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

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


Alexander T 6 months ago

Hello, I just wanted to say that I too share love for Elementary OS Luna, but this is what I am missing:

a) An updated ISO (as promised in the article), including all updates and the Hardware Enablement Stack from Trusty.

b) Some sort of official explanation on the HES situation. Is it safe/recommended to do it or not? In this article I read that it’s kk for users to use it. And here I read it’s not: http://shnatsel.blogspot.de/2013/12/why-you-should-not-upgrade-kernel-on.html

Other than that - I’m sold. Sweet, sweet honey.

MrBill59 6 months ago

I just upgraded Freya to the 3.16 kernel.  Everything works, no problems.

TheGeKo ElementaryOS 6 months ago

I think the system must be renamed to -> FantasticOS
i tried some GNU/Linux systems for a Netbook, and finally installed ElementaryOS and deleted Lubuntu, at first time of “live use” can looks like confused or how if not have all funcionality that I want, but later i see that i have to learn the windows and system use and how-to minimize and work with windows and its FAN-TAS-TIC! is how Windows 8, you only have to learn in 2 hours how it works , configure a bit the plank and corners funcionality and you find a very very great system! all works fine and is that i wanted in a OS.. Light, nice and usefull, sorry for my bad English. a lot of people say to me use crunchbang! use Lubuntu! but now for my experience using both systems i know ElementaryOS is the future in Linux, the system that go to beat Microsoft Windows, i´m not a geek, only an medium user and ElementaryOS make my choice so so so easy! Thanks to the developers Team! :D

lohjiahung 7 months ago

Is it possible to run BOTH Ubuntu 14.04 and eOS Luna on the same system?

reachtarunhere 7 months ago

Another common myth is that elementary is a rip-off of OS X as far as the looks are concerned

lohjiahung 7 months ago

It appears so at first glance. But once you start using it, you can tell it’s completely different.

Pond 8 months ago

I have been exploring many different flavors of Linux and am quite happy with LinuxMint, however I recently came across ElementaryOS and it’s now installed alongside Mint in my former Microsoft loaded PC, which now blazes much faster, is much safer, and much cooler than anything MS could produce with Linux software. I like ElementaryOS   A LOT, it’s so clean, has a MAC look, and it’s so fast. I like the layout very much and access to new apps is really easy, and I’ve actually discovered some apps I never knew existed, and because of that, it appears I’m now booting Elementary more than Mint. Good job on an outstanding Linux distribution. You should be very proud, this is just awesome!

oldjohnno 8 months 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 8 months 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.

Sebastian Weiland 9 months 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 9 months 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 8 months 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 9 months 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 9 months 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 9 months 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 10 months ago

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

ritik 10 months ago

*you *debunked

Patrick Goetz 10 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 10 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 10 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.

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