5 Myths About elementaryby Cassidy James

Whether I'm browsing Google+, responding to tweets from @elementary, or telling friends about elementary in the flesh, I'm bound to hear some random myth about elementary that is just plain false. I've noticed a few (five, to be exact) that seem to keep cropping up. Rather than copy-pasta my response to each and every comment out there, I decided it'd be more worth my time to lay them out and tackle them one-by-one here.

elementary is just a theme on top of Ubuntu

Most people have seen what elementary is now, but some are stuck in 2010 and think it's all about the icon and GTK themes. While these are distinct and important aspects of elementary as a whole, we've grown far beyond just themes. elementary includes an entire operating system (elementary OS) built from an Ubuntu core, a desktop environment (Pantheon) and all of its components, several apps (Files, Noise, Audience, Maya, Terminal, Scratch, Snap, and Switchboard to name a few), a developer toolkit (Granite), a design style, and a set of Human Interface Guidelines. There's so much more to it than "just" a theme.

elementary OS uses GNOME Shell

GNOME Shell Screenshot
GNOME Shell

The first ever release of elementary OS in 2011, Jupiter, was built from Ubuntu 10.10 and subsequently included the core GNOME 2 stack. This included the GNOME session itself along with some of the GNOME apps. After Jupiter, we realized we could only improve the user experience so much by building from an existing desktop environment, and we started work on Pantheon, a modern DE. We stripped back the GNOME components that we didn't want or need, built replacements where appropriate, and started to nail the UX between WingPanel, Plank, Slingshot, and the other components. Around the same time, GNOME was hard at work with GNOME Shell, another modern DE.

elementary has never used GNOME Shell, and the user experience between the two is quite different. Because work on Pantheon was happening around the same time that GNOME was developing GNOME Shell, many people seem to think that Pantheon is actually a fork of or built from GNOME Shell.

Also, the panels are the same color (black), at least in Luna.

elementary Forked GNOME Shell or Mutter

Related to the previous misconception, many people seem to think that we've forked GNOME Shell and/or Mutter for our DE Pantheon or window manager Gala. Neither is true (check the source for yourself), but something more exciting is true.

Gala, a core component of our Pantheon desktop environment is built using LibMutter, the same core that GNOME Shell is built on for its window management. This means we can completely control our user experience while also benefitting from improvements and new developer-facing features under the hood.

Installing Pantheon on ____ is the same as using elementary OS

elementary develops Pantheon, our desktop environment, for elementary OS. Conveniently for many users out there, elementary OS itself is built from the same core as Ubuntu LTS versions. This means Pantheon tends to work on these versions of Ubuntu. However, Pantheon isn't all there is to elementary OS; we also have several changes under the hood that make the OS run better, and in some instances (like with the upcoming Isis release) we include newer libraries than Ubuntu. making it more difficult to use Pantheon on Ubuntu. In addition, we develop and test on elementary OS itself, and we can't always predict the conflicts users will run into when using Pantheon on other platforms.

We don't discourage users from installing Pantheon on their favorite compatible OS, we just don't officially support it and won't be surprised if they run into issues.

Luna is outdated

Ancient photo of Luna
Ancient photo of Luna

Here's one I hear mostly on Google+: "Luna is so old and outdated, why don't you guys release a new version already?" This is crazy and probably attributable to the relatively fast pace of other open source releases. But look out into the greater pool of operating systems. Is an operating system considered ancient after a short six months? Especially if that operating system has received constant minor updates during that time frame with new versions of apps, fixes, and tweaks? Of course not; our current OS version is Luna and we're pushing out improvements to it all the time.

Further, thanks to the folks over at Canonical, we even have a new hardware enablement stack available to users that includes new drivers and a new kernel for hardware that came out after Luna was released. This is installable in Luna already, but we're also working on a new download image that has it (along with all updates to Luna) included, making installs on new hardware even easier.


Are there any other myths about elementary you've heard? Have any questions that could be cleared up? Hit up the comments and I'll respond.


Originally published on Cassidy's personal blog. Cross-posted here with permission.

Published April 1st, 2014
Comments

110 Comments


oldjohnno 3 days ago

I recently updated my notebook (which is admittedly a few years old) to Trusty from Precise. The difference in performance was remarkable - where Precise was virtually instant, Trusty showed a very noticeable lag. I was going to revert back to Precise but tried a few alternative distros including Luna. I love it, the snappy performance is back and it’s a pleasure to use. If updating it to 14 involves a similar drop in performance to what I found with my Ubuntu update I’d be just as happy for it to stay with the old “outdated” (but fast) base.


mythreya 2 days ago

I am currently using Freya and am glad to report that it is much faster than ubuntu 14. It is even a bit faster than luna. Though I wouldn’t recommend anyone installing it now as it has a few bugs that get fixed in an update and then come back in another. But if you are dualbooting like me go for it.


sebi506
Sebastian Weiland 2 weeks ago

I greatly appreciate your post on the myths about elementary that are out there. However I have to disagree with you in one point: Elementary IS in fact (sometimes) outdated. As Luna is using Ubuntu 12.04 LTS as a base, it is in some cases impossible to get updates for applications. For instance, I was not able to update the hplip drivers, which leaves me unable to scan files from my wireless printer.

I know, that Isis is in the making and I hope there will soon be an alpha or a beta release, however I just wanted to point out this issue to you, as you mention in your post, that Luna isn’t outdated, even though it - in some cases - is.

PS: Yes, I already posted this comment on Cassidys personal blog, however I think it will reach more people here.


sujit suram 3 weeks ago

i love elementary os , it was my first linux distro and i have to say look very beautiful and very fast. it isn’t that old, but the lack of support for uefi is a bit of a problem for me, as a student i need to use ms office(wine isnt my thing) so i need to dual boot to win 8 every time which isn’t possible unless i have uefi enabled. and i recently bought a new notebook and i do a lot of gaming in it the problem gaming in linux is very good , and i find it difficult to install drivers and finally nvidia optimus technology is not supported in linux which kind of sucks because the battery life is already terrible in my notebook . pls let me know if my new notebook can adapt completely to linux or i rather say eOS.

notebook details: http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834314129CVF&cmre=acerv3772g9643--34-314-129CVF--Product


mythreya 2 days ago

You may have issues with enabling the Nvidia card but it should run fine if you let it run on the default intel hd card. As for the dualboot, elementary does support uefi but it has no uefi boot loader. I have several linux distros installed so i use their bootloaders to boot. If you have a few gb to spare, you can install elementary (create boot medium with unetbootin to get uefi boot) then install a minimal linux distro (i used arch) run grub-update if it is buntu based or osprober and grub-mkconfig for arch. You should be able to boot into elementary windows and your third distro with one bootloader. Arch should install in less than 3gb.


daspicer 3 weeks ago

I ran Luna for about a month when it first came out, and now I’m back. I’ve replaced all the applications with more conventional applications, tweaked it out about as far as I can get it, and it’s still fast. Can’t wait for the new 14.04 version.


johnd
johnd 4 weeks ago

I bought a broken Lenovo T420 (i7) for peanuts off of ebay and got it running in an hour. Slapped an Intel 530 SSD in, loaded elementary, and never looked back. Great battery life, super fast, and stable. It really is the perfect desktop for me, simple and elegant.


GerardV 1 month ago

Have used it for about a month now and absolutely love it. Have been a Kubuntu user for years and started out dual booting. But i find myself using eOS as my primary os more and more.
Wel done guys !


ritik 2 months ago

Youy should have ebunked one more myth that I see almost everywhere : elementary OS is a Mac clone.


ritik 2 months ago

*you *debunked


Patrick Goetz 2 months ago

I recently discovered elementary OS and have become a big fan of pantheon, Gala, the file manager, etc..  So much nicer than gnome3—nice work!

Question:  have you ever considered rebasing Elementary on Arch?  This would instantly resolve everyone’s “your software is out of date” complaints, since Arch works on the “rolling release” model, and hence is almost always completely up to date.  I’ve been using linux since version 0.99 and suspect that an eOS based on Arch would be nearly unstoppable as the best desktop distro from every possible perspective.


Ashley Wrench 2 months ago

Just want to say, This is the only OS that is linux and I love, i used ubuntu for about a month and nearly committed suicide - This made me want to stay on linux and by doing so, I find it way more easy and better than any other OS out there. elementary is truly a OS of its own! Elementary for nearly a year now - gonna go out on a piss-up when I reach a year!!


runej 2 months ago

I use elementaryOS not for what it is now, but for what it will become. It suits my needs very well, however, OK, I am also mostly using it for web development, which it’s great for. But in my mind it has a great future ahead, not least because the team behind seems to have a clear vision of where it should go.


runej 2 months ago

yeah… vision, money and marketing… as for the second one, having been a Microsoft user all my life, I decided to spent the same amount of money I lost on Vista into elementary on bountysource. I like when things are evened out a bit, and I do not believe in putting all my eggs in one basket.


arvindpdmn 2 months ago

I have an old Dell Latitude D410, Intel Centrino single core, 1 GB RAM. I installed Ubuntu 14.04 but often performance is poor. If I migrate to elementary will the performance improve? Is elementary a slimmer version of Ubuntu, or is it adding things on top of Ubuntu? Thanks.


Ashley Wrench 2 months ago

Like the post said - ‘Elementary is more than a theme’ . Luna (Most stable version of Elementary) Fell’s itself, completely apart form Linux all together, never mind shitbuntu (sorry but it is really) , It is fast and (by the size of the download , pretty small to!  So yes it is very fast!
P.S The new version (Isis) has already achived a start-up time of less then 20 seconds on my machine (4gb ram 2.6Ghz processor and basic hardrive (not SSD))


shoully
Ihab Shoully 2 months ago

How about supporting GFX & CAD apps, such Adobe and Autodesk without Wine and VM ?


runej 2 months ago

There are signs of Linux users changing their mind set. Steam is one thing, where you can buy native games for Linux. Ubuntu having paid for applications in Software center (along with open source/free) is another. Lightworks is a semi- professional video editor going the Linux way too with paid-for software: http://www.lwks.com/index.php?opti
and here: http://www.lwks.com/index.php?opti
How soon Adobe & AutoDesk will see it… it will take time I guess, because first the smaller companies have to proove that they can earn money on Linux selling software, then the bigger companies will follow.

But I hope that eOS will get a software center like Ubuntu’s where you can also buy software. I am very convinced that it will improove the over all software quality that the developers can get money from their work.


Ashley Wrench 2 months ago

Most of Adobe software is written in C anyway, (may be wrong :P) so it might take hours to port it, i think Microsoft and Apple might have a say in there development and porting! Sorry, but my conspiracy theories about Apple and Microsoft will flood this site ^.^


runej 2 months ago

Those companies are pragmatic, or at least they should be, if they want to earn any money. If the user base is there, they will likely port it.

I’m not liking Microsoft that much, or rather, I disliked Steve Balmer a lot for being extremely arrogant and giving the users the middle finger, but with Balmer completely out of the way I see new possible future. Might be on same conditions as when they make software ports to Apple products, though.

However, Linux is quite young as a desktop system, I’d say it’s around 15-20 years behind Microsoft and Apple in that respect. eOS is just a good step in the right direction, estimated (from my point of view) being as competitive as those companies desktop OSes for everyone within the next 10-15 years (and by then eOS will probably be on wearable tech as well, eh).

But development could happen faster, if big companies suddenly see a use for desktop Linux, just look at how fast it did it for smart phone. In the end it’s all about money for development of the OS and a huge marketing budget, then things can happen almost from day to day. Without those money, things will go way slower, and there will be more mistakes.

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