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elementary OS

elementary os, elementary os review
elementary OS is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu It is the flagship distribution to showcase the Pantheon desktop environment,3 similar to how Linux Mint introduced Cinnamon


  • 1 Design philosophy
  • 2 Software
    • 21 Base
    • 22 Pantheon Applications
  • 3 Development
    • 31 Releases
      • 311 01 Jupiter
      • 312 02 Luna
      • 313 03 Freya
      • 314 04 Loki
    • 32 Version table
  • 4 Notes
  • 5 References
    • 51 Apps
  • 6 External links

Design philosophyedit

The elementary OS project aims to solve a number of perceived deficiencies in the established desktop environments:

  • Better global aesthetics by streamlining the user interface
  • Reduce software dependency by using core applications written in the C language or Vala
  • Diminish the need to access the terminal

Although not contrary to the GNU philosophy,4 these deliberate design choices diverge from what most GNU/Linux distributions opt for: a freedom to set up and customize one's own desktop environment The Human Interface Guidelines of the elementary OS project focus instead on immediate usability with a gentle learning curve,5 rather than full-fledged customization The three core rules the developers set for themselves were "concision", "avoid configuration" and "minimal documentation"6

Since its inception, elementary OS has received both praise and criticism for its design, which closely resembles that of macOS both visually and in terms of user experience78

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,9 which is based on Mutter3



Pantheon is built on top of the GNOME software base, ie GTK+, GDK, Cairo, GLib including GObject and GIO, GVfs and Tracker

Pantheon Applicationsedit

See also: List of GTK+ applications

Pantheon applications are either forks of current or older GNOME applications or written from scratch:

  • Pantheon Greeter: Session manager based on LightDMapps 1
  • Wingpanel: Top panel, similar in function to GNOME Shell's top panelapps 2
  • Slingshot: Application launcher located in WingPanelapps 3
  • Plank: Dock upon which Docky is basedapps 4apps 5
  • Switchboard: Settings application or control panelapps 6
  • Web: Web browser based on WebKitGTK+apps 7
  • Mail: Email client written in Valaapps 8
  • Maya: Desktop calendarapps 9
  • Noise: Audio playerapps 10
  • Scratch: Simple text editor, comparable to gedit or leafpadapps 11
  • Pantheon Terminal: Terminal emulatorapps 12
  • Pantheon Files formerly called Marlin: File managerapps 13apps 14
  • Ubiquity-fork

Bryan Lunduke of Network World wrote that the Pantheon desktop environment, the centerpiece of the operating system, was among the best in 201610


The elementary OS distribution initially started as a set of themes and applications designed for Ubuntu which later turned into its own Linux distribution11 Being Ubuntu-based, it is compatible with its repositories and packages and 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 resources12

elementary OS is based on Ubuntu's Long Term Support releases, which its developers actively maintain for bugs and security for years even as development continues on the next release1314

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 had been raised in bounties15


01 Jupiteredit

The first stable version of elementary OS was Jupiter,11 published on 31 March 201116 and based on Ubuntu 1010 Since October 2012, it is no longer supported and thus no longer available for download in elementary OS official web site apart from in a historical capacity1718

02 Lunaedit

elementary OS 02 "Luna"

In November 2012, the first beta version of elementary OS code-named Luna was released, which uses Ubuntu 1204 LTS as a base19 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 applications1920 On 7 August 2013, a countdown clock appeared on the official website with a countdown to 10 August 201321 The second stable version of elementary OS, Luna, was released that same day, along with a complete overhaul and redesign of the elementary OS website22

03 Freyaedit

elementary OS 03 "Freya"

The name of the third stable version of elementary OS, Isis, was proposed in August 2013 by Daniel Foré, the project leader23 It was later changed to Freya to avoid association with the terrorist group ISIS24 It is based on Ubuntu 1404 LTS, which was released in April 201423 The first beta of Freya was released on 11 August 201425 The second beta of Freya was released on 8 February 201526 The final version was released on 11 April 2015, after a countdown clock appeared on the website eight days before its releasecitation needed

Freya was downloaded 12 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 systems15

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 philosophies272829 The elementary OS team has defended the action stating that "Around 99875% of those users download without paying", and have justified an amount populating by default as a measure to ensure the continued development of the distribution29

In a review of all Linux distributions, Linuxcom 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 rules30

04 Lokiedit

elementary OS 04, known by its codename, "Loki", was released on 9 September 201614 Loki was built atop the Ubuntu "long-term support" version released earlier in the yeara14 and its updated kernel 44 Loki revamped the operating system's notifications and added multiple new pieces of standard software It let users set preferences for how their notifications display 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 Lastfm and FastMail, with other services in development15

Loki replaced Freya's Midori web browser with Epiphany, a WebKit2 browser with better performance When 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 events15

elementary OS also created its own app store that simplifies the process of installing and updating applications15 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 tools10 Loki developers received $9,000 in bounties during its development—nearly half of the project's total bounty fundraising15

Jack Wallen of Linuxcom praised Loki as 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 system15 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 established10

Future elementary OS support for self-contained programs like Snappy or Flatpak is planned10

Version tableedit

Version Codename Release date Base
Old version, no longer supported: 01 Jupiter 000000002011-03-31-000031 March 2011 Ubuntu 1010
Old version, no longer supported: 02 Luna 000000002013-08-10-000010 August 2013 Ubuntu 1204 LTS
Old version, no longer supported: 03 Freya 000000002015-04-11-000011 April 2015 Ubuntu 1404 LTS
Old version, no longer supported: 031 Freya 000000002015-09-03-00003 September 2015 Ubuntu 1404 LTS
Older version, yet still supported: 032 Freya 000000002015-12-09-00009 December 2015 Ubuntu 1404 LTS
Latest preview version of a future release: 04 Loki 000000002016-09-09-00009 September 2016 Ubuntu 1604 LTS14
Future release: 05 Juno TBD TBA31
Legend: Old version Older version, still supported Latest version Latest preview version Future release


  1. ^ Ubuntu 1604 LTS, Xenial Xerus, will be supported until 202114


  1. ^ "Loki 04 Stable Release!" blogelementaryio 9 September 2016 Retrieved 11 September 2016 
  2. ^ James, Cassidy 14 November 2012 "Hello, Luna Beta 1" ElementaryOSorg Retrieved 20 February 2014 
  3. ^ a b Cassidy James 14 November 2012 "Hello, Luna Beta 1" Elementary OS Retrieved 20 February 2014 
  4. ^ "GNU philosophy" GNU Project 16 March 2015 Retrieved 16 April 2015 
  5. ^ "eOS Human Interface Guidelines" Retrieved 16 April 2015 Users will accomplish tasks more quickly because you will have a straight-forward interface design that isn't confusing or difficult 
  6. ^ "eOS Design Philosophy" Retrieved 16 April 2015 
  7. ^ "Elementary OS Luna Released" 11 August 2013 Retrieved 20 April 2015 
  8. ^ Finley, Klint 25 November 2013 "Out in the Open: Say Hello to the Apple of Linux OSes" Wired 
  9. ^ Foré, Daniel; Tate, Sam; Beckmann, Tom; Davidoff, Sergey 15 September 2012 "Meet Gala: The Window Manager" ElementaryOSorg Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  10. ^ a b c d Lunduke, Bryan 13 October 2016 "elementary OS 04: Review and interview with the founder" Network World Retrieved 17 October 2016 
  11. ^ a b Gupta, Vishal 19 April 2011 "Elementary OS "Jupiter": Awesome Linux Distribution Based on Ubuntu" AskVG Archived from the original on 20 October 2013 Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  12. ^ Nemec, Tom 13 August 2013 "Elementary OS 'Luna': Eine Mac OS X ähnelnde Linux-Distribution" Weblogit in German Retrieved 20 February 2014 
  13. ^ Gilbertson, Scott 10 May 2016 "Ubuntu 1604 proves even an LTS release can live at Linux's bleeding edge" Ars Technica Condé Nast 
  14. ^ a b c d e Nestor, Marius 9 September 2016 "elementary OS 04 "Loki" Officially Released, It's Based on Ubuntu 1604 LTS" Softpedia SoftNews 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Wallen, Jack 9 September 2016 "Elementary OS Loki Has Arrived" Linuxcom Retrieved 25 September 2016 
  16. ^ Foré, Daniel 15 August 2015 "How old is Elementary's project" Elementary blog Retrieved 2 September 2015 
  17. ^ Pastor Nóbrega, Javier 19 October 2012 "Elementary OS "Jupiter" deja de estar disponible" MuyLinux in Spanish Retrieved 20 February 2014 
  18. ^ Andrei, Alin 12 October 2012 "Elementary OS Jupiter no longer available for download, makes room for Luna" Web Upd8 Retrieved 20 February 2014 
  19. ^ a b Andrei, Alin 14 November 2012 "Elementary OS Luna beta 1 available for download" Web Upd8 Retrieved 20 February 2014 
  20. ^ Larabel, Michael 6 May 2013 "Elementary OS Luna Beta 2 Released" Phoronix Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  21. ^ Jacobs, Robin 9 August 2013 "Mysterious countdown appears on Elementary OS website" Muktware Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  22. ^ Jacobs, Robin 11 August 2013 "Elementary OS Luna says Hello World" Muktware Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  23. ^ a b Foré, Daniel 16 August 2013 "Luna+1's Name and Some Other Stuff" elementary-dev-community mailing list Retrieved 14 September 2013 
  24. ^ James, Cassidy 22 June 2014 "Elementary OS Isis is now Freya" ElementaryOSorg Retrieved 1 October 2014 
  25. ^ Foré, Daniel 11 August 2014 "Freya Beta 1 Available for Developers & Testers" ElementaryOSorg Retrieved 12 August 2014 
  26. ^ Foré, Daniel 8 February 2015 "Freya Beta 2 is here!" ElementaryOSorg Retrieved 9 February 2015 
  27. ^ "Online Community Goes Nuts After elementary OS Devs Say People Should Pay" softpedia Retrieved 8 January 2016 
  28. ^ "Should you pay for Elementary OS" InfoWorld Retrieved 8 January 2016 
  29. ^ a b "Payments" blogelementaryio Retrieved 8 January 2016 
  30. ^ Bhartiya, Swapnil 12 January 2016 "The Best Linux Distros of 2016" Linuxcom The Linux Foundation 
  31. ^ "elementary OS juno-beta1" Launchpad Canonical Retrieved 14 January 2017 


  1. ^ "Pantheon Login Screen in Launchpad" Launchpadnet Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  2. ^ "Wingpanel in Launchpad" Launchpadnet Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  3. ^ "Slingshot in Launchpad" Launchpadnet Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  4. ^ "Plank in Launchpad" Launchpadnet Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  5. ^ "Plank readme" Launchpadnet 23 January 2011 Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  6. ^ "Switchboard in Launchpad" Launchpadnet Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  7. ^ "Epiphany Browser" Launchpadnet Retrieved 12 September 2016 
  8. ^ "Mail is an email client for elementary OS" Launchpadnet Retrieved 12 September 2016 
  9. ^ "Maya in Launchpad" Launchpadnet Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  10. ^ "Noise in Launchpad" Launchpadnet Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  11. ^ "Scratch in Launchpad" Launchpadnet Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  12. ^ "Pantheon Terminal in Launchpad" Launchpadnet Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  13. ^ "Files in Launchpad" Launchpadnet Retrieved 11 August 2013 
  14. ^ "Pantheon Files readme" Launchpadnet 8 November 2010 Retrieved 11 August 2013 

External linksedit

  • Official website
  • Elementary at DistroWatch
  • elementary OS archive and downloads

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elementary OS

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