A look at MX Linux 18.3

Mike Turcotte-McCusker
Aug 14, 2019
Updated • Aug 14, 2019

I’ve been doing a little bit of distrohopping in the last week or so to take a look at new systems being developed and to try a few I haven’t had a look at in a while; MX Linux being one of the latter.

The last time I touched MX Linux was at least two or three years ago, and I remember that I wasn’t a fan at the time. However, I’m really happy to say that my opinion of the OS has changed with my latest dive into it.

Test machine specs:

  • Ryzen 5 2600X
  • 16GB DDR4 3000Mhz
  • NVIDIA GTX 1070
  • MSI X470 GAMING PLUS Motherboard

Installation of MX Linux

Installation of MX Linux was an absolute breeze, with one of the easiest graphical installation tools I have used thus far in my Linux history.

I would like to point out that the addition of changing services that are being installed was a rather nice touch – I don’t have a printer and do not use any printing related services...So having the option to not even install such a service was quite handy.

There are numerous configuration and customization options available throughout the entire installation process that I personally found really enhanced the installation experience.

Using MX Linux

MX Linux is based off Debian's stable branch, so you can expect rock solid stability. The choice of using Xfce as default for MX Linux is also great due to its low resource requirements and great visual customization ability.

By default MX Linux places a panel along the left-border of the screen, which personally I wasn’t a fan of so I moved it to the bottom, and also includes the popular Whisker Menu for it’s default application menu; I switched it for a basic cascading-style menu as I’ve never personally been a fan of the Whisker Menu, though there’s nothing actually wrong with it, just a matter of preference.

The OS comes with your typical stock of software ranging from the Clementine Media Player, to VLC, to Firefox, Thunderbird and LibreOffice. However, MX Linux actually comes with a rather wide stock of software – I’d almost call it bloat except for the fact that most of it is specifically chosen lightweight, or custom MX Tools that greatly allow for customization of almost every aspect of your system.

Really, I can’t call it bloat...MX Linux just has a lot of customization readily-accessible. If you’re the type of user that, like me, enjoys tweaking your system to pieces and customizing everything to suit your needs, MX Linux will not disappoint.

Just to name some of the different tools available:

  • MX Boot Repair
  • MX Cleanup (think Ccleaner)
  • MX Conky (edit the conky information display tool that shows system info on your desktop as an overlay.)
  • MX Live USB Maker
  • MX Network Assistant
  • MX Package Installer
  • MX Repo Manager
  • MX Tweak
  • MX User Manager
  • Nvidia Driver Installer
  • Midnight Commander (old but powerful file-manager)

There’s more... I just didn’t want to type them all – Again suffice to say that MX Linux will not disappoint your inner tweaker.

Resource Usage

While writing this I had the following running (check out my list of essential Linux applications)

  • Clementine with .FLAC lossless audio playing through PulseAudio
  • Firefox with 2 tabs open
  • Two terminal windows
  • LibreOffice Writer

Average RAM usage was 1.32GB/15.7GB
Average CPU usage was 11%

I have to comment and say that MX Linux flies. It was blazing fast to launch any application or do any task I gave it; and I did not have it installed on my SSD, just a 7200RPM standard Seagate drive.

Final thoughts

MX Linux has impressed me with this latest edition, and I may very well return to it in the future. What about you? Do you use MX Linux, and if so, what are your reasons for using it? Let us know in the comments!

A look at MX Linux 18.3
Article Name
A look at MX Linux 18.3
Mike takes a look at the latest installment of MX Linux, a powerful and rather lightweight Linux distribution based on Debian Linux.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. Camilo Henao said on September 29, 2019 at 6:21 am

    Soy usuario de windows pero me pase a MX Linux y no lo cambio por nada mi computador vuela y hace las tareas muy rapido, lo unico que extraño como usuario de windows es la opcion de hacer click derecho sobre el icono de firefox poder elegir entre abrir una ventana normal o una privada. Si alguien sabe como hacerlo me seria de gran ayuda. Muchas gracias a todos!!

  2. mikeymike said on August 20, 2019 at 2:48 pm


  3. Maik said on August 19, 2019 at 12:43 am

    Installed it a few months ago on a Lenovo 110S, much faster than Windows 10S originally installed. Works fine.

  4. Kim said on August 18, 2019 at 6:52 pm

    MX Linux offers the best of Debian stable but with nice-to-have/essential updates.

    Debian stable kernel finally upgraded after two years 4.19. Now its stuck there for two more!

    But already MX Testing allows the savvy user to upgrade to kernel 5.2.7-1~mx17+1 (2019-08-09) x86_64 GNU/Linux.

    I actually use Debian in my apt sources.list file with the following two lines added
    deb http://mxrepo.com/mx/repo/ stretch non-free main
    deb http://mxrepo.com/mx/testrepo/ stretch non-free test

    I’ve dumped Intel for HTPC years ago (crap audio and no 4k60 support), for AMD 2400G with AsRock Fatality 450 HDMI 2.0b motherboard. The Linux kernel 5.3 will support 4K HDR video. Finally!

    Today I can play 4k video SMOOTHLY within Debian/mx using mpv in both a window and full screen. Or BIOS dual boot into LibreELEC/Kodi 19 Alpha.

    Notably there is zero data-mining with all listed software/hardware

  5. dd said on August 17, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    I’m using MX but how can i have their conky for another distro i have on another partition?

  6. TShadow said on August 17, 2019 at 2:54 am

    Well the Desktop Clock can be configured or removed if you wish. I found out how and I never used Linux before. Also I tried many distros before I tried MX Linux and it was the only one where Windows 10 did see the machine on the network out of the box without going crazy with the configuration.

    Xfce might be not so nice looking, but you can change it and make it looking as you wish.

    The most important thing however is that it’s ultrafast on one of my real old Laptops which has become usable again.

    I also can dualboot on it with Prime OS or Phoenix OS easily. In my opinion a worthy distro for beginners. Of course not for the Libtards, they should use Zorin or Harmony OS.

  7. basicuser said on August 16, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on MX Linux 18.3. Very nice so far, it’s a toss-up with Mint 19.2 Cinnamon for ease of installation and usability. Have installed 18.3 on a thumb drive, and can use the entire 16GB thumb drive for persistence, unlike many distros. As a bonus, Pale Moon is available from the MX Package Installer.

  8. D minus for MX said on August 16, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    “What about you? Do you use MX Linux, and if so, what are your reasons for using it?”

    What’s that, graduated journalist? Can’t you even think of someone NOT using this OS? Good reasons included? Or are you just too coward to ask why someome does NOT use it?

    Either way, your article is superficial and biased, thus manipulative. Not a single word about that burnt in desktop clock that can neither be configured, removed and/or replaced. Not a single word about the application menu: categories on the right, entries on the left. Perfect for all those whose language is Arabic or Hebrew, but hundreds of languages that use the Latin alphabet read and write from left to right. Well, the developers evidently don’t have the tiniest spark of cultural awareness. And you? You ventilate that “there’s nothing actually wrong with [Whiskers]”. Kudos! Plus: The developers don’t realize how many missing features there are (dozens!) and how much they copy that typical Ubuntu-ish click-click-click fuss.

    However, MX Linux is perfectly target-group-specific: it’s thééé OS for the underclass in Trumperica. And that’s why I do NOT use it.

  9. Brian Masinick said on August 16, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    I’ve been using the MX Linux distribution since it was introduced, and all of the other associated distributions, the original MEPIS Linux, antiX, and various forms of each distribution. Not only are they solid, each of them provide additional tools to allow you to customize them to your specific needs, yet the basic functionality is not too bloated.

    When I first started using the MEPIS/MX family, Debian did not have a very good installation program, but it did have great underlying software. Today Debian is much easier to install, though it is still more cumbersome than most current generation distributions.

    I contend that all of the software in this product family (now based on antiX rather than MEPIS) are worthwhile descendants of Debian, and add value but very little, if any bloat. They are distinctive compared to a large number of distributions that are more similar than different, yet their distinctive characteristics lead to useful choices, along with effective, nimble performance. I recommend not only MX Linux 18.3, I also recommend any of the antiX family; the one you choose as your preferred distribution will depend on your specific needs. A hobbyist can turn any of them into exactly what they need. Someone who just wants a working system would do well to start with MX Linux.

  10. Ben Nevis said on August 16, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    I’ve used MX since outset, but last download was over a year ago.
    Xfce is just too ugly. 🥺
    I’ve mostly given up on testing distros since Kubuntu 18 (minimal install with rolling KDE). 🌈🌩️🔥🐧
    I keep an eye on Netrunner and Neptune as a cool KDE Debian package for lazy geeks would be lovely
    Life’s too short 🖖

  11. Anonymous said on August 16, 2019 at 9:02 am

    MXlinux, the #1 chosen* o/s by a huge margin (w/o systemd :) *chosen by those that understand and promote freedom.

  12. Barry said on August 16, 2019 at 6:58 am

    I might look into MX Linux, if it doesn’t brick the laptop. Microsoft and Google hates competition, of which Microsoft loves to subvert and google loves to ignore and subvert.
    After I will test yubikey security keys on Brave and another web browser application to see whether or not that using those blasted things are successful.
    anyways MX linux looks pretty decent from a glance. I will investigate it further.

  13. mike90000 said on August 16, 2019 at 2:07 am

    I’ve tried many Debian based distros for my old laptop, and MX Linux is the *only* one that had firmware for the (IIRC Intel) wireless chip included. Hooray!

  14. Todd @LinuxGameConsortium said on August 15, 2019 at 8:59 am

    MX Linux has had my attention for a while. How is the distro for NVIDIA support?
    Any game testing in the mix?

  15. dark said on August 15, 2019 at 3:56 am

    If you install Bedrock Linux on MX Linux, you can install bleeding-edge packages from Arch and AUR on MX Linux. Test it on VirtualBox first if you decided to test it. Backup your data first if you decided to install Bedrock Linux on your daily driver Linux distro.

    Intro: https://bedrocklinux.org/

    Follow the install instructions here: https://bedrocklinux.org/0.7/installation-instructions.html

    Basic Usage: https://bedrocklinux.org/0.7/basic-usage.html

    To fetch Arch on MX Linux:

    sudo brl fetch arch

    To install Yay on MX Linux:

    sudo pacman -S base-devel

    git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/yay.git

    cd yay

    makepkg -si

    After this you can yay -S package-name and pacman -S package-name to install Arch and AUR software packages on MX Linux.

  16. MartinFan said on August 15, 2019 at 2:20 am

    Mike would you now recommend using this over Manjaro KDE?

    I butchered my Manjaro KDE install a few weeks back by trying to install the proprietary AMD drivers. No gui after rebooting.

    1. Gourab said on September 23, 2019 at 11:19 pm

      don’t use proprietary ones. AMD themselves said to use the opensource ones as they are made by them

  17. GjohNcoe said on August 14, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    I have three main laptops each has different distro’s on them. My number one laptop is Linux Lite then next is Ubuntu Mate and as of some time ago MX Linux 18.2 which replace Zorin 12 it was somewhat wonky acting after Zorin 9 was spectacular. I really like everything about all three but I can see the laptop with MX Linux 18.2 making it’s way up to and ahead of Linux Lite. Not yet but coming up fast, that being the Xfce desktop Which I like. Good post on MX Linux 18.3, I think everyone should try it too.

    1. thebrowser said on August 15, 2019 at 9:01 am

      Hi @GjohNcoe,

      recently I found this company that makes a laptop with Zorin 15 Core pre-installed (one of the options). I’ve already tried Ubuntu and Mint, but never heard of Zorin before, and it seems like a fair hardware for the price (that is, considering there aren’t many laptops shipping Linux by default). What are your thoughts on Zorin in terms of stability, up to date available software, etc?



  18. +1 to MX said on August 14, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    That was my result of distro-hopping in search of the perfect balance of stability/security/elegance

  19. D.C. said on August 14, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    MX Snapshot is a great tool which allows the user to back up their installed system to an ISO file and then run it as a live session with the option to install/reinstall if needed.

  20. Stephen Green said on August 14, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    I discovered MX Linux a couple of months age. It is one of the best distros I’ve come across lately.
    It’s my everyday go to Linux. Mind you, there are many other really fine distros out there, but for me
    MX is it..

  21. Kent said on August 14, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    I’m an enthusiastic Paypal annual subscriber, because I think your work is so important. I started because it was good Windows advice, but I recently abandoned even my Windows 7 media center and am now fully Linux (Purism laptop and Debian and Mint on my Dell Optiplex servers. Synology on my NAS.)
    So your Linux coverage is very important to me. Especially desktop Linux systems. I keep hoping to see more unity and consolidation regarding desktop systems. We have a common core (Linux) but the rest is still chaotic and broad.
    My latest issue is how to install a Linux distribution on RAID1 mirrored systems. Seems like it works fine after the install, but how about creating a RAID1 during install?
    Anyway, keep up with Linux desktops. Check out Purism and System76. We need more suppliers of native Linux desktops.

    1. VioletMoon said on August 15, 2019 at 4:47 pm

      @Kent–Should be easy enough to find various tutorials; the following may work for you:


    2. thebrowser said on August 15, 2019 at 8:51 am

      I’ve had my eye on purism laptops (and upcoming Librem as well) but I haven’t actually looked into any reviews yet. Care to share your thoughts on how it runs and any remarkable issues? How’s the quality overall, and more specifically the keyboard?

      @ Mike Turcotte-McCusker, excellent review: brief and to the point although I will mention that with those specs is difficult to find any distro that doesn’t run smoothly. I’d love to see similar reviews in the future (ElementaryOS maybe?)


  22. sart said on August 14, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    Great distro!

  23. Torin Doyle said on August 14, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    Excellent distro. A user-friendly Debian Stable spin.

  24. Alex Bright said on August 14, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    Nice article. MX and Manjaro are really good distros for beginners.

    1. John said on November 30, 2019 at 11:42 am

      I’ve been using a Unix-based system for over 15 years and I recently made the switch to MX-19 (yes I’ve used several other versions), so no it’s good for seasoned users as well.

  25. Paulus said on August 14, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Thanks Martin,
    To make printing possible can I not only install but also use CUPS to print?

    1. davemx said on August 14, 2019 at 7:41 pm

      CUPS is included. In my case I have to add Brother printer drivers (free to use, but not open source) from their web site. Where your printer has Open Source drivers, it ought to be possible to add them from the repositories. Many will be installed already.

  26. AnorKnee Merce said on August 14, 2019 at 9:56 am

    Like Archlinux, Debian can mostly be run by techgeeks only. Newbie-friendly Linux distros that are based on Debian Stable are Ubuntu, MX-Linux and Sparkylinux.(= EOL of 5 years) MX-Linux is a good choice for those who want to avoid Ubuntu’s new walled-off Snap app eco-system. Ubuntu Snap Store will want to be like Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

    1. ttTRONICcc said on August 16, 2019 at 12:02 am

      Hallo (hello) – in my opinion regular Debian is beginnerfriendly, if you are ‘able’ to stop unneccessary dozens contacting/s an hour to not trustworthy servers for no reason (like ubuntubases Mints and maaany other) – Devuan is very beginnerfriendly too – nearly no not neccessary ‘pings’ around the world (haha). LMDE3 needs some ‘tuning’ to keep its mouth a bit more ‘silent’, but works great! [I did read this here as I found a link to ‘ghacks’ I remembered as a _good_ site and ‘used’ it – thanks a lot!] I guess, after Mint 17.3 (beginning with V.18.0) the ‘discussion’ about ‘paying something’ (for using Unbuntoo) to caninocal made the decision to let ‘Them’ know who uses their ‘base’ how long and so on acceptable… so, what about ‘international Pinging’ (beside keepin’ systemtime set right) do YOU here know/think/report to nice & lovely Linuxes?!? Thank you all & good night, ttTRONICcc

  27. Al CiD said on August 14, 2019 at 9:55 am

    Hi Martin,
    great choice, better than any *buntu

    1. GaBe said on August 15, 2019 at 3:20 am

      Just noooo, xubuntu is miles better and doesn’t come with archaic packages.

  28. Shiro said on August 14, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Author at the top says Martin. Summary says Mike, the About is about Martin. Who wrote this in the end? :-) Nice article though.

    1. seeprime said on August 14, 2019 at 11:32 pm

      It’s been updated to say Mike in both places.

    2. Chris said on August 14, 2019 at 11:22 am

      It doesn’t start with ‘Hey’ or ‘So’ maybe it was actually Martin? :-)

      1. Cigologic said on August 15, 2019 at 12:06 am

        > Chris: “[The article] doesn’t start with ‘Hey’ or ‘So’ maybe it was actually Martin?”

        I don’t recall Mike starting any Ghacks articles with “Hey” or “So”.

        On the other hand, Martin has written articles starting with “So” in the very 1st paragraph, or even in the title itself, eg:


        What’s with the trend of starting NEW essays/ titles/ enquiries/ speeches with “So” — as if the writer/ speaker is continuing from where he had just left off a mere 2 seconds ago.

        I first noticed the phenomenon in the early 2010s, initially amongst the techie types, then spreading to the rest of the English-speaking population. Is it due to the illusion of 24/7 connectedness, along with broadband internet becoming more widespread at urban areas since the early 2010s ?

        Maybe in the not-too-distant future (as early as 2020 ?), someone would begin his will as follows ,,,
        “SO this is the LAST WILL and TESTAMENT of Jules Haley Alway, netizen in the city of ….”

      2. Chris said on August 15, 2019 at 12:02 pm


        >I don’t recall Mike starting any Ghacks articles with “Hey” or “So”.

        I do for ‘So’, and ‘Hey’ has become common recently at the start of emails I receive from other people…

        >On the other hand, Martin has written articles starting with “So”…

        Only a small number of times recently, I think…

        >What’s with the trend of starting NEW essays/ titles/ enquiries/ speeches with “So” — as if the writer/ speaker is continuing from where he had just left off a mere 2 seconds ago.

        I *absolutely* agree with the point you are making, just an irritating fashion that hopefully will quickly pass!

        All remarks based on my recollections.

      3. Chris said on August 15, 2019 at 1:55 pm

        Finally, a suggestion for the *Ghacks Style Manual*:

        ‘Avoid using words or phrases that may be currently fashionable, but are likely to be ephemeral and soon pass out of common use.’

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