With everyone and their grandmother trying out Qimo, I suppose my assessment isn’t novel, or really even necessary. I can only say I had the ISO downloaded about a week ago, but finally gave it a turn a day or two ago.
Nicely done, and that’s really all that can be said. If you want a replete, smooth, good-looking desktop prearranged with small people in mind, I can think of no better option. Low maintenance, high usability and visually attractive. I’m probably a little outside the target demographic, but if I was still in the single-digit age bracket, I’d probably think it was a winner.
Qimo does a couple of things right from my perspective though, that probably wouldn’t be immediately evident to the average 5-year-old. For one thing, using Ubuntu is a no-brainer. It’s so complete and so zero-effort that anything else (outside of another heavyweight distro) would be counterintuitive.
And by extension, using Xubuntu as the background system does (I will admit) reduce the overall system demands slightly, meaning that old 1.4Ghz Pentium III you have in the closet can handle it without sweating … too much. The picture you see there is the Inspiron running Qimo at 1Ghz, and performance is acceptable.
I also like that there are actually two accounts installed when you start it, one for “Qimo,” and one for an administrator. Qimo (the user) has access to most all the software installed in a generic Xubuntu system (that I can tell), but has almost no privileges beyond that. Games and accessories? Yes. System management and sudo? No.
On the other hand, there’s an “administrator” account built into the system that gets a default-ish Xubuntu desktop on login. So you’re not so much installing Qimo as a complete and new system, as installing Xubuntu with the added pleasure of Qimo for the little people.
And this is probably the wisest way to do it. Set up the machine with one master account to serve as “administrator,” give it a standard Ubuntu deviant as the desktop, and keep the standard “Qimo” account for people who are new to the planet. It might seem obvious, but at the same time, it’s smart.
About the only difficulty I have with Qimo is something I’ve mentioned already — it’s based on Xubuntu. That in itself is not a bad thing, but what it means is that your initial impulse to dash down to the cellar, drag up the old Pentium II and holler at the kids, “I’ve got one for you!” … well, it’s not misguided, but it might be premature.
I’ve detailed my disappointments with Xubuntu elsewhere, and I stand by those assessments. I haven’t actually put Qimo on a Pentium II, but I expect performance would be sub-par. I think I would have been happier if Qimo had been based purely on XFCE, with a few added packages to round out the administrator’s desktop. It would open up and entirely different bracket of hardware to Qimo.
As it is though, I get the feeling that something slower than the 1Ghz machine I playtested this on … would end up suffering. “Suffering” is a relative term that is best determined by you, but from my angle, there is a lot more potential with something lighter than Xubuntu.
The only other thing I would criticise is the use of Ubiquity cued from the boot menu as a method for installing: It hinges too heavily on Ubuntu’s success in establishing a graphical environment to put Qimo on the drive. I’ve found myself in a nifty Catch 22 in past days trying to put Qimo on the K6-2, because of the fact that Ubuntu goes two different directions simultaneously — 24-bit depth but incomplete framebuffer support — and ends up scuttling my small sliver of the technological spectrum.
That’s not really Qimo’s fault though; that issue lies with Ubuntu. I will combine both of those points and say that a text-based installer and a lighter framework would keep me happier. But my allegiance lies with antique hardware, and that’s not necessarily what Qimo is intended to satisfy.
For now I give a wholehearted, giant, cartoon-sized thumbs-up to Qimo, for keeping very small computer users happy, and keeping some otherwise outdated machines in circulation. And for giving me an idea or two of what to do with this K6-2. ;)