I am not very sure what MX means. Is it a reference to Mexico? Or to Moto-cross? Of just a hybrid of Mepis and antiX? You can comment your ideas below.
Debian Stable is the backbone of this distribution. It is Debian 8 Jessie version that was used as a base for the latest MX release.
MX-16 is the name of the latest principal release of this operating system. It was released in the middle of December 2016. There are also monthly sub-releases for those who want to have a fresher version of the ISO, which will require fewer updates after installation.
I downloaded the 64-bit ISO of "MX-16 original", which is 1.2 GB in size and available for downloading either via torrent or via half a dozen mirrors around the world.
The dd command helped me to "burn" the ISO image onto the USB stick. This stick is plugged into the USB port of my Toshiba laptop.
Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!
Booting upThe initial boot menu of MX-16 64-bit operating system gives you a choice of three options: Live boot, memory check and boot from hard drive. At the same screen you can optionally switch your language, configure persistence and specify other boot parameters. I decided to try the persistence_all option during my Live run.
Once I selected the Live run, the bootloader started to search for existing persistence files and partitions on my laptop and obviously failed. Then it asked me about the location of the partition where I would want to keep the persistence information. The USB stick location was not an option at that time. I was not too sure about the way persistence is going to work, so I cancelled the persistence partition creation after some time so as not to risk data on my HDD. Nevertheless, I later saw a directory antiX created on one of the partitions of my HDD.
After that, the boot sequence continued and soon I ended up on the default desktop of MX-16.
First impressionsOnce the boot sequence of MX-16 finishes, you cannot help but feel the difference with any other distributions you saw before.
|MX-16 boot screen|
Of course, there is wallpaper with a sea sunset. You can change it to any of 5 alternatives.
Of course, there is an Installer icon on the desktop.
Of course, there is a welcome window with multiple links to useful information.
Nothing extraordinary so far.
But the distinctive feature is on the left. It is the panel, and both its location and contents are unusual for an Xfce distribution. If I forgot to tell you, MX-16 uses Xfce as a default desktop environment. For those who want to have some technical details, MX-16 runs on Linux kernel 4.7.0 and Xfce 4.12.
Usual location of the panel in Xfce distributions is either the top or bottom part of the screen. MX places the panel to the left.
And the location of the elements is also unusual. To start with, clocks are at the very top of the panel. Next down follows the set of icons for currently open applications. The active button is highlighted with black, which does not give very good distinction on an otherwise dark-grey panel. Nearer the bottom is a set of quick-start launchers for Firefox and File Manager. Next down is the notification area, which contains usual suspects like battery, volume and network indicators, as well as updates' information and Unmount icon. Next is a switch between two virtual desktops. And at the very bottom of the panel, on its usual place in the bottom-left corner is the menu button with MX logo on it.
I cannot say that the location and composition of the panel is uncomfortable, but you need some time to get used to it. I may even try to play with the panel in my own installation of Xubuntu later on.
The freshly booted system took just over 310 MB of memory, which is very decent.
|MX-16 resource usage|
Network connectivityOnce I clicked the network indicator on the panel, a list of available wireless networks appeared. It means that MX-16 Live correctly recognised and configured the wireless card of my laptop, Realtek 8191 SEvB.
I selected my network, typed in the password and soon I was connected to the Internet.
Network driveThunar, the default file manager of MX-16, has the Browse Network section. It showed me my file server when I clicked it - no further manual input or even browsing was needed. In other words, the process of browsing a remote file server is not any different from browsing local drives. Maybe just a bit slower.
I tried to open couple of audio and video files from that drive, and experienced no issues at all. All played well straight away.
Keyboard layoutIf you remember, there is a selection of different languages at the boot screen of MX-16. I selected English UK there, and the system booted with the relevant keyboard layout, unlike many other distributions, for example GeckoLinux. MX-16 met my expectations here.
However, if you need to use more than one layout in your system, you need to configure them. The usual process for Xfce desktop environment applies.
MultimediaAs I mentioned just above in the Network drive section, I was able to play couple of multimedia files in MX-16 straight out of the box. These were both MP3 and video files. It means that all necessary codecs are already present in this distribution.
Both YouTube and Vimeo videos also played well, and so did 1tv.ru and CNN videos.
ApplicationsMX-16 Linux distribution comes with a very good choice of applications available immediately for the user.
Firefox 50 is the default and the only browser. It comes together with Thunderbird mail client, Transmission torrent client, GNOME PPP dial-up tool and Hex Chat. Unfortunately, there is no default Internet messenger tool. To be honest, I would replace GNOME PPP with Pidgin or its equivalent.
LibreOffice 126.96.36.199 comprises the main part of the Office menu section of this distribution, including Math and Base applications. The same menu section also has Orage calendar, Shuffle PDF viewer, E-book reader, Dictionary and some more.
Graphics tools include GIMP editor, Mirage image viewer, Shotwell photo organizer, Scan to PDF scanning utility and LibreOffice Draw.
The Multimedia menu section of MX-16 includes Clementine and VLC player, CD Ripper, Xfburn disk burning utility, SMTube YouTube viewer and several other utilities.
There are dozens and dozens of various applications in the System and Accessories sections, and some of them are MX-specific, like MX Boot Repair, MX Package installer, MX Default Look, MX Tools and so on. For example, the MX Default Look application allows you to move the panel to the more appropriate place at the bottom and switch to "light" theme. I tried the latter, and the theme changed, though it was a change from dark-grey to mid-grey colours of the panel. The distinction between the active and non-active application buttons was still very subtle.
If you don't like the default list of applications and want to remove or add some, then Synaptic, GDebi and MX Package Installer are at your service. The latter gives you a tree-view list of applications and allows you to install something new in couple of clicks. It does not give you multiple windows with list of dependencies and confirmations like Synaptic does. It may sound comfortable, but at the same time a bit dangerous in my view as you cannot see the complete picture of required downloads and disk space before you start the installation process.
The MX Repo List application allows you to manage the repositories. As MX-16 is based on Debian Jessie, you can understand that the whole list of Debian applications are available for you.
ConclusionMX-16 Linux felt very stable and very responsive to me. I experienced no technical glitches or crashes during my Live run of MX-16 64-bit.
It would be an ideal distribution for me, if it were not for two very small issues I would like to mention here.
First, the choice of colours on the panel and in the whole distribution is rather strange. Deep-grey is rather gloomy, and a lighter colour would definitely give some brightness to the overall impression. On top of that, the active application button should be much more visible on the panel.
Second, sometimes the fonts became blurry both in the browser and in the menu. This could also be looked at.
|MX-16 blurry fonts|
But anyway, applause for the MX Linux team! They did a great job, and you can definitely enjoy working and playing with their operating system.
Video used on screenshot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DM6oJ8en27A