3 Apr 2011

4 Lessons Which Bodhi Linux Taught Me

Ubuntu is not the oldest distributive on the Linux landscape. Moreover, it is not standalone one, and it is based on Debian. But Ubuntu and its derivatives became the most used Linux in the world, bringing Linux to the level when non-geek users can get benefits of this OS.
I have mentioned already that Ubuntu has huge number of derivatives. The Wikipedia page contains impressive list of them, but even that list is not full.
New star appeared on the Ubuntu sky recently, and this star is called Bodhi Linux. Version 1.0.0 was released at the end of March, just a week ago. Everything new is interesting. Hopefully, not only for myself, but also for my readers. That's why I have to try this new operating system.
Bodhi Linux image weights less than 400Mb, which puts it into the same line as Puppy and SLAX.
While testing Bodhi Linux, I learnt 4 lessons which I'd like to tell you about.


Lesson 1. Unetbootin.

This is my first ever approach to Unetbootin. This is a piece of software which allows "burning" of iso images to USB sticks, rather than to CD or DVD disks. I tried to avoid it so far, and use methods advised by distributive authors. But wiki page at Bodhi Linux site recommends Unetbootin. I had no other choice.
For my surprise, Unetbootin worked quite well. I must admit, I used Windows version of it to "burn" my USB stick, but I think Linux version could do it even better.

I had small issue though... It is not linked to Linux, Unetbootin or anything other in software world. Looks like my USB stick, which I got as a present from The Economist magazine, has some bad sectors. That's why I spent significant amount of time trying to record iso image to the stick with same bad result. Thanks God, I have another USB stick, and it worked pretty well from the first attempt.
Finally, I have my USB drive ready.
Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!

Operating System booted quickly enough. It shows you some kind of animation where leaves fall off the tree and fly across the screen. You can switch off the animation and get to the black screen with boot log with Esc key.

Lesson 2. Enlightment.

Bodhi Linux has concept of "minimalism". It means usage of minimal resources for the purposes. That's why Enlightment Desktop Environment is used there. It's other name is E17.
I have already tried E17 in Nimblex. That time I was not completely satisfied with results, and quite quickly switched to KDE which I know better.
This time I had no other option, but to stay with E17.

If I was talking about minimalism, I'd like to return once again to the boot screen. What does minimalism have to do with pretty complex animation? I think this part of the system can be easily cut off without losing much of system functionality.

Once booted, user is welcomed by several screens which allows fine tuning of the system. You can choose your profile (desktop/laptop/bare etc) and your theme (desktop picture) there. It is similar to Pardus, but has less options and steps. Anyway, that is nice feature from my perspective.
Bodhi showed me very strange time on the clocks. GMT-5 hours - is it somewhere in Latin America or Eastern part of USA? I've never been there. Honestly. And my computer is set to show UK time, currently British Summer Time.
As I said before, Bodhi Linux is based on Ubuntu. Apparently, it is Ubuntu 10.10, latest stable version. And I was pretty much sure that Bodhi Linux would not have any difficulties with finding my WiFi card on Compaq laptop. That was true. Just few keystrokes for security passcode, and I am connected to the network and Internet.
What is available for the user in the world of software? I would say not much. Bodhi Linux comes with bare bones software wise. No games, no office, no graphic editors. All you have, not counting for few system tools, is:
  • Midori browser
  • Terminal
  • Leafpad text editor
  • PacMan file manager
  • Network manager.
Last one from the list actually did not start from Live session, even though Network Manager applet worked OK. I used this applet for network configuration, that's why I know that for sure.
Same error appeared when I tried to run NTFS configuration utility. Is it just a Live version issue?
If you have no software in the distributive, you need to install it. Bodhi Linux has its own repositories, which can be used from Synaptics. And another way is to get software from the catalog on the web site. Link to that catalogue is in the main menu.
I tried to find Office software in the Synaptic and failed. Maybe I don't know how to search for it? That was a reason for me to try web site approach.
Catalogue lists two office packages as available: Libre Office and Light Office. I've never heard of Light Office before, but as soon as it consists of Gnumeric, Abiword and Inkskape, it makes me think about GNOME office.
The issue is not with the names actually. The issue is that no one office suite was available. Neither "install", not "download" buttons on the site worked.
Let's try another package. I wanted to make some screenshots of Bodhi Linux running on my laptop. Shutter is the package recommended for making screenshots on the official site. The installation link for Shutter worked OK, it was quickly downloaded. But... installation on Live system was not possible. And that's why I cannot provide screenshots of my laptop running Bodhi. You can see one of the wallpapers available on the web site instead. I think it is nice.
You can see, I could not do much in Bodhi. But programs which I could run worked very quickly. That is what E17 is for.
Bodhi includes several locales out of the box. All of them are English: American, British, Eire, Botswana etc. Unfortunately, no support for other languages and locales out of the box. They are probably available on the web site, but I did not find the link. Did you?
Even with English locale only, I could still read texts in Russian using Midori. Locale does not affect fonts and text display.

Lesson 3. Light does not mean user-friendly.

Reading Russian text is nice. But what is about typing in Russian? Default keyboard of course is English with US layout. I found a place in Bodhi configuration panel where layout can be configured. But, unfortunately, configuring keyboard layout was something impossible for non-experienced user like me. It requires some deep knowledge of Enlightment. Otherwise, how should I understand abbreviations IIIMF, SCIM, UIM? Actual configuration for them is specifying variable parameters. Definitely not user-friendly approach. GNOME and KDE do it in much easier way.

Samba is not included into the package, as you may already understand. Therefore I could not connect to my network drive from Bodhi Live. Even if I could, there are no players to test MP3 playback.
Youtube videos did not work in Midori. I was told to upgrade the Adobe Flash player.
Music from Internet resources also did not work either. When I tried to play something from my.Mail.ru or 101.ru I got same error.

Yes, Bodhi Linux has its benefits. It runs very quickly and has low disk space requirement, at least for initial run. It has good choice of themes and profiles, and they are easily changeable. In other words, good art work is in this system.
On the negative side, though, I found much more. General feeling about the Bodhi Linux operating system is that it is too naked to be used OOTB. It more looks like constructor which you need to assemble yourself, while some components of it are missing, some of them are not obvious and some are absent at all.
I would not recommend this operating system for newbies. Instead, this OS is for experienced users who know what they want and how to achieve the result. But would these users consider OS based on Ubuntu? Maybe they would look at Debian/Arch/Slackaware instead?

Lesson 4. Small size does not mean pocket size.

Even though size of Bodhi Linux is comparable to SLAX, I would not consider it to be pocket OS. Basically, because SLAX is self-contained within same size while Bodhi is very limited in functionality.
For the same reasons I will not list Bodhi Linux on my Buy Linux CDs page. It is intended for users with limited Internet access or time for CD image burning. In case of Bodhi, you still need lots of Internet traffic to download your components, and you still need time to get all these components working.

36 comments:

  1. Sadly there is also an issue with Bodhi GNU/Linux in that it uses unsigned packages and is thus vulnerable to "man in the middle" attacks. While it isn't alone in having this fault distribution such as Arch are actively fixing the issue while Bodhi's developers seem resistant to doing so (I very much hope that this will change!)

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  2. I really want to like Bodhi Linux, but it's a PITA to use, compared to, say, Ubuntu or Mint. I'll keep an eye on it, but it has quite a ways to go before it can be considered ready for prime-time.

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  3. Oh Darkduck... Really wish you would have at least read our about page or well any of the documents provided with Bodhi Linux. To point out at least one inaccuracy we are not even Ubuntu 10.10 based

    @Ano We really don't provide much less than Ubuntu does... And well our methodology is much different from what Linux Mint aims to do. Would you install Arch Linux expecting the same as Linux Mint?

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  4. I don't use Bodhi anymore for reasons beyond my lack of enthusiasm to this blog, but I will point out that this review is poorly constructed. First Bodhi is designed for visual pleasure, hence Plymouth boot splash.
    You are not forced for e17, just install KDE or gnome, or any other oversized environment of your choice.
    to be testing/reviewing Linux in LiveCD is just plain pathetic.

    virtualbox.......

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  5. I actually enjoy Bodhi, I have the earlier version that has Firefox, I didn't download the newest version simply because it carries Midori. I know I can download another browser though, just as in my previous install I downloaded the XFCE desktop environment and made it my default.

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  6. Main Lesson:

    A poor review has always to be linked with a poorly skilled / (intentioned?) reviewer.



    See here:
    Lesson 3. Light does not mean user-friendly

    How can you sustain a conclusion as the above one, based on a single sample?


    The same goes for your other "lessons"

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  7. @Gladys
    You were lucky enough to get to the point where you could install something. I could only download screenshot tool, and installation failed. BTW, I did not get any "unsigned" notification there.

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  8. @Anonymous
    I think guys over there have great courage. That makes me believe their product will reach more effective stage. 8-)

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  9. @Jeff
    My fault, I missed 10.04 mentioning. But then... 10.04 does NOT support Broadcom 4311 Out Of The Box! This is not free driver, which has to be downloaded separately. Why does Bodhi work correctly with this WiFi card then? Oooops? You have some non-free driver included without notifying users?
    I read both forum thread (http://www.bodhilinux.com/forums/index.php?/topic/307-bodhi-in-the-news/page__st__60) and another review (http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/bodhi.html) which you pointed me at (in e-mail). I totally agree with Deidomedo and guys in the forum. Bad review is still a review. It shows places for further improvement.
    As for "apt-get update" hidden somewhere behind the link... Don't expect (especially unexperienced) users to read every single word on the site before clicking the link. If something does not work, and developers know why, it is better to be shown directly on the screen for user to read BEFORE getting an error, or WITHIN the error message.

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  10. @Robert
    If I want visual pleasure, I can use TV with pictures. Operating system is basis for work. It should be balanced between eye candy and functionality.

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  11. @Wallfisher
    I do not see anything bad in Midori.
    For me, Midori is better than Firefox. I am personally very aged hater of Firefox and fan of Chrome(-ium).
    Midori is OK for me.

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  12. @Anonymous
    "Lesson 3. Light does not mean user-friendly

    How can you sustain a conclusion as the above one, based on a single sample?"
    Single sample is still a sample.
    Take Puppy or SLAX. They are both light and they ARE user-friendly. Especially Puppy.

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  13. @DarkDuck There is a link on _every_ page that you install software from to the "Install Instructions"

    http://www.bodhilinux.com/software/doku.php?id=installation_instructions

    So yes, even "especially unexperienced" users should be able to make their way around.

    That being said the "Download" button works without an apt-get update.

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  14. @Jeff91
    Yep, see this link now, when you pointed. Maybe worth making it more outstanding? :-?

    I checked now - "Download" link works. Though, it did not work when I tried my Bodhi. It's a pity I could not make screenshots that time... I have no proof.

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  15. "...installation on Live system was not possible. That could be expected actually."
    Cannot understand why reviewers make comments like this. The filesystem is fuse, and resides in memory. I have not had any problems installing extra packages for testing on a live OS, even on Minty with 512MB RAM. Why do others find it problematic?

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  16. Next Bodhi will require 1 g of RAM, not so minimalistic anymore.

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  17. @Anonymous
    Sometimes Live systems allow installation of additional software. More often - not.
    Bodhi is "minimalistic", so restriction was expected.

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  18. @Roberto:
    Where did you take this information from?

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  19. Bodhi does not come in 64bit. They can't afford to release only for 32bit systems these days. They will alienate half the users. Need I say more....

    --
    Superuser

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  20. @Anonymous
    I could sound like out-of-date person, but why do you think you need 64 bits? Most people still survive with 32 bits.
    64 bits are OK when you have decent hardware and drivers for all your hardware. What if not?
    32 bits are still safer on this side.

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  21. "Sometimes Live systems allow installation of additional software. More often - not."
    I've used Live boots of: Fedora and derivs; Ubuntu & derivs incl Minty; Puppy & derivs; DSL; and some others when I had the bandwidth, and have not or expected a problem- so do not be offended, but my take on your [quote] "More Often - not." [unquote] statement through experience, is one of disbelief.

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  22. This is one of those typical sites created with the unique means for his owner to earn some $$$ from adds. Articles are headed with ambiguous tittles and a notice is sent to the news sites where potential audience may be lured to come for a look. Then we see a narrow article summary and large margins crowded with adds. To read the complete text one or more clicks are required linking to other pages with the same layout and also crowded with the more and more adds, at top, left, right and bottom.

    The content is carefully chosen according to what is hot at a given moment, but inside it's only generalities, themes that lead to some more clicks inside the site, or controversial claims about what is currently found to be popular, in order to attract people to contest, who will generate again a few more clicks.

    The current Bodhi "review" is a good example of the later. A complete misleading article and a total waste of time. Thanks for the time you made me loose.

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  23. @Anonymous: thank you for your visit and for NOT subscrubing. Your comment is very helpful. I'll continue to do what I do, but you are welcome NOT to come back.

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  24. @Anonymous: I definitely had similar issues before, but can't remember the system now. For sake of truth, I remove that passage from the post. Thanks for giving me another reason to revisit my post(s).

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  25. Thanks for commenting on my blog (robotsystematic.com) on my post about Bodhi. After having read your review (nicely detailed, good job) I tried out a few more things and have since come to really dislike it.

    It definitely has a lot of faults like you said, and I am also under the impression that Englightenment is not for me.

    Check on my blog for a more expanded explanation as to why I didn't like Enlightenment.

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  26. @snek
    I think developers know where they need to improve. Lets hope they will listen to us.

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  27. Bodhi Linux rocks!! I have to admit E17 has a very huge learning curve. But choice is the nature of Linux and a lot of users seem to forget that or are not aware of that. I'm running Bodhi Linux with Xfce as my default, works like a charm. Before Bodhi I've used Crunchbang Linux for about two years. So for me Bodhi was a lot easier to use and to customize (Xfce to be specific). The fact that it's barebones software-wise appeals a lot to me. It's all about choice. You can make Bodhi as minimalistic or as full blown as you want to, whatever works and gets the job done at the end of the day.

    PS Writing a review based on Live CD is NOT accurate at all. Someone else already pointed that out but I think installing in Virualbox may have given you a better idea of what this OS is all about and what it's capable of.

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    Replies
    1. Everyone is free to choose whatever (s)he wants. Somebody likes Bodhi, somebody, like me, can't cope with it.

      PS. I wrote about this.

      Delete
    2. @ cc_INC I agree with you on choice, but I don't really like Bodhi. If you like barebone, download ubuntu or debian or another minimal iso (27Mb ubuntu) and build from there. You can choose everything and build your system. It takes some time and I would recommend Vbox for it but its great fun. After trying out stuff you can build and use your very personalised OS! (@ DarkDuck: Why don't use virtualbox or vmware, its the ultimate way to test any distro?)

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    3. There are plenty of people who do reviews of HDD / virtual machine installations.
      Let me be different and do what I like. OK?

      Delete
  28. Nobody should do what he (or she) doesn't like. But my question is: what is the avantage in using a live cd vs installing a system in a vm? I'm not judging, I'm wondering and hoping to learn something. Kind regards.

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    Replies
    1. Live CD is the first thing a new user sees. Installation, even on VM, requires more commitment from the user. Plus, VM requires more resources and more technical knowledge.

      Delete
  29. Just reviving an old dead thread...from a Bodhi machine.

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  30. Bodhi Linux is the BEST minimal, highly-customizable and practical operating Linux system today. It is SUPER fast because of that. If there is just *one* downside for Bodhi Linux, it's dependent on Ubuntu distribution. I would have wished Ubuntu had some of the Bodhi Linux philosophy in minimalism to achieve the same result of performance but.. it is turning into Windows.

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    Replies
    1. Arto,
      I wonder why so many people still confuse minimalism and a lack of functionality?
      Read here:

      http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/bodhi.html

      Delete
  31. Glad this post is still open after almost three years :D As for Bodhi, I have to say this: It's a nice distro, not really the best in the world, but I like how i can install what I want and not be stuck or end up with multiples of similar kind of programs because I prefer this program better than the one that comes with the distro. I found a few faults with it though, for example some games and other programs that worked fine in Ubuntu have real issues being displayed properly, to bring an example - when I run Go-Ollie, I end up with an empty window with Ollie hopping around in the air. Another one is Cytadela, which when i start the game, it crashes and I'm stuck in 800x600 world, and no real way to fix it, other than reinstalling Xorg and reboot. And forget about trying to install something from PlayDeb. But other than that, The Desktop is as nice and fancy as you want it to be and there are a ton of flashy themes in the repository, plus the App Center is also a great addition, which gives you the option to install bundles that suit your needs and requirements without having to search individual packages for hours on end. All in all despite of a few little bugs, I can't help but drift back to Bodhi Linux and i really think it's works nicely for general use such as web browsing, office work and multimedia use. If I was to rate this Distro, I'd give it a B+. Iron out most of the bugs and I probably might consider an A grade.

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