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moonOS 3 Review, Screenshots, Video

September 10, 2009 42 comments

moonOS 3.0 DesktopmoonOS is another fantastic looking distro that has always put a lot of stock in appearance. Based on Ubuntu 9.04 Januty Jackalope and codenamed “Makara”, the moonOS 3.0 release is no exception with plenty of improvements to moonControl, the moonOS system control center, moonGrub, moonSoftware, and more. Along with many interface improvements moonOS 3.0 uses the Linux 2.6.28-15 kernel, Firefox 3.5, Pidgin 2.6 and Xorg 7.4.

I decided to give moonOS a try and see how it would stand up to some basic daily tasks.

Live CD:
Because moonOS runs as a live CD I was able to test out the distro before installing it. Right away I think almost anyone will notice the speed of the moonOS live CD. It takes no time to get into the desktop and once you’re there the navigation is not sluggish at all. I was especially impressed with the snappiness of the large icon animation. The quick speed of this distro says a lot if you consider the amount of eye candy included with moonOS.

Installation
The moonOS installation differed from the Ubuntu installer very little other than having the green color scheme applied, which looked great. In reviews of moonOS 2.0 I had read that it was painfully slow to install taking over an hour on average. I think this has been improved as installation took 30 minutes on my machine. An estimated time of completion shows underneath the installation progress bar. This was helpful at first but wasn’t as accurate as I had hoped. My installation seemed to hang at 95% when the installer said “installing language packs”. I clicked on the skip button underneath the progress bar and the install finished almost immediately. Other than that one potential hiccup the install went flawlessly.

Appearance
A lot of Linux distro desktops look good in screenshots, but it usually doesn’t take long to notice something that isn’t working smoothly or doesn’t quit fit right. This is really what I expected with the appearance of moonOS however what I found was quite the opposite.

By default the splash screen, login window, and desktop all are themed with a leafy blend of green and yellow. The menu is a dark green color with lighter green rollover and shadowed white text that pops out nicely. The menu rollover is animated nicely as well and only looks as good as it does because there’s no lag what-so-ever. This is the same for the large icon strip the shoots down the right side. Default icons include (top to bottom) GIMP, Thunderbird, Writer(called “OpenOffice Word” here), Pidgin, Exaile, Synaptic, Terminal, Thunar, and a Calendar icon.

In the top are a few more icons that allow the user to access the home and root folder and “see file on desktop” option along with some system stats. These icons were equally useful and it made sense they’d be separated from the icon bar on the right.

Functionality
After noticing how quick and elegant this distro was ending up I was hoping it could perform some of my daily tasks so that I could possibly make this install permanent and use moonOS to actually get something done. I noted a few things I must have on a day to day basis and tried to find a solution on moonOS right out of its box..

Network Connection – Almost all my activities require being connected to the internet. I was relieved when moonOS picked up my wired connection automatically.

Browsing The Web - I love using Firefox mostly because of the extensions and add-ons I use. moonOS offers Firefox so i’m happy.

Graphic Editing – This was obvious for me. GIMP is included by default on moonOS and has served as my Photoshop replacement now that I run Linux.

Listening To Music – I had not used Exhaile before testing it but after a 30 minute overview I found no problems using it. The tabbed interface in the top left corner of Exhaile along with features like Album Art Collector and plugin options have made me consider using it on my primary machine with or without moonOS.

Text Editing – The OpenOffice suite has you covered for larger projects while you can open gedit under Applications — Accessories — Text Editor for a lightweight option. These are more than enough for stuff I do.

moonOS 3.0 moonSoftwareAdding Software – After looking into adding packages to moonOS i discovered it uses a tool unique to the distro called moonSoftware. After selecting it in the menu I saw a message stating that I needed to download the data package before I could use moonSoftware. I agreed and watched moonOS download and install the single package. After it was finished I saw another message confirming its’ success. Then up came the moonSoftware window. This useful interface features the same functionality as other graphical package managers and also displays a screenshot of the application selected which I found to be a nice touch.

moonControl – I also checked out moonControl which serves as the moonOS main control panel. This interface includes a box in the top right that holds groups Look and Feel, Internet and Network, Hardware, System, and Other. When a group is selected, options for the group show up on the left side of the window. moonControl worked just fine for me and helped me find a lot of things without hunting around the desktop and menu for them.
These are just a few things moonOS can help you do. Much more is available right out of the box. Download it here.

TIP: Get help using moonOS in the XChat IRC chat room. Left Click — Applications — Internet — XChat IRC

moonOS may not take over as my primary operating system but it does have many features out of the box that I wish my Ubuntu setup had. What do you think of moonOS?
See official moonOS release notes.


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