Recently, when I recommended Mint 13 XFCE to a co-worker, he countered me with Bodhi, which he had been running successfully on an older PC. So after having ruined my Mint install by trying to upgrade to Mint 14 using apt-get (yes I know this is not supported) I decided to come back on the path to enlightenment and give Bodhi another try.
Installation went smooth (as expected on a distribution based on Ubuntu 12.04) and all hardware was working, except Nvidia ION graphis (as usual installed Bumblebee from the PPA) and my BCM4313 wireless, which would kind of freeze after some time (as described in this forum post). Remembering having issues with this under Arch, too, but not under Mint 13, I could solve the issue by going back to Kernel 3.2 (can easily be installed from the Ubuntu repos using Synaptic), which also seems to increase battery life (at least compared to Arch, I did not really test Bodhi with Kernel 3.5 in that regard).
Bodhi’s default setup is really lean, there’s just Enlightenment and some basic tools (Midori Web Browser, Leafpad, …) but can be extended individually (you have full access to the Ubuntu repos using Synaptic) or with pre-configured packages from the Bodhi App Center.
On first boot, you have the choice between different themes and layouts (Minimal, Desktop, Tablet) that all look and behave a little weird, at least if you are used to XFCE. Fortunately Enlightenment is extremely customizable, from window focus to keyboard shortcuts everything can be tweaked to your liking.
After spending a couple of hours in the extensive Settings menu, I must say I’m impressed – not only did my experiments result in a very snappy and (IMHO) good looking desktop, but the customizing options are merely unlimited. There’s a module for anything, weather, tray, battery, power management, screen saving, even a file manager, so you hardly need any other tools. One of the most inspiring modules is the “Everything” file launcher, which really simplifies my daily to a point, where I hardly need to use the menu at all.
Of course everyone has some favorite tools, so I picked pcmanfm over the included Enlightenment file manager, scite over leafpad, gpicview as image viewer, gmrun as (additional) run dialog, and VLC as mediaplayer. Nm-applet for networking and file-roller are already included.
Conclusion: Bodhi is not only an excellent showcase for Enlightenment. If you want something that “just works” out of the box, I would still recommend Mint 13 XFCE, but if you like to tweak and mess around with your desktop, Bodhi is the place to be. And if you get stuck somewhere, there is the excellent documentation and a friendly community to help you out.