Bodhi Linux: A Closer Look

9:29 AM

A while back I did a review on Bodhi Linux. There were some implications that I didn't take a close enough look at the operating system, and I have to agree. So here's a follow up to the original review on Bodhi Linux.


After reviewing Bodhi Linux I had some time to really play around with the system. Preferring a minimal environment, I decided to check out what the minimal installation theme had to offer. One thing is for sure, when Bodhi thinks you want minimal it takes you seriously. I found myself looking at a clock. That was the only gadget on the desktop... there wasn't even a task bar. Now if this sounds like I'm complaining let me set you straight: I asked for minimal and I expected no less, so seeing this was quite a pleasant surprise. It means that if needed I can build my desktop from the ground up.


I really like the way Enlightenment designed their task bar. It only appears when its needed and is easily re-sizable.


xjonquilx | Mepis, Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux, Oh My!


Once I had a task bar up I decided to install some applications. This turned out to be more of a headache than it really needs to be. I was unable to find any Bodhi repositories to start. I tried looking for Ubuntu's repositories too but ended up coming short. Evidently since Ubuntu comes with its repositories pre-installed no one saw the need to post the list up somewhere so everyone could have access to them.


So next I tried Bodhi's one click system, which failed. Every time I tried clicking on the "Install" button for a piece of software I was dismayed to be told by a pop up window that the package didn't exist on the server.


Finally I tried downloading the packages manually. Bodhi uses .bod packages for its installations that need to be executed from the command line. This is fine for veteran Linux users but it could really give new users a run for their money (although I wouldn't recommend Bodhi for new users anyways unless they were working on a very old machine maybe).


As for desktop customization, I find Englightenment to be pretty decent. I think I've gotten used to the new generation desktop environments that hide everything you need behind a press of a key or swipe of the mouse, which is something you cannot accomplish with Englightenment (at least from what I've done and seen). However, if you're in to the classic desktop, Enlightenment should offer you the whole package for a lot less system resource usage than the ever popular Gnome 2.6 (which I should add is not nearly as customizable as Enlightenment is).


xjonquilx | Mepis, Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux, Oh My!


I forgot to mention these programs in my earlier review. The Gadgets Manager allows you to add gadgets to your desktop, while the Module Settings allows you to load gadgets in to the Gadgets Manager.


xjonquilx | Mepis, Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux, Oh My!


Themes are incredibly easy to install in Bodhi, and I wish the creators of Gnome would take a tip from the guys over at Enlightenment on how easy it can be to install themes. Pictured above is the Theme Selector, which allows you to install themes. Installing themes is as easy as picking one at and loading it using the Theme Selector.


Overall I have been pretty pleased by Bodhi and the Enlightenment desktop environment. While I would not trust Bodhi in the hands of a new user (at least not without some instructions), I can easily see myself loading it up on some old computers I have lying around. These old machines could use something pretty on them.  :)


xjonquilx | Mepis, Ubuntu, Fedora, Linux, Oh My!


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  1. Enough of Bodhi! Don't you think that reviewing the damn thing again and again, and again, every week for many months is a bit too much? Bodhi, Bodhi, Bodhi... Just skipping those "news" is already way beyond annoying. Bodhi should be banned for trying to manipulate people with all that artificial hype!
    And I like E17, and even have it installed on my Debian machine...

  2. So next I tried Bodhi’s one click system, which failed. Every time I tried clicking on the “Install” button for a piece of software I was dismayed to be told by a pop up window that the package didn’t exist on the server.

    This is because your system is not synced with the current repos (and, yes, Bodhi has its own) which is fully explained in the Installation Instructions right above the "Install Now" button.

    Bodhi uses .bod packages for its installations that need to be executed from the command line.

    This is incorrect. Again, right above is the sentence that reads, "The Download button is to download and transfer the package to a machine with no or slow internet connection." Also, they do not have to be executed from the command line, which is also explained in the Installation Instructions.

    As the Head of Docs for Bodhi, I find this sort of thing really discouraging. I try very hard to make explanations/instructions easy to find and read, but, really, I don't know how I can make it any more obvious. Even if I put all of those instructions on every single software package page (170+) I guess people still wouldn't read them.

    To top it off, your penultimate sentence reads:
    While I would not trust Bodhi in the hands of a new user (at least not without some instructions)

    I would like to say, "You're kidding, right?" but, sadly, I know you're not.

    The Bodhi Quickstart Guide (which is also locally installed and in the Main Menu)
    The Bodhi Guide to Enlightenment

  3. Just out of curiosity, did you do an apt-get update before you tried to install some stuff. You need to so the sources list is rebuild and that could be the cause of not finding the packages. This is quite clearly written in the instructions you see on the software pages on the bodhi website. Although I know more experienced people tend to skip instructions like that.
    Cheers, Charles.

  4. "So next I tried Bodhi’s one click system, which failed. Every time I tried clicking on the “Install” button for a piece of software I was dismayed to be told by a pop up window that the package didn’t exist on the server."

    Bodhi can't be held responsible for you not reading the instructions! If you would have done so, you'd know you firstly have to do an sudo apt-get update to to sync your package lists. And the link to these instructions is also incredible easy to find, as it is at the TOP of the software page.

  5. I agree you should have looked closer at the initial instructions before trying to download any new programs in Bodhi.
    However, if you had bothered to check you would have found that Sypnaptic Packet Manager is also available in Bodhi and works far quicker than in any other distro I have tried. I downloaded Gimp in seconds.If you insist on reviewing new distos please make the effort to look under the bonnet and do some proper research beforehand.


    Everything you need to know about running E 17. well nearly everything :-)

  7. Someone already commented about our install instructions fixing your issue -

    I just also wanted to say that they list how to install the .bod files using a GUI

  8. You're right I'm afraid. I skipped the instructions for the most part! LOL Thanks for pointing that out. I will do a quick update and see if that helps. :)

  9. Despite my obvious error, I can't really say that I blame anyone for making the same mistake and I hold to what I said about not recommending Bodhi to beginners - not quite yet, at least. A beginner distribution should be fully operational from the beginning.

  10. And thank you to my mystery commenter.... where ever you are!

  11. I'm sorry you have had such a hard experience with the recent influx of Bodhi reviews. However, you can't blame me for all of them! LOL

  12. Hi Mark, thank you for your contribution. I would like to tell you first hand that I appreciate your efforts on the Bodhi distribution.

    I don't mean to be discouraging to you. I would like to think that I am being very realistic, however. 90% of the time people don't read the instructions. The best you or anyone can do is try to anticipate that and ensure that everything is working properly from the start.

    If I were you I wouldn't let it get to me very badly though. Bodhi is still a very new distribution. We all have lessons to learn from it.

    Oh, and as for my comment about not recommending it to a beginner without instructions, I meant verbal tutoring, not a file.

  13. Jeff and the Bodhi dev team are very busy these days getting reviewers to do yet another review on Bodhi just to get more publicity They need to except the fact it's a poor and terrible distribution and not recommended at all for new users nothing works as it should. Jeff sorry to have to say this. You need to look at Zorin 5 and see if you can get Bodhi to the same

  14. Your comment brought a good question to my mind. What exactly are the goals of Bodhi? Is it MEANT to be a distribution for new users? Mark seemed awfully offended that I said I wouldn't recommend it for new users. I only said that because I don't think any barebones distribution is meant for beginners. Mark, is the Bodhi team trying to redefine the standard idea of a beginner's distribution?

    Either way I don't think you're being very fair by comparing Bodhi to Zorin. It is my understanding that Zorin is quite older than Bodhi, and with different goals.

  15. Mark, I also reviewed over the instructions that came with Bodhi and was surprised to find that the instruction to update prior to installation was not clearly visible but tucked away in the paragraphs under the "Installing Software" link. Maybe this could be made a little clearer in the documentation since it's so important, like using italics or a bold font.

  16. I too am a big fan of Zorin os5. It is great for new linux users! But it is still not as fast as Bodhi. I liked Bodhi the first time I tried it back in its early days. I stayed with it but it seemed there was always some bug or problem. I gave up on it until a couple a weeks ago, when I tried it again in a vpc. Was I ever surprised! Not a bug to be found! I promptly loaded all my favorite software and still no problems. So I made a remastered copy of a live cd and tried it on a vpc, still no problems! Now I have it loaded on all my p.c.'s and still no problems! Say what you want but Jeff and his developers are doing an outstanding job with this distro! And it is Fast!

  17. It's great to hear you have had such a positive experience with this distribution! It just goes to show one person's trash is another person's treasure. :) Thanks for stopping by.

  18. By "tucked away" you mean in bold at the top of the install instruction page right?

    Not sure how to make it more clear than that short of listing it on EVERY software page as Mark said above.

  19. Define "fully operational". It gives the user a GUI, support for just as much hardware as any modern Linux distro can and multiple methods for installing new software.

  20. Normally when people say something is poor they have a reason for making such a statement.

    Your reasons are?...

  21. New users need everything under the sun pre-installed for them? We make everything easy to find and clearly organized on our website. Installing software requires NO CLI know how or usage. In fact, it is no harder than installing software on a modern smart phone.

  22. This page did not come with the system itself. If it did I have yet to find it. I was referencing the page that actually comes with the distribution on installing software.

  23. Ahhh, but a modern smart phone does not require the user find some page on the internet in order to install software, either.

    A question I had asked that has yet to be answered though is who your target audience is. Neither you or Mark have clarified this point for us.

    If it is intended for a newbie audience, it's time to start actually listening to them. I had a problem with the system because the instructions available to me on that system did not clearly specify that I needed to run an update to actually be able to use that system. I admit I was in error to have not fully read the instructions, but is it really too much to ask that something so important be highlighted on the system itself since we're talking about new users here that would be even more in the dark than I was?

  24. @Jonquil: I am curious about your intended audience. I remember my first experience as a linux novice. When you don't know what to expect, you read and then re-read instructions until you get the gist of what's going on. Is a novice user going to opt for a minimalist desktop? You've taken the more advanced option, not read the instructions, and then concluded that it's not for new users????? If you're intending for new users, act like a new user....

  25. Read the comment above you. The instructions were not on the system itself; instead they were on a web page on the maker's website.

    A new user receiving a disc from a friend isn't going to know to go to the website to read those instructions.

    And again, 90% of people don't read the instructions. New users included; otherwise there would not be such an influx of questions like "how do I install Firefox?" on support sites.

    And I think your question as to whether or not a new user would opt for a minimalist desktop should be posed to Jeff or Mark.

  26. The page you are installing software from also doesn't come pre-installed on the system.

    I'm also confused as to why having to sync your sources is news/hard to do.

    Debain, Ubuntu, Linux Mint - they all need an apt-get update run in some form before they can find and install software via apt.

  27. Some one who isn't going to our website isn't installing software via our page...

  28. Rather than bicker about whether a new user would read the instructions or not, I have chosen to create an open poll on the subject. I will post the results here next week.

  29. I installed OpenOffice today so it wasn't me. :D

  30. Just out of curiosity, what are you using to identify my IP? I hope you aren't searching for the name of my town because you won't see it. Instead it will refer to a bigger city like Jacksonville.

  31. Well I must be lucky then because never have I had to run an apt-get update to install software on any Linux distribution. Or maybe it's the fact I don't play with old distributions.

  32. I just received an email from Mark. If he allows it I will post it here. It turns out there was a bug that was preventing the software from showing italicized/bold text. They have fixed the bug and also made the part about updating the distribution more obvious.

    Let me re-emphasize something here: I gave Bodhi a good review despite its (and my) shortcomings. I'm not the type to let a problem get in the way of my perspective, but I'm also not the type to let it go unnoticed. Bodhi is a good system from what I've seen and it has already ensured a spot on at least one of my machines. I wish the developers of Bodhi all the best.

  33. I've decided to add a fresh post rather than reply in the threads. Bear with me ...

    "Mark, I also reviewed over the instructions that came with Bodhi and was surprised to find that the instruction to update prior to installation was not clearly visible but tucked away in the paragraphs under the “Installing Software” link."

    I don't know. Where else would I put them? Under "Connecting to the Internet"? Or "E17 Basics"? I can't really put instructions for everything everywhere.

    "Ahhh, but a modern smart phone does not require the user find some page on the internet in order to install software, either. "

    Yes, but it does require you to go to the "App Store" or "Market" (depending on platform) - that actually seems harder to me than going to a site that is linked to from all over the place.

    "Your comment brought a good question to my mind. What exactly are the goals of Bodhi? Is it MEANT to be a distribution for new users?"

    Well, for the "official" Bodhi philosophy you can read about it on our wiki

    As far as what my opinion, I think Bodhi is the perfect distro for a new user. The reason being is that it encourages, practically forces, you to learn a bit about your system and how the pieces fit together. You have to make some choices, and therefore you're learning something about Linux at the same time.

    Linux has always been by tinkerers, for tinkerers. Linux is also about freedom, and with freedom comes responsibility. If someone doesn't accept those concepts, then perhaps they need to rethink their OS choice.

    What turned me away from Ubuntu proper after maybe 2 years of use was this sentiment I saw on a sticker or t-shirt somewhere: "Ubuntu: want me to wipe for you too?" I feel that they have taken the approach installing the kitchen sink (and a lot of crap you don't want/need) and of making all the choices for their users while at the same time removing much of the control (and power!) one can have with a Linux system. Sounds kind of like they're following the path of another well known OS ...

    So, what Bodhi's doing is making it easy to get your feet wet learning Linux with such tools as the Software Site. I think this is a fine aspiration, and one that we'll continue to develop over time. And a big part of nurturing those new users is the Bodhi community; visit our Forums or IRC and you will meet tons of friendly and helpful folks. That, I think, is our strongest asset. Bodhi is not an unapproachable community like some others.

    So, that's what got me motivated to throw my lot in with Bodhi in Dec 2010: the opportunity to provide docs for new users on a system that encourages learning. I don't know if this is exactly what Jeff had in mind, but I saw an opportunity and took it.

    I appreciate all the feedback I'm getting here; it's made me re-think a few things and consider a few I hadn't before. We'll keep moving forward. :-)

    Whew, that's a long comment. Sorry. I guess I should have just made my own blog post. ;-)


  34. It was a long comment but boy oh boy was it a good one!

    I don't really have anything to say. You've fixed the issue with the instructions so I stand corrected. Now I would trust this system in the hands of a newbie that's willing to learn a little (which still is not most people but like you pointed out they have Ubuntu for that).

    I remember all too well when I first started out with Linux. I didn't understand why no one was willing to do the research to understand this fantastic operating system I found. Now days my views have shifted a little more to realize that unfortunately most people don't want to do the research and there's nothing I can say to change their mind about it.

    I think it's great that there's people like you and Jeff who want to consider those who are willing to learn how to tinker and give them their own operating system. Thank you so much for clarifying for me what the goals of Bodhi are.

    It's been a real pleasure talking to you Mark. I hope your work goes far. Take care.

  35. A quick research would lead to the conclusion that Enlightenment is a full featured environment that isn't used by many distros, meaning it's not as well known as gnome, kde, xfce and lxde.

    Bodhi uses Enlightenment exclusively and judging by its increasing user base its a successful implementation of E17, although not well known yet as its less than one year old.

    As a consequence of the less than expected acceptance of Unity and Gnome3, there's a logical reason for Opens Source writers to publish articles about less known Distros and Desktop Environments. That's the case of Enlightenment and Bodhi.

    2 readers complained about too many Bodhy reviews. If they have seen that in a short period of time it may have been a coincidence, but as explained above, there's a good reasons for it.

  36. If it was only for a short period of time, it wouldn't even be annoying. But it goes on for months, and my feelings toward Bodhi have changed from "oh, a new E17 distro, I should try it!", to "yet another review of that Bodhi, skip, skip, skip...", and finally to "damn, that Bodhi again! How many more times I have to skip it?!" See, if it was going on only for a short period of time, I wouldn't even bother to spend time to post a messag.

  37. Wow, lots of verbiage related to updating repository sources after a fresh install.
    For the benefit of the 'new user' which seems to be an acronym for noob, instructions are written informing the new user what's next after an installation.
    Obviously Bodhi is not the result of people doing the equivalent of 'cut and paste'. So how hard would it be to have the system perform an auto 'apt-get update'?
    Oh I forget, this is for the benefit of the noob.

  38. I just want to say that I really like Bodhi Linux, the concept is perfect for me. Jonquil I am sure you will never forget to do a sudo apt-get update on a Debian derivative again :)

    I get to choose exactly what I want on my desktop... incidentally as much as I like Enlightenment with the latest (great feature of this distro - 3.0 kernel). I have to admit that I ended up with XFCE 4.8 :) as a fall back.

    It was very funny to read the comments at the end of the blog, Bodhi has great docs tnx Bodhi team and is a fantastic OS for people that like the convenience of apt and the power to choose everything else.

  39. The problem is that if they don't learn they need to run an update every once in awhile they will run into issues later on. What happens two weeks later when we update packages in our repository? Now their first apt-get update needs to be resync and there is an issues.

    It's not about hating on new people, thats why we write docs that are easy for people to read. The docs aren't written by the developers, they are written by people, for people.

  40. I hope you post this message on every article that is written about Ubuntu. Every time they change their underwear it is front page news all around the Linux world.

  41. LOL, you're right, I sure won't. ;) Thanks for stopping by.

  42. I looked in Distrowatch into reviews of a few quite new distros and found out that various of them have about the same number of reviews, or more than Bodhi. Even that the others have not the increased interest of being based on Enlightenment.

    I can only think it was bad luck of you to have caught by random all the ones done about Bodhi.

  43. tom bradley "preecher"September 5, 2011 at 10:37 PM

    just seen this review of bodhi linux and wanted to comment. i am not new to linux- been using linux several years however i am not a "techie". i am more of a creature of comfort and dont care for having to use the command line. that being said i read about bodhi and went to the bodhi webpage and did some reading and decided i would give it a try. ive only been using it for a couple of weeks and have had no problems whatsoever in installing/updating/installing the software i wished to use and in using bodhi for my "daily driver". a few things to note though, when i was a new user to linux i did tend to read over things more than i do now because when i was new i didnt know anything about linux so i pretty much had no option at the time if i expected positive results. and now that ive used linux for several years there are a few things i do after i download a distribution. first i do a "live" run by cd or usb to make sure my wireless is going to work & if it does i do a install. immediately after the install completes(with any distro i install) i find out how to do a update, whether that means looking for a update icon in the menu selections, looking in the forums, asking in the support channel- whatever. then after i have updated my fresh install i start looking for the software i wish to install and get it by whatever method the distro i am using supports.
    all of the above worked for me in an "out of the box" kind of way but that could be due to me being not so technical and not going for overkill. at any rate bodhi works for me with no bugs as of yet and i am beyond satisfied with the vast amount of tweaking enlightenment offers.

    tom bradley "preecher"

  44. Interesting exchange about your Bodhi reviews - but in the end, your blog is about YOUR impressions and if others don't like it, then they don't have to read it. Period. In regards to Bodhi, I have tried it a few times and it wasn't my cup of tea - although I can say it is a beautiful Ubuntu spin and my hats off to the Bodhi team for their artful creation. BTW - I like your blog, your writing style and mostly your enthusiasm. You go, girl...!!! :-D