Elementary OS, A Light But Beautifully Designed Linux Distro
Nowadays there are several Linux distributions (distros) available, each one built differently and in order to serve specific purposes. There are distros specifically created for desktops, or for laptops, distros made for old computers which take few resources, distros specially assembled for beginners, and so on. However, there is a fact that needs to be faced: Linux is mostly used by servers (or alike terminals) and programmers or developers, while the regular users usually opt for Windows or Mac.
In consonance with the Linux philosophy, the fact that distros are usually Open Source puts them under permanent evolution, with improvements coming out in a somewhat periodical way. Some distros are designed with the intent of attracting users from other operative system, like Windows or Mac, and creators give them similar looks and functionalities in order to make that transition easier, while still offering all the best Linux features under the hood. Never before users had so many operating systems to choose from, so distro developers need to take action and build something that not only works well and is reliable, but also something that the regular user will like and enjoy using. This is the case of elementary OS, a recent distro which is treated by many as the Apple of Linux OSes.
The face behind this project is Daniel Foré who, back in 2006, was a regular Windows user without much programming knowledge. He then decided to jump into Linux, an operating system that he thought to have the potential to become better than the rest. But, unlike what most people do, Foré wanted to do more than just using the operating system - he also wanted to improve it, so he decided to create some icons. Things started growing naturally and he moved on to creating a theme, which he named Elementary.
In a collaboration with a pseudonymous developer named ammonkey, Foré developed a fork of Nautilus, a popular Linux file manager. With Foré handling the design part, Nautilus Elementary was born and it made quite a success, in the Ubuntu (one of the most popular distros) world. Due to a raising interest of other designers and developers in creating apps under the “Elementary” tag, Foré figured that there were great basis to start the project of creating an entire new distro.
Elementary OS, called "Jupiter" in the first generation and "Luna" in the latest 0.2 release, is a free (donationware, to be precise) distro based in Ubuntu. It is specifically designed with desktop computers in mind, and aims to work as a worthy replacement for Windows on the PC and OS X on the Mac. After the installation is finished, the user is then presented to the beauty of elementary OS: the main screen has a bright and colorful desktop image of a rocky beach (which actually fits perfectly in the whole environment), a panel at the top and a docking bar at the bottom.
In the top panel we can find the “Applications” menu at the top left, that brings up the menu when clicked (much like the Start menu in Windows), a calendar with the date and time at the center and, at the top right, a series of system icons, like “Audio settings”, “Networking”, “Bluetooth”, “Power management” and so on. Regarding the docking bar, by default it comes with 9 icons: Luna’s very own web browser, Midori, Geary Mail, the Empathy messenger, a Calendar app, the audio player Noise, the video player Totem, a photo management app named Shotwell, System Settings and Software Center.
This distro is really amazing in terms of looks and functionality, but the best is to try it on your own.