I recently had to use a recovery disk to recover the data off my work laptop as the hard disk was failing, so I grabbed the first Linux Format Cover disk in my bag which happened to have Elementary OS Luna on it. I booted into the OS as a live CD and was very impressed by it. It was quick to boot up and very pleasant to use. So much so I removed my Ubuntu 13.10 installation and installed the 64 Bit version as a fresh install.
So far it has been a real pleasure to use. Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. I only found one issue with this in that the Ethernet network card module was not loaded as there was no kernel module in this version. But I found kernel 3.11 in the precise backports and installed that kernel and now my ethernet connection is now working.
As can be seen the desktop uses a dock system similar to that found in OS X called plank. The desktop does not support icons so the desktop is very clean, this took me some getting used to but I’ve been working on reducing the number of icons on my desktop over the past few years so this gave me the final incentive to stop using my desktop as a dis-organised folder.
Something else to get used to is the fact that there is no minimize button to minimize a program you need to click on it’s icon on the dock and the program is minimized for you, another click brings it back. There is a maximize button however.
The number of applications installed as a default is not that many but it was simple to get the applications that I needed by adding the various 3rd party repositories as I would do with any Ubuntu distribution anyhow so it wasn’t a big deal for me.
The elementary OS community repository contains the excellent audience video player. It’s very clean and works well. A great function is that it will resume playback where you left off. This is a philosophy that is part of the developers guidelines, for example in the elementary OS apps there is no save button the software automatically saves, this is particularly found in scratch the elementary text editor. I spent a while looking for a save button only to find that it had saved my work when I re-opened the app.
There was one issue I had with video playback as I had installed the proprietary NVidia drivers and that was video tearing however that was quite simple to fix as the gala window manager is based on mutter, so editing /etc/environment and adding the following lines solved the problem:
Here are a couple of screen shots:
File Manager – Maximised Application menu
Many people have commented on the fact that Elementary OS is for beginners and not for advanced users as it is very simple to use. I largely agree with that although I’ve been a Linux user since 1995 and have found these days I’m fed up with tinkering about with my system – apart from adding repositories to get the software I need and any development I do is for the web. So an environment like this that is very pleasant to use and just works is a welcome break so I can get on and enjoy using my computer for what I want.