Elementary OS is a Linux distro building up on Ubuntu 12.04. I’ve been using it as my main operating system on my laptop for one month now, so I’ve made some experiences with the System. To cut right to my conclusion, just jump to the bottom.
Linux distros are dime a dozen out there, so what makes this one special? Well first of all, it looks just amazing. The UI is consistent, clear, clean and beautiful. It reminded me a bit of Mac OSX, clean and simple. An other great thing is, that it is super lightweight. I had XUbunutu installed before, and it uses about the same amount of CPU power and internal memory. This was really hard to believe for me, because it has so many animations and normally you have to pay a price for a good looking OS.
Under the Shell
Elementary OS (EOS) is built on Ubuntu 12.04, but the did a lot of work on the kernel to improve it. The Elementary Project exists since 2007. They started by creating programs for Ubuntu. In 2011 They released their first distro in march 2011, the second one was released in August 2013. The team does not only work on the distro itself, but also on many programs for it. This brings the huge advantage, that they can influence the design principles way better. Actually, the focus on design priciples is rather high. They created their own guidelines, how the create programs, where to put what, and what UI elements to use, so that the user experience does not change from one program to an other.
I like to customize my OS, so that was a huge topic for me. Even though EOS wants to give the user an out of the box experience and tries to get away from overconfiguration, I still found everything I wanted. You’ve hot corners you can configure, keyboard shortcuts, all the power settings you’re used to from Ubuntu, it has a neat color management configuration included and a lot of other stuff. If that’s not enough you also have the possibility to install elementary tweaks, which brings a lot more features. What I really liked, was that I didn’t had to change that much, I added some keyboard shortcuts, changed the power settings a bit and was totally happy.
There is a dock at the upper left, which you can use by pressing super+space. Everybody who used gnome do before, will love this. It is almost the same as gnome do, but has the feature to browse through the programs, and it just once again has a consistent UI. The terminal looks great too, but is a good example, where the weaknesses of EOS are. You’ve got no preferences at all. So you can’t change the background color of transparency, you can’t choose custom shortcuts for creating new tabs and you can’t find any help or information in the program itself. That is annoying and shows, that the OS itself is rather young, and not too many people had there hands on every program.
The file manager is really neat, even though it seems to have dead locks at some points (Lately I haven’t noticed any, maybe they fixed them). The only thing I miss in the pantheon file explorer is a sophisticated search function like in windows. You have to work with the terminal for that.
I’ve encountered a few problems, one of them was really major for me: The OS froze once a day. That was super annoying and I didn’t have that kind of problem in any other distro I tried so far. Luckily I got the problem fixed, by updating the kernel to Ubuntu 13.10. No freezes ever since. All other problems were minor, sometimes I had to stop and start the file explorer and a few times I couldn’t switch workplaces.
Elementary OS is on the right track to become the best distro out there. It still has a few childhood illnesses, but even with them it shines with its UI and performance. I use it now for half a year, and I don’t want to change to anything else. The next steps will be, to create a completely new Software center with their upcoming Version “Isis“, but this probably take a bit more time.