Ubuntu wasn't quite doing it for me performance wise on my little eMachines netbook, so the search for the perfect netbook distro continues. I decided to give Bodhi Linux a whirl as a result of fans honouring it with such great praise. So to begin I created a bootable usb from within Ubuntu. I chose the 32bit edition to test run. The website bodhilinux.com seems pretty and polished. I have high hopes at this point and expect a smooth experience.
Installation is quite smooth and uses the same nice installer provided by Ubuntu. I was at ease with this and the distro was installed in no time at all.
One thing that surprised me is you get a neat choice of profiles to choose from. I decided the laptop/netbook profile would suite my needs just fine. I adjusted the size of the top bar, moved around the gadgets (icons) and I was good to go. I looked around the menus and I changed around my login screen. Time to test running some applications then... around now I found out that Bodhi doesn't really have any applications by default, so I installed a few of my usual apps (Thunderbird, Geany, GIMP etc). I also installed Ubuntu One as I use it frequently on my main PC.
Here is where I ran into my first stumbling block. While entering my e-mail address I noticed that the keyboard layout was not set to Irish despite being set in the installation phase. Minor problem I thought, I will just open whatever keyboard utility this has... now the fact that it doesn't have any came to light. After searching the web I discovered that there is a keyboard module but it is not enabled by default - which is fine if the keyboard detection worked during the installation.
Next minor problem I came across is that Midori the included lightweight browser attempts to save to "/home" instead of "/home/user". This isn't too difficult to solve but it took me a while to find out why I was getting saving errors while downloading files. This might be more confusing to new users but to everyone this will be an annoyance.
The one thing I wanted to do next was install my PhotoFiltre LX .deb. I double clicked on the installer and I got a choice of what to open it with. Of course nothing here was of any use. It would have been nice if the developers had at least included gdebi to open .deb files by default. Im sure it wouldn't have taken up that much space on the .iso.
So I went ahead and installed gdebi, then of course I had to restart Enlightenment - which is a commonly required after installing an application. I don't feel this is particularly good but I reckon its more the fault of Enlightenment's poor design.
Once Enlightenment was restarted I could now choose gdebi to install my .deb. I thought things would get a bit more smooth as I went along, unfortunately I was wrong.
I opened up PhotoFiltre LX to find that the second toolbar buttons were massive. I couldn't understand why this happens on Bodhi but it is an issue I couldn't find any workaround for. It also happened with other applications like Glade. Somehow Bodhi renders Gtk widgets worse than Ubuntu. I didn't know what was at fault here but I certainly found it annoying. My netbook has limited screen estate without these big ugly buttons making it even worse.
The very last thing I will moan about is the extraction of zipped folders is just plain annoying and inefficient. I have to plug through the same dialog every single time I want to extract a folder. I mean what ever happened to a simple entry in the right click menu called "Extract here". More and more I was beginning to crave going back to plain Ubuntu. It is not everyones cup of tea but Ubuntu gets some of these basic features right. Simple, quick and usable is what folder extraction should be, however Bodhi makes extracting folders slow and irritating.
Im not quite sure how I feel but Bodhi Linux is a mixed bag really. It has great efficiency and speed for the most part, looks fantastic even on a netbook but is hindered by a lack of polish in certain areas and usability is quite poor. I have not reviewed a distro in a long time, so any kind of review is long overdue. The last distro I reviewed was Foresight 2.0 which scored a well deserved 3/10. Bodhi Linux certainly is not as bad but defintely needs work in many areas before it is ready for primetime. It is interesting to play around with but the more I got into using the distro the more cracks started to appear.