Has the battle for a touchscreen Linux distro found a victor?
Software Top Reviews readies his favourite digit in anticipation…
T he latest version of Linpus Lite, a 64-bit Fedora based distro, has recently launched. This 2.1 release has a number of exciting changes that bring this particular Linux flavour kicking and screaming into the 21st century trend of ‘swishing’ the screen with your fingertips. The system boasts incredible boot speeds, ease of use and improved productivity.
It’s a slick looking interface, that’s for sure. Built around a modified Cinnamon DE (version 1.6) and enjoying some redesigned and creatively engineered HTML5 panels and widgets, you could be forgiven for thinking that Linpus was a customised version of Chrome or, and dare we say it, Windows Vista.
Wayward widgets The façade is extraordinarily close to Microsoft’s much maligned operating system, but it doesn’t have to remain that way. The widgets themselves display the weather, a calendar, RSS news feed and the obligatory analogue clock. They can be removed and configured to your particular settings, but when we tried to add new widgets nothing appeared to happen.
The widget panel on the right of the screen is called Daily Widgets, and can be turned off, or removed altogether, via the Power button in the top right of the screen. There’s also a quick launch bar on the left edge of the desktop, which can also be removed in favour of a more Gnome 3 feel by enabling Icon Mode from the Power menu. A few programs are included: Chromium , LibreOffice , a handful of games and so on, but alas no VLC or Firefox . The Application Centre is where you go to install your favourite packages, and it has been designed as an all-in-one updater, installer and viewer of already installed programs – like Google Play Store . Clearly Linpus has seen the benefits of the mobile world app stores and catered for them by implementing HTML5, as your web apps and Chrome apps can be synchronised and supported. It’s a shrewd and clever move from the Linpus development team, and to a degree it works reasonably well.
Naturally the onus here is on the touchscreen integration for modern tablets, desktops and laptops, but this is where Linpus falls somewhat. The touchscreen element felt clunky and awkward. We tested it on a ViewSonic touchscreen and an x86 tablet, both of which work with other touchscreen- orientated operating systems, but for some reason really disliked Linpus.
There were miss-touches, the on-screen keyboard had the habit of closing down or not registering the press, and swiping, pinch zooming/ resizing just didn’t want to play ball whatsoever. It was a disappointment after enjoying the feel of the Linpus desktop. Additionally we did find Linpus to misbehave during more intense computing moments; when a program is launched, everything else appears to freeze, then there’s a sudden rush to catch up once the system has finished what it’s doing. Booting up Linpus is, as the developers claim, very fast, a matter of seconds in fact, but once in the desktop all too frequent slow-downs and unresponsiveness marred the potential for this to be a true x86 contender for Android or Chrome.
There’s a lot of potential here, but it’s in need of some further development before you can seriously use it on touchscreen technology. Keep an eye on Linpus, however, as great things may come from this.