A Disappointing Review of Bodhi Linux 0.1.6

A little under a year ago, Jim Lynch of Desktop Linux Reviews posted a highly critical review of Kubuntu 10.04 LTS "Lucid Lynx"; I found many of his criticisms to be either easily fixed or extremely petty, especially the inscrutable emphasis on the lack of Canonical branding. Well, I'm back to say that I've come across another poor review of another Ubuntu-based distribution: this time it's Dedoimedo reviewing Bodhi Linux 0.1.6, which I have also checked out before. I like reading Dedoimedo a lot, but this review has really dampened my trust of the author (whose name I do not know and who refers to himself as Dedoimedo on the website) regarding Linux distribution reviews. Follow the jump to see why.

Let's start from the top. One key point in all of this is that Dedoimedo did not actually consider reviewing Bodhi Linux; lead developer Jeff Hoogland asked him to do so, and he courteously complied. I hesitate to say this, but that makes the rest of the review seem a bit "forced".
He does praise Bodhi for presenting the choice of different user styles before logging into the live session, but that seems to be where the praise ends.

Then the problems start. First of all, when were metallic decorations cheap? Dedoimedo's own reviews of Linux Mint 10 "Julia" GNOME and gOS 3.1 praise them for their metallic themes, and the theme in Bodhi isn't that much different. It even has a bit of the glassiness Dedoimedo praised in PC-BSD 7.1 and gOS 3.1. So what gives?
Next, I agree that it's a little weird to not have any screenshot tool at all. I had to find the Scrot CLI screenshot tool myself, which took a little time.
Next comes Samba issues. Dedoimedo has reviewed many other distributions which didn't do Samba quite right, yet he's never knocked those distributions as hard as he seems to have knocked this one just for Samba. Why? Also, he seems to imply that Mozilla Firefox 4 being included in beta stage is a bad thing, even though he has tried an even earlier beta with highly favorable results. It seems like a whole lot more pointless hate.

Next comes an issue with Mozilla Firefox 4 when first opened that's an artifact of the remastering process. Jeff Hoogland has acknowledged the problem and promised a fix with the next release.
After that comes multimedia. Dedoimedo has tested plenty of distributions where multimedia programs and codecs were not present out-of-the-box, yet those were never compared to toilet bowls. It seems like needless hate and more insults to add to injuries. Admittedly, the distribution could have done a better job pointing users to the right place (either Synaptic Package Manager or the Bodhi online repositories) to install such software, considering that other distributions do in fact point users to the package manager, but Dedoimedo claiming to not know how to install a multimedia package in Ubuntu sounds a lot like Greta Van Susteren of FOX dumbing herself down to her viewers despite her having played an extremely complicated violin piece (among other things) in a beauty pageant. Puh-lease. Could you at least try to figure out how things like package management might work if they don't show themselves? I would be much happier reading something like, "As it turns out, Bodhi Linux has its own repositories online, and installing packages from here is a snap. Unfortunately, getting here took a bit of searching and time, and it won't be obvious to new users how new packages are installed. Advice to the developers: when packages are missing, make it clear how they can be installed."
Next comes an additional theme complaint, which I won't dwell upon any further.
After that comes another package management complaint, which I just mentioned above.

He then complains about the stripped-down nature of the installer compared to the standard Ubuntu installer. That's because the installer is Ubiquity as modified by Remastersys (which I think is what Jeff Hoogland used to make Bodhi Linux), so it doesn't have some of the newer features of the latest Ubuntu installer. Considering that Dedoimedo has recently tested other new distributions that also use Remastersys which, as far as I know, also are missing those features, why is he hating on Bodhi even more?

Next come a couple post-installation rants, starting with the size of the ISO file compared with the dearth of programs installed. Consider that a barebones Ubuntu installation is itself around 350 MB, so this isn't really a surprise. Also consider that other Ubuntu-based distributions Dedoimedo has tested all start at least around 600 MB, even the lightweight ones like #!. The fact that Bodhi Linux is as small as it is and is still based on Ubuntu is all the more amazing. Also, Puppy Linux is a totally different distribution branch, which is why it can be so small. Finally, the unsigned key issue happens even in Ubuntu and Linux Mint with third-party software that does have signing keys, so why he's harping about it here is beyond me.
Next comes audio issues. I didn't install Bodhi Linux, so I can't speak about audio post-installation, but I will say that it worked fine for me during the live session.

Next comes other issues. Supposedly ALT+TAB window switching didn't work; I'm pretty sure it worked for me when I tried Bodhi Linux.
After that comes the lack of focus on the active window when it is clicked. As far as I remember, that wasn't an issue for me either during the live session, though I could be mistaken.
Next comes the issue of maximized windows covering the top panel. I had this issue too, but hovering the cursor at the top of the screen brings the top panel out again, though I'm sure this would be another complaint area for Dedoimedo.
Finally, he touches upon the issue of odd disk notation. Huh. I never noticed that before.

Dedoimedo concludes by calling Bodhi Linux "pointless". Sure, there are a lot of Ubuntu-based distributions out there, but not one is based on a current Ubuntu release and uses the Enlightenment E17 WM. How is that pointless?
Next comes the issue of included programs. Bodhi Linux has two package management options, neither of which Dedoimedo even bothered to touch upon. Mozilla Firefox 4 is included, which is a big plus. With a browser and a package manager, users can visit the websites they want and get the software they need. It's true that it's nice to see a whole bunch of programs available out-of-the-box, but the point of Bodhi Linux is minimalism: minimalism like Arch, not like #!.
And when did 300 MB have to get removed? Oh, did he mean 300 MB from the standard Ubuntu installation? Well, isn't that the point?
And finally, Bodhi Linux hasn't reached a 1.0 release yet, so yes, it technically is still a testbed.

To sum up, there were a couple of places where I agreed with Dedoimedo, but on the whole, the review seemed incredibly petty and had an almost "Oh noes! Linux isn't Windows! It sucks so much!" feel to it. I'm not going to say it's useless, because it is a reviewer's honest opinion of the distribution. That said, if Dedoimedo had spent half the time spent whining on figuring out how package management works and reading about the goals of the distribution, his time would probably have turned out much better. (And for the record, that's what plenty of commenters said about my review of Slackware 13.1. Yes, I agree. But I'm shocked that while I said those things about Slackware, which is still relatively unknown territory for me, Dedoimedo said these things about an Ubuntu-based distribution, with which he has much experience.)
Finally, as Dedoimedo said, bravo to Jeff Hoogland for allowing this article to be published and taking this criticism with relative equanimity.
I'll continue reading Dedoimedo for the foreseeable future, but if I see another article like this in the near future, that readership shall end.