BlankOn is an Ubuntu-based distribution developed by the Indonesian Linux Mover Foundation and BlankOn developer team.
A few days ago the development team of BlankOn released the new version 8.0, that features their own desktop shell for Gnome 3 called Manokwari. That sounds interesting but is it really? Let’s find out!
BlankOn is an Ubuntu based distribution and that means it carries all the good and bad of Canonical’s product. It is very easy to install and use, and comes in DVD or CD, 64 or 32 bit.
I tested the DVD version of BlankOn which offers many pre-installed applications in various sectors like LibreOffice 3.5 for office needs and Chromium 21 to browse the web, and I can generally say that the selection of pre-installed packages is quite good and in some cases you may find things that most people won’t ever need, like blender for example.
There is no Ubuntu Software Center available, but you can search and install anything using the Synaptic package manager. GDebi is also present for installing .deb packages, while the updates are done by Ubuntu’s update manager.
The language support is all that matters on this kind of distributions though and as you would expect from BlankOn it supports all six languages used in Indonesia and English for the rest of the world.
The Manokwari is the Gnome 3 shell that BlankOn 8.0 uses. It features combined GTK+ and HTML5 frontend with the aiming of being 100% HTML5 in the future. Manokwari is an evolution from a shell called Blank-On panel.
The applications menu can be launched by clicking on the top left. It looks beautiful and its animations are smooth enough to give a modern system feeling. From here you can also access the File Manager by pressing “Locations”.
What I didn’t like about it is the inability to search for an application by typing. This can be very time-wasting and completely anachronistic for the users of Gnome-Shell.
On the top panel you will find the menu launcher, the keyboard layout changer, the volume settings, the date and time, and a workspace switcher on the right. When a window is minimized though, the top panel is the place to go creating a small icon.
When you hover your mouse cursor over the minimized application icons on the top panel, a new transparent pop-up element appears providing a closer look. To tell you the truth, I didn’t like this either. What it does is disorienting instead of helping and since the icons on the panel are very small, you will get frustrated when trying to find something.
The keyboard shotcuts for the screenshot and video capturing didn’t work here. I don’t know if there are any keyboard shortcuts that I can use in Manokwari, as the BlankOn tutorial is written in a language I don’t understand.
The Manokwari is a nice effort and I hope the developers will continue making it better and better, but right now it will only discomfort users and “remove” almost all the good things that Gnome Shell offers to your daily user experience.
If you speak Indonesian then you should give BlankOn a try only for the language support you will get. Even if you don’t like Manokwari, it is very simple to install Gnome Shell after all. If you don’t speak Indonesian, you’d better stay away from this distribution :)