Distro Spotlight: Bodhi Linux

Small, fast, light and easy to customize - we’ve heard it all before - but I’d say that Bodhi Linux has enough individual character to warrant consideration.

Under the hood, Bodhi is based on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. I consider this to be a point in its favor as I am wary of smaller distros that are not connected to a bigger, well supported distro. Bodhi comes with only a few applications, and personally, I like this way of doing things. Give me a web browser, a package manager and a few of the other basic tools and I’ll add things as I need them.

Bodhi uses the Enlightenment window manager. When you log in from live media you are presented with a menu that allows you to choose between a composited or software rendered desktop and a few different themes and layouts. Having carried out a hard disk installation, the first log in repeats the procedure, along with a few other last minute, mostly cosmetic options.

As an aside, does anyone else find it ironic that Enlightenment has transformed from the standard bearer for Linux-powered eye-candy to a window manager favored by those who demand responsiveness and minimalism?

I have to confess that it had been a long time since I last had a play with Enlightenment, and I liked what I saw. Now I’m going to get all subjective, but it offers really great “feel” in terms of responsiveness while looking great and a just a little bit flashy.

The netbook layout.

If I say that I haven’t written a great deal about Bodhi because there isn’t a huge amount to say, don’t take it the wrong way. It doesn’t offer a revolutionary new take on how a Linux distro should work, and it doesn’t try to. Instead, it offers an Enightenment desktop upon a basic Ubuntu base along with a few basic tools to get started.

One misgiving I have about the setup is that it’s based on the (still maintained and patched) Ubuntu 10.04 LTS release. On the plus side, a long term support release means that full system upgrades have to be carried out less often and it should constitute a rock solid base by now. However, it also means that you are limited, in terms of additional software, to whatever would work on an Ubuntu 10.04 setup.

[Update/correction: Looks like I made an oversight here. It seems that Bodhi has its own repositories and does some serious backporting. Note that this won't give you access to all of the up to date software that a more modern base would.

to quote user meanpt:

[...] Bodhi carries its own software repository where developers make available the last ubuntu releases of the main applications everyone needs (e.g. firefox, chromium, libreoffice, gimp, blender and so on) while the kernel have been made available or updated to the last stable. [...]


As we discussed recently, there is a growing demand for Linux desktops that are up to date but that look and work along the same lines as a Gnome 2/KDE 3/Windows XP setup. It’s also worth noting that Bodhi is designed to run well on older, resource constrained systems. According to the website, Bodhi can run on a 300MHz PC with as little as 128megs of RAM and 1.5GB HD, and I can believe it.

In short, Bodhi is worth looking at if you can manage with something that is based on Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. [Take into account above update/correction]

The Bodhi website


UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.


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Bodhi repository SUCKS!!!!

John Abbott's picture

I am a touch typist and the heals of my hands rest on or near the touch pad. I've been a linux user for 12 years and this is the first distribution that will not allow me to turn off the pad. None of the repository contain Pointing Device Settings, Synaptik, or any of the popular programs for shutting down the touch pad.

When I approached Jeff Hoogland about documentation and a possible resolution I got a RTFM from him.

I have nothing positive to say about Bodhi except they seem to be working their asses off getting free PR. If you like arcane software and a your own your own support group then maybe Bodhi is for you! But not for me - there are way too many really good distros to put up with Bodhi.

Which one please? I mean your

Mutek's picture

Which one please?
I mean your are talking about Ubuntu because this is full Ubuntu with e17 as a WM but you can everything Ubuntu can...so

Whilst the eyecandy of E might be enticing, it is not all joy!

Anonymous's picture

I was tempted to test it after reading somewhere that someone's difficult WiFi worked out-of-the-box; booting from a r/o image file does have its down sides. Unfortunately for my test, the WiFi did not work, the E desktop for one not used to it, takes a lot of getting the hang of, and clearly, though the image can boot into a live system, it still needs work, because it kept on coming up with block write errors when shutting down (using the same persistence setup I have used for Mint and Ubuntu).

Bodhi Linux

Mike g's picture

I use Bodhi on my dell latitude c610 laptop with a pentium 3 and 768 Meg of ram. To my surprise it runs quite smoothly and even have my wireless wnda 3100 USB adaptor working. Good stable distro, kudo's to all that made this possible.


Anonymous's picture

Please, can somebody ban all upcoming articles, that contain the word "Bodhi"?! 3-4 reviews every week everywhere, for the last several MONTHS! Enough, no?


GreginNC's picture

Bohdi is a decent distro all in all. I do agree with a previous comment that there does seem to be some manufactured hype going on. While Bohdi is a perfectly good distro, and I admit as an Enlightenment lover I like to see as many distros using it as possible, Bohdi is simply one of many that do, and I really don't think it's the best of the bunch.
I personally dislike Ubuntu so I won't use Bohdi myself but do recommend it to those i know why do use Ubuntu. Anyone not already used to doing things the Ubuntu way I send to PcLinux as at the moment that's the Enlightenment desktop I use.
I also agree about the loss of the king of Enlightenment ditros Elive and hope they return to life soon and get a new release out. They would be my first recommendation to anyone for an Enlightenment distro if they were still active.

E Devs Would Disagree

Jeff Hoogland's picture

As for your comment about being "one of many" there aren't that many distros that ship an E desktop by default. And for the mention of us not being the best, that is subjective of course but the E devs really like what we do. When they mention an E distro today it is almost always Bodhi. I've yet to see another distro to date that uses E's built in profiles like we do :)

Just wanted to mention of all the articles in the last few weeks this is the only one I requested.

~Jeff Hoogland

Place in the landscape

decentralist's picture

I think Bodhi is getting a lot of attention because it is filling a space that has been absent for ~2 years with the demise of Elive. A general purpose Enlightenment based distro set up for quick comprehension by average users.

Enlightenment already has enough quirks that setting it up yourself in combination with adjusting to it would scare off 90% of the people that might really like it. It is hard enough getting used to the mouse cursor automatically recentering when using Alt-Tab. It is good Bodhi disabled switching workspaces by moving the mouse to the screen edge. That drove me crazy at first Enlightenment experience.


Anonymous's picture

I see people writing and pushing Bodhi. This week there are 3 write ups on it, It makes me wonder if jeff is asking people to do reviews on Bodhi to get more publicity it's a terrible distribution, one I would never recommend to anyone,

I give credit were it is due. The credit goes to Zorin 5 this is an exceptional Linux release, it is now in the 12 spot on distrowatch I'm expecting it to be in the top 10 distros soon

Bodhi is never going to be a popular distro, though it has moved up the charts on distrowatch to 29 spot with the publicity it's been getting. it wont make it into the top 20 distros

One of the devs did get in

Michael Reed's picture

One of the devs did get in contact to tell me about Bodhi. You'd have to ask them if they are engaged in a campaign to contact lots of Linux writers at the moment.

I'm fine with people getting in touch to tell me what they're working on. Not that I'll be able to do a write up of everything that folks tell me about, but if it interests me, I will.

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

Bodhi publicity

Anonymous's picture

That's what I thought after seeing three reviews in under a week. I on the other hand download and test every new distribution, In my humble opinion Zorin 5 has taken the crown for ease of use for Windows or Mac users to move to Linux, They can have the desktops of their choice at the click of the mouse, be it 2000, Xp Vista 7, Mac or any of the Linux desktops

Tis great, but...

still_on_the_fence's picture

Waiting for a 64 bit version, and consideration for folks with a touchpad, and a run dialog.

software and kernel

meanpt's picture

Only to mention Bodhi carries its own software repository where developers make available the last ubuntu releases of the main applications everyone needs (e.g. firefox, chromium, libreoffice, gimp, blender and so on) while the kernel have been made available or updated to the last stable. For instance, the 1.2.0 beta already has the 3.x kernel as spoted in ubuntu 11-10.

A fair point. Update added to

Michael Reed's picture

A fair point. Update added to post.

UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.

Ubuntu 10.04 base

Anonymous's picture

"One misgiving I have about the setup is that it’s based on the (still maintained and patched) Ubuntu 10.04 LTS release."

I think the benefits of using that base aren't being fully considered, though you do mention some in the next sentence.

I'm not sure why you mention "still maintained and patched." In fact, it would be accurate to state that of the current Ubuntu releases, 10.04 has the longest time remaining until its end of life, LTS releases being supported for three years which would take it to April, 2014. The last stable release, 11.04, will have end of life October, 2013 (18 months.)

It was based on Debian Squeeze, which is now Debian Stable. It's rock solid. It's quick. It's got longer support than the other buntus. Having misgivings suggests it is a negative. In my view it isn't. It would be reasonable to mention that cutting edge software won't be available and some new hardware devices may not be supported-but in my view it's a great base.

I may be biased, so for disclosure-my office computers all run Mint 9, which is on the Ubuntu 10.04 base.


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