It’s elementary OS, Watson…..

I have picked up a new hobby: Checking out less popular distributions to see what they add to the Linux landscape.

I discovered elementary OS earlier this week and decided to give it a try after seeing the trailer of their newest release, Luna. Being only version 0.2, I guess we should not expect too much, but the trailer gave me the impression that the guys at elementary OS are putting serious effort in creating a professional Linux desktop environment. The focus lies on providing the community with the best possible experience and being both beautiful and usable. Elementary OS uses Ubuntu 12.04 LTS as its base.

So let’s take a peek then! I will not get into the details of the installation. Installers are more or less the same nowadays, so I will not bother you with it. It works well and does the job. You start the live-cd (I used Unetbootin with a USB-stick) and can start the installer by pressing the right icon on the right of the dock at the bottom of the screen.

Pantheon
After the installation and the reboot you get a responsive system. It performs really well on my dual core laptop. Elementary OS focuses on being a lightweight distribution. It features its own desktop environment called Pantheon. It resembles Gnome and borrows parts of Gnome and Xfce, combined with self developed parts. The default desktop looks like this, giving it an Apple-ish look:

Schermafdruk van 2013-08-16 12:07:20

Software
Elementary OS comes with the Ubuntu Software center, which makes it easy to install new software. You will need this, because after the installation elementary OS only has a handful of applications installed. For example: It lacks an office suite. I do not see this as a problem, because I prefer my own set of programs anyway. It may be confusing for user new to Linux, that do not know the Linux counterparts for windows software.

Elementary Tweaks
When I use a computer, I want to be able to use a double-click to open a program (one click to select it). Unfortunately, I was unable to find this option in the system settings of elementary OS. I decided to use IRC, and went to the distro’s channel on freenode. There someone kindly pointed me to Elementary Tweaks. This plug-in for the system settings allows you to change many elementary setting, including using double-click with my mouse. I also used it to move the window buttons from left to the right, where I prefer them. Elementary tweaks came too late to be added to release 0.2, but I am sure it will be added to future releases.

Day-to-day use
I have been using elementary OS for a few days now on my laptop and I have to say that, although I usually use KDE, I like working with it. I have not experienced problems so far. I have written this article using elementary OS, I have played music, surfed the internet and watched videos without a hassle.

Conclusion
I like working with elementary OS. It is mature, also because of the Ubuntu base, even if it has only reached release 0.2. The desktop looks good and everything works like you would expect. It is user friendly and the people on IRC are nice and helpful. Not being a Gnome-user, I cannot tell you exactly how many differences there are with Gnome, but I find the desktop environment pleasant and intuitive to use. It is difficult to say what makes this distribution different from other Ubuntu-derived distros, but I am curious to see how Pantheon will develop. I will certainly follow the progress elementary OS makes and for now, elementary OS will stay on this laptop. I suggest you give elementary a try. I am sure you will be delighted.

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4 Responses to It’s elementary OS, Watson…..

  1. Fabian Thoma says:

    Hi there, I just wanna correct you on a few things you said which you might not be clear to people outside the project ;)

    “Elementary tweaks came too late to be added to release 0.2, but I am sure it will be added to future releases.”

    elementary offers settings that deserve to be there and are usefull to all users, we try our best to create a system with the best out of the box experience, and tend to not clutter the settings panel with settings that inexpierienced users may use and “break their system”.
    For some of these options you mentioned you changed it’s a matter of beeing used to it.
    I for example can’t stand using windows(or any other system) with doubleclick anymore, because these filemanagers are really the only place doubleclick is used in the computing world.

    So no, Tweaks is not a project from the elementary Team, but we do keep exposing settings on the backend where it makes sense, so tools like Tweaks can use those ;)

    “It is mature, also because of the Ubuntu base, even if it has only reached release 0.2.”

    At elementary we do not judge the stability of software by a 1 before the dot, we could have named it Release 2 or 2.0, that number is more for keeping track of things internally ;)

    • Hi Fabian,

      How nice of you to respond so fast!
      I really liked the options added with elementary tweaks. It did not make the systems settings look cluttered, IMHO.
      And about using double-click: I have been a Linux user for many years, but since I am in my mid 40s, I had a life before Linux :-). And I do use Windows on my job, as an IT professional. And somewhere along the line I got used to using double-click. It always irritates me when I try to select a file and it gets opened immediately. I never found an easy workaround for that.

      I really like your distro and wish you lots of success for the future!

      Regards,

      Marcel.

  2. joaco says:

    mmm I’m not sure which Ubuntu I want to use. I like elementary Os, is perfect in almost every aspect for me, but the software is not up-to-date. Then it is Xubuntu 13.10, which has software very updated, but the pantheon environment is not very polished for this version yet, it has some bugs which interfere, specially with gala. So I think I will wait till they make a more polished pantheon environment for Xubuntu, and till then I will be using Elementary OS.
    Anyway, do you know how to make pantheon stable in Xubuntu?

  3. thomas says:

    The very best option would be to get the Pantheon and all other packages making eOS so unique ported to the ArchLinux project. The endless search for a OS would have its end when “ElementaryOS” would be based on Arch. A brilliant desktop on top of a most recent systemsoftware… oh, what a dream…

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