Here’s an interesting distro! Hybryde Evolution v1, based on Ubuntu 12.04, comes with nine different desktop environments by default. These include KDE, GNOME 3, GNOME Classic, Unity, Elightenment 17, LXDE, XFCE, Openbox, and FVWM. The system smartly and fluidly transfers over open windows and applications to the new Desktop.
Hybryde is an Ubuntu-based live boot DVD which, according to the Google-translated project home page (which is in French), “is a tool to discover and use a multitude of desktop environments and without disconnection.”
The boot process boots you into the Hy-menu system dashboard. A small dock gives you a terminal, home folder, and the Hybryde menu that expands when clicked. From here you can select one of nine different desktop environments: KDE, GNOME3 Fallback, Gnome3 Shell, Unity, Enlightenment 17, OpenBox, FVWM, XFCE, and LXDE
…as well as a full menu of Linux applications. You also can continue to work in the Hybryde dashboard environment.
The Hy-menu also has four options for window managers:
Metacity, the default for Gnome3 Fallback
Mutter, the default for Gnome3
Compiz, compositing window manager for X, and the default for Hybryde (although I noticed a slight speed increase when I ran Hybryde in Mutter instead of Compiz)
and Kwin, the window manager for KDE
From the Hybryde desktop environment you will also find the full suite of Linux applications, and you can run any of these from the Hybryde desktop, or switch desktop flavors and run them in another desktop! The choices are virtually endless…
First impressions of Hybryde. It sounds like a distro put together by a team who have commitment issues. They couldn’t commit to a single desktop, so they committed to them all! As it turns out, this first impression wasn’t that far off.
The basic .iso image is HUGE compared to other distros, but this would largely be because it has so many desktop versions (with all their ancillary programs) on it. Other distros with a single fixed desktop idea can usually fit on a CD; Hybryde takes either a DVD or USB flashdrive with it’s 1.6GB image.
I experimented with Hybryde for about 2 hours.
The startup screen for Hybryde is very pretty! The Hybryde logo rotates in place, and the Hybryde desktop loads shortly thereafter.
My only critique on the startup screen is this: The rotating logo is the only moving element on the startup screen. There are no loading bars (like in Ubuntu), or dotted lines (like with XFCE). So when the logo stopped rotating and just sat there, I was momentarily scared that it was frozen. It would be nice to see a loading bar on this screen, or just keep the logo rotating while the distro is loading.
First major issue was language. The French developers of Hybryde likely didn’t think this was an issue, but the distro only comes in French. It took me about 5 minutes to figure out enough French to find System Settings, and another 5 minutes to figure out where the Language Selector was… all while I am in an unfamiliar distro! Finally got the language and locale switched over to English (US).
From there, my experience with this distro notably improved.
Distrowatch describes Hybryde’s most fascinating element this way: “All open applications are carried to any of the available desktops. The system offers an interesting way to work fluidly in a multi-desktop environment.”
I decided to test this. I opened a couple applications (gedit, gnome-terminal, and ksudoku) on the Hybryde Desktop. Then I transistioned to GNOME 3. The desktop blinked and suddenly I was in a new desktop! There’s a small back-arrow icon located on the right-edge of the screen that you can use to go back to the Hybryde Desktop at any time. All the applications I had opened stayed open, though ksudoku had a few issues at first.
I clicked back and tried other desktops. Not needing to log out to do this made the experience very nice.
My only critique on the multi-desktop environment is this: You must go back to the Hybryde Desktop every time if you want to switch to another desktop flavor. It would be nice if the Hybryde menu could be accessed from any environment, allowing you to switch flavors without having to return to the Hybryde environment first.
Most applications work great when launched from a specific flavor desktop, but there are occasionally issues with application crashing when you switch flavors. LibreOffice was by far the most cantankerous program. It did not like being switched between flavors, but leave it one flavor (any flavor) and it was fine!
Just about all the programs get a little obnoxious if you switch environments multiple times while they are open, but it was very rare that they would crash.
Shutdown is fast; 5 seconds or less, and the computer is off
Hybryde is a neat distro. Switching between desktops quickly and with minimal fuss allows the user to experiment with desktop flavors and find the one that’s right for them. But I don’t see this becoming my main Linux distribution, nor do I think it will capture too many other hearts and minds. It’s great for experimenting but not keeping!