Writing by admin on Thursday, 19 of July , 2007 at 9:42 pm
The first full version of Elive, 1.0, was released at the beginning of July this year to a fair amount of acclaim. It has been touted as one of the most visually appealing distributions, but how does it stake up against the out-of-the-box review style of Shift+Backspace? I have been quite busy with work over the last week and have kept Elive installed on my desktop computer, making it my primary operating system. That being said, I found myself often booting into a live CD version of Linux Mint 3.0 as I generally did not like Elive 1.0. Of course, I do want to give Elive a fair review, so lets do the regular and head over to DistroWatch for the brief description of Elive.
“Elive, or Enlightenment live CD, is a Debian-based desktop Linux distribution and live CD featuring the Enlightenment window manager. Besides being pre-configured and ready for daily desktop use, it also includes “Elpanel” - a control centre for easy system and desktop administration.”
This relatively new distribution has climbed the DistroWatch rankings quite quickly and is already at number 23. Elive is the first distribution I have ever installed that uses the Enlightenment desktop environment, so please take this into account throughout this review (most of what I say may apply to the environment over the actual distribution).
Follow the link for the rest of the review!
Site Map Elive 1.0 is available in an approximately 700MB live CD image. How do you get the image? Well, unfortunately the creator of Elive wants you to pay to download it. That is right, pay for a Linux distribution before actually using it. While I agree that a distribution with a single developer, such as Elive , does require substantial investment, I find it irritating that the developer REQUIRES payment to download the image (please note that unstable images are available free of charge). In the past I have donated to various Linux projects to help support a product I fully believe in, but how can I be expected to pay before I have a chance to use the distribution? One rebuttal to this comment may be that the creator asks you how much it is worth to you, meaning that you could probably donate $1 and still download the image, but it is the principle that bothers me. That being said, if you search hard enough you will be able to find a mirror that does not require payment, unfortunately, the one that I came across is no longer available.
Okay, the rant is now done! As mentioned, this is a live CD installer. It is quite unclear as to how to install the system using the menu system, but the icon on the right of the dock is the installer. Filling in the installation information was quite easy and should not be overly difficult for any Linux novice, however, it is still not quite as easy as systems such as SimplyMEPIS or PCLinuxOS . The install itself took only about 10 minutes on my desktop which puts it at the head of the class in this regard. Unfortunately, after booting for the first time the system wants to tweak and finalize itself which look approximately 20 minutes. Overall, the installation was very good, and the extra tweaking correctly configured my devices. Additionally, all of my NTFS partitions were both writable and readable without any intervention.
Elive is definitely known as one of the best looking distributions available as it uses the Enlightenment desktop environment. Once again, I would like to point out that I have never used Enlightenment before so this section may be evaluating Enlightenment more than Elive (please recognize that Elive is the poster child for this environment). The default desktop is absolutely gorgeous! The stars in the sky twinkle and move throughout the very nice looking background. The application dock at the bottom of the screen is quite small by default, but is easy to make larger. Below is a screenshot of the default desktop.
The dock is very nice on the eyes, with the icons being fully scalable. While the icons have a nice gentle pulse when the mouse hovers, it is unfortunate that the title of the application is not displayed above. Additionally, it does not behave like the Avant Window Navigator or the Mac OS X dock as it simply opens the applications and minimization adds the application to the tray in the top left. I really hope that in the future the Enlightenment team turns this into a more Mac-like dock as right now it really does not serve a purpose other than launching 9 specific applications. Below is a screenshot of the blown-up system dock.
Onto the menu system. The menu is accessed by clicking anywhere outside a window on the screen. Right-clicking will bring up only the application menu, while left-clicking brings up applications as well as more options. The menu is very nice to use, but is not noticeably better than other distributions. Possibly the greatest thing is the “Run Command” utility which cycles through the available applications as you type (this may be more common than I think). Below are screenshots of both the menu and the run command utility.
Closing off the visuals I would like to say that I very much dislike the way minimized windows are handled by default. They disappear to the top-left corner, a place usually covered by my browser - of course this is very easy to change. Additionally, the extra pizazz can sometimes be too much. For instance, I am starting to get tired of the shine of light that occurs every time I mouse-over a window. While I have mentioned a few negative things in this section, I definitely feel that Elive is one of the most visually appealing distributions available. At times it does feel that it has been overdone, but overall, a great job by both the Elive designers and Enlightenment team.
What about the out-of-the-box performance? Elive is top-notch in this regard. It played MP3s, DivX files, Java-based websites and YouTube videos with no intervention. Additionally, Elive comes with IceWeasel, a Mozilla-based browser, a plethora of chat clients, graphics utilities such as Blender and the GIMP, as well as plenty of of audio and video applications. It was surprising to see both OpenOffice Writer and AbiWord installed, while Gnumeric was used as the default spreadsheet application. As this is a Debian-based distribution, the apt-get install command got a substantial workout as I install the usual applications I require (required KSnapshot as no screenshot utility was present).
Something that has thoroughly impressed me is the Enlightenment Configuration panel. This is the place where you can adjust the look and feel of the environment in a variety of ways. Below is a screenshot of this panel.
The Elive developers have also implemented their own system configurator that is much more robust than that provided by default. This application is called the Elive Panel and is available under the ‘Utils’ menu. Once again, the user is presented with a very clean interface with terrific icons, but also possibly the worst control panel I have ever encountered. Let me first say that the panel is not movable. Secondly, there is no text under the actual icons, but instead scrolling digital text at the bottom of the panel. While this text does look sharp, it is far too slow for my liking. The icons do a decent job showcasing their job, but overall, this is not a user friendly configuration panel and will take a fair amount of time to get use to. Below is a screenshot of the Elive Panel.
Finally, shutting down the system is not an easy task. First, you have to access the menu and ‘Exit Enlightenment’. You are then logged off the system and taken back to the login screen. At this point you are able to access the shutdown button to power off. No standby, no hibernation. I am currently at the point where I just use the terminal command shutdown -r now to shutdown the system.
I have read a couple of other reviews for Elive and read various opinions on forums that have made Elive 1.0 seem like a great operating system. Unfortunately, I have found far more things I dislike than I do like. I really hope that most of these negatives are simply because the system is still in its infancy and will be fixed in future versions. I do realize that this system has been created and maintained mostly by a single individual and I give them a tremendous amount of credit for their efforts as I could never do anything like this. It is my hope that reviews like this and others to follow will help guide Elive down the road to offer a very complete and functional operating system.
Overall, I did not like everything Elive had to offer, but that being said, I will continue to try future Elive releases and I do feel confident that the developer will be fixing many of the dislikes of the operating system as more individuals write about their experiences. I highly encourage those who both like and dislike Elive to post their comments below.
Read more about, or purchase (!!), Elive 1.0 on their official site (they have a great video showing the eye-candy you can expect).
Let the comment wars begin!
Comment by Zaine Ridling
Made Thursday, 19 of July , 2007 at 11:10 pm
Too cute for its own good, maybe? Maybe not. Elive’s goal, as you note, is to bring art to the GUI, making it as attractive as possible, and with the idea of bringing new life to older hardware. Damn fine review; thanks again for doing the heavy lifting.
Comment by franz
Made Friday, 20 of July , 2007 at 2:16 am
I guess that eye candy itself is not enough for a real work OS. As the review points out one of the most annoying thing is the lack of description on the dock. And never forget that the average use would like to put his stuff on the desktop as well, so it would be nice to create folders and put files on it.
Comment by Nelson
Made Friday, 20 of July , 2007 at 2:41 am
Perfect review. Elive is really beautiful except for the minor irritants that the author has mentioned. I found that the OS works perfectly as well. It played all my VCDS and DVDs and functioned perfectly all the way. Infact no other distro worked so perfectly as elive
Comment by Anders Honore
Made Friday, 20 of July , 2007 at 4:47 am
One thing I feel you left out which is a major selling point is the speed of elive. This is the kind of distro you can put in any old machine and get a functional but lovely looking OS out of.
Comment by Doug Jenkins
Made Friday, 20 of July , 2007 at 11:14 am
I used elive happily on a production machine for nearly a year from version .3 to .5.1 when (like most all distros) the wifi broke at the 2.6.15 kernel. So I think I can be a good review reviewer … I echo the “damn fine review.”
You captured elive exactly…it is speedy, beautiful, developed by Thanatermesis who taught himself to program by working on elive and enlightenment…and
…the little frustrations of adding icons to the dock, and lack of names in Elpanel, etc.
elive is like most distros, better on some machines than others (audio is much better now, but 1.0 still won’t pick up my wifi. It is also better with some people than others, you almost have to ‘get’ it.
It IS distinctive, attractive, FAST and has a GREAT IRC community that at times can feel like family (for all the good and bad reasons, hee hee)
Comment by Eric
Made Friday, 20 of July , 2007 at 11:44 am
I agree with your review. I have found that although enlightenment is hard to get used to, this distro does a wonderful job of just working. I test quite a few distros on various machines, and elive is the only one that hasn’t given me any problems. Once you get used to doing things in enlightenment, it can be a fun OS. Good review
Comment by not impressed
Made Sunday, 22 of July , 2007 at 5:16 am
elive just looks cheap and tacky,..something a StarTrek, Star Wars Matrix teenager fan would design
it so ugly, awful, cheap looking,..
and the wallpaper my god
Ha HA haaaa a lonesome tree set on a foggy horizon with a wannabee rainbow
what next a logo of Donald Duck as a splash screen
One o=wonders why Microsoft users stay with Bill Gates’s OS
at least it looks superb
Pingback by Elive 1.0–A Review
Made Sunday, 22 of July , 2007 at 9:06 am
[…] The first full version of Elive, 1.0, was released at the beginning of July this year to a fair amount of acclaim. It has been touted as one of the most visually appealing distributions, but how does it stake up against the out-of-the-box review style of Shift+Backspace? I have been quite busy with work over the last week and have kept Elive installed on my desktop computer, making it my primary operating system. That being said, I found myself often booting into a live CD version of Linux Mint 3.0 as I generally did not like Elive 1.0. Of course, I do want to give Elive a fair review… More… […]
Comment by FreeEagle
Made Sunday, 22 of July , 2007 at 11:12 am
ELive is the only Dist. that make me feel happy to work with Linux, all other Distro. have bugs, that nerve every user. With Elive all the newbies can work easely and they come fast in love with, without thinking of how to configure there Media Players or DVDs-Players, Elive work fast, simply, and easy to install, beside the developer of it , had write a simple but a good documentation about how you can work effectively with Elive. Elive Mount and unmount USB and CD automatically which other Distro. have sometimes problems with. About donating to Elive, this is normal to support this good working. If you need a good Linux Distro, that give you a good Wifi, Multimedia Support and Video Cards support then you have to pay somthing simple for it. Thank you very much Elive for this good work, wish you all the progress and will wait your next Elive version .
Comment by Spanky
Made Sunday, 22 of July , 2007 at 12:05 pm
It easy to critic, hard to produce but I think everyone hear understands this.
The required payment thing has got to go. Seek funds via ads and special paid and mailed CD packages.
Although it is daunting for a newbie to fathom so many distributions, choice is a good thing. We do often forget that every system is different and the truth be told, it is amazing how one distro or another usually does work with ANY given system (that’s not unreasonably old).
In this vain, any distro that works on older computers is efficient AND keeps fine old boxes out of the trash. This accepting the fact that there is NO substitute for newer, better hardware. Yet, if you can get YOUR job done and in the same (or less) time, then all hail a lean distribution.
I am surprised to see any critic of a certain color or graphic accept to not the defaults. Do we not understand that highly opinionated decorations are easily changeable and most of all NOT the main issue.
Based on the good facts given in the above review, I give much praise to said individual developer for MAJORING on the MAJORS! A good looking, fast, fully working (codecs and such) system is just what new users are looking for. Something that is said to be working without trouble on many machines deserves the highest praise.
May it continue to improve in these major, and in all areas.
Comment by mandog
Made Monday, 23 of July , 2007 at 10:35 am
Been using Gem since it came out its the most complete distro ive used its very different to anything else out their and it all works for me from the box
you can add upto 20 quick start buttons to the bottom panal if you choose and their is another panel that can replace it or compliment it if you prefer. I wish reviewers would do proper reviews instead of quick biased reviews you need a couple of weeks to do a real review. its also got a bunch of good themes again not mentioned. and is very stable as well.
Comment by lucky7
Made Wednesday, 1 of August , 2007 at 6:30 am
Had been playing around with this as a potential distro for a slightly old laptop.
You cannot deny that Elive does what is says it will very well. As mentioned, it’s fast, attractive and does a lot ‘out of the box’.
Like the reviewer however I didn’t find the way minmised application displayed as desktop icons to my taste, I’d prefer them in the dock. Also I quite like being able to use my desktop for the here and now stuff, much like a physical desktop.
This is obviously a personal preference and the developer is limited by what Enlightenment can do. This I can accept. The developers attitude to it, I cannot.
Thanatermesis claims he won’t ever allow icons on the desktop as he doesn’t like it. This example seems to sum up his attitude. Despite his obvious technical and artistic talent, his unwillingness to cater to others tastes or bend on his pay before you download distribution scheme won’t do the reputation of this otherwise promising release any good.
Comment by CJM
Made Sunday, 5 of August , 2007 at 10:30 am
Yes, the default install needs work, and yes, in default form the overall aesthetic is a bit tacky. The menu system is a bit awkward to edit but you get used to it after time. But plugin the test repositories, update, spend a few hours configuring it to your liking, and it a fine, fine distro. As mentioned, everything just works. Has both kde and gnome support. No other distro comes close to looking so good and working so effectively on my old evo laptop. Definitely worth taking some getting used to.
Comment by Snakeoil SalesmenUSA
Made Sunday, 5 of August , 2007 at 1:13 pm
AMERICAN BULLSH*T AND GIBBERISH AT ITS VERY BEST seen IN THE LINUX WORLD on the elive website
QUOTE:–Elive is free and is made with and for pleasure, but free does not mean “no cost” . I spend all my time developing Elive. It is my choice.”
usa DICTIONARY DEFINITION (”free”):-1. costing nothing: requiring no money to be paid (e.g. Win a free meal for two.)
Its rather like the schizo USA websites,..”free online scan”,..pay 25 Dollars up front
some free “open” software
“free” software sucks like its snakeoil salesmen
Comment by Frank
Made Monday, 6 of August , 2007 at 11:44 pm
There is a mirror that is up, and working: bittorrent.
Comment by paddy
Made Thursday, 9 of August , 2007 at 9:44 pm
I thought you wrote a good review.
Elive is my distro of choice at the moment, namely because of its debian base, Enlightenment (love it) and relatively small space.
The only other distros I’ve tried that I enjoyed equally were Pardus, but there’s not enough packages yet, and Sabayon, but the damn thing is so freaking huge!
Comment by blackmantra
Made Monday, 20 of August , 2007 at 4:13 am
I had tried a lot of distros in the last year, each distro has had something that did not work, sometimes audio, video or simple a program that is a must which did not install, in my experience in the search for the perfect linux i always founded something wrong, pclinux is great, but the software that I need
did not install, Xandro did not detect my hyperthreating CPU, mepis the aplication that i need did not install, ubuntu everything works but takes some time to make it work, because there’s a lot of help, dream linux is wonderful but I had static noise with mplayer, and finally my favorite Elive, for the first time everything worked out of the box. In the final analysis Elive is UNIQUE, different, and I hope the developer do not depart from the original idea. If you want to impress somebody, install ELIVE!!!
Comment by Andre Sluik
Made Tuesday, 21 of August , 2007 at 4:03 pm
Elive is the first distro to make everything work out-of-the-box on my Evo N610c laptop. Sound, wireless, applications, codecs. It’s all there. And fast too.
Yes, one has to get used to Elive. But you can’t expect a beautiful women to just give herself to you, can you?
Comment by Willi J
Made Sunday, 26 of August , 2007 at 9:33 am
The screenshots are of Enlightenment 17. The earlier versions of the distro include the optional Enlightenment 16, which I prefer.
Comment by manmath sahu
Made Thursday, 6 of September , 2007 at 9:53 pm
Elive works fine but is not feature-rich. For a better all-round experience use PCLinuxOS 2007. Visit http://pclinuxos2007.blogspot.com
Comment by Blake
Made Wednesday, 26 of September , 2007 at 5:51 pm
ELIVE is fucking awesome!!!!!
Everything that matters to me, being able to see flash, you tube, audio graphic apps etc etc worked great right out of the box without having to fuck around fixing them right after the hard drive install. Oh yeah and I am running the more experimental & unstable E17 over the stable E16 too!!
I have enjoyed trying out many many Linux Distros and even though I have always been a big fan of the Enlightenment Window manager, even on other distros including puppy linux
another fav of mine… ELIVE GEM 1.0 is far and away my absolute fav distro of all time and I am addicted to it like crack. I could never see myself ever leaving this distro for another… EVER !!!
ELIVE rocks 4 ever !!
Comment by hector the collector
Made Wednesday, 3 of October , 2007 at 1:12 pm
Hm… I have been using Elive since July and I must say it is very hard to find another distribution so responsive and so easy to use. How retarded must a beginner be to have problems with using the Elpanel etc.?