on Ubuntu 14.04 and featuring a customised Enlightenment 19.3 desktop: "Today I am very happy to share with you the first stable release for the third major update to the Bodhi Linux operating system. Notable features in the 3.0.0 release: Enlightenment E19.3, Terminology 0.8.0, ePad 0.9.0, Numix icons, Linux kernel 3.16, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS core. The release images for 3.0.0 support a wide range of hardware including: non-PAE processors, UEFI BIOS, SeaBIOS Chromebooks. Our stable release is not the only thing that is new at Bodhi Linux this month. Our main website, AppCenter, Wiki, and Forums have all gotten complete overhauls to go alongside this new release. If you are new to Bodhi Linux please take a look at the Quick Start Guide that opens by default when you first boot the live CD / operating system."

From Bodhi Linux 3.0.0

I have used Bodhi 2.x quite extensively on a couple of low powered machines I have. I liked the attractive interface of Bodhi and it's simplistic design. Bodhi 2.x was based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and the present release is based on Ubuntu 14.04. Unlike Ubuntu Trusty, which is still running Linux kernel 3.13.0 series, Bodhi ships with kernel 3.16.0.

Bodhi Linux provides options to download 32-bit, 64-bit, legacy and Chromebook version. I chose 64-bit ISO, about 612 MB in size. I created a live USB using Linux Mint Image Writer on a 4 GB USB drive. First I did a live boot on my laptop and then installed it to a 100 GB drive to understand Bodhi's performance better.

Hardware Used
Asus K55VM Windows 7 laptop with 2.3 Ghz 3rd Gen. Core i7 3610QM processor with 8 cores, 8 GB DDR3 RAM, 1366x768 resolution, 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce 630M graphic card. I installed Bodhi Linux on a 100 GB partition.

Bodhi Linux has a similar installation as Ubuntu 14.04 and should not challenge even Linux novice. The step by step installation process is intuitive and hardly takes 10 minutes to get the system running.

From Bodhi Linux 3.0.0

Score for Installation: 10/10

Hardware Recognition
Bodhi Linux has top notch hardware recognition and it was able to recognize my laptop's screen resolution, touch pad, wifi, sound card accurately. Everything worked as expected and I go with 100% score for hardware recognition.

Score for Hardware Recognition: 10/10

Bodhi Linux is geared for users who prefer a minimalist desktop with a panel (called Shelf) at the top. It has a very different design from other desktop environments I have used - possibly openbox is something which I can think of close to E19.3. Further, I have used E17 quite extensively and E19 looks somewhat different from E17 as well. It took me a bit of time to get used to E19.

From Bodhi Linux 3.0.0

The top shelf can be set to auto-hide and can be positioned at any part of the desktop. For example I put it here at the bottom to give a Mac-ish look.

From Bodhi Linux 3.0.0

The default wallpaper of Bodhi is a bit depressing and dull. But, Bodhi packs quite a few attractive wallpapers which can be accessed through left click on the desktop -> Settings -> Wallpaper.

From Bodhi Linux 3.0.0

E19 offers limited tweaking option to the overall minimalist design. One thing to mention here, upon first login, an window introducing Quick Start guide to Bodhi Linux pops up. It actually provides very good information on different FAQ items like connecting to internet, installing software, resources to find more information on Bodhi, etc. I found it quite handy for a first time user. The quick start guide is there in Menu -> Bodhi Linux -> Quick Start, but I feel Quick Start icon should be there on the desktop as well making it easier for new users to locate it. Netrunner OS does it.

From Bodhi Linux 3.0.0

Bodhi Linux provides some really cool animations as well. I really like the subtle effects and they didn't work as distraction for me.

Enlightenment desktop is significantly different from regular DEs like Unity, Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE, etc. Users not familiar with Enlightment may take a bit of time to get used to it. But, it is really worth it. I have rarely used a desktop environment as fast as Enlightenment. Once you get used to Enlightenment, you would actually start enjoying using it. The response time is really low and the desktop feels very lightweight to use.

In terms of aesthetics, I really like what I see in Bodhi Linux 3. It has a refined desktop, quite a few good wallpapers, simple minimalist design and some cool effects.

Score for Aesthetics: 10/10

Pre-Installed Packages
As mentioned, there are very few packages in the distro. Essentially it is a bare-bone structure shipped by default and users can install their favorite apps from Bodhi and Ubuntu repositories.

  • Office: None
  • Internet: Midori
  • Graphics: Ephoto, Screenshot
  • Multimedia: None
  • Accessories: Elementary test, epad text editor, epulse, eSudo, Terminology

I don't score Bodhi here as pre-installed packages is not one of the criteria to assess Bodhi. However, I would suggest that before starting to use E19 desktop, users should go through some basics like how to change settings to enable autologin, autohide shelf, etc. Since Enlightenment doesn't have an integrated settings manager, it took a bit of time for me to get familiar with E19.

Like other normal distros, Bodhi doesn't have a GUI based package manager like Ubuntu Software Center or Synaptic package manager. Instead there is an online AppCenter. It underwent a complete overhaul from Bodhi Linux 2.0 AppCenter. Now there are no application bundles like Nikhila or Pratibha. Instead users can access the appcenter and download their favorite packages and themes.

From Bodhi Linux 3.0.0

Installation of the packages from the AppCenter is very easy. Upon clicking the install button on the web page, applications get installed through the eSudo.

From Bodhi Linux 3.0.0

Further, I should mention here, that whatever applications that work with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS too work with Bodhi Linux. Since Bodhi Linux sources packages from both Bodhi and Ubuntu Trusty repositories, you can download packages like VLC, GIMP, etc. by running "sudo apt-get install <package_name>" command in the terminal.

From Bodhi Linux 3.0.0

Third party repositories are not added and users need to add repos like Skype, Google-Chrome, Google-Earth, etc.

Installation of Bumblebee for Nvidia graphic card
I installed bumblebee in Bodhi Linux by running the following command in the terminology:
$ sudo apt-get install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia primus linux-headers-generic bbswitch-dkms mesa-utils nvidia-331-updates
Once installed, add user to the bumblebee group
$ sudo gpasswd -a arindam bumblebee

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