The Linux distribution Nitrux 2.4 is promising

Nitrux with a default panel added.

Image: Jack Wallen

UPDATE, September 7: It was brought to my attention by the developers of Nitrux that they were concerned about my experience with their distribution. With that in mind, I thought I’d give it another try. Instead of using the same ISO I had for the original post, I downloaded a newer version (my network can be a bit choppy at times) and created a new VM with the same settings than previously. This time around, the experience has been much improved, although still not perfect.

Once the new instance was installed, I rebooted and logged in. To my surprise, almost all the elements of the office were present. I had a dock (Latte dock) and a top panel. With these elements in place, the office was almost perfect. However, the only thing that seemed missing (which was also missing in the original install) were the window title bars (seemed being the key word).

The default Nitrux desktop showing Fire starts here.

This time around, Nitrux had everything but window titlebars.

Image: Jack Wallen

As you can see, neither Firefox nor the terminal window have title bars in this image. It’s actually by design. Instead of window controls themselves being in the window, they are now by default in the top bar. As you can see above, when you’re focusing on an app, the window controls are in the top bar, where you can exit, maximize and minimize each window. It will be confusing at first, but once you get used to it, the layout will start to make sense.

Now that I have experienced Nitrux as it should be, I want to say that the problems I originally encountered were obviously a one-time situation, and I can happily recommend Nitrux to just about any type of user (whether familiar or not with Linux). The only caveat is to get used to the top bar window controls – which shouldn’t stop anyone from trying out this fantastic distro. The original review follows below.


Nitrux is one of many desktop Linux distributions based on KDE Plasma which, once upon a time, was a great operating system for new Linux users. Not only did it benefit from Debian’s reliability and ease of use, but the KDE Plasma desktop will also be immediately familiar to any type of computer user. However, with the latest release, 2.4, (which includes kernel 5.19, ensuring it will work with most modern hardware and perform like an absolute champ), the distribution is a bit rough for everyday users.

Let me explain.

What is Nitrux?

You can download Nitrux from its website, which states: “Nitrux is a Debian-based Linux desktop distribution. It uses the Calamares installer and includes NX Desktop built on the KDE Plasma 5 desktop environment and MauiKit applications. Nitrux also does not use systemd as its init system; instead it uses OpenRC.”

What does all this mean? First of all, Nitrux uses Debian as its base. If you don’t know, Debian is often called the “Mother of all Linux distros” because it’s what Ubuntu is based on and a lot of distros are based on Ubuntu.

Debian is one of the most solid operating systems on the market, so the choice to use Debian as a base makes perfect sense.

Calamares is the OS installer and makes OS installation incredibly simple.

The NX desktop is the default Nitrux desktop, which is based on KDE Plasma Five with the addition of MauiKit apps, which are apps that can run on Linux desktop and mobile operating systems.

Nitrux ignores the systemd common system initializer and opts for OpenRC. It won’t really matter to the average user, as long as all apps and services start as expected.

And finally, Nitrux installs apps as AppImages by default, instead of standard apps. This could be a real boon, as it would eliminate many app dependencies that come with many app installs.

Also: The 5 Best Linux Distros for Beginners: You Can Do It

What makes Nitrux so special?

I realize the average user won’t mind this, but Nitrux ships with the XanMod general-purpose Linux kernel which includes a few custom settings and unique features to provide a stable and responsive desktop experience.

Key features of this core include caching, multi-core block layer full run queuing, TCP BBRv2 congestion control, ORC unwinder for stack traces, data type scheduler responsive multitasking and third-party patch bundles.

This kernel forms a reliable and high-performance basis for the operating system.

Next, Nitrux comes with KDE Plasma 5.25.4, KDE Gear 22.08, and KDE Frameworks 5.97, which is the latest version of the desktop environment.

Plus, you’ll find the new Maui Apps (Multi-purpose App UI) that cover things like calendar management, file management, media viewing, note taking, and development.

Speaking of applications, one thing to mention is that the developers removed LibreOffice from the default installation. This isn’t much of a problem, as you can install the office suite from Software Center with a single click.

New users are probably thinking, “So why should I use Nitrux?” How about a beautiful, stable, user-friendly and fun desk? That’s what you get with Nitrux. What the developers have done with the KDE Desktop (here named NX Desktop) is quite an achievement. The NX desktop is as beautiful as it is functional, with a sort of KDE meets GNOME meets MacOS.

Also: Cool Things You Can Do With a Linux Desktop

This cursed warning

There is, however, a caveat to all of this. After the installation is complete and you log into Nitrux for the first time, you may be presented (like I was) with an empty desktop. All you will see is wallpaper and nothing else. If this is your case, to make the desktop usable, you must first add the default panel. To do this, right-click anywhere on the desktop and click Add Panel > Default Panel.

The right-click desktop menu for Nitrux.

Added a default panel to the Nitrux desktop.

Image: Jack Wallen

Once you have added the default panel, you can interact with Nitrux. Click on the main menu button to reveal the menu hierarchy, where you can open any of the installed apps.

Don’t let this caveat stop you from trying Nitrux. Once you add your first panel, you’ll find that everything starts to flow much more smoothly.

I recommend though that as soon as you get your first panel created, you open a terminal window and update Nitrux with the command:

Once the update is complete, reboot and your Nitrux experience should be greatly improved. Should being the operative term.

With that caveat in mind, is Nitrux really the best distro for new users? In my honest opinion, it would be a shame to skip this Linux distro just because you need to take a few extra steps to make the desktop usable.

However, I will say that my experience with the latest version of Nitrux was far from perfect. Besides having to create the basic interface options on first login, there are a few things that keep Nitrux 2.4 from earning a spot on my “must use” list.

For example, most windows that opened didn’t include title bars, so closing them was a bit difficult. As long as the application in question appears as an icon in the default panel, you can right-click on it to close it. This alone will frustrate many end users.

On top of that, the default panel included icons with no images and even icons that didn’t launch anything.

Also: Want to save your aging computer? Try These 5 Linux Distros

I have a hunch that this whole issue with the default desktop might be related to my installing Nitrux as a VM in VirtualBox. To make matters worse, I couldn’t set up a different desktop to test my theories.

So, in the end, I view Nitrux in its current state as more of a curiosity than anything else. If the issues I encountered were strictly from running Nitrux as a virtual machine, none of these caveats would apply. However, it is rare for an operating system to not display exactly as expected when running as a virtual machine. So these issues could just be growth issues with the new version.

Download and install Nitrux yourself and see if this Linux distro meets your needs.

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Jack Wallen: Here’s how…

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