elementary OS "Loki"
|Source model||Open source|
|Initial release||31 March 2011|
|Latest release||0.4.1 "Loki" / 17 May 2017|
|Latest preview||5.0 "Juno" Beta 2 / 20 September 2018|
|Kernel type||Monolithic (Linux kernel)|
|Default user interface||Pantheon|
|License||GNU GPL, LGPL|
elementary OS is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. It is the flagship distribution to showcase the Pantheon desktop environment. The distribution promotes itself as a “fast and open” replacement to macOS and Windows. It focuses mainly on non-technical users, and has a pay-what-you-want model. The OS is developed by elementary LLC.
The human interface guidelines of the elementary OS project focus on immediate usability with a gentle learning curve, rather than full-fledged customization. The three core rules the developers set for themselves were "concision", "avoid configuration" and "minimal documentation".
Pantheon's main shell is deeply integrated with other elementary OS applications, like Plank (a dock), Epiphany (the default web browser) and Scratch (a simple text editor). This distribution uses Gala as its window manager, which is based on Mutter.
Pantheon applications are either forks of current or older GNOME applications or are written from scratch:
- Pantheon Greeter: session manager based on LightDM[apps 1]
- Gala: window manager[apps 2]
- Wingpanel: top panel, similar in function to GNOME Shell's top panel[apps 3]
- Slingshot: application launcher located in WingPanel[apps 4]
- Plank: dock (upon which Docky is based)[apps 5][apps 6]
- Switchboard: settings application (or control panel)[apps 7]
- GNOME Web: web browser based on WebKitGTK+[apps 8]
- Mail: email client written in Vala[apps 9]
- Maya: desktop calendar[apps 10]
- Noise: audio player[apps 11]
- Scratch: simple text editor, comparable to gedit or leafpad[apps 12]
- Pantheon Terminal: terminal emulator[apps 13]
- Pantheon Files (formerly called Marlin): file manager[apps 14][apps 15]
- Distinst: Installer built with the help of System76.
Bryan Lunduke of Network World wrote that the Pantheon desktop environment, the centerpiece of the operating system, was among the best in 2016.
The elementary OS distribution initially started as a set of themes and applications designed for Ubuntu which later turned into its own Linux distribution. Being Ubuntu-based, it is compatible with its repositories and packages and prior to version 0.4 "Loki", uses Ubuntu's own software center to handle installation/removal of software. Its user interface aims at being intuitive for new users without consuming too many resources.
elementary OS founder Daniel Foré has said that the project is not designed to compete with existing open source projects but to expand their reach. The project also seeks to create open source jobs through developer bounties placed on specific development tasks. As of the 2016 Loki release, US$17,500 in bounties had been raised.
The first stable version of elementary OS was Jupiter, published on 31 March 2011 and based on Ubuntu 10.10. Since October 2012, it is no longer supported and thus no longer available for download from the elementary OS official web site apart from in a historical capacity.
In November 2012, the first beta version of elementary OS code-named Luna was released, which uses Ubuntu 12.04 LTS as a base. The second beta version of Luna was released on 6 May 2013, carrying more than 300 bug fixes and several changes such as improved support for multiple localizations, multiple display support and updated applications. On 7 August 2013, a countdown clock appeared on the official website with a countdown to 10 August 2013. The second stable version of elementary OS, Luna, was released that same day, along with a complete overhaul and redesign of the elementary OS website.
The name of the third stable version of elementary OS, Isis, was proposed in August 2013 by Daniel Foré, the project leader. It was later changed to Freya to avoid association with the terrorist group ISIS. It is based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, which was released in April 2014. The first beta of Freya was released on 11 August 2014. The second beta of Freya was released on 8 February 2015. The final version was released on 11 April 2015, after a countdown clock appeared on the website eight days before its release.
Freya was downloaded 1.2 million times. In line with elementary's intent to expand the reach of open source software, 73 percent of Freya downloads were from closed source operating systems.
In 2015, the elementary OS developers changed the download page to default to a monetary amount before providing a direct HTTP download for the current stable release. Despite the fact that the user was able to supply any amount, or no amount at all, it sparked controversy about how such practices are typically not perceived as being in alignment with FOSS distribution philosophies. The elementary OS team has defended the action stating that "Around 99.875% of those users download without paying", and that it is needed to ensure the continued development of the distribution.
In a review of all Linux distributions, Linux.com gave elementary OS their "best-looking distro" superlative in early 2016. The reviewer noted its developers' design background, their influence from Mac OS X, and their philosophy of prioritizing strict design rules and applications that follow these rules.
elementary OS 0.4, known by its codename, "Loki", was released on 9 September 2016. Loki was built atop the Ubuntu "long-term support" version released earlier in the year[a] and its updated kernel (4.4). Loki revamped the operating system's notifications and added multiple new pieces of standard software. It let users set notification display preferences. Updated notification menu bar indicators began to display information from the notification—such as the title of an email—rather than a general alert. The operating system also added a system-wide integration for online accounts for Last.fm and FastMail, with other services in development.
Loki replaced Freya's Midori web browser with Epiphany, a WebKit2 browser with better performance. When Yorba, the developers of the Geary email application, dissolved, elementary OS forked Geary as "Mail" and added new visual and integration features. In a new calendar feature, users could describe events in natural language, which the calendar program interprets and places into the proper time and description fields when creating events.
elementary OS also created its own app store that simplifies the process of installing and updating applications. Project founder Daniel Foré called the AppCenter the biggest feature in the Loki release, and noted its speed improvement over other installation methods and internal development benefits for departing from Ubuntu's upgrade tools. Loki developers received $9,000 in bounties during its development—nearly half of the project's total bounty fundraising.
Jack Wallen of Linux.com praised Loki as being among the most elegant and best-designed Linux desktops. He found the web browser and app store changes to be significant improvements, and the email client revamp "a much-needed breath of fresh air" in a stagnating field. Overall, Wallen surmised that existing users would appreciate Loki's polish and new users would find it to be a perfect introduction to the operating system. Bryan Lunduke of Network World lauded Loki's performance, usability, polish, and easy installation, but considered it a better fit for new Linux users than for those already established.
The elementary OS team received a large donation from an anonymous donor in early August 2018. The donation has allowed the development team to hire a full time marketing director and expand long term viability for the project.
|Old version, no longer supported: 0.1||Jupiter||31 March 2011||Ubuntu 10.10|
|Old version, no longer supported: 0.2||Luna||10 August 2013||Ubuntu 12.04 LTS|
|Old version, no longer supported: 0.3||Freya||11 April 2015||Ubuntu 14.04 LTS|
|Old version, no longer supported: 0.3.1||Freya||3 September 2015||Ubuntu 14.04 LTS|
|Old version, no longer supported: 0.3.2||Freya||9 December 2015||Ubuntu 14.04 LTS|
|Older version, yet still supported: 0.4||Loki||9 September 2016||Ubuntu 16.04 LTS|
|Current stable version: 0.4.1||Loki||17 May 2017||Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS|
|Future release: 5.0||Juno||TBD||Ubuntu 18.04 LTS|
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Users will accomplish tasks more quickly because you will have a straight-forward interface design that isn't confusing or difficult.
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