We’re constantly seeing Ubuntu being used as a base for other distros, whether it’s official respins with a different desktop featured, more involved remakes such as Linux Mint that “fixes” the problems with Ubuntu, or lightweight/green versions of Canonical’s distro like wattOS. Bodhi is on the lightweight end of the scale, taking it the extreme by using Enlightenment as the desktop environment, and also including very few default apps as standard.
Showing off its roots, initial interactions with Bodhi are very familiar to anyone that has previously used Ubuntu. The installer has the exact same, simple layout and options, including the installation while setting up users, and downloading updates in the process as well. The live disc gives you a few booting options as well, with safe graphics modes or the ability to load into RAM so it can be run on older or slower systems. Installation is fairly quick, and it takes up very little space on the hard drive initially.
On first boot, you’ll be asked to set your E17 profile out a small selection of desktop configurations. There’s a bare setting, with only the essential desktop menu to access everything, and other settings for various desktop elements. This gives you a great amount of choice in terms on a sliding scale of usability or sheer speed, even being able to add in advanced effects and such. This can be changed anytime afterwards, and just acts as your default selection for the time being. You can also choose your theme, but that has less of an impact outside of aesthetics. After the first-time set-up, boot time is incredibly quick, getting from POST to the login screen within seconds.
Enlightenment itself is an interesting experience, parts of it being very similar to KDE or Cinnamon and the like, but with a somewhat complicated start menu system. It takes a little getting used to the hierarchy, and can make tweaking the distro on first use a bit infuriating. However, for day-to-day use of just installing and using applications or performing tasks in the terminal, it doesn’t get too much in the way. This menu can also be accessed by clicking anywhere on the desktop, which is a nice touch when it would otherwise not do anything. It has all the amenities of something like KDE in the traditional desktop mode, with virtual desktops, quick launch buttons, a list of open windows, etc.
Packages are maintained with old faithful, the Synaptic package manager. It links into the standard Ubuntu packages, with very little else added from any Bodhi sources. This also means that any repos or PPAs available for Ubuntu 12.04 will work in Bodhi, expanding an already extensive list of apps. Coming with the system by default is very little of note, text editor, terminal emulator, and Midori for web browsing. All of this can be of course extended, but it’s a great lightweight start so you can make sure bloat is at a minimum.
Bodhi is a great distro, and a great idea. Using the LTS release of Ubuntu as base, it’s taken a well supported and pretty stable distribution, and created an incredibly speedy and lightweight version that is perfect to get the most of computers new and old. Enlightenment is a great windows manager that rarely gets much of a look at, and that’s completely undeserved. Try as an alternative to wattOS.
A lightweight and lightning fast distro based on the rock-solid Ubuntu 12.04, meaning it will be well supported for years to come. Enlightenment brings its own flair to Bodhi, making it small yet very usable without much or any compromise. It’s perfect for old or slow machines alike.