Elementary Inc recently released the 6th version of their popular Linux Distro, Elementary OS. In typical Elementary OS fashion, the latest version is named after a god. In this case, Odin Borson, the king of Asgard father to Thor and Hela protector of the realm Nine realms and adoptive father to the naughty god and Disney+ hit T.V show main character, Loki.
Elementary OS aims to be simple and easy to use so it’s rather conservative when it comes to options, what you can customise and how often it is updated. The only thing that you are supposed to change after installing it is perhaps the wallpaper. This is why it’s one of my top five favourite distros. It kind of takes the Mac OS/Windows approach where the designers make something beautiful and hope it will appeal to everyone rather than GNOME’s complex approach.
Crash course on Linux distros and Elementary
New beginners might find the Linux world so confusing. The thing is the Linux operating system itself doesn’t actually exist. You have different bits of open-source software scattered around the internet. All these libraries can be compiled, paired with a kernel, combined in different ways, customised and turned into a specific flavour of Linux known as a distro.
To make things even more confusing some distros are based on other distros. So for example someone made a distro known as Debian. One guy was not happy with aspects of it so they forked the code and made Ubuntu. Some Ubuntu users were not happy with it they forked the code and made Elementary OS while others made Linux Mint.
This version of Elementary is based on Ubuntu 20.04 which was released last year. I told you the devs were conservative kind of like the guys behind Centos OS. I know it’s dizzying but that’s just how open source works. There are literally thousands of different Linux flavours each with its own quirks. For example, the main difference between Ubuntu and Elementary is the Pantheon desktop environment.
Yes, there are different kinds of desktops too. The main ones are:
- GNOME the default desktop for most popular distros including Ubuntu, Debian and Fedora
- KDE- this is a pretty malleable desktop environment. You can make it look like a Mac OS or Windows 11 desktop.
- XFCE- a simple light weight desktop that’s popular with minimalistic distros.
- LXDE-the desktop used in Lubuntu another light weight distro
- Cinnamon used in Linux Mint
- Budgie used in Bugdie and Ubuntu Budgie
- Deepin used in Deepin
And there is Pantheon of course.
What’s new in Elementary OS 6
- It’s based on Ubuntu 20.04.02 the latest version of Ubuntu LTS
- A newer kernel specifically version 5.11
- Massive UI improvements including a dark mode in the settings. You can also have sunset/sunrise based dark mode
- New font typeface called Inter is used throughout. Inter is a Google font
- 10 new inbuilt themes. I told you they aim to make thing simple. This is different from GNOME where they are hundreds of themes you have to figure out.
- If you have a touch screen you will be happy to learn that the latest version comes with multi-touch support.
- A new looking desktop mail client. Who uses these anymore?
- A new camera app. If you are one of those people that likes to take photos and videos using your computer’s camera.
- Flatpaks now dominate the software store. Remember we looked at them the other day.
- Just like in Android you can now manage app permissions for each app in Settings
NB: You can still install old compiled apps, as opposed to Flatpaks, via the terminal using apt-get install. By default the App Center install Flatpaks. You can also install Flatpaks from other repos using the .flatpakref file of the specific app.
P.S. Technically Elementary is not a free OS. It’s a pay what you can distro. If you want to download for free just enter a 0 in the Custom $ field.