There Can’t Be Only One
I originally was going to record and publish my development efforts with Xojo on Linux but … Xojo just worked. And it worked well. It wasn’t going to be very entertaining to watch me say “well, that worked!” over and over. I did measure a couple of key points:  what was the time it took to right click and the submenu to show up. This is a key metric on the performance of the distro.  Did the distro recognize that the screen was resized. The distro should (ideally) detect this and adjust the display accordingly. This would be if we swapped out monitors and it had a different native resolution. It is a really nice feature for a developer to be able to resize the VM window and have the desktop adjust.
Here’s a video of my current issue with performance on Ubuntu with the Unity desktop:
Take a look at my findings:
|Distro||Base||Architecture||Desktop||Machine||Xojo R+Click||VM Live Resize|
- Note: All base memory Vms are 4096 MB
- Note: All Video Memory Vms are 64 MB
- PC: memory 8088 MB
- PC: Video Memory 128 MB
Bottom line: For developing Xojo on Linux, I’m recommending Linux Mint and/or SolydK. The performance is incredible even in a virtual machine. Before you write off some of these other distributions however, let me describe some of them for you.
Elementary OS: I know a lot of Xojo developers use Macs. What distribution could you use that you would feel at home with? Perhaps try Elementary OS. You can see it looks a lot like the Mac OS X. Imitation is a sincere form of flattery. It’s not a slouch at a one second right+click menu behavior. I
didn’t did have to manually install WebKit on the distribution to get the Xojo HTMLViewer to work but once done, it worked seamlessly.
Bodhi Linux: This is a very curious Linux distribution. It uses the ultra low weight desktop called Enlightenment, and it is blazing fast. However, it’s package manager is a bit … odd. Perhaps this isn’t a good option for daily development. My son loves this distribution which is running on his Dell mini9 laptop with an atom processor. It’s not his daily computer, but one that he takes with him around the house and when travelling.
Linux Mint with XFCE: Paul Lefebvre of Xojo was singing Mint’s praises during the XDC conference. I hadn’t taken it for a spin in quite a while. It is bea-uti-ful. And fast! It works like it should and has a great repository of applications. Highly recommended.
SolydX with XFCE: (pronounced Solid+X) This is a newer distribution that is a “rolling release”. What this means is that you will never have to make a huge leap from an upgrade of one version to another. As an example, most distributions have you upgrade from Version 12 to Version 13 at some point. SolydX (and SolydK) are a rolling release that applications, desktops, etc. are tested and released continuously. This means that you get the new stuff quicker and there isn’t any nail+biting when upgrading from one version to the next. SolydX is blazing fast, solid (like it’s name!) and is a welcome addition to the list of distributions. Good on ya Solyd! Highly recommended.
SolydK with KDE: Wow. What a looker. I used to be a KDE man, but gave it up when I jumped on the Ubuntu bandwagon. Now that I’m taking it for another spin, I’m seeing what a huge leap the KDE team has made over the years. Stunningly beautiful with great effects, works great with Xojo, and is as fast as XFCE. How is that possible? I have no clue. I have fallen in love and her name is SolydK. Am I being fickle or will this love last? We’ll see but this is what I’ll be using as my development platform when developing Xojo apps for a near future.
Update with new results! Apr 10, 2014
Fedora with Gnome: Based on a request, I took Fedora for a spin and … I’m disappointed. There distro wouldn’t live resize in VirtualBos, there were some strange artifacts when moving the mouse around, and Xojo appeared to be slow with this distribution. Right+click times were 3-4 seconds. On top of that, I couldn’t get WebKit downloaded and installed using their package manager. This isn’t to say that a lighter weight distribution wouldn’t have performed better. I give lots of street cred to Fedora and its
history, but it doesn’t seem to be a leading contender for Xojo developers.
Update with new results! Apr 11, 2014
Fedora with MATE: We’re back in the game with the performance of MATE on top of Fedora 20. Speedy. You get the parity in looks with MATE as you do with Gnome 3, but you get the speed of the other desktops like KDE and XFCE. The developers have done a good job keeping their workings similar. Thumbs up for MATE and Fedora for Xojo developers.
Update with new results! Apr 15, 2014
OpenSUSE with KDE: With the love I was showing for KDE with SolydK, I felt I needed to give OpenSUSE a spin and I’m glad I did. Sub 1 second right+click performance with Xojo2014r1, and the beautiful KDE transparancy effects make for a nice development environment. Throw in the live desktop resizing when resizing the VM window and we’re on our way to a contender. The only issue I ran into is that WebKit needed to be installed before the HTMLViewer would work, but a quick visit to YAST and a checkmark and an install quickly resolved that issue. No big deal.
Update with new results! Apr 16, 2014
Mageia with KDE: Mageia is a fork of Mandriva from a couple of years ago. I was wondering if this was just going to be ‘just another Linux’. I am pleased to say that it isn’t. Sure, KDE is pretty much the same, and the underlying Linux is the same. However, I’m very pleased with the level of control of the setup during the install. I had the option to set GRUB options, how to configure the hard drive partitions, and other nice options. I appreciate that! It wasn’t overly complex, it just gave me more installation options that I think some people will really appreciate. Desktop resizing worked as expected with KDE. So, how does Xojo run on Mageia? In a word: great! Right+click performance is sub second. The HTMLViewer (based on WebKit) worked with no extra installation needed. Thumbs up.
Here I am taking SolydK for a spin:
Summary: Here’s my approach…
- Keeping with Ubuntu 64bit OS … for now. I paid for a 64bit PC and I’m going to use it, dammit!
- I’m moving my Xojo development into the SolydK 32bit distro in a VirtualBox VM. Fast and beautiful.
Do you have questions about a distribution that you didn’t see me review? Leave a comment down below.
Happy developing in Xojo you future Linux fans! Give it a try and you’ll find that just like anything, it might take just a bit more effort but the liberty of running Linux is worth it. Take care.