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Bodhi Linux Review – Enlightened Ubuntu

by Rob Zwetsloot

An enlightened versions of Ubuntu, Bodhi is an incredibly lightweight and highly customisable distro using Canonical’s base. Is Bodhi crippled from this, or much better?

We’re constantly seeing Ubuntu being used as a base for other distros, whether it’s official respins with a different desktop featured, more involved remakes such as Linux Mint that “fixes” the problems with Ubuntu, or lightweight/green versions of Canonical’s distro like wattOS. Bodhi is on the lightweight end of the scale, taking it the extreme by using Enlightenment as the desktop environment, and also including very few default apps as standard.

Showing off its roots, initial interactions with Bodhi are very familiar to anyone that has previously used Ubuntu. The installer has the exact same, simple layout and options, including the installation while setting up users, and downloading updates in the process as well. The live disc gives you a few booting options as well, with safe graphics modes or the ability to load into RAM so it can be run on older or slower systems. Installation is fairly quick, and it takes up very little space on the hard drive initially.

Ubuntu E17
Enlightenment is highly configurable with different profiles

On first boot, you’ll be asked to set your E17 profile out a small selection of desktop configurations. There’s a bare setting, with only the essential desktop menu to access everything, and other settings for various desktop elements. This gives you a great amount of choice in terms on a sliding scale of usability or sheer speed, even being able to add in advanced effects and such. This can be changed anytime afterwards, and just acts as your default selection for the time being. You can also choose your theme, but that has less of an impact outside of aesthetics. After the first-time set-up, boot time is incredibly quick, getting from POST to the login screen within seconds.

Enlightenment itself is an interesting experience, parts of it being very similar to KDE or Cinnamon and the like, but with a somewhat complicated start menu system. It takes a little getting used to the hierarchy, and can make tweaking the distro on first use a bit infuriating. However, for day-to-day use of just installing and using applications or performing tasks in the terminal, it doesn’t get too much in the way. This menu can also be accessed by clicking anywhere on the desktop, which is a nice touch when it would otherwise not do anything. It has all the amenities of something like KDE in the traditional desktop mode, with virtual desktops, quick launch buttons, a list of open windows, etc.

Ubuntu Unity KDE GNOME
The start menu hierarchy can get a little confusing

Packages are maintained with old faithful, the Synaptic package manager. It links into the standard Ubuntu packages, with very little else added from any Bodhi sources. This also means that any repos or PPAs available for Ubuntu 12.04 will work in Bodhi, expanding an already extensive list of apps. Coming with the system by default is very little of note, text editor, terminal emulator, and Midori for web browsing. All of this can be of course extended, but it’s a great lightweight start so you can make sure bloat is at a minimum.

Bodhi is a great distro, and a great idea. Using the LTS release of Ubuntu as base, it’s taken a well supported and pretty stable distribution, and created an incredibly speedy and lightweight version that is perfect to get the most of computers new and old. Enlightenment is a great windows manager that rarely gets much of a look at, and that’s completely undeserved. Try as an alternative to wattOS.



A lightweight and lightning fast distro based on the rock-solid Ubuntu 12.04, meaning it will be well supported for years to come. Enlightenment brings its own flair to Bodhi, making it small yet very usable without much or any compromise. It’s perfect for old or slow machines alike.

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    • Rfry

      I’ve been using Bodhi since version 1.0. It has a learning curve but once you figure it out it is highly customizable. Just wanted to get that in there.

      But ,You said that not much software was added by the Bodhi developers, I believe you are mistaken. Jeff has added a lot off addition software to the Bodhi repository which doesn’t come stock in the Ubuntu repos. For example netflix-desktop, bumblebee, and many others.

      There is a software request channel in their ,very friendly forums. (I realize that Ubuntu is constantly adding software too, and by now they may have added the one I mentioned above, but Bodhi added them long ago). But usually if you need software added, Jeff will do it, if it is non-destructive to his Distribution.

    • Ignacio

      I used Enlightement some 15 years ago. It had its momentum, but low-footprint, modern desktop environments such as LXDE and Mate are more integrated, and look way better. I tried Bodhi a couple of months ago. I uninstalled it in less than 2 hours.

    • AntCer


      If looks are what you rate DEs by, then E17 should be your favorite… So, you are either too lazy to alter the look to suit your needs or you like your DE spoon-fed with little-to-no user-configuration allowed(LXDE, MATE, Unity)…

      E17 is low-footprint and very modern. No other DE can boast its ability to be configured to meet your needs, with pretty close to all tasks having a GUI widget in the Settings Panel. It is as efficient a full-fledged desktop environment as you can get. It is only considered lightweight because of its memory-footprint, very low hardware requirements, and its rather small size; it is a full-fledged desktop in terms of functionality, like KDE, Gnome, etc.. Best of both worlds.

    • Israel

      @Rfry you said “But ,You said that not much software was added by the Bodhi developers” And I think the author meant that it includes “very few default apps as standard” in the install. Unlike Ubuntu or Mint which includes many more by default in the standard install

      @AntCer I agree with Ignacio. I want to like E17 very much, but the interface is too dancy and the menu is so foriegn. If they implemented a Dash like Ubuntu it would be much easier to navigate (i.e. find where it stores my favorite app *{insertname}* ). LXDE is highly configurable, and it is very simple to configure. I found that Enlightement, though it is somewhat configurable, the configurations that I wanted were burried within the unfamiliarly cryptic settings.

      E17 is perfect for people who like it. It is a huge learning curve for people unfamiliar with it.

      Use what works. If you like E17 use it, but don’t talk down on your fellow Gnu/Linux user because he found your favorite DE to be something unejoyable. I REALLY like jwm, but you have to edit all the menus by hand… something *most* people would NOT like.

    • bdubu

      Bodhi is awesome. It’s so lite that you can boot the live-CD into memory, remove the disk, install 2 or 3 different DVD rippers, test each of them by ripping 5 or 6 movies and after a day or two, reboot back into your installed O/S. Likewise, for testing lots of other software… @Ignacio: I didn’t uninstall Mate in 2 hours because it couldn’t even pass the live-CD test and get INSTALLED! And as for it (or LXDE) looking better than Bodhi, you’re on drugs.

    • Gyffes

      Guys, guys… can’t we all just agree that Microsoft Sucks?

      I’ve got Bodhi running on an old laptop; it’s fine but the graphical interface is too.. Bright. I’m a xfce guy, and there are elements of that to Bodhi, but I preferred wattOS’ overall lookfeel. Ah! Bodhi strikes me the same way the hobbit at 60fps did some: too harshly vivid, the way daytime soaps look vs a prime time show.

      Oh, and,


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    • ricky haden

      I have to agree with AntCer enlightenment is full fleged at the same time lightweight the best of both worlds

    • Flymo

      De gustibus non disputandum est…. (Latin for there’s no arguing about taste, over 1000 years ago)
      Pretty good advice. My point would be that so far (with my minimal skills) I have been able to configure Bodhi any darn way I want. Hey, you could probably do that if you wanted to! It’s fun.
      Really like Bodhi – it’s what I’ve always wanted – an E distro that Just Works for me, on hardware ancient and modern.
      A distro that is OK on low RAM machines is good. Seeing ’60MB used’ in Conky is awesome enough, seeing it on an old ruggedised Itronix Pentium 3 (350 MHz) laptop (with touchscreen) is essential, since it only has 128MB as standard. It’s usable, but a handful of web pages will use up the remaining RAM pretty quick. Stick to one tab and it’s good.
      With another stick of memory (total 256MB) it becomes a fully functional 21st-century tool that can look as cool as you like, if you take the trouble to work your way along the learning curve that a powerful DE inevitably brings to the party. It’s *configurable*!
      Bodhi rejoices in having a wonderful team that includes some of the best artists in the business. There’s a monthly desktop competition on the excellent forum that is famously friendly and fast to respond.
      Did I mention that the software compositing desktop runs fine on the P3? No, I didn’t believe it either.
      But it does. Think what that can bring to a humble Celeron 540 or puny Atom. They just _rock_.
      And because the P3 is touchscreen, we used the Tablet configuration, and it works well.
      People’s jaws drop when they try it. Like starting an ancient jalopy and hearing the awesome throb of a mighty V8 under the hood. I could go on…..

      I’ve enjoyed most DEs at one time or another, including E16 when it was very young. I’m weird enough to love Fluxbox too, and not to see the problems others have with editing text files for configuration!

      By all means enjoy your own favourite DE!

    • Dan Olson

      I love Bodhi. I’ve been looking for a distro that would boot without prompts and that was not a minimalist visual nightmare. Its gorgeous, elegant and I am so glad I looked beyond puppy linux, lubuntu, etc. Its a lot like macpup which I love because of elightenment. the way that items respond to the mouse is brilliant.

    • Omar D. Perez

      works perfect with my old celeron machine. I mean perfect, It makes my machine appear brand new. Great distro.

    • Dee Dee

      Hmm, liked the speed, the looks and the minimalism. It was pretty lightweight and cool. However, the options were buried in sometimes obscure areas and the grouping of options left a lot to be desired as there were too many groups.

      Also, no wireless configuration and not even any pre-installed office suite.

      I think this distro would be okay for intermediate users and not those newbies.

    • Stephen Green

      .. bhodi linux huh.! i’ll have to try it out!

    • Kaipa Salma

      these developers learn a lot from microsoft without them also no linux being upgraded to more usable interface. would be a massive cmd or blank shell interface..

    • Atreya Nixx Rivera

      I love Bodhi Linux so much. Everything is absolutely perfect except ONE thing: I don’t know if its just my computer or if everyone has the same trouble with it. It will NOT add repositories which is infuriating since I am usually in the habit of using them to find stuff. When I requested support on the forum, someone did attempt to help me but noted that adding repositories in Bodhi to obtain programs is discouraged. This is due to the breaking of packages and other errors/issues.

    • have made review for eastern europe countries

    • I gust like ubuntu GNOME because it has a terminal and bodhi linux doesn’t.

    • Marty Brandenberger

      I just installed Bodhi 3.1.1 and will be removing it either later or tomorrow. I will not use a menu that makes no attempt at organizing, nor even has a shortcut to a terminal. Its performance reminded me strongly of Windows Millennium Edition. And if you ever had the displeasure of using that OS, you know it is not a compliment.

      I come from thirty years of Microsoft, and 7 years of Linux. I use Linux Mint on my two main boxes, and the third is a “playing with distros” box. So many distros, so much garbage. IMO, Bodhi is in the latter category.