Elementary OS is an open source operating system designed with an emphasis on… well, design. The Linux-based operating system is designed to be fast, versatile and powerful. But what really sets it apart from the crowd is its user interface which is more than a little inspired by Apple’s OS X.

But under the hood Elementary is based on Ubuntu and it can run just about any Linux app that works with Ubuntu.

Elementary first hit the streets in 2011 and last year the team launched its second major version, Elementary Luna. Now the first beta of the third release is available. Meet Elementary Freya beta 1.

elementary

The new version of Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, features Linux kernel 3.13 and all of the hardware drivers you’d get with Ubuntu including support for booting on systems with UEFI bootloaders.

Unlike Ubuntu though, Elementary uses the Pantheon desktop environment which includes an OS X-style dock at the bottom of the screen as well as an app launcher at the top. Icons and apps also include a Mac-inspired look including the music player which looks more than a little like iTunes.

While Elementary has an Apple-like feel, it’s worth checking out for folks who love the versatility of Ubuntu… but not the look and feel of the Unity desktop environment. Theoretically you could install Pantheon on an Ubuntu system to get a similar look and feel, but Elementary has more up-to-date versions of some software including GTK+ 3.12 rather than the GTK 3.10 used by Ubuntu 14.04.

Other new features in Freye include Pantheon Online Accounts, improvements to the Slingshot Search tool, an updated theme, and a number of little tweaks including the ability to search in the Files app with a Ctrl+F shortcut, improved animations, and more.

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19 replies on “Elementary OS Freya beta released: Ubuntu, but prettier”

  1. I’ve been using Elementary OS – Luna for about 2-3 months now on daily bases for my job and I’ve been more than satisfied with it so far. Even if I use eclipse and all the stuff needed for my job the performance is absolutely fantastic. Prior to Elementary OS I was using Ubuntu 14.04 , but the performance of Elementary OS made me stay with Elementary OS.

  2. I always feel a bit queezy when I read such blatant comparisons with OS X. The similarities all make sense and don’t have much to do with OS X as opposed to just logically sound decisions. There are so many ways that it’s more like a traditional Linux desktop both when it comes to apps and the desktop layout.

    I think it’s important that, when we focus on design and cohesion that we don’t bring up Apple every time. We should be able to make things work well and look good without being classified as posers or rip-offs. Elementary has made a lot of good design decisions that break the mold, and it’s a very focused experience compared to what you’ll find on a Mac. I’m not afraid to say that, in many aspects, the experience surpasses that of OS X, and it’s only going to get better.

    I apologize if I sound a bit defensive, but I hope that people can look at elementary on its own merits, much like how we love Linux not for the fact that it’s not Windows, but for the fact that it is Linux.

    1. As I noted before – you can change which side the buttons appear by using elementary-tweaks.

  3. I switched to Ubuntu partly to get away from the Apple design language, so beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as always.

    One of the many things that’s strong about Linux is the variety of versions on offer and its customisation: Elementary OS is not for me, but if others like it, who am I to criticise?

    1. All you need to do to minimize a window is to click on the icon of the application on the dock. Click it again and the window is restored. And if it really bugs you it’s easy enough to change the look to include a minimize button with elementary-tweaks.

  4. “The Linux-based operating system is designed to be fast, versatile and powerful.”

    Are any Linux-base operating systems designed to be slow, inflexible, and ineffective?

    The article is seriously deficient in its failure to inform the reader whether or not these design goals are in any way achieved, and how its performance compares to other Linux-based operating systems.

    “But under the hood Elementary is based on Ubuntu”

    “but Elementary has more up-to-date versions of some software including GTK+ 3.12 rather than the GTK 3.10 used by Ubuntu 14.04.”

    The second statement appears to contradict in part the first statement.

    “its user interface which is more than a little inspired by Apple’s OS X.”

    ” an OS X-style dock at the bottom of the screen as well as an app
    launcher at the top. Icons and apps also include a Mac-inspired look
    including the music player which looks more than a little like iTunes.”

    Why should the reader concur that trying to look more than a little similar to the Apple OS user interface “really sets it apart from the crowd”?

    Surely copying somebody else’s popular and well known design shows a lack of originality and possibly borders on infringing, if not legally, then ethically, the intellectual property rights of others.

    1. I am using VLC as music player, so for me Elementary OS doesn’t look like Mac at all. It’s more like Gnome than anything else. Dock with apps at the bottom of the screen isn’t patented or so unique design part to call whole thing ‘stealing’.

    2. The article is very good.

      Elementary and Ubuntu both are good too.

      Harry don’t be jealous, you need to relax dude. LOL.

      Cheers! 🙂

      1. What’s he being jealous about? There was no indication of jealousy whatsoever in the comment. You sound like the author of the article, who makes statements that don’t make any sense. You need to learn the meaning of words you write.

    3. It’s using Pantheon on top of Ubuntu, you can’t just pick and choose your context of your comments. It IS based on Ubuntu, and uses Pantheon, and some packages have been individually updated. Do you have too much time on your hands?

      1. Did you actually read the guys comment? If you did, did you actually understand what he wrote? I suspect you didn’t in either case because your reply bears no relation to his comment.

  5. I was very impressed with Luna. I might put Freya on this old computer I’ve got once I replace the hard drive.

  6. not upgrading my Luna desktop yet, but got a liveCD of Freya B1 and its really quite good, once its final i’ll happily upgrade

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