Mar 272011
 

Bodhi I liked from the beginning the idea behind Bodhi Linux and so I followed the progress of this young version of Linux and take advantage of version 1.0 (congratulations to Jeff and the entire team) to make a review.

For the uninitiated Bodhi Linux is a recent project that taking as a base Ubuntu 10.04 “reconstructs” the Enlightenment desktop, it use the login system manager of LXDE (and also as the terminal) and offers its own package system (.bod); The system being based on Ubuntu is still compatible with .deb and dpkg and aptitude can be used without problems.


Some informations from the official site:

The Name:
Bodhi comes from the Buddhist term for “enlightenment”. It is also a type of sacred tree, thus the leaf used in our logo.

Purpose
Bodhi mainly is about two things:

The Enlightenment Desktop
User Choice
Enlightenment is not just a window manager for Linux/X11 and others, but also a whole suite of libraries to help you create beautiful user interfaces with much less work than doing it the old fashioned way and fighting with traditional toolkits, not to mention a traditional window manager. It is fast in addition to elegant. Enlightenment is currently under heavy development. To ensure that our users always have the latest Enlightenment desktop we push out Enlightenment updates to the Bodhi repository at least once a week. We believe Enlightenment is the best desktop Linux has to offer because of it’s elegance, modularity and high level of customization.

Unlike some other distributions that try to make all the decisions for you, Bodhi thinks the end user is smart enough to make their own decisions. We let you choose your default theme and system layout as well as applications for completing your computing tasks. The only applications you will find pre-installed on your Bodhi system are Midori, LXTerminal, PCManFM, Leafpad and Synaptic. Beyond this you can easily find and install an application for any task you may have in mind via Bodhi Software Center. We do not see the need to clutter your system with extra applications that you may never use.

Rationale:
Why are we making Bodhi when there are hundreds of existing Linux distros? Is it redundant? Bodhi sets itself apart from other Linux distros due to it’s use of the Enlightenment desktop. Examining all the Linux distros, you will find fewer than a dozen that use Enlightenment.

Why use Bodhi over other “light weight” distros such as LXDE or XFCE? Enlightenment– It is superbly designed, gorgeous and extremely fast on a wide variety of hardware. Screen shots do not do it justice.

I would say this is enough to get an idea of Bodhi, let’s see how it behaves on our computer.

Installation

bodhi-live
bodhi-install
Bodhi it’s a live CD, so when you startup from his CD you’ll get a complete working environment.
This is a good moment to test the Enlightenment Desktop and see if you like it, i found it really polish and quick, also on a virtual machine, personally on my 3 computers i use Gnome, XFCE and Fluxbox, so i’m not scared in testing different solutions and i must say that at first glance i really liked this Desktop.

During the login you will be asked to choose which profile using with this account, you can choose between: Desktop, Laptop, Netbook, Bare or fancy, depending on the profile you choose you will have different applications on the screen, after choosing your profile you will be asked which theme to use, by clicking on the various names you will see a preview, choose what you like and then you’ll be on your Desktop that you can test directly from the live.

To install just click on “install bodhi” on the bottom of the screen, and an installation wizard very similar to one of Ubuntu will start, you will be asked the usual questions: time zone, keyboard and an account and after that the installation will start.

Software installed

Once installed, you’ll be able to login and the first time you’ll be asked Profile and Theme like in the Live, once logged in you’ll have at your disposal a very frugal environment in comparison to an Ubuntu or a Fedora these are the software at your disposal from the start, with just 1.1 GB used:

Kernel: 2.6.35-28-generic #49-Ubuntu
Enlightenment: 0.16.999.58093
Midori: 0.3.3.1-getdeb
PCman: 0.9.8
lxterminal: 0.1.9-0ubuntu
leafpad: 0.8.17-2

There is also all the software needed to have a running network (with network-manager) and a working bash envinronment with all more common utility programs.
But no emails, no games, no instant messenger or multimedia programs … nice !

Install more software

Bodhi give you several options to add software to your installation:

1) From this page select the package you want to add and either download it (FTP down while i wrote, but should be up after 30 of March) or install it via Mozilla directly from your browser (expect a browser that recognize the apt:/url action).

Really interesting are also the meta packages or software bundles, collection of software (the most used applications in several fields) ready to be downloaded as a single file .bod file, and to install all of them you just have to execute it from the terminal.

2) Use the traditional tools of distribution that use .deb packages, so apt-get or aptitude to install available in the software repository used by Bodhi (Ubuntu LTS + Bodhi).

Performance

Having installed on a virtual machine it did not make much sense to test performance, so i’m taking as good numbers posted on TechRepublic

Bodhi Linux has the advantage of being lightweight.
It boots fast and it performs faster than most Linux distributions (maybe not the likes of DSL or Puppy Linux.) This statement even holds true with the compositor running. How fast? A simple, real-world test had me opening up The GIMP on two different (but equally equipped) machines. Machine A was my Bodhi Linux machine and Machine B was a standard Ubuntu 10.10 machine. Here are the average start times for The GIMP:

Machine A: 4.7 seconds
Machine B: 11.1 seconds
Those results pretty much speak for themselves. The GIMP is often one of the slower tools to start on Linux and Bodhi cut the start time by over 50%. Impressive.

Conclusions

I really like Bodhi, it has the stability and number of packages of an Ubuntu LTS, but your installation start clean and with the minimal software, you are the owner of your desktop and you can choose exactly which software put, one of the reasons i use Gentoo on my main Laptop.
As advertised on bodhi site Enlightenment it’s really nice looking and light,a perfect lightweight environment. Highly recommended if you know exactly what you need and do not want useless software in your installation.

Not recommended if you are new to Linux and/or you expect that at the end of the installation there is everything (and more) that you can need, in this case I recommend Ubuntu and Mint.

References:
Bodhi official site
Jeff Blog

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  11 Responses to “Bodhi Linux 1.0 review”

  1. Having seen Jeff’s comments about it elsewhere I remain concerned regarding the packages being unsigned and thus presenting a “man in the middle” attack vector. This alone would sway me against recommending Bodhi to anyone at the moment…though if the Bodhi team are willing to listen to user feedback they may put this omission right.

    I would rather see Bodhi follow the examples currently being set by the likes of CrunchBang and Mint and opt to build directly from Debian not from Ubuntu…the recent events concerning Canonical and the Banshee developers, Canonical and the Gnome developers et al make me wish to route around them and by building from Debian you would have a completely community responsive and directed by community distribution (judging from what I’ve heard Bodhi’s team would be able to fit that definition.) Should you wish to meet the requirements of the FSF (removal of non-free items etc) then advertisement of Bodhi and help from the FSF might well be available…I’m sure we would welcome a high quality Enlightenment based distribution to our group of recommended distributions were this to be done.

  2. I’ve been using Bodhi and I like it. It’s great that I only have to install what I want.

    Bodhi’s big issue for me is that many programs have a TON of stupid dependencies, thanks to Ubuntu. Hopefully, this can be addressed.

    For example, to install fglrx for my ATI card, I have to install almost all of Gnome, because Ubuntu has it listed as a dependency. Heck if I know why.

    Regarding the FSF, please keep that political BS far away from Bodhi.

  3. I can only think that David is a FAKE Fsf supporter, and even worse, he’s a troll.

    Among hundred Linux distros, only a very few of them do sign packages. and I’ve never seen him around.

    It means that whatever he may support, FSF it’s not, for sure.

  4. Nice concise review. I personally have yet to give it a spin but I think I soon will. I do think following Debian directly would benefit the project but for very different reasons. I like the stability from Debian versus the cutting edge of Ubuntu. I have to also agree with Dan that with Ubuntu comes the extra load of software I’ll never use. I once removed an application, can’t remember what, but it basically broke the system.

    Bodhi is a young project and is moving forward nicely. I am confident Jeff will address these issues as the time warrants.

    Once again a nice review. Thanks.

  5. I left Arch Linux because they did not sign packages but many distributions do have signed packages. Some of course allow you to add repositories that might not have signed packages but if you do then that is on you. I for one think it is important to have signed packages and will not use a distribution that does not have at least this. I for one also agree that this should be based on Debian as I hate having distributions that are based off of Ubuntu which is then based off of Debian. I like the idea of having only free software but know that is not very practical. Things are getting better in this area but we are not there yet were only free software can be used.

  6. Design principles behind Bodhi are User centric-It is upto the user to decide how his desktop should look like, what applications are installed and how they function.
    Check it out Here

  7. @John:There is news in regards to Arch and signing.
    http://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issue=20110328#news

  8. Hi All,

    Jeff normally jumps in at this point to highlight a few of the areas that Bodhi is going to address and put everyone’s fears to rest.

    Whilst I can’t answer the comments on signed packages I can answer the Debian vs Ubuntu question. In two ways,
    Firstly – Jeff’s primary goal at the start was to get a distro up and running. As 1 man build speed and easy user acceptance and use was critical. So, with that in mind why not choose the most successful Linux distro available at the time. I have friends who have built Debian and Arch systems with similar comments – for fresh or new to Linux guys its a pain. That has put me off even worrying about it. However – Other distro based versions are being developed. The forum is the place to find out more about them. This is not a distro for newbies or old dogs, it is however only 6 months old, time to mature is required Debian started in 1993 thats nearly 20 years of history, trial and error.

    Secondly – Why base the distro off of another distro in the first place? I can only follow that statement with a watch this space!

    Bodhi is sincere in what it is trying to achieve and how we go about that is important to all involved (even if its putting a few graphics to the name). The team do try and read all reviews and do discuss the feedback, anyone remember our first website? And we continue to progress and feed off this, community is very very important to us. As per Dan’s comment above politics however is not.

    Please visit the forum and post your feedback good bad or otherwise.

    jason (jarope)

  9. I think lack of software is major strong as well as weak point of Bodhi.
    Welcome to read my review:

    http://linuxblog.darkduck.com/2011/04/4-lessons-which-bodhi-linux-taught-me.html

  10. Bodhi installed easily and I was impressed until I encountered unauthenticated packages in the repos…hate that. Next tried to boot my other linux partition…no problem. Tried to boot windows partition…errr. Got Grub Rescue prompt…that is minimal grub. Ended up reinstalling grub from a live cd, only to have to edit initrd and vmlinuz manually. Finally booted to an operating system and performed a find /boot/grub/stage1….oddest of all, sda6 with Bodhi on it was entirely gone…like a leaf on the wind? It vanished from the hard disk. I’ve never before seen anything like that.

  11. Bodhi Linux is as it’s described in the review and claimed by the developers: fast and elegant. I have Bodhi Linux 1.2.1 installed on a vintage HP Pavilion (500MHz processor with RAM ramped up to 500MB). I think I will keep it on the hard drive under a dual-boot setup with PCLinux 2011.9 lxde.

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