We’ve been playing with the very snazzy Elementary OS recently, and it’s actually very nice indeed. Designed as a replacement for the Windows or Apple operating systems on desktop and laptop computers, it’s based on the standard Ubuntu platform, with some nice bells and whistles added.
For one thing it’s very fast indeed. After you’ve got over the shock of windows appearing and disappearing at twice the speed of the conventional O/Ss, you’ll also notice the fact that it is very compatible with most hardware. It’s still got a few glitches, of course, what open source software hasn’t, but the development team seem to be quite efficient in dealing with issues.
For example, touchscreen support is not yet implemented, which means it won’t function very well with your shiny new tablet cum laptop which you just bought. But in our tests we found it to be very robust at finding things like Internet connections and the like, and we couldn’t see any obvious cracks in functionality. We would also like the backup of a solid and very passionate community willing to help out too, although there’s no forum as such.
We have to say we’re not hugely enamored with the Midori web browser which comes as standard, but even there, it’s clearly a work in progress, as it’s improved significantly since the last time we tried it. But there are still some strange quirks around, including font rendering which mean it can be a bit itchy on the eyes. Small quibble, since you can install any of a number of alternatives instantly if you want.
The operating system also comes with its own set of apps as well as Midori, including a music player, email client, photo package and IM program and they seem to work as advertised. As with most of these things, they don’t really match the fully featured alternatives (e.g. Thunderbird, Jabber etc) but they’re fine if you have modest needs.
Overall we have to say we love the software. The dev team have clearly taken time to add polish where it counts, and since it’s based on Ubuntu, it comes with access to a decent enough app store for adding more functionality with the click of a button. We did see complaints that the apps weren’t always upgraded as fast as they should, but we’re assuming that’s a problem that will be fixed sooner rather than later.
A genuinely attractive alternative to the typically bloated software you find on mainstream computers nowadays, and one which deserves to do well. Recommended.