Monday, March 23, 2015

Bodhi Linux 3.0.0: Lightweight Ubuntu-based distro that makes tradeoffs for small footprint

After reviewing many KDE-based distros, I thought I’d do something different and review the Enlightenment 19-based Bodhi Linux. Bodhi is designed to be lightweight on resources and it lived up to its goal.

Depressing wallpaper.png

1. First Impressions and ease of use

The ISO is 613 MB in size and can be downloaded from here. As always, I ran the tests in a VirtualBox VM with 4 GB of RAM and a 25 GB VDI. The E19 desktop looks quite light, and it also comes with Guest Additions out of the box.

Depressing wallpaper.png

The browser, Midori, opens up on startup. The top shelf is a mix of the OS X dock and the Windows taskbar. The leftmost entry is the menu (which can also be accessed by clicking anywhere on the desktop), the next ones are the open windows, and then the system tray. I configured mine to look similar to Windows.
config desktop.png

(Screenshot taken after installation)

Although the layout is quite configurable, the default shelf position can be a little confusing as Enlightenment is different from any other desktop environment. After my configuration, the shelf is very similar to Windows 7 and later. However, the menu has no search bar but it is categorized.


Ease of use score: 8.5/10

2. Installer

Bodhi Linux uses the Ubiquity installer which is the same as most Ubuntu distros and is quite easy to use. The installer supports UEFI so no need to worry on that front. Also there are special Chromebook images which are supported on SeaBIOS chromebooks. There is a tutorial for that here.


Release dateISO size (GB)Distribution baseDefault filesystemInstall timeBoot timeSize of installDesktop RAM use
KaOS 2015.022/24/20151.4IndependentXFS18:030:364.6415
Ubuntu MATE 15.042/25/20151.1Ubuntu Vivid (15.04)ext412:570:274.2457
Manjaro 0.8.122/6/20151.4Archext411:330:274.7351
Netrunner 152/16/20151.9Ubuntu Utopic (14.10)ext416:200:416.4714
openSUSE 13.2 KDE11/4/20144.4IndependentBtrfs (used ext4 because of known bug)15:290:394.4422
Bodhi Linux 3.0.02/17/20150.6Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS)ext45:500:342.2348
Average of all distros1.813:220:344.4451

Installer score: 10/10

3. Design

Bodhi’s design is consistently clean and lightweight but not to the point of ugliness. Unfortunately the default fonts are not very good - they are similar to openSUSE’s fonts. Thankfully, this can easily be changed to Droid Sans which helps any desktop’s fonts.

The login screen is, again, nice and simple.

Login Screen.png

A dark theme always covers up design deficiencies and looks great, and it also saves battery life.

Font rendering in the Midori browser is OK, but again nothing to write home about. However, this is more than most distros can say about fonts (particularly openSUSE).

The icons used are Numix icons.

font rendering ok.png

Design score: 9/10

4. Applications

As a lightweight distro, Bodhi seems to consider resource usage over quality of the application.

Web Browser - Midori
File Manager - Enlightenment File Manager
Email Client - NONE
Text Editor - ePad
Image Viewer - ePhoto
Terminal Emulator - Terminology
Music Player - NONE
Office Suite - NONE

Bodhi Linux has many deficiencies here so I’m going to knock some points.

Applications score: 5.5/10

5. Installing packages

Being based on Ubuntu, Bodhi Linux uses apt-get so there’s a wide variety of software to install. However, there’s no app store so new users might get a bit intimidated.

Update: There is an app store. From the quick start guide, you can hit a link called Installing Software which leads you to an app store. Problem is, no one looks at quick start guides. Thanks Jim Lynch, a writer of a similar blog, for the tip! (

Installing packages score: 9/10

Final Thoughts

Bodhi Linux lives up to its goal of being a lightweight distro. However, it cuts many corners in trying to achieve this, particularly in the applications department. I would recommend this to users who are not beginners to Linux looking for something to install on older hardware. If you’re new to Linux, you should probably stick to Lubuntu or LXLE.

Final score: 42/50 = 84%

Distro name
Final Score
KaOS 2015.02
Ubuntu MATE 15.04
Manjaro 0.8.12
Netrunner 15
openSUSE 13.2 KDE
Bodhi Linux 3.0.0

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