Bodhi Linux – It’s About Time

I’ve been using GNU/Linux as my primary operating system for quite sometime now.

Actually, this June will be my six year anniversary of switching to GNU/Linux. Wow! Time sure does fly. It seems like it was only yesterday that I was burning and installing Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake. ;) Since that beginning, I’ve burned hundreds of CDs and DVDs with GNU/Linux distributions on them. I’ve tested most of the main line distros like Debian, Fedora Core, Mandriva, OpenSuSE, Slackware, Arch , Ubuntu, Mepis, Mint, etc. over the years.

Like most, I’ve found my favorites… Slackware, Arch, Debian (Sid), Zenwalk, Vector, Salix, CentOS, Foresight, Ark, etc. These distributions can almost always be found on some partitions on one of my systems at any given time. There are a few that have really impressed me. I’m always impressed with GNU/Linux, but to tell you the truth, it’s been a while since I was just absolutely taken aback by the presentation and quality of any distribution. I think Arch was the last distribution to really knock my socks off.

I think this is because, basically, all GNU/Linux distributions are pretty similar under the hood. It’s just how the eye candy wrappers are manipulated that make them somewhat different. Gnome in OpenSuSE can look a lot like Gnome in Debian, for example. KDE 4 is still buggy and bloated, regardless of what distro you’re running it in. Just kidding, KDE fans. ;) Every once in a while, though, the entire presentation; website, support, documentation, visual appearance of the installer, ease-of-installation, and 1st boot up impressions conspire to overwhelm one’s reactions… pleasantly, I mean.

This is the case today for me. I have heard a lot about Bodhi Linux, of course. Jeff Hoogland, the lead dev for Bodhi, is a member at Scot’s Newsletter Forums where I’m an Admin. I read Jeff’s blog regularly. I’ve watched from the very beginning when he first started putting Bodhi together. So, yeah… Bodhi Linux wasn’t some unknown for me. My pal Paul “ChipDoc” Campbell was a contributor to the Bodhi Linux documentation project. Oddly enough, I had never (till today) tried Bodhi Linux.

Recently, I received a little Dell Latitude D610 laptop from my niece. The unit is in near new condition, but it’s limited hardware-wise. I had been looking for the perfect lightweight distribution for it. First I tried my old favorite Vector Linux. That was pretty nice, but even VL was pushing the limits of this little guy’s Pentium M processor and 768Meg of RAM. Next I tried Zorin OS. Zorin was pretty cool. It calls itself a “transitional Linux” due to the fact that it’s geared for folks coming from MS Windows. Zorin worked well, but I still wasn’t satisfied.

Today, I visited the excellent Bodhi Linux website. I snooped around. I read the documentation. I looked at the beautiful screenies. I downloaded the tiny (450Meg) Live/Install .iso file. I burned it to a CD. I inserted that CD into my little laptop here on my desk and an amazing thing happened. The grizzled old GNU/Linux, Slackware-loving, veteran GNU/parted-using nocturnal geek, who is rarely impressed with anything these days, was IMPRESSED from minute one with Bodhi Linux.

Everything about Bodhi Linux just seemed… well, right to me. From the installer’s simple step by step walk-through to the general informational blurbs that came up on the screen during the installation process; it was all pleasant and Zen-like. I don’t know if Jeff was intentionally aiming for this mellow and tranquil feeling, but one assumes he was with a name like Bodhi, right? You hit your mark, buddy.

After the relatively quick install, the fun really begins. You get to actually start using Bodhi Linux. I like to start any distro with the customization stage. I go through the desktop first, changing the panels and icons and whatnot to my usual setup. I then go a bit deeper into the operating system and modify app behaviors, start-up behaviors, themes, window behaviors, and so on. On a distro that I’m not familiar with, like Bodhi, it may take me a couple hours to get it how I want it.

My simple little Bodhi Linux:

Photobucket

If you haven’t tried Bodhi Linux yet, what are you waiting for? You don’t need an old obsolete laptop to run it. It’ll run on your bleeding edge system just as well; better, actually. Bodhi is only minimal at the initial install. Thanks to their unique AppCenter, you can stuff your Bodhi full of yummy apps and goodies. If they don’t have it in the AppCenter, you’ll probably find it in Synaptic (using Ubuntu‘s repos). If you still can’t find your fav app, ask for it on the forums. Someone will make it happen for you.

Jeff, my hat’s off to you and all the contributors to the Bodhi Linux project. You folks have done an amazing job with this distribution. I can pretty much guarantee you that I’ll be looking for a spare partition or two on my main or shop system to install Bodhi Linux. I am impressed. Don’t get me wrong, though. You’ll still be hearing me bitch once I find the aggravating things in there. I know they’re there. They always are. I’ll try to stay calm and tranquil about it. Ahhhhmmmm… Ahhhhmmmm… HA! :)

Later…

~Eric

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23 Comments on “Bodhi Linux – It’s About Time”

  1. ChipDoc says:

    Glad to hear you finally gave it a shot, Eric. Don’t feel bad about bitching either – when folks complain, everyone works to bring the system a little closer to perfection.

    • Well, I don’t have any complaints yet. I’m loaning this little laptop to a pal today. He’s going to experience Bodhi Linux for himself this next week while I recover data from his failed MS Windows system and set up his replacement system that I got for him from Amenditman (Bob). :)

  2. comhack says:

    Very nice review Eric!!

    I have only tried previous versions of Bodhi as a livecd and after reading your review, I may have to install it on one of my lappies. :-)

  3. Randy Fry says:

    Yes, there are some aggrevating things, but those Bodhi guy’s and gal’s on the forums usually help you find a solution! The Bodhi OS is tops! It has it all, speed, lightwieght, and beautiful!

    • Hi Randy,

      There are ALWAYS some aggravating things. It’s the nature of the beast. As most who know me know, I’m a firm believer in the power of the GNU/Linux community to assist in resolving most issues one runs across. And yes, MS Windows also has a vast support community. I was once part of it. However, until coming to GNU/Linux, I had not really realized the power of a really dedicated volunteer community. Bodhi’s forums seem to be helpful and friendly. That’s is another point in its favor.

      Thanks for stopping by and reading/commenting.

      ~Eric

  4. Ian says:

    Eric,
    Great article and comes soon after I recently wiped and re-installed Bodhi from their newest update 1.4.0 on that old Toshiba Satalite of mine. I have a friend that just recently started to look at GNU/Linux by installing Ubuntu on one of his machines. He asked me about one of his older laptops and I recommended Bodhi. I gave him the Toshiba laptop and said have fun. Check it out. If you screw it up, no big deal. The response I got was awesome. He said his wife flipped out over Bodhi and loves it. Not to mention picking on him about the fact that this old (10 years +) laptop with a max of 512 Ram was booting into Bodhi faster then his Win7 machine. I told him to let his wife keep the laptop. I was not using it and it was once again awesome to introduce GNU/Linux to a new user. Now if I can just get Cookie to create a profile on Scot’s and introduce himself, I will be happy.

    All the best,

    Ian

    • Well, techie forums aren’t for everyone. Your friend would definitely be welcome if/when he does decide to pop in at the newly updated, prettified Scot’s Newsletter Forums. :)

  5. Barnabyh says:

    Bodhi is nice. Have you seen Slackel on Distrowatch yet? Gotta try it. Download nearly finished.

  6. sunrat says:

    Jeff has done a wonderful job with integrating Enlightenment with Ubuntu in Bodhi. I’ve been running it on my EeePC900 since the first release and most things run very smoothly and snappy. The only little bug I have is that fullscreen video does not play smoothly, especially YouToob. I previously had aptosid with KDE4 on it and video worked perfectly (reports of KDE4 bloat are greatly exaggerated :) ). It must be related to the hex that Ubuntu has on me – I’ve never had much luck getting *buntu or it’s derivatives to work satifactorily. Perhaps if Bodhi was based on Debian Sid it could take over the world!

  7. chekkizhar says:

    hmmm. I dont have too many systems to try all these.. Have idea to get some cheap, used systems locally. BTW, I am NOT jealous of your New Dell laptop [ Trust me ] ……

  8. Pili says:

    Less bla bla, please

    I would like to know what EXACTLY is so impressive?
    What has this distro that ubuntu, to name a similar one, doesn’t and vice versa.

    Thank you

    • But the bla-bla is how I get paid. Oh, wait… I don’t get paid to write. Damn! ;)

      Anyway, the two things most impressive to me about Bodhi were:

      1. its efficient, minimalist install – great for the old laptop that I installed it on

      and

      2. the ease with which software can be added using the Bodhi AppCenter.

      Since any review of anything is going to be an exercise in subjectivity, I strongly suggest you try it yourself. What impresses me may not impress you at all. Reviews are just one person’s opinion; meant as a guide or suggestion. You have to check it out yourself to really know what’s up.

      Have fun!

      ~Eric

  9. Anonymous age 70 says:

    A blogger recently wrote if you want to run KDE or whatever, please go away. He missed an important point. There are people who can install wireless drivers and they will work perfectly. I have used Linux since 1999, but have had terrible luck installing wi drivers.

    Bodhi runs Broadcom cards out of the box. I have it on an HP Mini 210, for that reason. I still want to run KDE and maybe other window managers. But, the effortless wireless is why I recommend Bodhi for anyone with a Broadcom card.

    And, I am sure there are times I will run E17. I normally install several WM on my machines, and once had a problem with KDE. I booted in another one, and fixed it.

    I was very pleased that I can apparently run Kstars on E17 without KDE being installed. Also, Kalarm, which is a critical program for me.

    I have Gimp; Firefox; Lyx; Kalarm; Kstars; dc; and more installed already.

    I did have this machine running PClinuxOS, but Bodhi, whatever I install on it, seems to be much nicer.

    • Funny you should bring up KDE just now. I’ve been on a rant against that WM since they went to 4.x a few years ago. I was a KDE user until that time, then I went with Xfce full-time on all my systems/distributions. Recently though, I’ve reinstalled my Slackware on my main system and decided to give KDE a go once again. I’m rekindling my love for that WM this past week or so. It seems they’ve finally worked out some of the worse bugs. Now I just need to trim some of the start-up bloat with KDE and I’ll be good to go.

      About Bodhi, though, which was really the point of your comment… it’s a wonderful distribution. I still stand by that. Jeff and his gang over at Bodhi Linux are still 110% dedicated to creating and maintaining an extremely viable distribution of Linux. I don’t have anything currently running Bodhi at this time, as I’ve recently cleaned off many of my tester installations, but I do still highly recommend it as a production OS for just about anyone.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Regards,

      ~Eric

  10. Josea says:

    Hi Eric + friends Based largely on this discussion I installed Bodhi 2.4 on my D610 (integrated graphics 1 GIG ram 7200 RPM HDD). I have tried many distros in VM’s on an ASUS gaming laptop & always got frustrated. This time I looked at the forum + WIKI docs and am really loving this distro. I can finally watch TV wirelessly via my HDhomeRun (gui) and 2.0.9 VLC. It was very choppy with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS but plays very smoothly now! The only hiccup I have is I have to click the wireless icon to connect after every boot, I assume this is by design. I just upgraded to E18 from the testing repos and almost feel like a real “geek”.
    Happy Holidays to all!!

    • Hello Josea… and Merry Christmas!

      I’m glad to read that you found my article here useful and that you were able to benefit from it by installing and enjoying Bodhi Linux, an excellent distribution. I don’t have Bodhi on any of my systems at the moment, so I cannot check to see about the wireless issue you’re having. I can assure you, though, that there is an option to connect wirelessly automatically on login. I just can’t remember how to tell you to do it. I highly recommend that you search/ask at the excellent Bodhi Linux support forums that you can find a link to on their home page.

      Best of luck with it!

      Enjoy!

      ~Eric


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