We review XeroLinux – Linux distribution, 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 a pre-configured KDE Plasma desktop. This distribution is mainly for those who like eye-candy desktops with the latest packages+KDE Plasma but do not want to re-configure the 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, which comes with two variants. A “Main” version and a “Core” version. The “Main” version is the standard 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 points 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 the internet during installation. So, you get complete control to select packages by the installer.
The rest of the installation is the same as other Arch-based distributions which use 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 slightly longer than expected.
The installer detected the location and region properly. Installation went smooth, with 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 is a pre-configured KDE Plasma desktop with a 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 are present. The 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 options 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 Server
- 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 the shell for Konsole.
Being an eye-candy desktop, the performance is impressive, in my opinion. Most of the RAM and CPU are used by Latte Docks and KWin. During idle state, it uses around 35% RAM, and 5 to 10% CPU, and the default installation size is around 10 GB.
This Linux distribution requires modern hardware, for sure. If you use it in less than 6 to 7 years old, 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 were 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, I could not install it 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 a couple of Arch-based distros 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 critical aspects is that the team only focuses on one desktop environment, KDE. Hence, the time, effort and focus go to perfecting only one DE, i.e. KDE.
I would not recommend using it as a daily driver yet. But if you are curious and want to have a nice looking KDE+Arch combo – then give it a try.