Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tanglu 1.0 "Aequorea Victoria" GNOME Review: Elegant and efficient distro based on Debian

Tanglu Linux is a fresh new distro, released for the first time this year. It's first beta release came on 19th Jan 2014 and the first final release on 22nd Feb 2014. It is based on Debian and is optimized for desktop deployment, with up-to-date software, extra drivers and regular releases. Why does it interest me and many other Linux enthusiast? Though Tanglu is not an official project of Debian but it was started with some Debian developers and meant to help Debian. Debian's annoying freezes are not there in Tanglu and Debian developers are allowed to maintain their packages in Tanglu's servers during Debian freeze. A lot more interesting stuff about Tanglu can be read in the FAQ section.

From Tanglu 1.0
The distro promises to be semi-rolling release with major updates almost twice a year. In the first major release, Tanglu has two flavors: GNOME 3 and KDE.

I downloaded the 64-bit Tanglu 1.0 GNOME ISO for this review and created a live USB using Linux Mint Image Writer. I first did a live boot on my Asus K55VM laptop with 2.3 Ghz Core i7 processor, 8 GB RAM and 2 GB NVIDIA GeForce 630M graphics. Post live boot, I installed it on a 50 GB partition. Tanglu 1.0 ships with GNOME 3.10.1 desktop environment and Linux kernel 3.12.1. In rest of the article I discuss my experience with Tanglu for about a week.

Installation is pretty similar to what I saw in Linux Mint Debian edition and it is pretty simple. It took me about 10 minutes to get the distro running on my laptop and the grub accurately recognized all the three operating systems present in my laptop (now mostly Debian/Ubuntu based).

From Tanglu 1.0
Score for Installation: 10/10

Like the release name "Aequorea Victoria", I found Tanglu to be very elegant. The Tanglu default wallpaper looks pretty amazing in GNOME 3.10.1 desktop.

From Tanglu 1.0
Unfortunately, that is the only wallpaper present in Tanglu.

From Tanglu 1.0
The GNOME dash looks as usual and is still not efficient if you have a lot of applications installed. Instead of going to the fallback mode, I checked out GNOME extensions to get a nice menu along with a side dock.

From Tanglu 1.0
From Tanglu 1.0
Tanglu ships with quite a few of the important extensions pre-installed but they are not enabled by default. Once you visit the GNOME extensions site, you can enable them as per your choice.

From Tanglu 1.0
Tanglu has a graphical bootsplash with Tanglu logo and it looks professional. Further, detailing in the distro is very good and none of the packages installed or the applications which I later downloaded, looks out of sync with the distro, in terms of looks. Font rendering is pretty good. Settings, network, battery and other options are there in the exit menu.

From Tanglu 1.0
Like other GNOME distros, shortcut keys like Windows key to call the GNOME dash, hot corners, etc. all work in Tanglu pretty well.

For aesthetics, I give Tanglu a 10/10 for being professional in looks and it's original wallpaper.

Score for Aesthetics: 10/10

Hardware Recognition
Hardware recognition is top-notch and it correctly recognized my laptop's screen resolution, touch pad, WIFI, LAN, sound card, etc. Touch pad scroll was enabled but not the tap function. I had to manually enable the tap & double tap functions.

From Tanglu 1.0
Score for Hardware Recognition: 8.8/10

Pre-installed Packages
Tanglu ships with some important packages pre-installed, namely:
  • Office: LibreOffice (Calc, Draw, Impress, Writer), Document viewer
  • Internet: Empathy IM, Firefox 27.0.1, Remmina Remote Desktop
  • Graphics: Shotwell Photo Manager, Simple Scan, Screenshot, Image viewer
  • Multimedia: Rhythmbox music player, Videos
  • Accessories: Archive Manager, Calculator, Terminal, Network connection, Printer Settings, Backup, Search & Indexing, gedit, documents
Office section looks pretty complete but I miss the following applications in Tanglu:
  • Internet: a torrent downloader (transmission), a download manager (uget, etc.), a VOIP client (like Skype)
  • Graphics: a photo editor (like GIMP)
  • Others: a CD/DVD writer (like Brasero), a live USB creator, Wine, etc.
Multimedia codecs are pre-installed in Tanglu and I could play my favorite movies in Videos.

From Tanglu 1.0
However, Adobe flash plugin was not installed by default and i had to download it post installation.

From Tanglu 1.0
GNOME 3 integrated settings manager is pretty handy for fine tuning the distro, namely enabling auto-login, logging into online accounts (facebook, google+, flickr), etc.

In overall, Tanglu ships with the basic applications for regular use. You can always download the additional packages from Tanglu repositories.

Score for Pre-installed Packages: 5/10

Installing Bumblebee in Tanglu
My laptop has hybrid graphics and hence, I need bumblebee to switch off Nvidia when not required. Otherwise, the laptop heat becomes a bit unbearable. Downloading and installing bumblebee in Debian testing distros is pretty simple:
$ sudo apt-get install bumblebee-nvidia primus

Once downloaded, I added myself to the bumblebee group and did a restart
$ sudo gpasswd -a arindam bumblebee
$ sudo reboot

Once restarted, I edited the bumblebee.conf file to change "KernelDriver=nvidia" to "KernelDriver=nvidia-current". Once I restarted bumblebee, optirun worked pretty fine.
$ sudo gedit /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf
$ sudo service bumblebee restart
$ optirun glxgears

From Tanglu 1.0
Tanglu sources it's packages primarily from Debian Testing. It also takes a significant number of packages from Debian Unstable and Experimental. All these are hosted in Tanglu servers for the users to download. The sources.list file show the main, contrib and non-free as the repos enabled.
deb aequorea main contrib non-free

GNOME Software Install is the default GUI to browse and download packages. It is not as user friendly as a Ubuntu or Debian Software Center or a Apper in KDE. Experienced users will not face any challenge but new users may find it difficult.

From Tanglu 1.0
I downloaded a few packages like Chromium, Adobe flash plugin, GIMP, etc. through Software Install and it worked as expected.

Tanglu gave very good and consistent performance during my usage. The RAM consumption of Tanglu is actually lower than comparable GNOME 3 or GNOME 3 derivative distros. Tanglu consumes about 321 MB RAM & 0-5% CPU at steady state with task manager running, which is 16% lower than the average RAM consumed (380 MB) by GNOME 3 distros on the same laptop and under identical conditions.

From Tanglu 1.0
However, it took about 14% more time to boot with autologin enabled (44 seconds).

From Tanglu 1.0
In overall, I give 8/10 to Tanglu for performance - 100% for low RAM consumption and 60% score for marginally higher boot time.

Operating System (64 bit) Release Year Size of ISO (GB) Base Desktop Linux kernel CPU (%) RAM usage (MB) Size of installation (GB) Boot time (sec)
Pardus 2.0 2013 1.7 Debian Testing GNOME 3.8.4 3.10.3 0-5% 278 6.4 52
Mint Debian 201403 Mate 2014 1.4 Debian Testing Mate 1.6.1 3.11.2 0-5% 282 4.4 40
Mint Debian 201403 Cinnamon 2014 1.4 Debian Testing Cinnamon 2.0.14 3.11.2 0-5% 285 4.9 49
Mint 15 Cinnamon 2013 0.9594 Ubuntu Raring Cinnamon 1.8 3.8.0 0-5% 307 5.1 32
Mint 16 Cinnamon 2013 1.3 Ubuntu Saucy Cinnamon 2.0 3.11.0 0-5% 312 4.1 45
Ubuntu GNOME 13.04 2013 0.9878 Ubuntu Raring GNOME 3.6.3 3.8.0 0-5% 321 3.9 24
Tanglu 1.0 GNOME 2014 0.973 Debian Testing GNOME 3.10.1 3.12.1 0-5% 321 4 44
Mint 15 Mate 2013 1 Ubuntu Raring Mate 1.6.0 3.8.0 0-5% 325 4.5 30
Ubuntu GNOME 13.10 2013 0.907 Ubuntu Saucy GNOME 3.8.4 3.11.0 0-5% 335 4.1 27
Mint 16 Mate 2013 1.4 Ubuntu Saucy Mate 1.6.0 3.11.0 0-5% 355 4.5 31
Siduction 13.2.0 GNOME 2013 1 Debian Unstable GNOME 3.8.4 3.12.0 0-5% 357 3.5 53
Linux Deepin 2013 2013 1.3 Ubuntu Raring GNOME 3.8.1 (DDE) 3.8.0 0-5% 358 4.7 33
Zorin OS 7 2013 1.7 Ubuntu Raring GNOME 3.6.2 3.8.0 0-5% 364 5.6 28
Ubuntu 12.04.3 2013 0.741 Ubuntu Precise Unity 5.20.0 3.8.0 0-5% 370 3 39
Antergos 2013.11.17 2013 0.7518 Arch GNOME 3.10.1 3.12.4 0-5% 376 4.1 43
Ubuntu 13.04 2013 0.835 Ubuntu Raring Unity 7.0.0 3.8.0 0-5% 377 4 26
Gajj 0.1 Cinnamon 2014 3.7 Ubuntu Precise Cinnamon 2.0 3.11.0 0-5% 419 9.2 75
Fedora 20 GNOME 2013 0.9993 Fedora GNOME 3.8.2 3.9.5 0-10% 433 4 34
Elementary OS 0.2 2013 0.7277 Ubuntu Precise GNOME 3.6.3 3.2.0 0-5% 440 3.1 22
Zorin OS 8 2014 1.6 Ubuntu Saucy GNOME 3.8.2 3.11.0 0-5% 445 5.6 31
Ubuntu 13.10 2013 0.939 Ubuntu Saucy Unity 7.1.2 3.11.0 0-5% 466 4.4 30
ExTix 14 2013 1.5 Ubuntu Saucy GNOME 3.10.1 3.12.0 0-5% 468 4.8 33
OpenSUSE 13.1 GNOME 2013 4.4 OpenSUSE GNOME 3.10.1 3.11.6 0-5% 531 4.9 37

Considering it's first release, Tanglu is really impressive. The distro is very fluid to use, looks very elegant and offers impressive performance. Further, association of the Debian developers to the project intrigues me more. Tanglu definitely provides a more user friendly spin of Debian and is fully compatible with Debian. So, what works for Debian works here as well.

It is mostly user friendly with easy and quick installation but may need to include an easier package management tool like Debian Software Center for the Linux newbies. Anyway, experienced users don't even need Software Install, only terminal will do for them.

Otherwise, the distro is really good and worth recommending to every Linux user. It is definitely going to my collection and given that it performs really among the best in GNOME 3 spins, I am considering using it for production purposes for the next few months (typical distro hopper I am, you know!).

You can download the KDE and GNOME 32-bit and 64-bit spins of Tanglu 1.0 from here:

Overall Score: 9/10
Installation: 10/10
Aesthetics: 10/10
Hardware recognition: 8.8/10
Pre-installed Packages: 5/10
Performance: 8/10


  1. Watch out with your multimedia screens, mate, as they are far from legal (DVDScr). Don't get yourself into trouble, it ain't worth it.

    1. Good point. Thanks for noting it. I'll replace it asap.

  2. Thanks for doing this review! I'm kinda excited about this project. I've taken a look at the GNOME spin, from a flash drive (created with Unetbootin) and it looks nice here. I'm gonna wait awhile and see how things develop, maybe do a hard drive installation when the next release comes out.

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for liking my review. I really liked what I saw in Tanglu and hopefully the project will shape up good. It holds a lot of promise.

  3. Hi Arindam, Thanks for reviewing Tanglu

  4. Hi. How to install skype in Tanglu?

    1. Hi, Please visit - choose Debain 7.0 (multiarch) from "Choose your distribution". Once downloaded, double click on the file and install.

  5. it's funny because tanglu members focus on kde, and the 2 review of tanglu 1 I've seen so far are for the gnome desktop.
    good to know they delivered pretty well

    1. Yes, as you said, given the focus is on KDE, which I tried and really liked, I thought why not cover the poor cousin gnome in my review :).

  6. i had problems getting my wifi card up .. the network manager seams to be completely missing..also wifi and bluetooth was not working on my laptop , had lot of unmet dependencies couldn't install 32 bit app in 64bit tanglu aqueora kde

    1. For 32-bit application you have to install 32-bit architecture in a 64-bit OS.
      # dpkg --add-architecture i386
      # apt-get update
      These commands will install 32-bit architecture for installing programs like Skype, etc.

  7. worked a treat until i tried to install, for some reason the display settings are not compatible with my old netbook.
    cannot reduce size of window and therefore cannot go to bottom pf page to click the next button.

  8. If you get a chance, could you do a review of MX-14, the new special edition of antiX? I think that folks who are interested in Tanglu and Debian-based distros might also be interested in that one.

    1. Hi, I downloaded the MX-14 ISO but yet to install and review it. Will find sometime next week to pen a review.


  9. I'll be watching for the review. I have MX-14 on my desktop, hopefully for the long run Its metapackage installer should be good for newbs who want their standby applications and it has Synaptic, too. And it is xfce desktop. Hope Tanglu ia around for the long haul, too. It looks great in your review. Thanks.

  10. I'll be watching for the review. I have MX-14 on my desktop, hopefully for the long run Its metapackage installer should be good for newbs who want their standby applications and it has Synaptic, too. And it is xfce desktop. Hope Tanglu ia around for the long haul, too. It looks great in your review. Thanks.

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