Getting Enlightened with Bodhi Linux

In our recent discussion about Ubuntu Remixes, there were a few names that kept popping up in the comments. One of them was a distro mostly unknown to MTE but immediately of interest, and that’s Bodhi Linux. With an Ubuntu base it’s got a solid core behind it, but the real kicker is the Enlightenment (E17) desktop. Over the last few years many distros have tried to base their desktops around the notoriously unwieldy Enlightenment, and the success rate has been somewhat limited (though Elive is certainly worth a look). Bodhi seems to not only include a usable Enlightenment desktop, but a few extra options when it comes to choosing just how that desktop will look and act.

A Bit About Bodhi

As an Ubuntu spinoff, it’s got the same behind-the-scenes software as your average Ubuntu remix. The two design principles behind Bodhi could be summed up as:

  1. Users should make their own choices
  2. E17 is cool

It doesn’t bundle in hundreds of helper applications, and the things it does include are generally pretty light. This keeps the ISO around 400MB.

Setting Up the Bodhi Desktop

When you boot the live CD, you’ll notice that you’re given a couple extra options on boot. This is part of the first principle mentioned above – there’s not one default Bodhi desktop, there are several, for different needs.

Once you’ve got past the language screen, you’ll choose which style of desktop you’d like.

bodhi-setup

We’ll be going with Desktop Light for the examples here, which looks something like this:

bodhi-lightdesktop

Whereas, for the sake of comparison, the Fancy Dark looks like this:

bodhi-darkfancy

After that you’ll get to an Applications selection screen, but as it’s only got one option (XTerm), it doesn’t take much explanation.

The Quick Launch screen, however is a bit more complicated, as many of the choices are named similarly and give no detailed explanation as to their function. For example, if you wanted to open Nautilus, would you want File Browser, File Management, or File Manager? For the records, File Browser will get the job done.

bodhi-quicklaunch

These applications will be available on a OSX-style dock at the bottom of the screen.

Modules

Much of E17′s functionality is contained in modules. Modules can be controlled from the Module Settings screen (Main Menu -> Settings -> Modules) and control nearly all the interactive aspects of your desktop. The taskbar, desktop monitor, clocks and even the main menu itself are all modules.

bodhi-modulesettings

Some aspects of E17′s modules can be a bit confusing (such as remembering the difference between and iBox and an iBar) but they all have a purpose. Remember that many modules can exist independently on the desktop as well as from within other modules (like the iBar).

To create a new dock-type launcher bar, for example, you’d open the main menu by left clicking the desktop. From there you’d go to Desktop -> Shelves -> Add a Shelf. Your new shelf will show up on your desktop, where you can right-click it to view it settings and change the contents.

This modular, layered approach leaves Enlightenment open to nearly unlimited flexibility, but can often cause confusion and frustration when trying to get used to the system.

Conclusion

It’s hard to separate Bodhi as a distro from Enlightenment, its defining characteristic. Ubuntu is clearly a quality base to build on, and E17 has been improving for a (very, very) long time now. Along with Elive, Bodhi seems to be one of the few E17-based distros able to make a thoroughly useable system. While there are a few rough spots here and there, Bodhi seems worth while. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to master Enlightenment (pun intended), this might the the distro for you.