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Elementary OS "Freya" Beta Released 209

Posted by timothy
from the so-very-simple dept.
jjoelc (1589361) writes One year after their last release "Luna", Elementary OS (a Linux distribution with a very heavy emphasis on design and usability which draws a lot of comparisons to Mac OS X) Has released the public beta of their latest version "Freya." Using core components from Ubuntu 14.04, "Freya" sports many improvements including the usual newer kernel, better hardware support and newer libraries.Other updates include a GSignon-based online accounts system, improved searches, Grub-free uEFI booting, GTK+ 3.12, an updated theme, and much more. This being a beta, the usual warnings apply, but I would also point out that the Elementary OS Team also has over $5,000 worth of bugs still available on Bountysource which can be a great way to contribute to the project and make a little dough while you are at it.
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Elementary OS "Freya" Beta Released

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  • Unless there is some killer feature, or the distribution is tailored well to a specific niche, I am quite bored with the "yet another Linux distro" articles
    • by danbuter (2019760)
      At least it is Tech news, unlike half the articles on the main page. Or does Tech news not interest you?
    • by kervin (64171) on Monday August 11, 2014 @09:11AM (#47646391) Homepage

      Unless there is some killer feature, or the distribution is tailored well to a specific niche, I am quite bored with the "yet another Linux distro" articles

      As someone who uses Ubuntu as their primary desktop OS both at home and at work, I have to say that usability is the biggest feature holding back Linux desktop. It is the reason all those "year of the linux desktop" stories are BS. Hence it is the killer feature for the Linux Desktop.

      Linux Desktop feels like someone built a great desktop but never went back and reviewed their work. There are so many little things daily that cause the OS to be hard to use for regular people. And yes, that includes Ubuntu.

      I wish there was a commercial Linux desktop option that offered create support, spent some time cleaning up and smoothing out the rough edges on the Linux Desktop, and had just one top tier hardware partner. I would gladly pay a few hundred dollars a year for this.

      • There are so many little things daily that cause the OS to be hard to use for regular people. And yes, that includes Ubuntu.

        Such as? Are you sure it's not a question of familiarity, where someone who has used almost nothing but Linux might notice similar irritations about other OSs?

        • by war4peace (1628283) on Monday August 11, 2014 @10:10AM (#47646911)

          * No GUI for a lot of small-thing configuration activities;
          * Invariably having to drop to terminal to do this and that;
          * When I double-click on an "executable" I want it to execute, not open it in whatever equivalent of Notepad there is;
          * I want my updates to install as seamlessly as possible, e.g. download and install updates in the background then let me know I need to restart (if that's the case), much like Android does;
          * App store for my favorite flavor, where I could sort by features, not by category;
          * While you're at it, give the applications proper names. A Text editor named "Kate"? A streaming application called "XBMC"? A music placer called "Clementine", "Banshee" or "Amarok"? Please...
          * Make it absurdly easy to mount an ISO or browse a network/network share.
          * Enable "Win" key functionality and try to replicate as many "Win"+key commands to make former Windows-based power users feel at home (Win+R, Win+Arrows).
          * Make it easy to search for files and folders. Many times I copied a file or downloaded a file and I had no idea where it was, searching for it yielded no results but manually browsing around eventually found it. Y U NO SEARCH???

          The above are off the top of my head and represent just a little part of my overall "user-inducing frustration" that pretty much every Desktop Linux flavor thrown at me so far.

          I don't know how to best emphasize on this: as a desktop user, I simply loathe having to open terminal and drop to root 50 times a day, when whatever I have to do should involve a right-click and picking a menu entry or a couple checkmarks selected in a configuration GUI window. People eventually start doing everything as root and then they are laughed at for "not being secure". Well, doh. It's the OS pushing that behavior, not the user choosing it deliberately.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 11, 2014 @11:02AM (#47647389)

            Allow me to give an objective reply (sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing).

            * No GUI for a lot of small-thing configuration activities;
            * Invariably having to drop to terminal to do this and that;

            I'm a complete n00b with Linux Mint 16 installed, and I hardly ever have to do this for my regular use. Everything worked out of the box. I only use the command line for a particular video editing feature, because I am too cheap to buy a better program, and because someone wrote a simple program that does exactly what I need.

            * When I double-click on an "executable" I want it to execute, not open it in whatever equivalent of Notepad there is;

            I agree with this one.

            * I want my updates to install as seamlessly as possible, e.g. download and install updates in the background then let me know I need to restart (if that's the case), much like Android does;

            Actually, no, that is really annoying, because you end up with a computer that does stuff behind your back, and is using bandwidth/processor power when I need it. I will choose when my computer can have those resources. For me, the way Ubuntu / Linux Mint does its updates is by far superior to any other method I have seen.

            * App store for my favorite flavor, where I could sort by features, not by category;

            The app stores are relatively new to Linux, and this may be built in the future. I generally end up googling for the program that I want, then selecting it from the app store for installation anyway. But it is probably true that Linux' app stores are not as fancy as the commercial ones. Also, the apps are almost all free, which may have something to do with it.

            * While you're at it, give the applications proper names. A Text editor named "Kate"? A streaming application called "XBMC"? A music placer called "Clementine", "Banshee" or "Amarok"? Please...

            As opposed to your document viewer called "Acrobat Reader", your browser called "Firefox", and your video player called "VLC"? Please...

            * Make it absurdly easy to mount an ISO or browse a network/network share.

            (sorry, not sure what this is about)

            * Enable "Win" key functionality and try to replicate as many "Win"+key commands to make former Windows-based power users feel at home (Win+R, Win+Arrows).

            If you're a hardcore Windows user, I recommend Windows for you. However, you are not the average windows user. The large majority know zero such combinations. But I believe Ubuntu with Unity uses a lot of win-key combinations for useful stuff. Personally, I only use it to open the "start" menu in my Linux Mint. I can do without all the fancy stuff.

            * Make it easy to search for files and folders. Many times I copied a file or downloaded a file and I had no idea where it was, searching for it yielded no results but manually browsing around eventually found it. Y U NO SEARCH???

            I also agree with this one. There are tools, but they are not user friendly enough, and I also struggle sometimes. The method most often recommended is something called grep, I think, and that is always command line which just sucks because I always fail to get a result.

            The above are off the top of my head and represent just a little part of my overall "user-inducing frustration" that pretty much every Desktop Linux flavor thrown at me so far.

            I don't know how to best emphasize on this: as a desktop user, I simply loathe having to open terminal and drop to root 50 times a day, when whatever I have to do should involve a right-click and picking a menu entry or a couple checkmarks selected in a configuration GUI window. People eventually start doing everything as root and then they are laughed at for "not being secure". Well, doh. It's the OS pushing that behavior, not the user choosing it deliberately.

            I agree that it sucks to have to open a terminal. But I don't mind to have to enter my password to allow my computer to do something. And if anything, it seems that other OSs are going the same way. My work computer requires a password for almost everything.

            • "Actually, no, that is really annoying, because you end up with a computer that does stuff behind your back, and is using bandwidth/processor power when I need it. I will choose when my computer can have those resources. For me, the way Ubuntu / Linux Mint does its updates is by far superior to any other method I have seen."

              1. Using the lowest CPU priority and network QoS ensures you have all the bandwidth/power you need, when you need it.
              2. I maybe WANT an OS that does some things behind my back. I'm not a

              • by reikae (80981)

                It's true that funky names are ubiquitous in the free software world, and I often wish developers came up with something better. But unhelpful names aren't limited to FOSS. What would your grandmother (if she's familiar with computers, pick another relative :-)) guess Adobe Acrobat does? Or Microsoft Silverlight? Windows? Visual Studio?

            • by Blakey Rat (99501)

              Actually, no, that is really annoying, because you end up with a computer that does stuff behind your back, and is using bandwidth/processor power when I need it.

              The CPU power is a non-issue for an application like this.

              Windows solved the bandwidth problem by creating BITS, Background Intelligent Transfer Service, that only consumes bandwidth when no other processes are making bandwidth demands. So if you're halfway through a 2-GB patch, and start up Battlefield 4, the patch download will automatically stop

          • Why on earth would Linux do any of these things? If you want an OS that looks and works like Windows, USE WINDOWS! If you don't like using the terminal, USE WINDOWS (the fact that Windows treats the command line as a red-headed stepchild is not nearly a good enough reason for Linux to stop using such a powerful interface)! Linux does it's own thing, in it's own way, and it has absolutely no need to become more like Windows in order to be useful.

            • I want an OS that also looks and works like Windows, essentially taking the best of both worlds.
              The inability to understand the power behind such a concept gives Linux its insignificant desktop market share.

              • There are two worlds.

                In one, there are two operating systems, that look and act identically.

                In the other, there are two operating systems, both of which try, intelligently, to provide the best and most productive user experience.

                I want to live in the second world, not the first. I appreciate you want to live in the first, we know you do, there's usually a bunch of you that pop up in every UI experience discussion on Slashdot. You're not uncommon, and there was even a time that GNOME development was d

                • It's amazing how people just don't get it.
                  Say I build a piece of software (or GUI, or operating system, game, whatever). My aim is to penetrate a market which is dominated by the 800 pounds gorilla, the big-ba-da-boom product which 95% of the market uses. That dominating product has certain features, one of them being a certain functionality the market is used to. My product is faster and more secure and also has some extra functionality, so I know it's better in some ways, and in others is different.

                  My goa

          • by sjames (1099)

            * I want my updates to install as seamlessly as possible, e.g. download and install updates in the background then let me know I need to restart (if that's the case), much like Android does;

            Available for years now.

            * App store for my favorite flavor, where I could sort by features, not by category;

            Done years ago, though the features search could be better.

            * Make it absurdly easy to mount an ISO or browse a network/network share.

            Done years ago. Put the disk in, file management window pops open.

            * Make it easy to search for files and folders. Many times I copied a file or downloaded a file and I had no idea where it was, searching for it yielded no results but manually browsing around eventually found it. Y U NO SEARCH???

            Done years ago. Y U NO click 'Search for files...'?

            • Done years ago. Y U NO click 'Search for files...'?
              I... did. Few days ago. Search came out empty, after a LONG time.

              • by sjames (1099)

                How is it Linux's fault you searched for a file that wasn't there?

                • It was there, I said before I manually browsed folders until I found it.
                  Maybe it wasn't indexed, I don't know. Fact of the matter was: a file existed on the HDD and the search function couldn't find it.

                  • by sjames (1099)

                    Odd, I haven't had that problem.

                    If you were using (possibly indirectly) the locate program, it only indexes once a day by default.

                    • That's the point, as a standard, Average Joe desktop user, I don't know (I really don't know) and shouldn't care. The OS should ideally detect a new file was created and add it to the index, problem solved.

                    • by sjames (1099)

                      Add overhead to every single write /create/rename op? I would consider that severe breakage.

                      You didn't say which distro you were using, but the help for mine says:

                      Search for Files uses the find, grep, and locate UNIX commands. By default, when performing a basic search Search for Files first uses the locate command, and then uses the slower but more thorough find command.

                      The case sensitivity of the search depends on your operating system. For example, on Linux, the find, grep, and locate commands support the -i option, so all searches are case-insensitive.

                      Which would be the right thing.

        • by johnsie (1158363)
          Linux developers are notoriously terrible at designing user interfaces. For example: 1. The Unity lens 2. GIMP 3. Open/LibreOffice And those are the "big" applications. When you start looking at the smaller applications its gets even worse. Alot of half-assed, ugly looking applications. Then there is hardware support, which they like to blame on the hardware vendors, but if you look at the poor quality user interfaces you can see that the vendors are only part of the problem. I'm not saying all Linux de
          • For example: 1. The Unity

            I don't use Unity, but sure fine. I don't like it.

            2. GIMP

            Some people seem to dislike this program. I've never understood that. I think it works substantially better if you have a quality window manager.

            3. Open/LibreOffice

            What the heck is wrong with LibreOffice? it's a perfectly normal program in almost every way with no surprises.

            • On GIMP, you don't even need that, single-window mode with panes you can arrange and stuff, a very standard look, has been there for at least two years already.
              And thank god it is, everything about using GIMP is 10 times more pleasant nowadays. I wouldn't pick anything else for serious spriting. (For traditional drawing I'd rather use Krita or Mypaint, though)

          • They also hate designers. So, what do you do? There are a lot ore reasons why people are in Linux, some of it has nothing to do with well designed apps or eco-systems.
        • Well, exactly. I find Gnome on Debian a very un-annoying desktop. It all just works. Compared to Windows 7, Debian is for me much less annoying and more productive.
      • It seems like Chrome OS already won the usability contest and has had significant commercial success. It's funny because Chrome OS is so easy to use and polished that even techies assume it's not linux. Just flip a switch though and you've got a bash shell and you can install an Ubuntu system on top of it.

        Here's an example of a guy easily turning these $199 chrome books into ubuntu based coding machines:

        http://blog.codestarter.org/po... [codestarter.org]

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rmstar (114746)

        As someone who uses Ubuntu as their primary desktop OS both at home and at work, I have to say that usability is the biggest feature holding back Linux desktop.

        I keep wondering about this one. Because of work requirements, I started using windows again after a long hiatus, and find it rather cranky (windows 7). It was easier to program the reactions to my marble ball mouse under linux than it was under windows 7 (essentially impossible to get reasonable scroll-wheel emulation). Then there isn't anything rem

      • In fairness, Microsoft Windows sometimes feels like a great desktop OS where the designers never went back and reviewed their work. They have occasional spurts of activity where Microsoft goes back and fixes things, but that's only between spurts of activity where they add a bunch of nonsense that doesn't work, while breaking things.

    • by benmhall (9092) on Monday August 11, 2014 @09:59AM (#47646791) Homepage Journal

      I've been using Elementary OS Luna for about a year now. It's just lovely.

      It has no grand plans of world-domination or a perfectly converged all-in-one interface to rule them all. It does give me the stability and packages of Ubuntu with excellent desktop usability and elegance.

      It offers a consistent, well-thought out interface. It easily supports colour calibration, multiple workspaces and monitors, great keybindings, etc. After using it for a bit, it has become an effortless part of my workflow in a way that Unity failed to.

      And that's the old version.

      This is news. As someone using Desktop Linux daily, a new release of Elementary OS based on the latest LTS of Ubuntu is what will finally have me upgrading my machines. I have great respect and appreciation for what Cannonical has done for the Linux desktop. I use Ubuntu everywhere I can, but for day-to-day Linux desktop use, I use and recommend Elementary OS.

      Try it. If you like simple and elegant interfaces, I think you'll like it.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      I want to see it upgrade at least twice in place without crapping on its own drivers before I'll be impressed.

      OOTB most of the so called "mainstream" distros look real nice, its the second you have to upgrade them to continue getting security updates that they shit themselves and fall apart. as just an example if you had installed ubuntu at the same time that Windows 7 came out you would have had to install a grand total of 1 service pack and the monthly updates on 7, all of which can be done automatically

  • by SirDrinksAlot (226001) on Monday August 11, 2014 @08:37AM (#47646211) Journal

    "draws a lot of comparisons to Mac OS X" or Draws a lot of cues from OSX?

    Drawing a comparison would suggest its different but comparable, and not inspired by. Straight up copying as it is I wouldn't even suggest saying it's drawing cues.

    If I wanted OS X I'd run OS X. I'm not sure why Slashdot is bothering to cover a distro whose claim to fame is ripping off somebody elses design. Or at least cover it and act like they're doing something unique.

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday August 11, 2014 @09:17AM (#47646431) Homepage

      If I wanted OS X I'd run OS X. I'm not sure why Slashdot is bothering to cover a distro whose claim to fame is ripping off somebody elses design. Or at least cover it and act like they're doing something unique.

      I think a lot of people want OSX, but also want to run something that's free (libre & gratis) on commodity hardware. Hence, interest in a Linux distro that draws lots of [whatever] from OSX.

    • It isn't even the first Linux distro to try this. Remember Dream Linux? [distrowatch.com].
    • by benmhall (9092)

      Drawing a comparison would suggest its different but comparable, and not inspired by. Straight up copying as it is I wouldn't even suggest saying it's drawing cues.

      I'm not really sure why people think that Elementary OS is a copy of OS X. Sure, it's similar in the same way that all contemporary smartphones look like an iPhone, but beneath the theme (with a dock, like WindowMaker, XFCE, and countless other WMs have) it behaves very differently - distinctly. Workspaces, for instance, are quite different. There's no integrated top menu like there is in Mac OS or Unity, all apps behave very differently than they would on Mac OS X, etc.

      Even the theme isn't really a Mac cl

      • I'm not really sure why people think that Elementary OS is a copy of OS X.

        OSX is my everyday desktop. And I looked at the video on the homepage of Elementary OS, and to me it looked every bit like OSX.

        No it's not just the Dock. Though the dock is a blatent copy, right down to the bouncing whilst launching.

        Going through the vid: The progress spinner si a an OSX copy. There's also the system tray icons top left, they are an OSX copy. In the music app, there is a source-list copy. The file browser is an OSX Finder clone. The delete icon consisting of a white X is black circle with w

      • What do you mean to a lesser extent GNOME is heading in a similar direction? Just curious, because GNOME and Elementary share some close philosophical views on software use the same software stack.
    • by Tamran (1424955)

      If I wanted OS X I'd run OS X. I'm not sure why Slashdot is bothering to cover a distro whose claim to fame is ripping off somebody elses design. Or at least cover it and act like they're doing something unique.

      It draws comparison because of design principals - most notably productivity. So, some things seem similar but it is a different (in a good way) experience from Gnome, KDE, Windows 7, and OSX.

      This journal entry by the elementary team may shed some light: http://elementaryos.org/journa... [elementaryos.org]

      • They need to work on their design principals a little harder. Right now it looks like "Just copy MacOSX" Just watching the video on the site about Freya makes me wonder how apple hasn't sent a C&D yet. Mute the audio, show the demo to somebody who doesn't know and ask them what OS it is.

        It's not just generic Grey gradient/brushed steel feel. All its missing is the buttons for resize, minimize and close. In the demo they have the iTunes rip off, The File manager that looks identical, and then on top of a

    • > I'm not sure why Slashdot is bothering to cover a distro whose claim to fame is ripping off somebody elses design

      Because covering only xerox workstations would be painfully boring.

  • Lubuntu is Elementary OS in every way but with a gigantic repository of software already as a click and drool install.

    What are they trying to target as a demographic?

  • Let's see, the number one most common reason to create a distro is "usability" and we've already got hundreds. Red Hat, Mandrake, Suse, Ubuntu to name a few. None of them became as usable as they claim.

    Maybe there's something awfully wrong with that recipe, maybe usability comes as a result of other factors, such as choice, determinism, *nix philosophy or any number of other things, which these distros clearly don't focus on.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Monday August 11, 2014 @09:55AM (#47646763)

    If you are going to actually work with Linux professionally, you will probably have to use Red Hat.

    Red Hat seems determined to force crappy, and unwanted, interface, and other technologies, on it's users. Very Microsoft like in that respect.

    Gnome2 is far superior to anything based on Gnome3. And it's hard to see where Systemd is much of an improvement.

    I envy home Linux users who get to have a nicer interface.

    • by geek (5680)

      Um, you know you can just compile or download the packages for these other interfaces and run them on red hat 7 don't you? This isn't exactly hard to do.

    • What we're trying to move towards where I work is RHEL on the server and making use of Docker. The plan is that we'll put some more user friendly OS on the desktop so our users aren't endlessly frustrated by the desktop being shit and let the developers use Docker to create application stack builds. Once they go through the testing and vetting process we'll just push the containers up to the production RHEL servers. This serves two purposes, the people that actually have to interface with the desktop can
  • by raymorris (2726007) on Monday August 11, 2014 @10:07AM (#47646867)

    In the US at least, the word "elementary" means "elementary school" 95% of the time, so that's the association I have with the word "elementary". I'm sure I'm not the only one. It doesn't look like it's actually designed for children, so why in the world would they use that name. Might as well call it Kindergarten OS or Playskool OS.

    • Elementary, my dear Watson.

    • by johnsie (1158363)
      'Murica
    • In the US at least, the word "elementary" means "elementary school" 95% of the time...

      And it's followed by "... my dear Watson," the other 5%.

  • "emphasis on design and usability which draws a lot of comparisons to Mac OS X"

    I've been switching between win/linux/osx on a daily basis for a couple of years now, and I honestly have no clue where the idea comes from that OSX is superior when it comes to usability...

    It's even the OS with the weirdest UI quirks IMO...

  • If their website's design [elementaryos.org] is anything like their OS design, count me out. I'm not sure how that's supposed to be usable and elegant.

    To see a sample screenshot of the desktop, I click on a tiny thumbnail of a seashell? Or a pink feathery-looking thing? Why are those icons the only way to see screenshots of the thing? And the majority of the text on the page is nothing more than flowery text explaining that it's open-source. Where's any actual description of what makes it different from other distributions?

    N

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      I'm also pretty sure:

      Luna has been engineered from the ground up to be light on its toes. It starts up quickly, logs in instantly, and uses the bare minimum of resources so that your apps enjoy a speed boost as well. And with Luna, you get the same Linux foundation chosen for the worldâ(TM)s fastest supercomputers.

      is a flat-out lie, considering it's using the Linux kernel. Unless they're claiming they had an engineer re-examine every line of code in the Linux kernel "from the ground up".

    • by WilyCoder (736280)

      thats funny, because i went to their site and could not find any screenshots of this OS claiming to be very well designed. and then you tell me about the seashell picture, which they do not indicate will lead to a screenshot.

      • by gauauu (649169)

        thats funny, because i went to their site and could not find any screenshots of this OS claiming to be very well designed. and then you tell me about the seashell picture, which they do not indicate will lead to a screenshot.

        Believe me, it took me a long time to find that screenshot.

        • Looks like a typical XFCE desktop to me. I would more call that "utilitarian" than "beautiful". It looks good, but nothing stunning.

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