Bodhi Linux, the long-time advocate of Enlightenment DE, has recently severed its ties with the enlightenment developers due to a number of issues in recent releases of e18/19. Jeff Hoogland, the creator and lead developer of Bodhi, has instead forked the now rock solid e17 and created a new DE called the Moksha desktop. Moksha has debuted in Bodhi 3.1 and is probably the only DE that is production grade-stable even at its first release.
The Bodhi download page offers 32-bit, 64-bit and “Legacy” flavours (with the original e17 desktop). These are hosted on SourceForge where other releases can also be accessed. The live image boots fast, and you are greeted with the Bodhi Quickstart Guide right from the website. This will come in handy for new users.
Closing the browser, you find yourself in a minimal-looking desktop. (Note: the background image gets distorted due to high compression here.)
You can play around with the live environment or install Bodhi onto a hard drive. The installer is simple and fluff-free. The process only takes a few minutes.
The Moksha Desktop
When rebooting the system after installation, a simple desktop greets us with subtle colours (mostly grey) and a minimalist visual design that is essentially the same as the live environment, minus the installer icon.
Its design is certainly more subtle and looks better than what the enlightenment developers long insisted was “beauty at your fingertips.” In reality, it looked like a ’90s programmer’s dream of how a cool desktop should look … with 90s aesthetics and the feel of outdated design and technology-blue haloes, miniscule text-size, and textures that no designer would publicly acknowledge to have made. That said, it is mostly suitable for people who like grey and don’t mind seeing way over fifty shades of it.
The standard enlightenment theme can be still selected in Bodhi. Although this looks like a much revamped version of the long standing standard theme, it still looks less then eye-catching.
Moksha’s Radience theme, however, looks most agreeable and plays nicely with GTK+ applications. The decorations and icons look unobtrusive, yet balanced and pleasant enough at the same time. Moksha gets out of the way and lets the user focus on work instead.
Those familiar with the enlightenment DE will feel right at home in Moksha. Little has been changed yet, at least usage-wise. A user can continue where they left off in e17. Those who have not used enlightenment will soon find out that Mokhsa is as heavily customizable as its predecessor.
Moksha inherited its modular nature from e17 which takes customizability to the next level and allows the user to truly trim down on the bulk and only load components that are truly needed.
For those unfamiliar with the desktop or interested in learning more about how to make the best of the Bodhi, the website offers many great in-depth guides on its wiki section. The tutorials are easy to follow and very detailed, and anyone could get up to speed with Bodhi and Moksha in no time.
Note: the guides still talk about the Enlightenment DE, but all that is written there should apply to Moksha too.
The Bodhi 3.1 live image is under 600 MB and fits easily on a single CD. This is mostly achieved by not bundling every possible application for every available scenario. Bodhi does offer a base set of applications, most of which are enlightenment (now Moksha) specific, like ePad for a simple text editor, esudo for a sudo GUI, ePhoto for an image viewer, and eePdater for system updates
Terminology, the super-customizable terminal emulator, is the default console app which even plays videos, (It really does, although nobody knows why.)
The only non-Moksha/e17 specific applications pre-installed are Midori and the PCManFM file manager. PCManFM is a welcome addition and an excellent replacement of the horribly useless enlightenment file manager (that usually got in the user’s way instead of letting him work).
And that sort of completes Bodhi’s offerings as pre-installed applications, leaving it up the the user to install whatever they fancy. This gives them not only control but also a choice of running a truly lightweight bloat-free system.
While Bodhi is based on Ubuntu LTS (always the latest LTS, this time 14.04), it is, not surprisingly, much lighter than most Ubuntu-based systems. This is mostly due to the real work Jeff puts into its development. He doesn’t just take Vanilla Ubuntu and re-brand it with new wallpapers/apply another DE, like many derivatives do.
Bodhi is light on resources, boots in seconds and remains just generally snappy, even on a low-end system.
Only a few minor issues were obvious when evaluating Bodhi 3.1.
On the freshly installed system, apt was talking about automatically installed packages that were no longer necessary. Perhaps an
apt-get autoremove would have been due before packaging the ISO?
A nice thing about Moksha is that is has no window borders by default, which makes it looks slick. Unfortunately, it also makes resizing windows rather difficult, as to make the little blinking resizing-cursor appear would require the precision of a miniature painter. (No screen-shot taken for the same precise reason.)
Other than that, only the “blurriness” of some of the DE specific applications’ icons appear to be obvious, although this might or might not be a conscious (although poor) design choice.
Jeff Hoogland has been working hard for the betterment of enlightenment, patching and filing bug reports for many years while he maintained Bodhi, one of the first e17 based Linux distros. His fork – the Mokhsa desktop – was born out of frustration but will serve as a nerve-steadier for its users who seek a simple, fast and lightweight desktop distro without much fluff but with tons of customisability. It offers reliability and production grade-stability right from the start, being built on a solid basis with snappy performance and plenty of shades of grey.