WattOS – A Fast Energy-Saving Linux Based on Ubuntu – Review & Screenshots

WattOS Beta 3 is a lightweight Linux Distro geared towards running on less energy and for recycled or low power computers without compromising on features or performance that you’d expect from a full power system.

Their motto “Light, Fast, Now” seeks to provide a low-energy full featured Linux distro.

Beta 3 released this week, which includes a live CD version. Download the ISO file, burn the image to a CD, and reboot your PC to try a live version of WattOS before fully installing.  The Live CD Beta 3 file was 527 MB and downloaded rather quickly.

The default user for the Live CD is “guest” and the password is Blank.

Ubuntu Light With Customizations

WattOS is based on Ubuntu 8.10 with Gnome Desktop.  They claim to have remastered the OS to run quicker than standard Ubuntu and to require less memory.  Therefore, WattOS would be a good candidate for older machines that want the benefits of Ubuntu but without the bulk.

First Impressions

The Live CD boots rather quickly.  The LXDE Desktop  looks quite spartan on WattOS.  True, the download was only 527 MB, but there are some peculiar package choices, and others are missing or replaced with lesser known ones.

When running this distro, you have to keep in mind that it is still in beta.  The look and feel is fine, but there are some rough edges.


Installed Packages

They’ve clumped together browser tools and email into a Network section which includes Firefox browser and Claws Mail.  Where’s Evolution?  You’ll find Pidgin for instant messaging and Bit Torrent. There’s also a lightweight XSMBrowser.

The graphics menu includes Gimp, the Photoshop like graphics tool.  The audio and video menu includes Movie Player, Brasero, and Exaile.  The office section has Gnumeric spreadsheet and Abiword.  You can add Open Office later if you’d like, but I’ve always found Gnumeric to run faster on older machines.

Missing were some basics such as a Snapshot tool, Okular for PDF, and calculator.

WattOS vs. Xubuntu

If you are looking for a lighter Ubuntu why not try out Canonical’s official distro for lightweight machines, Xubuntu?

WattOS promises to run with lower energy requirements.  There are no tools aparent on the desktop or on the live CD that would validate the wattage output of the machine so that it could be compared with the standard Ubuntu or other Linux distros.

Gallery of Screenshots


The next important tool to be added to WattOS to change it from beta to a production-ready distro is some indication of the power savings one achieves by using this linux version.  I’d like to see some actual energy usage numbers vs. benchmarks on the desktop to determine the added-value of WattOS vs. other already established low usage distros (such as Puppy Linux, Vector Linux, and Xubuntu, to name a few).

9 thoughts on “WattOS – A Fast Energy-Saving Linux Based on Ubuntu – Review & Screenshots”

  1. I checked this one out myself, not a bad, lightweight distro, at all.

    A couple of things:

    That’s not a Gnome desktop, that’s LXDE and Openbox.

    Where’s Evolution? Well, Evolution is not exactly lightweight, whereas Claws is. You could always install Evolution from the repositories. I prefer Sylpheed, myself.

    I would have liked to see a GUI process app included, to see how much memory is being used. I would say it’s probably using less than Xubuntu, though, as LXDE is even lighter than XFCE.

  2. JWJones, Thanks for the correction, that certainly is LXDE, I had it written in my notes but typed in Gnome by mistake…

    As for email clients go, I think that’s a decision that requires a lot of thought. For many, the internet browser and email client are the most-used apps. Evolution is a standard. Claws is not. But that’s just my 2 cents.

  3. Why not try Xubuntu? Frankly, because is really doesn’t seem all that lightweight as lightweight desktops go. It seems to me that one might as well use Gnome rather than Xubuntu.

    As far as LXDE/Openbox buntu distros, my preference is u-lite
    http://u-lite.org (formerly Ubuntulite — until Canonical forced a name change.)

  4. The power management features aren’t turned on until an actual install. Wattospm (the power management gui) autodetects your hardware and the backend runs as a daemon, once you install just add your user to the power managers group and restart. There will be a small lightning bolt icon in the tray area that will alow you to configure the power saving options. I’m working on power usage statics right now, it will probably just display power consumption over time and wether you were in power saving or performance mode. If you would like to see power usage now I’ve written a conky script to display realtime power usage here http://crunchbanglinux.org/forums/topic/323/conky-power-usage-script/ Thanks for the good review.(BTW I’m the developer for wattospm)

  5. As Iggykoopa said WattOSPM requires the OS to be installed to register with the system first. It is a very useful GUI and you shouldn’t really judge the OS until you have spent a few days tweaking laptop-mode-tools with it. Then use a powerwatt in-line plug monitor and compare your systems draw with Ubuntu! I have used WattOS Beta 3 and Crunchbang Linux 9.04.01 on a few of my systems and they really do fill the gap on what a lightweight Ubuntu based OS should be, unlike the official sponsored bloated Xubuntu.

  6. Watt OS is really fast and its all needed. When one must have internet rather easy, its there and it works. This light distros is not the best because there are many features missing, compared to macpup, madbox, and so many others. Though WattOS is addictive and user friendly. The only bad thing is the desktop and themes. They suck.

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