If you’re a Linux newbie, you might be confused by the sheer number of distributions on offer. One relatively new entry to the market is MX Linux. It’s a Debian-based distro with a lot of support that has topped Distrowatch’s popularity list for the last six months.
But why is MX Linux proving to be so popular? Let’s find out.
MX Linux comes with the XFCE desktop environment as standard, although the developers have tweaked things a little, with a customizable taskbar on the left side.
XFCE is famed for being lightweigh,t so it’s a good choice by the developers, as it means you’re not going to be struggling on older systems. If the MX Linux UI isn’t to your taste, however, you can switch to alternatives like GNOME or KDE.
You’re free to customize the XFCE appearance if you’d prefer – there are some great XFCE themes out there. Apps can be accessed from the MX Linux icon at the bottom of the taskbar, with the usual system icons accessible just above it.
Appearance-wise, it’s fairly basic and looks a little dated, but that’s the point. XFCE is all about simplicity, which ties in nicely to the MX Linux philosophy. Beginners should find it easy to use, while the pros can alter things as they see fit.
While XFCE is rated for being lightweight, MX Linux describes itself as “midweight.” It uses some core components from the antiX Linux distro, designed for older hardware, and builds on them to create a more advanced and modern environment.
Running idle in a low-powered virtual machine (2GB RAM, 1 CPU, 128MB graphics allocated), MX Linux sat pretty comfortably with 25% RAM usage and 4% CPU utilization. This fits well with the minimum system requirements. The project recommends 512MB RAM, a “modern processor” and minimum 6GB of space.
Heavier usage (multiple browser tabs with video playback) did cause some usage spikes. This is as you’d expect, but at no point did MX Linux feel sluggish. You’ll get more out of the distro with a better PC, but it should be a capable option for lower-powered systems without having to sacrifice usability.
MX Linux might look a little dated, but it’s one of the easiest Linux distributions to use. Not only is the design simple, but there are a few extra tricks on offer to make MX Linux a good Linux distro to switch to.
As we’ve mentioned, the single taskbar makes finding things in MX Linux easy. You don’t have to go far. Just hit the main taskbar button and search the menu. Thanks to MX Tools, you’re able to find all the major settings you might need, acting a little like the Control Panel on Windows systems.
If you’re unsure about anything, there’s a link to the extensive MX Linux manual on the desktop as a shortcut. This covers everything from basic usage to extensive technical information (labeled “under the hood”) for the professional tinkerers.
As far as user-friendliness is concerned, MX Linux is one of the easiest Linux distributions to get your head around.
It’s also pretty easy to install MX Linux, thanks to the streamlined installer. You just need to download the MX Linux ISO for your system (32- and 64-bit versions are available), and burn it to a DVD or flash it to a suitable USB flash drive.
By default, the installer chooses to install to your entire disk, but you can alter this if you’d prefer. Once you’re done, the installer copies over your files.
You don’t need to wait around to complete the rest of your installation configuration, like your language and login details, either. Installation took about five minutes to complete, although the installer suggested it could take up to twenty minutes.
Packages and Programs
There’s an extensive amount of available packages for MX Linux as well as a well-rounded set of software already included with the base installation.
By default, MX Linux comes with a lot of software. Big packages like Firefox, LibreOffice, VLC Media Player, and GIMP are included as standard. You also have access to non-FOSS packages (like proprietary graphics drivers) as well as a selection of simple games.
If you’re missing anything, the Synaptic Package Manager (or
apt at the terminal) gives you access to the full Debian and MX Linux repositories.
MX Linux: Is It For You?
If you’re looking for something quick, stable and light on resources, consider MX Linux. It’s easy to install, and it’s a great alternative to the major distros, especially for lower-powered PCs.
Not sure if MX Linux is for you? Check out some of the best Linux distros for beginners. Let us know what you think of MX Linux in the comments section.