Bluestar Linux is an Arch based Linux distro powered by the KDE desktop. The developers seek to provide up to date packages and a host of desktop and multimedia apps out of the box. The aim of the distro is to provide a solid operating system that provides a wide range of functionality and ease of use without sacrificing beauty and aesthetics.
Bluestar is available in three editions, desktop, Deskpro and developer options. Bluestar can be installed directly on a desktop or laptop or it can be run as a live disc straight from USB as it supports the addition of persistent storage for those who prefer a very flexible setup. Bluestar also provides and maintains a software repo in order to provide a permanent solution.
Bluestar is hosted and available for download via their Sourceforge page here. The ISO I downloaded came in at a huge 1.6GB and this is typical with most Linux distros that pack some software. To install Bluestar, you first have to burn it to a disc or make a bootable USB thumb drive and boot from it. You may only install Bluestar from the live desktop mode and I find that a little strange. This is the first distro that forces live mode.
So upon boot up, you will be presented with a very interesting take on the KDE desktop environment but more on that later. To install Bluestar, you have to go to the application launcher which is hidden at the top center and only available via a mouse over. Type Bluestar Linux installer into the application launcher to get to the installer. Once again, I am surprised that there is no shortcut to the installer on the desktop or on the dock below.
The installer is a Calamares based so the experience is streamlined and quite straightforward. You will be required to set up the usual like your keyboard, partitions, and user accounts with password. One interesting thing I noticed is that you get to choose your preferred desktop during installation under ‘Dock Preferences’. There are Cairo and Latte (default on live mode) options. There is also an option to select your preferred Bluestar installation mode. There are Base, Lite, Desktop, Deskpro and Developer modes to provide for options such as just the arch base to a full blown developers system. My installation to about 15 minutes on virtual box and thought this isn’t too long, I got worried for a while as it spent about half the time on 20 percent installation.
Ok, so as I mentioned earlier, Bluestar provides a very different take on the KDE desktop and it is something that I happen to like quite a lot. There is the usual KDE splash screen.
Then you have a clean desktop with 2 widgets available by default. First is the Home folder to provide you quick access to your personal documents. Then there is a hard drive usage widget also available. There is a very nice looking dock at the bottom of the desktop. The default dock on the live desktop is a Latte dock and it is pretty to the core. You can also choose to use Cairo dock instead.
Then there is that “accessible on hover” panel at the top. I don’ t know why they choose to make this panel hidden by default as it took me a few minutes to figure it out that it was even there, especially considering that the application launcher is there. Upon discovery, it remains a cool concept though, the placement, not so much.The application launcher being transparent also does not help. Just look at the mess in the image below. The panel also hosts the time, a simple calculator app, a system resource usage app on the left. On the right, there is a notifications icon, removable media, system updates, network and volume icons.
The time out screen looks ok and it is typical of KDE desktops.
The logout/shutdown screen is neat but I believe it can be very messy if you have a busy background picture.
What is KDE without customization? Bluestar delivers as you would expect from every good KDE desktop. You can customize the overall look and feel with some curated options that will change the entire workspace including the plasma theme, mouse cursor, splash screen and lock screen or you can handle any of this on an individual level.
Bluestar is an Arch based distro but certainly, not one Arch lovers would love. Bluestar takes the hassle of setting up Arch away by providing a very interesting distro that has Arch as the cornerstone. For KDE lovers I am not quite sure how most will receive this. I have seen a few users impressed with Bluestar’s take but I believe there are going to be at least a few who are going to have some questions. All in all, Bluestar is a really nice distro and you if you love Arch and/or KDE, you should definitely check it out. Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below this article.
Mohd Sohail is a web developer and a Linux sysAdmin. He also loves to write how-to articles, applications reviews and loves to use new Linux distributions.