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Emmabuntüs – A Distro Tailor-made For Refurbished Computers

emma-thumbnailJust like its idiosyncratic name, if you look past the minor peculiarities of Emmabuntüs, you’ll locate a well put together distro that’ll even interest users beyond its intended member list.

In fact, it’s unfair to consider the distro in isolation. It’s portion of a much broader ecosystem and it should be evaluated because context. The distro was created to ship with reconditioned computers assembled by humanitarian organizations from donated pieces of hardware. It owes its name to the French Emmaus charitable movement.

Due to this particular, one of the main goals of the distro is always to run on minimal hardware. In fact a computer with a single.4 GHz processor and simply 512 MB RAM perseverence the distro.

At one time as being lightweight, the distro must also be attractive enough to interest users and intuitive enough to allow them to use it easily. The distro developers also were required to take under consideration the fact that a majority from the recipients of these refurbished machines would not have access towards the Internet.

Emmabuntüs install

When you take all this under consideration, you’ll understand why the distro weighs in more than 3GB and requirements 15GB of hard drive space to put in, why it's every popular open source app there's, why it offers proprietary codecs and apps, and it has a fancy dock on top with the lightweight Xfce desktop.

In fact, the everything-including-the-kitchen-sink method of software on top from the Xfce desktop works wonderfully well. On our test machine that have a 1.4Ghz Celeron processor and 2GB of RAM, the distro performed smoothly without any hiccups.

However because of the size in the Live image, the distro takes quite a while to boot up. Running the Live distro by using an older computer like our test machine is not going to give you a very pleasant experience.

In contrast to the 20 minute installs of modern distros, installing Emmabuntüs involved almost 2 hours. But not only was the system very responsive post-installation, it turned out chock-full of apps.

Emmabuntüs desktop

One from the first things you’ll notice regarding the distro are it's very easy to follow menus for installing proprietary add-ons. Despite being obviously published by someone whose primary language isn’t English, the menus execute a nice job of educating users about non-free software.

You are greeted by three dialog boxes when you first log in the new installation. The first asks you to select one variant from the Cairo-Dock to show off. It offers three choices: the default “Simple” version for brand spanking new Linux users, a “Kids” version for children and a “Full” version for experienced Linux users.

Emmabuntüs prop

This is then the proprietary software dialog box, which first briefly explains software licensing and then shows a summary of proprietary apps and codecs. The best thing is that almost all of the apps and codecs are bundled combined with distro and don’t need an Internet connection for installation.

Once the non-free components are actually installed, the final dialog box lets you remove the language packs that you don’t require. By default, the distro installs support to the French, English, Spanish, Italian, German, Portuguese and Arabic languages.

Emmabuntüs dock

The distro is made on top of the rock solid Xubuntu 12.04 LTS release. The only core component with the desktop the distro has added will be the Cairo-Dock. In the apps department, the distro has over 60 apps including some popular proprietary ones for example Skype, Dropbox, TeamViewer, while others.

The distros’ two web browsers, Firefox and Chromium, ship with a lot of plugins to bar ads which will help prevent phishing attacks. This helps result in the distro suited to young users who’ll also relish the plethora of educational apps and games, like the OOo4Kids office suite for youngsters.

Emmabuntüs kids

There’s also LibreOffice for your grown ups. Along with several popular multimedia tools including VLC media player, Gnome Mplayer, OpenShot Video Editor, RecordMyDesktop screencasting app, K3B for burning optical media, and image viewers and editors like GIMP, Fotoxx, Picasa, and Hugin photo stitcher.

Power users will appreciate the a lot of utilities packed within the distro for example Boot Repair, BootUp-Manager, OSUninstaller, Ubuntu Tweak, UnetBootIn, VirtualBox, and an ndiswrapper front-end for installing Windows wireless drivers. There’s also Wine and PlayOnLinux for installing Windows software and games.

The desktop is clean and only features a link to a folder which has a variety of media, a few of which is in French. For example, there’s the French-version of IBM’s “The Future is Open” advertisement, the Linux Foundation’s video celebrating 2 decades of Linux in English, in addition to French and English versions of Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” ebook, plus some CC-licensed music by French musicians.

All said and done, Emmabuntüs will dazzle you but only if you don’t compare it with all the popular regular desktop distros like Ubuntu and Fedora. The distro isn’t simply a random range of Linux and proprietary apps, but rather a purposeful assembly in the right components to cater towards the largest number of individuals.

Image credit: Nic McPhee

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