Elementary OS - A Simple Linux Distribution With An "Appleish" Touch
Elementary OS was not the first Linux operating system that I have tried, but it is the first operating system that got my loyalty. The team has over 50 volunteer members, a big fan base and a razor sharp focus on developing the user interface and the user experience, by their release notes (more on that below) we can see that they care by how the average user (that is, not a hardcore Linux user) perceive the operating system they are building.
When I first started getting involved with blockchain I felt the desire to get closer to the open source community, but just using open source tools was not enough, as a former Windows user I felt very limited by what Microsoft thought my experience with their OS should be, also to be honest, as a developer their command terminal is the worst, so it was not a great experience on my free time and was an even worse experience on my working time.
I thought, for a moment, on getting a Macintosh from Apple because it's command terminal is almost as powerful as the Linux's one, and the computer looks pretty, but it is not "the premium they charge" more powerful or prettier, so Macintosh was out of question! Though I still have a crush on Apple...
So I have started trying many Linux distributions, but never kept any on my laptop for more than 1 week because I either got bored with their clumsy, ugly or difficult to understand interface.
So, while searching by a Debian based Linux distribution (I will tell shortly why you want a Debian based Linux if you are lazy like me) and I've found this one, Elementary OS, which promised a fast, open and privacy respecting replacement (you'd be astonished by how many data your Windows or Mac gets from you daily!!!!), and the best, it has a simple, minimalist and Mac like interface, because come on, even Apple haters must admit that the Apple team has a good sense of design, and so does Elementary OS team! (I have already admitted that company is my crush)
Debian based distribution
I am not, by any means, a hardcore user, I am a programmer, but I always prefer to take the easy and simple way to use my computer for anything, from entertainment to work, and that is exactly why most Linux distributions I have used before couldn't satisfy me for too long, but since Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu and ubuntu supports Debian packages I do not have troubles installing software, which makes the life of any lazy user much easier.
Oh, side note: It is based on the latest stable Ubuntu version, the 18.04, but you don't even need to know what it is actually, it just means that it is up to date, secure and stable, so they can focus more on the interface and experience of their system.
Now, why are debian packages important? If you have ever used a Linux before (more so if you didn't!) you know how scary this screen is
If you want to install something on Linux, chances are you NEED TO KNOW HOW TO USE THE COMMAND TERMINAL!
There is no escape...
But, luckily for us, Elementary OS users, they support debian packages, that means ,you can, just like on Windows, download a file, double click it, and the file installs itself!! Like magic!
On windows those files that install themselves usually have the extension
.exe, on a Debian based Linux distribution (we call distributions "distro" on the Linux world, look at me, can't even use the terminal but know Linux slangs haha) the extension is
If I want to install some software I just have to search for it's
Take a look here at a few softwares I have downloaded on my system recently, and they are all
.deb one click install softwares!
And it is as simple as I have said, I just need to double click the package and it installs itself just like on Windows or on Mac, I think on the Macintosh those packages are called
.img but I am not sure, I have only used a Macbook for 1 month on an intensive iOS/Switft development course I took on university
I am relating this experience to you because I almost gave up on Linux before I knew that those Debians existed, but once I discovered them I did not have to touch the terminal outside of my work anymore!
Because yes, while on my work I must use the Linux terminal, there is no escape, at home, when I just want install Spotify or whatever on my free time to entertain myself, I am totally lazy!
On the Appcenter there is basically an app for everything you could want an app for, and they are at one click of distance (some are 2 clicks away, more on that shortly), and everything is free, open source, and curated by the Elementary OS team, so you can be sure that there is nothing dangerous on there
But wait, did I say free? Then what does this mean?
OMG, WERE I LYING?!
No, calm down! Let me explain:
Yes, some apps do have a "price tag", but it is not a mandatory payment, it is a donation that the developer kindly asks for, but you can skip it and *DOWNLOAD ANY APP FOR FREE, because, as I have said, yes, they are free! But some apps come with a default donation recommendation, I try to donate whenever I can, but when I can't I just change the donation value to zero and proceed to download it
Though I highly recommend Elementary OS users making donations whenever they can too, the team need to grow, they have big plans and on their Patreon page they describe how much exactly they need and what are their exact plans for that money.
One of the other reasons why I once thought about changing from Windows to Mac is security. It is much easier to get malwares on Windows than on Unix based systems (both Elementary and Macintosh are Unix!!!)
Luckily for us, Elementary OS is based on the latest stable Ubuntu release (18.04), you don't have to understand it, I don't, but you can rest assured that Ubuntu has it's security supported and tested by independent geeks and governments across the world, if you want to read more about it's security check
And a pretty face
Well, as I have said before, one the main things I look for on a system is how it looks and feel, and I personally love Apple's Macintosh user interface. But Elementary OS saved me a ton of money offering a similar (some would say improved) experience across the system.
Here are a few screenshots from my own system!
Really, their sense of design and user experience is on point, and by reading the HUGE release note you can see that they
- Hide the ugly Linux things from the user
- Focus on the interface
- Have a big focus on the user experience
- Do some sort of "Interface/look/feel first"-driven development
Well, just made this last term, but it describes pretty well the huge release note they threw on their blog
Another very cool thing from the developer team is that they offer tools and guides for developers to build apps specifically for the Elementary os
On the page https://developer.elementary.io/
They offer more details on how to develop and deploy your app on the app center.
You can start developing or port your app to Elementary OS, though the app is in the model of pay-what-you-want, when an user decides to donate to your app, you get to keep 70% of the revenue, to be honest it does not sound very good, 70% is not much and if you account that the payment is optional it sounds a bit like not such a good deal. But the upside is that the team seems to have a very clear road-map of what they want for the future of the system with their own app store and development guide.
Cool, but how to get it?
It is not hard to get it, but you might have to do some work if you wanna get the best free operating system out there (personal opinion)
To download it just go to the main page
You can set the donation for free and just click download, but I recommend that, like I did, as soon as you find out "well, actually I do like this system, guess I'll stick with it" you go to their patreon page
And pledge at least one dollar monthly to support the development, talking about development
The team behind it all
There are 58 people on the page of the team
but they are all volunteers, that is why, as mentioned right above, it is important to support the project financially, they have dozens of volunteer top notch developers, but, according to the Patreon page, they still need to reach over 6 thousand monthly donations to be able to hire 3 full time developers to make the project even better (oh, boy, am I excited to see what marvelous things they will build when they reach it)
Elementary OS website
Elementary OS installation guide by the team
Elementary OS github
Elementary OS latest version release note
Ubuntu 18.04 (base system for Elementary OS) security notices
Elementary OS app developers center
Patreon page for the project