Chalet OS


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My nephew Bernat has been helping me this afternoon repairing one laptop ... so this is really his idea. He asked if we knew about Chalet OS, a new linux distribution related to Google, with an Interface that emulates Windows. I don't enven have an opinion on wheather this is a good thing or not. Have you heard about it? What do you think about it?


Rhein-Ruhr-Hub's picture
Submitted by Rhein-Ruhr-Hub on Sat, 11/19/2016 - 17:40

Hi Elena,

yes, I am aware of Chalet OS and many other operating systems. Check and The problem is - there are so many different OS, distributions, variants, platforms releases :) Labdoo has to focus on one platform. The decision to use (L)Ubuntu was made in 2010, long before I became part of Labdoo team. But is was a good decision, as (L)Ubuntu offers a wide range of drivers, hardware support, manuals, wikis etc.

We should check every now and then, if there is a better solution than (L)Ubuntu. But image, a school would get a Chalet OS based laptop from Italy, a (L)Ubuntu based laptops from Germany and a Mint based one from Spain, just as example. And all laptops come with a different desktop (user interface, Gnome, KDE, LXDE, Xfce etc.). They would be completely confused.

And to select another platform would cause a lot of administrative work (update wikis, manuals, video tutorials, image for cloning etc.).

But you made a good point, as Labdoo users ask for a Windows alike user interface. That is why we recommend and added a Windows 10 theme and icons to Labdoo to all Labdoo laptops (see screen-shot below). So they can use Linux/Lubuntu with all advantages, but a user has the look and and feel of a standard Windows PC. Since we use that Windows theme I get less reports that users "destroyed" all software and content, did not switch to Windows, but stayed with "our" Linux based solution.

So please keep on watching and reporting new suggestions and improvements and the Labdoo team will be glad to check and adapt those. Hope I could explain some of the thoughts we have to consider "in the back-office" :) Have e a great weekend.

Labdoo hub Rhein-Ruhr

dominik.ramik's picture
Submitted by dominik.ramik on Sat, 11/19/2016 - 17:40

Hi Elena, thanks for bringing this subject in as I think it is a very pertinent one. Speaking from my experience with teaching IT for years to kids in areas with limited access to computers (i.e. students mostly don't have computers at home ... it could actually be the case of a good portion of edoovillages), I was always thinking of the Linux vs Windows in the classes. People who have limited access to laptops tend (my observation) to have limited ability to adapt to new IT environments (OS, programs). Now the big question for me was: "if I use Linux when teaching, what will my kids do when they get to another school or will work in offices etc. where Windows is usually present?" My conclusion, supported by actual experience with students and also adult school staff, was that they would usually need to learn the new system nearly from scratch. From practical point of view then teaching them on Windows was more beneficial for them on long term then using Linux. Sure, I am not factoring here anything else than the actual usefulness of using Linux vs Windows in real conditions for real students. Now ... having a Linux distro that closely imitates the way Windows UI works, it would be actually interesting to experiment and see if the kids having used that are actually better capable with handling the omnipresent Windows-running computers.

dominik.ramik's picture
Submitted by dominik.ramik on Sat, 11/19/2016 - 18:05

To Ralf ... great to know such a theme is shipped on Labdoo computers. I lived in ignorance of it. I believe it really is a good step for people who need "consistent" (somehow) UI as I pointed out in my previous reply.

Bart Anderson's picture
Submitted by Bart Anderson on Sun, 11/20/2016 - 19:19

Wendy Lu and I were talking about Linux distributions, and she pointed me to this thread.

I'd read someone on the Refurbishers Google Group wax enthusiastic about ChaletOS, and it sounded interesting. As I looked into it more, it seemed to have some shortcomings for organizations. (It still might be fine for individuals.)

It is modelled on Windows 7

Windows 7 is being phased out (last security update will be in January 2020).,2817,2475079,00.asp

Windows 8 and Windows 10 are very different from Windows 7, so there is going to be a learning curve anyway. Rather than search for the perfect distro, it seems better to settle on something *reasonable*. Otherwise one gets whipsawed towards one distribution, then another. As Ralf says, Lubuntu is a good choice, though it's wise to monitor other options.

The other uneasiness I have about ChaletOS is that it apparently is the work of one person,Dejan Petrović.

DIstros created by one person or a small group have a habit of disappearing when their authors run out of energy. It does not seem to have a large community behind it yet. It's in 52nd to 71st place on the DistroWatch list of distributions, and it's only been going since August 2015.

A final problem is that it is not closely connected to Ubuntu. It is based on Xubuntu (Ubuntu with the xfce desktop), but as far as I know, it doesn't have any organizational ties to the Ubuntu organization. In contrast, the "flavors" of Ubuntu (Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu Mate, etc.) are closely connected. This makes it easier to resolve the inevitable problems that come up.

For what it's worth, I use Ubuntu Mate and LInux Mint Mate on the computers I personally give out. They have large communities and are designed with new users in mind. They are somewhat heavier than Lubuntu, but are still considered "lightweight." I have used Lubuntu and Xubuntu, and those are good distributions too.

Rhein-Ruhr-Hub's picture
Submitted by Rhein-Ruhr-Hub on Tue, 11/22/2016 - 08:58

Hi Bart,

today I had an interesting talk to the main-developer of Mate and he explained a lot about Mate at Ubuntu Conference in Germany. What we can do very easily (needs some testing, optimizing, updated images for cloning and wiki documentation) would be to add Mate as 3rd desktop environment to Labdoos image for cloning. It would take +400 MB disc space to add Mate to (L)Ubuntu based systems. Only the desktop would be added, not the complete Mate system (+1.100 MB). LXDE and Xfce are pre-installed.

Would you be interested to have this work done and the possibility to switch to an additional Mate desktop easily? Please let me know and it will be added during the next weeks.

Can you please post here or send me by mail ( a list of settings or add-ons you suggest to implement for Mate? New panel items? Settings? One suggestion would be to stay with File Manager PCManfm (LXDE and Xfce were set to this program as default; another file manager would confuse users). The idea is to follow these steps when creating the image for cloning, so everything would have been done opening a Mate desktop, if you install a Labdoo laptop using image for cloning.

It would be great to learn from you and your Mate experience. Thanks,

Labdoo hub Rhein-Ruhr

Bart Anderson's picture
Submitted by Bart Anderson on Tue, 11/22/2016 - 00:41

Thank you, Ralf. Very interesting about the talk by the main developer of Mate! (Martin Winpress?) It would be good to hear your impressions. Can we discuss that here, or should we start a new thread?

I personally don't feel stongly about the Mate desktop by itself. It may be that the Windows theme and icons you added will meet people's needs.

What appeals to me about the Ubuntu Mate distribution is the programs that accompany it. I think they reflect a concern for new users and a spirit of innovation. For example:
- the Software Boutique which enables new users to comfortably install popular programs.
- the Welcome program, which has useful tools and information for new users.
- Mate Tweak - which enables you to quickly transform the interface so it looks like Window, Mac, Unity, etc. That feature might help with the desire for a Windows interface that Dominik describes.
- Libre Office suite

These features are described further in an enthusiastic review by new-user advocate Joe Collins:

My experiences

I've been running Ubuntu Mate on a Dell D630 (Core 2 Duo) as my main work computer for about 6 months. Also, Linux Mint Mate on a desktop for 1 year and 6 months. Both feel very comfortable, very complete. They felt well designed, as if somebody had paid attention to designing it. I can't think of any problem I've had with them. Boot-up to the desktop takes about 45 seconds with Ubuntu Mate. I tried an SSD and it booted up very quickly, maybe 15 or 20 seconds.

The interface is traditional (like Lubuntu and Windows XP) with menus, a task bar, etc.

Ubuntu Mate includes programs that make it helpful for working on hardware. There is a performance monitor, a list of "what's inside your computer," and access to the Disk utility (for performing self-tests and reading SMART information).

I haven't had much feedback from the people I've given laptops to. They are long-time computer users, and didn't have any trouble with the interface. I did hear that running the old Skype and some Flash applications didn't work well, The 16.04 Ubuntu Mate didn't support some of the old Broadcom wi-fi modules out-of-the-box. But neither did 16.04 Lubuntu.
(Fix: ).

Ubuntu Mate is heavier on system requirements than Lubuntu, so it may not be suitable if donated laptops are very old. I haven't run into that limitation, even when I was running Mint Mate on a 1-GB Pentium M laptop.

In any case, I think it's worth keeping on eye on Ubuntu Mate since it is designed with new users in mind.
best wishes, Bart Anderson

UPDATE: I found a good YouTube review in German. Looks better than anything I've seen in English:

wendy's picture
Submitted by wendy on Tue, 11/22/2016 - 04:21

Hi Ralf and Bart,

Thank you for helping us understand the difference between different flavors of Ubuntu. And yes, please help us define the best setup which is good for old machines, easy to be installed, and easy for our edoovillages to learn. The minimum hard spec. for donation is Pentium M CPU with at least 756MB of RAM, correct? Ralf?

I played with Ubuntu-Mate on a Pentium M 512MB machine and it works fine. I personal think this one is more user friendly than Lubuntu. Again, I only speak with my limited knowledge. If there's a need, I can ask school in Mexico, which we send laptops regularly, to try any new setup you recommend and give you guys their feedback. The school volunteers are welling to help.

Rhein-Ruhr-Hub's picture
Submitted by Rhein-Ruhr-Hub on Tue, 11/22/2016 - 09:25


yes, it were Martin and Allan from UK, nice guys. We did a 15 minutes interview about and they plan to broadcast it during the next weeks in their blog / channel (ca. 5.000 followers in UK and US). After that interview they told me who they were :) and explained about Mate and included features for disabled users.

@Wendy, image a Linux systems is build out of 3 parts, the Linux kernel (is the same for every GNU/Linux based OS), next part is a layer containing the operating systems, drivers, Ubuntu add-ons, programs etc., in our case always Debian and (L)Ubuntu, and next is the desktop (what you see on screen; there are LXDE (Lubuntu), Xcfe, Mate and more). All 3 parts together are called the "distribution / distro". These 3 parts build a Linux system. Linux experts will have much more to say to this, but this picture give a rough idea of the architecture.

Which desktop you prefer is an endless discussion. My favourite is KDE, but it is like a discussion which car you like best, a Ford, GM or Honda. People will never agree to one solution. So we are able now to add 3 desktops (LXDE, Xfce and Mate) to a Labdoo system. This will cost some disc space, but will not slow down the laptop. When you come to the log-in screen there wil be a switch, which desktop you want to use. And the laptop will remember, which desktop you selected last time.

As now you can either decide to install a pre-packed Linux, where all these 3 parts are linked together, called distribution. Lubuntu = Linux + Ubuntu (light weight) + LXDE; Xubuntu = Linux + Ubuntu (a little bit more) + Xfce; Ubuntut/Mate = Linux + Ubuntu + Mate and so on, there are much more...). Each package has Pros and Cons. Labdoo s focussing on light weight distros to run fast on older hardware. So, for instance, using Ubuntu (which requires more resources than Lubuntu) plus Mate would be asking "too much".

The middle layer (between Linux and desktop) and the desktop itself make the difference between the distros, some add modules and programs asking for more or less resources. That is a reason, why LibreOffice is not part of Lubuntu from the beginning, you have to add it by script or manually. Lubuntu comes with a light-weight word processing instead of LibreOffice, but can be added.

Martin, the Mate designer, agreed as a good idea just to add Mate desktop to our Lubuntu based system/image. This would just add 400 MB instead of 1.100 MB for a full Mate installation. As Bart listed some useful programs he would like to find as well, I will add them, too. Next step is to make Mate look similar as possible to the other desktops LXDE and Xfce (Windows 10 theme, panel at the bottom of the screen, same icons added to panel, usage of the same system tools) to minimize the learning curve when switching between desktops.

This work will be done in the next weeks and become part of the images for cloning. So it will be very easy to add Mate.

Thanks, Ralf

jordi's picture
Submitted by jordi on Fri, 12/08/2017 - 11:14

There has been some spamming on this particular conversation. I removed the spam messages and the users accounts that produced them. Apologies for the spammed messages you probably received. Jordi