Nitrux 2.0 Review: Stunning Distro with a Few Rough Edges

4 min


Here is the review of Nitrux 2.0 in terms of performance stability and our insights into whether you can use it for your daily driver.

Nitrux 2.0 + Desktop
Nitrux 2.0 + Desktop

Nitrux Linux is based on Debian that features a modified version of KDE Plasma desktop called NX Desktop. This unique Linux distribution brings its own set of Nitrux applications built upon Maui kit and Qt. Nitrux is systemd-free and uses OpenRC as an init system. With all these unique features and stunning looks, it is one of the best Linux distributions today.

Nitrux team released its major version 2.0 on February 2022 and the first point release recently. So, we feel it’s a good time to feature a review of this beautiful desktop.

Nitrux 2.0 Application View
Nitrux 2.0 Application View

Nitrux 2.0 Review

Installation

Nitrux uses a modified version of the Calamares installer. The ISO of this operating system contains the LIVE desktop from where you can access the shortcut to install the operating system. The boot options include additional. nomodset Kernel boot option as well.

The installation went smooth for the virtual machine test, but it failed in actual hardware that was a little older with NVIDIA 340. So, if you are planning to install newer hardware, you should be fine.

First Look and Desktop

In terms of looks, Nitrux is arguably coming with all the excellent looking distributions today, such as Deepin Cutefish OS. They all bring out of the box customization for the users and Nitrux OS. But the advantage of Nitrux is the fantastic combination of KDE Plasma, Plasmoid, Kvuntum themes with Maui Kit based components.

When you first look at it, it looks nice and well organized with the bottom pre-configured Latte dock and the friendly and clean top bar.

Based on KDE Plasma, you can easily change the look and feel and toggle between dark and light mode via settings. The default font Fire Sans makes it a perfectly designed desktop overall.

This version features the KDE Plasma 5.24+, KDE Framework version 5.91 and xanmod Kernel 5.16.

No complaints on the first impression, so far.

Login and Shell

A little while back, the team introduced the Maui Shell – a convergent desktop featuring Cask, the Shell layer. This is the first version of this experiential Shell for the user to check out via the login window.

But the only thing that bothers me is that Cask (which is still experimental) is made as to the default login session. Those who know would change it to Plasma, but those who don’t, are in for a surprise!

Login sessions with Cask
Login sessions with Cask

Applications

The Nitrux uses the AppImage format for application distribution. Most of the applications that are pre-installed are AppImages. And they are well integrated with the overall desktop in terms of notification installation. Nitrux also detects the externally downloaded AppImages in your Downloads folder for installation.

By default, the following native Maui applications are pre-installed.

  • Index File Manager
  • Station Terminal
  • Pix Image Viewer
  • Nota text editor
  • Nitro Share
  • NX Software Center

Firefox and LibreOffice are also pre-installed for basic needs. However, you need to install additional applications via NX Software Center as per your workflow needs.

A little caution on the Firefox and updating Nitrux. There are some reports that Firefox is removed after the basic system update. Before you hit upgrade, make sure you check the files changes with apt get --upgradable via the terminal.

Performance and Resource Consumption

I could not get it installed on a physical machine. Hence the performance mentioned below is measured under virt-manager virtual manager.

In an idle state, it uses around 1 GB of memory and the CPU is at 9% to 10%. The KWin window manager and Latte dock consume most of the resources at the bottom.

Nitrux 2.0 system performance in idle state
Nitrux 2.0 system performance in idle state

It’s time to run it through some heavy workload. That includes one instance of text editor, LibreOffice, File manager, image viewer and Firefox with five tabs with one tab is playing one YouTube video.

You can see the spike in resource usage in the below image. At this state, it uses close to 2 GB of RAM, and the CPU is at 26%. And as usual, Firefox is consuming most of the resources.

Nitrux 2.0 system performance in heavy workload state
Nitrux 2.0 system performance in heavy workload state

I would say performance-wise, its performance is fair. Because of the out-of-the-box customizations, Latte Doc and Kvuntum themes do take some resources. And this metric is higher than the basic KDE Plasma installation in idle and heavy states.

Summary of things that did not go right

Unfortunately, a couple of things during my test did not go right with the Nitrux 2.0.

  • After an hour of trying to install it in my older system with i3+SSD+4gb+NVIDIA+Broadcom – I could not get the Calamares to start the installation.
  • The Wifi is not detected in the LIVE session. However, it gets detected in all the distributions I tested in this device up until now.
  • KWin crashed at the beginning of the LIVE session.
  • The Calamares installation Next button is disabled due to an internet connection. That is a little strange to me.
  • And the minimal install ISO also give plymouth failed to start #17 error.

Then I found the known issues section here, where some are mentioned. I am sure this is related to the Linux Kernel 5.16 xanmod1 Kernel. The mainline Kernel would have been fine in this use case.

In the virtual machine environment, the experimental Maui Shell is not usable. The clicks and touches mostly don’t work. But that is understandable, considering it’s a testing version.

But I feel the Calamares installer errors need to be tested more before the next release.

Download Nitrux 2.0 +

You can download the latest version from the below link.

Closing Notes

If you love KDE Plasma and don’t want to customize it to look more beautiful, you can choose Nitrux 2.0. Also, many users prefer the Debian-like stability without systems. Well, for them it is a perfect choice.

But there are a few bugs for which I would not recommend this Distribution to the absolute new users. If you are a little familiar with Linux in general and know how to fix minor issues with command, line – then it’s perfect for you. And you can use Nitrux 2.0 as your daily driver. Just be cautious about the Debian unstable packages that occasionally break things after updates.

Cheers.


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Arindam

Creator of debugpoint.com. All time Linux user and open-source supporter. Connect with me via Telegram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or send us an email.
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