Uri Herrera, founder of Nitrux, announced the release of Nitrux 1.2.9 last week.
Everything about Nitrux is eye catching. A stunning minimalist website with beautiful logos. A creative spin of a desktop built on modern tested foundations. All spiced up with a range of in-house built custom apps that follow a precise design philosophy. If this sounds a bit like elementary OS I don’t blame you. In fact, once booted up, you’ll find many similarities in the basic setup. The Latte dock at the bottom and the Slingshot like app menu seem to follow the same basic philosophy. But, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s take one step back again.
The OS uses an Ubuntu base without being more specific and features the NX Desktop, an in-house tweaked Plasma 5.18.5 implementation. The experience is complimented with their own set of in-house developed MauiKit applications. There is a lot of “in-house” going on here and it’s really a shame this distro isn’t more on peoples’ radar than it is. Let’s take it for a test run and find out if it is as good as it looks and reads.
I fired up a live session and was greeted with a sleek looking desktop. As usual, before touching anything: Open the terminal and check htop for memory usage: About 1GB of Ram out of the box, that’s a lot for a KDE Plasma based distro. For comparison: KDE Neon requires around 550mb. But then again, my Fedora 32 Gnome uses a lot more: ~1.6GB
From the next screenshot, you can clearly see some similarity with elementary OS. Nitrux is like the darker skinned brother and really looks stunning. I managed to scale the desktop to 125% without a hitch (the system says a restart is required for the change but you only need to log-out and back in again for the effect to take place).
For a list of all the usual included software by default, I suggest to check-out the website. I was more curious about their in house developed MauiKit applications:
- Index: That is the file manager. Very nice looking. For some reason though, it wouldn’t connect to my other attached USB drive. It would see it but not access it. I thought it might have something to do with it being a live session so I went ahead and installed Dolphin, the usual Plasma file manager and that one connected effortlessly so there is some kind of bug or missing functionality.
- Buhu: The Notes app. I used it to summarize my experience as I went through the test. Looks and feels great too but I was annoyed by the fact it didn’t scroll to the line where the cursor had reached and you would need to chase after it with the scroll bar. Also, you can close Buhu without any warning to save your work before doing so. Again, just some missing functionality there. The same goes for Nota, the included text editor.
- Pix: The image/gallery viewer. Oddly, when opening a photo, by default it is opened by GIMP which is a bit of an overkill but that can be easily changed.
- Vvave: The music app. It played my MP3s just fine and with the same nice consistent look. However, just as Index, it couldn’t connect to my files on the USB stick. I Had to use Dolphin to make it see and run the music files.
- Station: That’s the terminal app. I really just used it to display htop and by the time I had opened all the MauiKit apps, RAM usage had crept up to around 2GB.
- There is also a contacts’ app and a video player, but they were not included in this release. Probably not yet ready for prime time.
- What’s really cool: You can already run most of these apps on Linux, Linux(ARM), Android and even Windows! Check them out here.
I really need to compliment the developers for providing such a big range of default apps, all with a consistent look and feel. Once they have matured a little more, they will make this distro truly stand out. The same goes for the app launcher which nicely fits the overall theme but needs a bit more features and functionality.
Let’s have a closer look at what they are actually trying to accomplish here. The MauiKit is a group of controls with a pre modeled design that allows the rapid development of apps with convergence in mind. These apps are meant to adapt from a full desktop down to a mobile phone and be compatible to run on Linux, Android and even Windows. For that, MauiKit uses the KDE Kirigami framework and Qt Quick Controls 2. Looking forward to seeing more developers jump on board.
Firing up Firefox finally brought Ram usage to around 3GBs and roughly stayed there for the rest of my session. The MauiKit apps seemed to consume around 150mb each. Not too bad but clearly, this OS is meant to be run from fairly modern hardware and that is fine. There are plenty of options out there for the lower end.
I usually don’t bother with a distro’s wallpapers as every user has their own taste and can change it to their liking with a few clicks. Nitrux does deserve a mention, though, as the included selection is both ample and stunning.
Clearly a lot of work has been done to put all this together and there is still exciting work ahead. These in-house apps need to mature to the point they could fully replace the usual suspects on a day to day basis. I’m really still blown away by all the content this distro has to offer. There is so much to look forward to. Would I use it as my main system? Probably not just yet but I will now be definitely following the project more closely. This is a gem in the making, a little rough on the edges but a real gem never the less. This is the distro to watch out for!
Intrigued and would like to try it out yourself? You can download the 2.6GB ISO from their Sourceforge folder.
Hasta pronto, Nitrux!