For the majority of people, the word Linux means a complex and difficult operating system but today I will tell you about a simple form of Linux the Cutefish OS. After using this distribution for the first time I can say that it’s one of the easy Linux distributions I have tried in a long time.
Cutefish OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution that is supposed to take simplicity in mind and design-wise it’s one of the best desktops ever. Although it’s highly influenced by mac OS in terms of design and icon packs but still in usability and overall user experience is great.
Cutefish OS is right now on the beta version and there are no official statements from the creators about when they’re able to launch a Full-fledged Operating system. After using the beta version I’m very optimistic that we are having a great-looking OS without the hassle of Linux.
I don’t find the creator of Cutefish OS but after doing a bit of research I found a name called “Maksym Titenko” under the name the official website is registered. They have the necessary permission from Linux and the Website also mentioned ‘CutefishOS is a Trademark of the CutefishOS Team’ so I’m assuming a dedicated team actively working on this project.
The Cutefish OS is based on Debian and Ubuntu as a flavor but built upon the Qt Quick, QML, and C++ ( Computing language to develop applications and software). Those who know coding can easily find their work available on Github and the Sourceforge platform.
Github and Sourceforge are code hosting platforms for version control and collaboration and they offer a centralized online location to control and manage open-source software projects and research business software. Anyone who has basic knowledge about coding can build and contribute easily to these platforms and share their excellence with the whole world. To know more check out these sites sourceforge.net – github.com.
I’ve installed the beta version of Cutefish and the way it feels has left me very impressed. the idea behind this project is to provide a high-quality interface for Linux newcomers that is easy to navigate, and equipped with all the tools needed for everyday usage but leaves out the complex things which might overwhelm the users.
So in this article let’s take a closer look at Cutefish OS and the positive and negative things about this beta version…
Hardware Requirements to install Cutefish OS:
The minimum requirements to install Cutefish OS in your system are as follows.
- Memory – recommended 4GB. (Although I’m able to run the OS with just 2GB RAM)
- A recent Intel or AMD 64-bit CPU
- For installation on a physical machine, use a USB drive, CD, or DVD.
- internal Storage – up to 20 GB. (Hard drive or SSD)
Note: to run Cutefish OS flawlessly without any delay we recommend you should use at least 4GB of RAM, an Intel i3 or AMD new-gen processor, and an SSD minimum of 32GB.
Current Version for Download:
As I mentioned earlier Cutefish is under development so right now if you want to try it they are providing you with a beta version which works perfectly for me.
But if you’re first time switching on to Linux you must try it on your secondary device as there are some occasional glitches and some applications may or may not work for you.
There is two beta version available right now.
Additionally, if you’re a developer or have some knowledge about playing with the codes or want to experiment then a developer version is also available.
Features of Cutefish OS:
The first thing you notice when you power on the system is the beautiful clean user interface and it’s called the Citefish Desktop environment which is created to give users a visual treat. The soft tone colors and slightly rounded icons are the keys to this UI.
Developers are using the Open-Source Linux kernel and the whole OS is built upon Ubuntu using the QT framework and KDE Plasma 5 So, so it is more like a KDE-based distro instead of a GNOME-based distro.
CutefishOS is a more Mac-like Linux distro with a “dock+dashboard” style instead of menus with the intent to keep things very functional but as simple as possible.
Along with a powerful base system, we have a stable kernel, an Ubuntu-based repository for necessary applications and support, a fully functional Control center, a File manager, and lots more.
As of writing this, the desktop is also in an early stage of development. Hence, you may not get all the features you expect from a Desktop Environment and its native applications.
Having said that, let’s take a look at the features as a whole and what it’s aspiring to be…
Cutefish Desktop Environment:
Cutefish Desktop Environment consists of the Desktop Environment, Window Manager, Control Center, Launcher, and Dock. It’s a modern-looking elegant desktop environment giving a different taste of the desktop experience.
The desktop looks heavily inspired by mac os and there’s no attempt to hide it, we get a similar theme and icon pack here and in my opinion, that’s completely fine.
If a user interface has proved itself to be very intuitive and user-friendly taking inspiration from something that looks good is fine. Taking inspiration from it will only enhance user-friendliness.
We get a polished bottom dock which is the central control element of this desktop almost everything is controlled from right here the icons here are fully configurable. The way it looks and functions are cool.
At the top right corner, we get a minimal panel that has controls for volume wi-fi and a few other things in a sleek tray that looks so modern and is very convenient in some cases. I like the design of this tray it’s very easy and contemporary.
The notification popups have a well-defined section with rounded corners. There are preloaded input, volume controls, time (no date!), and shortcuts for Wi-Fi, Dark Mode toggle options at the system tray.
The menu bar of the running application appears in this top panel, this is something I enjoyed in the old Unity desktop of Ubuntu and this is a huge space saver. Menas you have more screen space and the applications run uniformly and the integration is done perfectly.
One of the fresh changes you can notice immediately in Cutefish Desktop is a set of Wonderful light theme wallpapers looks refreshing. The color combination maybe reminds you of Mac but the first-time user likes the environment here.
The desktop is customizable with a dark theme and various accent colors. All the setups there is uniformity across the system and all the apps even additionally installed ones look good.
However, there are no workspaces at the moment. The application menu is extensive, it has four rows of applications with a search bar at the top. The bottom dock doesn’t go away when you open the application menu.
Overall in the looks department, it feels premium. The system has that touch of excellence in the theming, the icon pack choice, blur, and gloss effect, all are crafted beautifully and I have a wonderful time using the Cutefish OS.
Home Grown Applications with Global Menu:
The Cutefish team gave us a nice and clean file manager which acts perfectly. File Manager consists of a decent file management system that allows users to manage their files elegantly.
The interesting part is this file manager and other applications are you get a built-in global menu which is very rare in Linux distribution. Most top-class distributions do not offer this functionality.
Unity desktop has this feature built-in but due to the other complexity, a new user or average Linux user may prefer this Cutefish distribution over those.
The global Menu is well implemented in preloaded applications such as file manager, GEdit, Terminal, and Gnome Photo Viewer. But some apps like Libreoffice don’t provide you that functionality as of now.
Overall the file manager, Calculator, and a glossy terminal with a blur turned on are very functional and all the sections are easily accessible whether you search, navigate or copy anything using the GUI tools.
The Settings and Control Center:
The settings app here deserves a special mention as the Cutefish desktop offers a very limited set of switches and options when compared to the original KDE plasma-desktop. For most things some defaults are selected and there is no option to change them.
Only the very important things that matter most to Linux newcomers are provided in this settings app, this makes sure people new to Linux are not overwhelmed by the choice and control in Linux. Cutefish desktop maintains simplicity everywhere everything here is very beginner-friendly and easy to use.
No doubt where every other distribution today tried to bring additional options and features Cutefish is taken a different approach altogether. They want to let the user navigate the system and get what he wants very quickly while avoiding those exhaustive options.
Building using KDE plasma 5 and at the same time simplifying the whole process is a great challenge. That’s because KDE plasma is very powerful advanced, and configurable to a high degree but the same things can make a user the interface is very complex for newcomers.
And Cutefish will be something that efficiently solves this issue while still not compromising on functionality. The Older Settings menu is also enriched with a new more detailed Control Center, now in the 0.8 Beta version, you can access more sections under one roof.
Control Center is very polished and with minimal options available in each category. You can access the network, Appearance, and system section from the left pane, and each category is divided by other subcategories for a specific selection.
In-Network & connection you can access the WLAN, Ethernet, Bluetooth, and any proxy network according to your preference. Display & appearance lets you change the theme, wallpaper, Ancient color, Fonts, Background, and dock.
Under the System section, you have all the other pieces of stuff like User, Notification, Sound, mouse, Date & time, Default Applications, Language, Power, and About.
Finally, we can say with the Control center It’s easier for users to access and control different aspects of the system. From system configuration, and user accounts management to customization, you get all in the single dash.
Ubuntu Software’s are available:
One of the most important things about any operating system is what are the Softwares it provides and in this section Cutefish again takes a very minimalistic approach. Till now they are not provided any Full-fledged store and some basic applications are preinstalled with the OS.
The Cutefish store right now provides very few applications like in the Office category, and you’ll only find two listings: ONLYOFFICE and Xournal++. Although I think it’s not a big issue for a newcomer’s first time using Linux advanced users might find it not appropriate.
The good news is there are other ways to install packages. If you have some idea how to install packages in Linux then you can install the .deb packages here. If you don’t know then you have to google it but here I share a simple step-by-step process, hope it gives you some idea.
If you need a specific application download the .deb installation file> Open the file manager and navigate to the directory housing the newly-downloaded file> Open the Package Installer> Drag the deb file into the Package Installer> now click Install> Done.
Right now it’s running the beta and I’m pretty sure they provide a much simpler window or mac like App store in the future with the final release.
The positive side is that Cutefish OS has the privilege to use the Ubuntu Repositories and those mirrors that are spread worldwide. Hence, you get a faster, easier, and more stable up-to-date system in the future.
The CutefishOS team ensures that the CDE packages from the upstream (Linux Cutefish Repository) also will be distributing the current immense CDE via Over-The-Air (OTA) update.
Should you give it a try now?
First of all in my opinion Yes you should consider Cutefish OS if you are bored with your current system and have the mindset to try new things. After a while, I found it extremely refreshing to use it although it has some glitches and limitations.
But for a beta version, what Cutefish offers is commendable and the biggest USP here is they keep everything simple. There are much more advanced Linux distributions available in the market but a newcomer who just switched from Windows or mac found it very handy.
Performance-wise it’s good too, It uses the SDDM display manager and KWin window manager and the overall performance is very fast and responsive. Right now in this beta version, I did notice some minor glitches in rendering here and there which are quite common in beta releases but I expect a fluid smooth performance in the stable release.
Although I must tell you if you’re a Linux professional you might find many things missing right now like –
Workspaces or multiple desktops, integration with QT or GTK Themes, tabs and Native file compression in the File manager, A Calendar app and Date in the system tray, A proper Software Center, Application installer from Ubuntu or Debian, Flatpak or Snap Support, etc.
Finally, as I said earlier Cutefish desktop is still in the beta stage means this is not yet ready for general usage and testing purposes only. So I suggest you don’t install this on your main machine as you encounter some issues here and there.
I must appreciate the vision of the makers who want to build something that encourages new users to try the Linux system more. In my experience, Cutefish will be the first Linux desktop interface where even the newest new Linux users will not need to google anything to get around.