We review XeroLinux – Linux distribution which is a fusion of Arch Linux, KDE Plasma and Latte Dock. Have a look.
If you love KDE Plasma (I know you do, we all do!) and Arch Linux – both; then this might be the Linux distribution you are looking for. XeroLinux is an animated eye-candy Arch-based Linux distribution which comes with pre-configured KDE Plasma desktop. This distribution mostly for those who likes eye-candy desktop with the latest packages+KDE Plasma but do not want to re-configure Plasma desktop. XeroLinux primarily uses a pre-configured Latte dock with Kvantum to give the desktop a distinct look.
XeroLinux – Review
Installation and Options
The .ISO of this distribution can be downloaded from SourceForge, and it comes with two variants. A “Main” version and a “Core” version. The “Main” version is the usual version. And the “Core” is a stripped down version with only essential packages. Main .iso is 2.4 GB and Core .iso is 2.3 GB. This review uses the Main version of XeroLinux.
XeroLinux uses Calamares installer. One of the selling point of the creator is, the options you get to choose in terms of Kernel, NVIDIA drivers, packages and everything before Installation. And all those will be fetched via internet during installation. SO, you get complete control to select packages by the installer.
Rest of the installation are same as other Arch based distributions which uses Calamares.
I tried this distribution in a physical system (i3, 4 GB RAM, SSD) for this review. The installation took around 15 minutes for basic packages. Considering I have not chosen any additional apps or packages, it seems a little longer than expected.
The installer detected the location, region properly. Installation went smooth, no surprises. The GRUB is intact in the test triple boot system.
Things that Set this distribution apart from others
The first thing you should notice its pre-configured KDE Plasma desktop with latte dock at the top and bottom. This distro doesn’t use any native KDE panels. The latte docs are well customized. At the top panel, the KDE Application menu, date-time, and system tray is present. System tray is preloaded with data transfer, system monitor, display configuration and other options (which you generally find at the bottom panel of a standard Plasma desktop).
At the bottom, you get the standard Latte Dock with default application icons. One of the cool option is the workspace view at the right and open application icons are separated from the default dock launchers.
The Latte dock can be further customized with transparency and other changes. XeroLinux uses Kvantum Themes for windows, widgets to give it a distinct look.
Apart from KDE Applications, some additional apps are preloaded as per default installations. You get Thunar file manager alongside Dolphin. For Software management, you get pamac. Other applications which are preloaded:
- Vivaldi Web Browser (Firefox is not included by default)
- SSH and VNC Sever
- Development tools such as CMake
However, LibreOffice, advanced photo editors (e.g. GIMP) or any media player is not included. However, you can get those installed by a single command anytime you want.
It uses ZSH as shell for Konsole.
Being an eye-candy desktop, the performance is impressive as per my opinion. Most of the RAM and CPU is used by Latte Docks and KWin. During idle state, it uses around 35% RAM, 5 to 10% CPU and default installation size is around 10 GB.
This Linux distribution requires modern hardware, for sure. If you use it in a less than 6 to 7 years old hardware, then you can not be productive. It should run better with 8 GB RAM, i7/similar and above CPU generations.
Things that didn’t go right
During my test, there are a couple of issues I faced. The Calamares installer crashed twice – not sure why, from the LIVE installer. It became non-responsive in GNOME Boxes as a virtual machine. So, could not install in a VM.
The Wi-Fi failed to connect a couple of times. This is probably due to my system’s old Broadcom chip/ and issues with KDE’s own older issues. But after a restart it worked.
Verdict and Closing Notes
So, overall I think it is a good distro – being a very new one. After reviewing couple of Arch based distro earlier such as Hefftor Linux, etc – I would say, XeroLinux gives a new look to KDE Plasma on the Arch base. If this project receives proper community support, contributions and a stable user base, – it can easily compete with other Arch based distributions. One of the important aspect is the team only focuses on one desktop environment that is KDE. Hence, the time, effort and focus goes to perfecting only one DE i.e. KDE.
I would not recommend using it as daily driver, yet. But if you are curious and want to have a nice looking KDE+Arch combo – then give it a try.