Beware distro hoppers, this one is for you! Today we’ll take a look at the new Peux OS.
This is another one of numerous one man Linux distros out there. The developer prefers to stay anonymous but gives us a brief introduction on how it all came about. He or she or they initially started out customizing an Arch install for personal use but “thanks” to COVID-19, we now have another cool distro to play around with. More info about the developer’s thoughts are in the about page of the very minimalist yet elegant Peux OS website.
The distro is hosted on FOSS Torrents, a site that helps smaller projects put their ISOs and other open source software on a reputable platform for easier distribution.
Peux OS comes in three flavors: Gnome, LXQt and XFCE. Since XFCE is described as the flagship option, I went for that torrent option to get the 1.9 GB ISO.
First off, I am happy to report I got myself a dedicated distro crunching laptop. A used Dell E7240 with an I5-4300 CPU, so no more complicated installs on external SSDs. I can now fully install to the internal drive, erasing the whole disk without worry. Windows has been permanently wiped off this machine. Happy days!
Puex OS uses the Calamares installer. During the process it gives us the option which office suite to install. Very nice! As usual we can partition the disk manually or let Calamares do the magic. I went with the automated way that also gives us the option to use a swap partition or not. The whole process took around 5 minutes and we were good to go.
htop is included by default and reported the values below. If you think this is a bit high for a minimalist XFCE system you are probably right. I assume the included Gnome bits are partly to blame.
- 680 RAM
- 79 Tasks
- 149 Threads
Before we get to our desktop, we need to log-in. The greeter looks nice with a cool wallpaper but I found it irritating that I needed to actually click on the user icon and then click on the password field in order to enter credentials. It appears SDDM (Simple Desktop Display Manager) is the greeter used here.
We are then presented with a very appealing, minimalist looking XFCE desktop. At the top we have a nice split Polybar while on the bottom we have a tint2 panel. The center of the desktop is adorned with a good looking time & date showing Conky. There is a Menu on the top left. Peux OS uses the Kimi GTK theme with the Tela-Circle-Purple icon theme. Since this is obviously a power geek distro, we also get fish, the friendly interactive shell (a drop-down terminal) in version 3.1.2. The icon to invoke it sits right next to the menu icon. The tint2 panel at the bottom works like a dock where all open apps are pegged so it is easy to switch and multi-task. The top Polybar has quick launch short cuts on the left hand side to open often used apps like the file manager and browser. The right hand side is populated like a typical system tray and offers two desktops to switch in between by default. There we also find screen brightness and volume control. Intuitively clicking on these does nothing but when hovering over them and using two finger scrolling (or the mouse wheel) we can adjust either as required. Neat! We can also launch system updates and check notifications from up here. Sadly, a battery indicator is missing for us laptop users.
All in all I find the overall look very much to my taste. Minimal, geeky and sleek!
The top left menu is a very basic affair and probably my least favorite part of the system. It doesn’t seem to have a shortcut to invoke it. You need to click on it and then just like with the volume control, you need to scroll through the menu items. I couldn’t believe this is how our geeky developer was using his system so I checked whether there was an alternative menu via right click on the desktop. And yes, there it was! Just like what you get with Openbox which I quite like. As you can see, there is a lot to discover with this distro. There is no real manual and the web site is pretty minimal as well. Let’s move on to the installed software.
Software wise we get what our developer likes to use so it’s an interesting mix. Since this is XFCE, the last thing to expect would be Gnome’s Nautilus as the file manager but there it was. It looks very good with the applied theme and the developer explains at length on the site why it was chosen. Thunar is also present, though. For browsing we get Firefox but also the Thor browser. Unfortunately, Thor didn’t work for me as some certificate failed. I have never used it and it probably just needs some configuration. For email we get BlueMail which I have never tried. It claims to be “The Best Email Experience Ever Made”! I’m intrigued and might give it a try. Under Graphics we get the Ristretto Image Viewer and under Multimedia: Lplayer for Music, mpv for Videos and the OpenShot video editor. There is a whole bunch of smaller applications and utilities like a Discord client and ClamTK, a virus scanner. A nice application worth mentioning is Stacer. It is a system monitor of sorts but can also do more like clear caches and toggle start-up services.
We get all necessary codecs installed by default. My test music and video files played instantly. Now if you remember, we were prompted which office suite to have installed during the installation process. Well, that didn’t work. None was installed. Not a big issue really as we can add that easily.
Peux OS is Arch based and as such uses Pamac as its GUI software manager. AUR repositories are enabled by default and the user can choose whether to enable Flatpak or Snap support. Searching for VLC as an example we get a very large amount of results that make it a bit harder to find the proper app. I found VLC-Git and tried to install that but unfortunately at some point Pamac became unresponsive and crashed without finishing the installation. Not good, but then I checked again and found a different VLC version in the “featured” section and tried that. With all the dependencies it was a large 740 MB download. When it finished I was prompted to restart the system which reminded me of old Windows times. I am pleased to report though that this time the installation was successful. Next I tried to install Abiword. That worked without a hitch. You can of course just use the command line with Pacman to do your software installations.
Day to Day Use
While I really like the overall look and feel, the system is not very user friendly. Remember, this is a hobby project originally aimed for the personal use of it’s developer. Many things will take a while to figure out. The way to connect to the WiFi network is a good example. It is mentioned in the short manual available in the live session but not later in the installed system. To connect, you’ll need to open the Network Connections configuration tool. Manually enter the name of your WiFi network, choose the correct encryption protocol (e.g. WPA2) and enter your password. Once done, the system will connect automatically
but unfortunately there is no reassuring indication anywhere on the desktop of the successful connection. (Edit: We do get an icon on the Polybar!). It works fine, though, and I have learned another tiny Linux lesson. Another issue to bear in mind are the display settings. If you want to use the system on a laptop that connects to a dock with an external screen, you will need to configure the screens manually each time you dock. The desktop wallpapers I found quite nice but they keep changing even when that option is disabled by the user! On the other hand, this is an Arch based distro and a geeky one at that. So in that context it is user friendly after all. Arch based distros are all rolling systems so if you keep doing your system updates regularly, you’ll have a system that is always current and never needs to be reinstalled. That is the theory at least. If things do break and they probably will at some point, it could get a bit messy.
Love it! The combination of Polybar with Tint2 and an Openbox style menu appeal to me a lot. Always had a soft spot for Crunchbang and its successors. The Polybar is something I will look into further. It can look really sleek. The theming here is also spot on. All in all I’d say the developer has given us a great system to play around with. Would I consider it as my main system? I’d love to but shouldn’t and won’t. I’m sadly not courageous enough.
Want to see it in action? Check out Tyler’s Tech YouTube video. Although he didn’t discover the right click on desktop menu, he does show us some other interesting aspects of the distro.
If anyone else tried it out, please give us some feed back in the comments section below.