I recently received a custom-built Linux PC to evaluate from Tuxedo Computers (you can catch me live-tweeting some impressions and results on Twitter, or stay tuned here for a full review). This small form factor rig came with Ubuntu Budgie pre-installed*, and it’s been my first opportunity to spend a serious chunk of time with this official Ubuntu flavor.
It’s been a revelation.
Welcome to a new spotlight series called “What I Love About X Linux Distro.” To kick things off, I want to highlight some aspects of Ubuntu Budgie I’ve fallen in love with, and why they’ve stood out during my newfound Linux Discovery Tour™.
Each article in the series will capture what I love most about a particular distro I’m playing with, and then you’ll hear directly from one of its team members about why they love working on the project. Let’s go!
Ubuntu Budgie is one of the newest recognized flavors of Ubuntu, meaning you get access to the same software archives and updates. The twist here is that it uses the Gnome-based Budgie desktop environment developed by the Solus Project, but you still get the stability of Ubuntu.
If that sounds like gibberish to you it’s ok! What counts is that Budgie is beautiful and streamlined. It’s a lightweight OS free of bloat with modest hardware requirements, but still manages to contain everything an average user might need. Oh, and it’s catnip for screenshot junkies.
Here’s what I’m loving about it:
What I Love Most: That Budgie Welcome App
Most Linux distributions I’ve tried tout a welcome screen. Something that pops up to briefly familiarize you with its user interface and various features. I was enamored with Deepin’s fantastic introduction to its OS, but Ubuntu Budgie raises the quality and usability bar through the ceiling and into space.
Without even clicking anything, this main window reflects the elegance contained within this OS. The menu items — things like Introduction, Features, Installation Help and Community — imply that it’s nothing more than a collection of documents and information. It’s much more than that.
For example, selecting “Getting Started” brings up an entire sub-menu showing you some hardware requirements and helping you prepare for installation. That’s especially useful since you can run Budgie on a Live USB to try it out first, without making any changes to your PC. It’s an easy read, it’s formatted cleanly and it covers the basics.
Oh, and if you’re in doubt which components are inside your computer, the Budgie Welcome app has a section for that too. It identifies CPU model and speed, RAM, motherboard, graphics architecture and the current kernel that’s in use.
Budgie takes it a step further if you’d like to dual boot with another OS. Select dual booting with Windows, and the app tweaks itself a bit and presents Simple, Advanced and Safest methods for getting the job done. Complete with screenshot guides and notes about specific versions of Windows. There’s even a boot repair app you can download from inside this section if things go wrong.
Things start really shining when you hit the Customization section. Here, you can discover the various tools available to transform most facets of the user interface. From a slick dark theme to cursor appearance, from fonts to window decorations and a ton of other options.
The real magic starts happening after Budgie is installed. A “browser ballot” section appears in the Budgie Welcome app, allowing you to install or remove browsers (Chromium, Chrome, Firefox and Vivaldi) with a single click.
You can check for system updates and install “restricted extras” such as media codecs with a single click. Install backup utility Deja-Dup with a single click. Install a firewall app with a single click. See if your graphics driver is good to go (along with a great explanation of proprietary vs open source drivers. Even reset your desktop theme or install new ones. Yep, single click.
And that’s really just scratching the surface of what’s inside the Welcome App. It’s a clean, comprehensive and polished discovery app that frankly every operating system under the sun should attempt to emulate. It makes Windows 10 feel especially archaic by comparison.
“Why Do You Love Working On Ubuntu Budgie?”
Dustin Kyrsak (@BashfulRobot on Twitter), is Ubuntu Budgie’s System Administrator. I asked him why he loves working on this project.
“That’s a good question, and the reality is this; for the same reason I enjoy using it. It is a distro that appeals to the things I look for — sane defaults, with a great “out of the box” experience that gets out of my way. In the past, I used to hop around and keep trying new distros. But that led to one huge problem – I never got anything done. I spent more time tweaking my OS to my workflows and preferences than doing actual work. Only to blow it away a few weeks later and start all over.
At that time having a single machine, I did not have the luxury of keeping a stable system around to get anything done. So if you take into consideration that the foundation appeals to me, and combine it with the fact that being on the team allows me to assist and direct where the distro direction can go, it is a win/win situation. The simplicity of both the desktop, code and experience makes it a joy to use for the things I both want to do and need to do.”
That awesome out of the box experience is what makes Ubuntu Budgie stand so tall amongst the hundreds of distro choices out there. It’s fast, it’s complete, it’s beautiful and it doesn’t take a user’s first impression lightly. Thanks Dustin, and thanks to the entire Ubuntu Budgie team for crafting an excellent desktop PS, and a stellar experience for a user’s first login.
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