Wednesday, January 12, 2011

MoonOS 4 'Neake' Review

MoonOS, an Ubuntu based Linux distro, recently hit version 4, codenamed "Neake". This last release certainly marks a turning point for MoonOS, for it includes several drastic changes that set it appart from previous releases and even from other Linux distributions.


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ONCE IN A GREEN MOON

Out of the many changes that were introduced in this release, there are probably two that stand out and make the biggest difference:

- MoonOS now uses GNOME instead of Enlightenment. In my opinion, this is a smart move, one that probably made it easier to get the most of the latest Ubuntu features. Fortunately, Ubuntu 11.04 will still use GNOME (albeit as a backup to Unity), so I think MoonOS will again be able to easily get the most from that release. Come Ubuntu 11.10, though, things may get more complicated as the Canonical distro commits to Unity exclusively.

- MoonOS now uses its own file hierarchy. What does this mean? Well, a picture is worth a thousand words, they say:


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As one can see, the typical Linux folder structure was changed, following a less complex, more intuitive one, according to MoonOS developers. As a result, removable media is no longer mounted under /media, for example, but under Volumes. The home folder is gone, users folders now sit under Users. One has to wonder if changing this folder structure now will indeed simplify things or end up making them more complicated for those familiar with the old one. I guess we will have to wait and see.

Another interesting feature is being introduced with the AppShell framework, which allows ported packages to be run offline, in a way reminiscent to OSX-style apps. Unfortunately, this feature is still a bit immature and the number of applications currently available fairly small.

Other changes/features include the "the most popular 200 lines kernel patch to boost speed", an updated application catalog selection, productivity apps Docky and Synapse, and a very tasteful new Look&Feel.

FLY ME TO THE MOON

So what's it like using MoonOS? Well, a very pleasant experience, that's for sure. From the very moment you boot from the LiveCD/USB, you get a nice serious-distro vibe, like even the smallest details have been looked into. The Plymouth splash screen looks terrific and all the branding is spot on and consistent. The controls and window decoration themes look great, and although they are a bit limited to certain specific themes and color range, the wallpapers look good as well.

Faenza is the selected icon theme, but building on that "taking care of details" concept I mentioned before, it is not stock Faenza. It is not Faenza variants either. MoonOS uses the most tasteful and best integrated version of Faenza I have seen in a stock distro icon theme. In fact, icons that sometimes don't show up correctly their Faenza skin, like Dropbox or the weather notification area, work out perfectly here.



Nautilus elementary is the file manager of choice, perfectly fitting with the default control and window decoration themes. Droid fonts round it up for a very good looking desktop.


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MoonOS is one of those distros, like Linux Mint for instance, that includes all codecs you need and then some. In fact, it was the first distro to allow me to play Apple Quicktime contents as smoothly as they would play on a Windows machine with Quicktime installed. Certainly welcome.


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Docky and Synapse, both favorite applications of mine, come preinstalled, correctly setup and properly integrated. For example, Banshee's extension for the GNOME panel and the integration with Docky work out of the box.


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As for Synapse, everything worked smoothly and as expected, but I would have liked to see the Dictionary configured for local use. I know that's totally a personal thing, though.


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The rest of the application catalog is fairly standard, nothing surprising.

WORTH THE FLIGHT?

MoonOS is quite an impressive Ubuntu impersonation. I felt very comfortable using it and I have come to love its tasteful Look&Feel and customizations. If we add to that all the latest Kernel, GNOME and Ubuntu features and improvements, we have a very powerful and good looking desktop Linux distro. On the negative side, I miss a bit more character of its own, though, because even if it incorporates certain unique features, there is still too strong an Ubuntu smell all over the place. Certain areas feel like using Ubuntu with a few tweaks, so I hope more and more MoonOS specific features appear to consolidate this distro as a community favorite.

The potential is certainly there.

11 comments:

  1. Just installed and have been running for 2 days. Ridiculous how smooth the experience is going. No problems on a hp laptop, found printer plays all music and videos, fast, way stupid fast, installed 185 fonts at the same time, never stalled or slowed while both opera and firefox with multiple tabs open and copying files from the WD external. All programs work fast and easy.

    I would add ubuntu tweak and vlc (which I did), easiest *buntu I've ever used and I tried all derivatives including ultimate, oz, mint and super. Artwork is fantastic. This is the OS I've been waiting for.

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  2. I've been testing for a while and i can say how awsome experience. Like NeoMaician said it's very smooth. Everything works out the box. The best ubuntu variant ever.

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  3. something like this, would be out 2 years ago.

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  4. se ve bien, moon os es muy buena, la he usado antes voy a descargarla.

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  5. I installed without no problems, I am runing MOONOS4 along with peppermint and ultimate linux, easy intallation and ver fast.

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  6. ive been running moon os 4 its working good and smooth except 1 thing ; all the updates in update manager worked except moonOS system base package ... seemed strange

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  7. Most distros have this "inner aspect" with weird paths and the shell and the "outer aspect" inside the homefolder and everything clickable.
    I like how MoonOS partly integrates that into one thing with the new filesystem.
    But the screenshot irritates me: Is it true that the old filesystem is still existant while hidden? Because it says the harddrive is on /dev/sda1.
    By the way: This distro also has a different filesystem: http://sta.li/ (It seems to be made for advanced users, though.)

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  8. @John Williams: I think you are right, the way the new file system works is a bit strange. It almost feels as if both the old and the new FS were there... Very weird!

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  9. No Enlightenment? :( Then I wont even try it.

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  10. Несмотря на имеющиеся проблемы с обновлением, мне эта система нравится своей лёгкостью, красотой и работоспособностью! На моём нетбуке Lenovo S10-2 MoonOs просто летает! :)

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