Elementary OS beta reviewed


So as how I have reviewed Elementary OS before, I had some idea as of what I was heading in to.  However, to do the tl;dr for those that have a ten second attention span, here is the end result: It is nice, but still buggy.  Use if you want the latest, however, I would advise against it.  I found the desktop slow, and a but unresponsive at times.  Getting the LightDM to work correctly was horrible, every other login was just a black screen, I had to manually restart lightdm from virtual terminal way to many times.

However, if you DO want to try the packages, and hopefully get a better experience that what I did, keep reading below.

First, System Specs.

Quad Core AMD Phenom II, 8GB RAM, NVIDIA 210 graphics, 1TB HDD, Wifi (Broadcom 43).  All in all, this should be speedy and snappy. SHOULD.

I decided this time to use apt-get to get from the latest PPA in order to save some bandwidth,however, the PPA’s from the last time has changed, so I had to do a bit of research and modify my setup.

The Setup:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:elementary-os/daily && sudo apt-get update

Note: The old setup needed SqlHeavy’s PPA, however, it has no Precise Packages.  So we will ignore it.

Now below is a rundown of the basics, the extras, and what you can live without, however, if you want everything for that “total” experience, then just run this one command.

sudo apt-get install elementary-desktop 

That is the meta package that installs everything.  Now, If you dont feel like wasting a few hundred MB;s, keep on reading for a rundown of what is needed for the Desktop, and what is, IMHO, the useless apps.

sudo apt-get install pantheon* plank slingshot wingpanel switchboard*

This installs the Desktop Environment, top panel, Nautilus-re-brand and rebuild, the launcher, WM and the Plank dock.  In short, this is the “Core” Elements of Elementary.  My total download size was about 80MB, but I also have other PPAs that may have had other needed parts already installed, so your total download file size mileage may vary.  Having said that, spending 80MB to get the core files as when if I downloaded the iso what is over 600MB is a great trade off, and I suggest it if you have limited bandwidth, slow download speeds, or just don’t want to download 600MB+ file.

Now, if you want the “extra” (that is, not really needed to get the desktop to run), there here is more that you can apt-get for the more complete “Look and Feel”.

sudo apt-get install syslinux-themes-elementary elementary-theme pantheon-lightdm-theme

This installs all of the elementary art, greeter, icons, wallpapers, etc… Not truly needed for the basics to work, but it does help “complete” the look and feeling.

Now I have neglected some of the “Additional” yet IMHO totally useless apps that comes shipped with Elementary, however if you want them, you can just do this apt-get.

sudo apt-get install scratch-text-editor geary noise dexter-contacts

Eventually, I downloaded the ISO, just in case I had a system conflict or such, booted to LiveCD (having added “toram” by the startup, to have the fastest possible desktop for a LiveCD) and I found that what I experienced on my normal Linux desktop + the PPA’s and the apt-get’s mentioned above was dead on.  The Desktop just needs more work, it really does.

So, last thoughts:

It honestly seems as if Daniel and crew are trying to re-create the Mac on Linux, and if you like a Mac, and you have that Linux “itch”, then this may be just the thing for you. However, I don’t like Macs.  Sorry, nothing against the overpriced hardware, or the Desktop, but it goes against the Linux philosophy of “customize everything”.  Customizing Elementary is almost impossible unless you install a 3rd party tool, such as ubuntu-tweak or such.  The Desktop itself is usable  but the windows manager puts the “close” widget to the left, and the “Maximize/Full screen” widget to the right of the titlebar .. why do that?  Why separate the widget buttons?  What could possibly be the logic behind that?

In the end, the best thing about Elementary is what has always been the best thing about it, the art.  Just download the Icon and GTK themes and forget about the rest of it.

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