Simply is not an independent distribution. Instead, it is based on the ALT Linux, a distribution from a team of Russian developers. While ALT Linux is a KDE-oriented distro, Simply uses Xfce. Both of these distributions share the same platform, called Sisyphus.
As with many other Linux distributions, Simply and ALT Linux continue development. The current version of Sisyphus is 7, that means that Simply Linux has the same number in the name.
Let me introduce you Simply Linux 7.0.5, released in May 2015. You can download it from one of the official mirrors or from torrent. Unfortunately, the main web site of Simply Linux is in Russian. Unless you know the language, you will find it difficult to navigate.
The ISO size of Simply Linux Live is about 870 Mb. I burnt it onto my USB stick with Ubuntu's built-in image burner tool. If you find it difficult to download the ISO image and create a bootable media yourself, then BuyLinuxCDs.co.uk can help you!
The USB stick is ready. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB.
Booting processALT Linux and Simply Linux teams are based in Russia, and their main audience is in Russia. That's why you get your first boot menu in Russian. Don't worry, it is a very standard boot menu, and F2 key gives you a choice of languages, including English US. After that you have a choice between Installation, Live boot and some more options. I selected the Live option, and booting started. There were no more questions along the boot process.
Surprisingly, it took quite a lot of time to boot Simply Linux on my laptop Toshiba Satellite L500-19X. I did not use a stopwatch, but it felt like couple of minutes before I was presented with the desktop.
First impressionsOnce the distro is booted, you end up with a colourful bright desktop with a blue background. Simply Linux always had a colourful but well-balanced selection of colours.
|Simply Linux desktop|
There is a panel at the bottom of the screen. The left corner of the panel is taken by the menu button, "show desktop" shortcut, browser launcher and a virtual desktop switcher with 4 available desktops.
The right part of the panel has a standard selection of tools: clocks, shutdown button, network, volume, battery and layout indicators, and a Compiz Fusion icon.
I need to mention here that Xfce's default Xfwm4 window manager is switched on in Simply Linux when you boot it up. It is easy to switch to Compiz WM using the Compiz Fusion icon I have just mentioned. This will enable Compiz functionality, including window animations and so on.
Once booted, Simply Linux takes about 180 Mb of memory, which is a very good result.
|Simply Linux resources|
If you reboot your computer from the same USB stick, Simply Linux remembers all your settings from the previous session, which is rather convenient.
Network connectionSimply Linux 7.0.5 had no issues with detection and configuration of my wireless network card Realtek 8191 SEvB. I only had to select the network name and type in the password. It was quick and easy.
It took me significant time to draft this article, for several reasons. My laptop went to the screensaver mode at one time. I am not sure whether this or something else was the reason, but network connectivity disappeared at one point. I had to manually switch WiFi off and then back on to restore the network access. That's disappointing.
Unfortunately, I could not test the network disk connectivity this time, because I wrote this review away from home.
Keyboard layoutThere is a keyboard layout indicator in the right part of the panel in Simply Linux 7.0.5 Live. The default layout is English US. Unfortunately, Properties of that indicator does not allow you to change the layout, since all the boxes are greyed-out right after boot.
Another place where you can find the keyboard options is in System Management Center found in menu Settings. You can indeed add layouts and a switch hotkey there, but they have no effect on the system behaviour whatsoever.
And yet another place where the keyboard configuration is actually done is in the Keyboard section of Settings manager in the same Settings part of the menu. If you untick the "System default" checkbox there, you should be able to configure layouts either in the same window, or in the panel element Properties. English US and Russian are default layouts, but many others are available. Switching keyboard shortcut configuration is only available in the panel element properties.
In other words, keyboard layout configuration is a long and winding process in Simply Linux 7.0.5.
In addition to that, I have not found the place to configure the touchpad scrolling. It is not enabled by default.
ApplicationsSimply Linux comes with a decent set of applications, although some of them are rather outdated versions.
To start with, Xfce 4.10 is the desktop environment there.
On top of that, you have many system tools and utilities like medit text editor, calculator, archive manager, screenshot utility, partition editor, USB creator, terminal and so on.
Firefox 31.6 is the default browser in Simply Linux 7.0.5. Apart from it, you will find Thunderbird mail client, Pidgin messenger, Transmission torrent client, Remote desktop utility and some more network tools.
The productivity tool in Simply Linux is LibreOffice 188.8.131.52 with the full set of applications, including Math and Database. You also have an OCR utility and a StarDict dictionary in the default distribution.
Graphic tools include PDF document viewer, image viewer, GIMP 2.8, XSane scanner and several more applications.
There are 7 different simple games in the default pack.
Simply Linux comes with Audacious music player along with SMPlayer for other multimedia. There is also a tag editor, a Brasero burning tool and a Volume control utility.
If you are not satisfied with the applications in the default set, you can change them through the Synaptic Package Manager, which works with the ALT Linux repository. Unfortunately, ALT Linux and Simply use their own flavour of RPM package format, so you won't be able to use RPMs from other distributions.
Synaptic is set up to only use the local list of packages initially. You need to enable a repository from your nearest or favourite mirror to enable the installation of additional software.
I have checked available packages, and understood that VLC, Amarok, Clementine players, KRDC remote desktop, GNOME desktop environment, Chromium browser are all available. You can check more yourself.
MultimediaOnce I navigated to YouTube in the browser tab in Simply Linux 7.0.5, I got a message that the Flash plugin required update. Firefox blocked that plugin.
Once unlocked, I was able to watch the Youtube videos either in embedded or native page view.
|Simply Linux multimedia|
There were no issues with MP3 files playback.
SummaryIn general, I experienced very few problems when running Simply Linux 7.0.5 in Live mode. It felt very fast and responsive at all times.
Of course, there are some areas of improvement that I've mentioned above. But if you are brave and courageous enough to try on something new from Russian developers, I can definitely recommend Simply Linux for you.
Video on screenshot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TsVjvEkc4s