I have been a developer for elementary for 3 years, and I am part of the elementary core team. I am also personally close friends with much of the design and development team, including the project's founder and lead designer, Daniel Foré.
There seems to be a lot of feedback here which basically says "this trying to rip off OS X". I would like to offer you some insight into our internal assessment of these claims.
Is elementary OS reminiscent of OS X? I can't disagree. Did we actively intend for it to be reminiscent of OS X? Absolutely not.
We build upon good ideas from all sources. We don't have a dock and silver window chrome because OS X does. We made those design choices because they work (Windows has slowly made its task bar more and more like the OS X dock) and because they look good.
Could we have changed the window chrome to be, say, green, just to try to make ourselves stand out from OS X? Sure, but frankly, we don't feel we have to. I think there is a strong sense in our design team that we shouldn't change things simply for the sake of being "different" -- we should change things to actually improve them.
Disclaimer: I wrote this post myself and it reflects my own personal opinions, though I'd be happy to ask other core team members to back me up here -- I think they'd agree.
FWIW I don't think it is a bad thing . KDE's look was clearly inspired by Windows XP. But I'm a user.
Designers, people who make their living giving life to a "look" or a "user experience" feel pretty strongly about their work (this is typical of many artists, programmers, architects, musicians, Etc.) In part because they often see their own work as a reflection of them, and in part, and I speculate here, because the creative process is mysterious and it is easy to feel like a fraud when you don't really know how you come up with something, you just do.
So designers look at Elementary OS and they evaluate its look, its theme, its "presence." And what they see seems to remind them strongly of Apple's OS. I completely understand that because that was my first thought as well and I'm not a designer, I thought "Oh, this looks like they put an OS X shell on top of Linux."
I happen to think the other stuff you did, the performance tuning, the application integration, the "fit and finish" if you will is very impressive and it reminds me of how Ubuntu took something mashed up and made it more cohesive.
How ever the design elements always dominate product discussions, even if they shouldn't. Look at the discussion around the Honda Element (car) are they about its innovations in how it converts its internal spaces? Its motor design? No, people talk about how stupid it looks to them (which completely misses the point of the car).
What I'm saying is the Elementary team is going to get razzed a lot about the design elements. Try not to take it personally. The correct response is the one you've latched on to, "We built an OS we wanted to use based on technology we wanted to use, we built it this way." Own the vision.
 "rip off" sounds bad "homage" sounds good, both mean "it looks like."
Thanks very much for sharing this. Trying not to take it personally is something we all really try to work on.
I think you're spot on, particularly about . A lot of the flak we get seems to stem from the fact that we're very very much a design-oriented (as in, design at the top) community. We don't have business people saying "But people will think this looks like XYZ and that's bad for our bottom line".
I personally think there must be a happy median between the "design purist" approach we currently lean towards and the "market differentiator" style. We haven't quite hit on it, as some the feedback we've received today suggests, but with thoughtful insight from people like you, and lots of internal discussions, I think we'll get there :)
To you it might be clear that KDE was inspired by Windows XP, I differ. KDE independently developed a Windows-like feeling because it has always aimed at being very configurable. Since I first used KDE (when using XP) I felt that it was better than Windows, that feeling has never left me.
It's got the same left-aligned, bolded categories, in the same order, with almost identical text. It even senselessly copied the choice of the Apple Magic Mouse as the mouse icon. That tiny smudge at the bottom represents the Apple logo!
I don't mean to suggest that an ElementaryOS designer is responsible for this instance. A similar layout and icon is used in Xubuntu. But Linux is clearly doing more than "building on ideas" in its relation to OS X.
I set about coding the app. I was painfully aware of the visual similarities between OS X and Switchboard. I spent literally MONTHS wracking my brain trying to find a better design which was as elegant and efficient. I argued with Dan (who had created a mockup which would become the main interface for switchboard, which you linked), I talked to other designers, I mocked things up by hand. And I/we came up with some really creative alternatives which looked very little like System Preferences in OS X.
In the end however, I was faced with an ultimatum. Do I change the settings app JUST to look different than OS X, and lose out on the well-established excellence of Apple's design?
I truly felt awful about having to face that question. Frankly, it made me upset and depressed for quite a bit. Ultimately however, I was convinced and just said "screw it".
You could say that I failed. You could say I failed to come up with a better interface. And in that sense, I did. But I get extremely frustrated when people dismiss the product of my careful investigation and thought into this matter as "oh, he just wholesale copied OS X". Because it ignores the fact that I really tried to come up with a better solution.
In the end I couldn't, and it seems nobody else has either.
I will say though, I did really try to innovate on the technical side. And in that sense, I think I succeeded. You can see that in some of Switchboard's finer points, such as exposing APIs to the settings panes (which are called Switchboard "plugs") which allow them to actually interact with Switchboard's internal UI, providing, among other things, progress bar support in the title bar.
There's a certain downside to mimicking the OS X design that you may not be taken full account of, which is that for people who have used OS X, your designs look like a not-quite-perfected copy. It's a sort of uncanny valley thing that manifests itself likewise in the common discussion of whether something feels "native", or whether you should use the OS-provided UI elements vs. re-invent the wheel when writing an app. For instance QT apps on OS X.
It's better to either do an exact copy or to be different enough that you don't invite comparison, otherwise what you've come up with will always look like an inferior copy of the original. At least until the user has spent enough time with it that it becomes the new default. But don't forget that user acquisition is just as important as long-term usability.
I appreciate the input. All I can really say is that you have to remember elementary is not a business. We don't have investors. We don't aim for market share or target X number of users by X date. Fundamentally, we build what we think is best, and if other people find it valuable too, they use it. So far, it's worked.
So "user acquisition" isn't really a concern for us, though frankly, I believe it should be. And until it is, I guess we really can't complain about the flak we get for being "copycats".
And for what it's worth, I am an active user of both OS X and elementary OS and Switchboard feels 105% native on elementary OS. They each feel right in their native environment. Then again, I'm about as biased as possible (though I'd like to imagine my views are somewhat normative ;)).
I don't really know what people are complaining about. You're making something amazing that people really really need, you are doing it with donations (as far as I understand, anyway), and it's not like you set out to copy Apple wholesale.
I think the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks (I can't really see any), so you'd probably do well to ignore the negative feedback and keep doing what you're doing.
Given the choice between doing what you're doing now and doing something better, what would you choose? Certainly I am not deriding the Elementary team for copying OS X. It's definitely 'not cool', but open source since GNU has always been about copying the hard work of others and the net effect in this case is that users get well considered graphic design for free (or $10 I suppose). I'm complicit in that, so we pass over it in silence. But I am trying to show that roughly copying another interface has a certain effect – beyond the inherited good properties of the original design – on the user that is problematic. Differentiating yourself from other products has a purpose beyond 'just being different': avoiding the uncanny valley.
In other words, this is constructive criticism. Don't ignore it because it's "negative" and you're doing something "positive". All progressive positive things are born out of a criticism of the existing state of affairs. Any effort can be improved. If you ignore criticism – not just mine – you are doomed to stagnation!
> So "user acquisition" isn't really a concern for us
Than why have you released the project to the public, made a nice website for it, made documentation, etc? Why do something good in the world if you don't care if it benefits people? Rather, if you've done something that you hope will benefit people in the world, don't you think you should try to benefit as many people as possible? The design choices you've made encode that goal, wittingly or unwittingly.
Indeed you are as biased as possible, which is why you have to listen to others if you hope to have any true understanding of your situation. Take what I said into consideration – it effects the spread and usefulness of your efforts whether you care or not.
Please don't put words in my mouth. There is a difference between "not caring if it benefits people" and making increasing our audience our #1 priority.
We care about spreading our efforts. We care about having a nice public face and benefiting as many people as possible.
I was reacting to the more crude notion of "user acquisition". That is absolutely NOT our goal; our goal is to build something great. I was viewing the term "user acquisition" as "focus on getting as many people to use our product as possible".
I think you mistook what I intended to say, and if I was not clear, I apologize. But please don't think that I'm saying we couldn't care less about spreading what we've created and making it beneficial to as many people as possible. I'm saying that we care deeply about building something great, and that is our primary focus, not convincing people to use it.
Ok, I understand. I was using the term "user acquisition" loosely to refer to the initial perception and evaluation of something vs. the experience of using it long-term, but that was not at all clear. Of course I don't think you are concerned with 'acquiring' as many users as possible. I just mean to emphasize that design impacts whether people will even consider using what you make, even people who may benefit greatly from it.
Thanks for the detailed reply. I'm glad to hear that my assumption was wrong and there was a careful investigation. I will take you at your word that it was an agonizing design problem, and that you have thought much harder about the problem than I have, so I will leave it alone.
Incidentally, I did notice the nice little "importing wallpapers" progress bar after clicking on the Desktop icon. Kudos for that.
(And while I have your attention, I also noticed inconsistencies in 'and' vs '&', e.g. "Time & Date" vs "Mouse and Touchpad".)
I meant "senseless" to apply specifically to the choice of Magic Mouse as the icon. The Magic Mouse is a good icon for OS X, because it looks like the mouse that comes with a Mac. But most ElementaryOS users will use a mouse that looks very different, and may not even recognize that icon as a mouse (where's the buttons, the scroll wheel?) The Magic Mouse is indeed pretty, but its use as an icon only makes sense on Mac OSes, just like a rectangular game controller icon would only make sense on the Wii.
Your attention to detail and consistency (or lack thereof) is most appreciated :) The naming inconsistencies are there for historical reasons believe it or not, but they will definitely be resolved by the next release.
I agree with you about the mouse icon. The logo at the bottom is in fact a gear in the original svg, but I agree that is an example of something which would probably be better served by a different, less OS X ish icon. Speculating on Dan's behalf (he created that icon), I think he just liked the design of that sort of icon. Frankly, I think it should be changed to something more generic. I'll see about bugging him about it.
I think it's still a clean, elegant way to present OS settings on modern computers (large display, mouse input). The best way "discovered" to date. So if anyone is copying anyone, it's that people are copying the best known way to do it.
Side Rant: Microsoft started diverging away from the above with Windows XP (or was it Windows ME?) by buring things:
I am personally very happy with your explanation and I completely understand where you are coming from. Apple usually comes up with very elegant UX solutions and sometimes it's just impossible (read, insanely hard) to figure out something different and better at the same time. If it was my duty I'd have come up with the same kind of switchboard design.
However, you didn't comment on the mouse icon. Maybe the inspiration from OS X's in this particular (and very minor) case went overboard. I think that things like this give lots of ammunition to naysayers and people who are destructively critic in nature.
Maybe it would be a good idea to make sure there are no isolated UI elements (like icons) that draw a high amount of verbatim visual inspiration from Apple's. ;-)
Thanks for the followup -- I agree. I didn't comment on the mouse icon simply because I didn't make it. Switchboard does not ship with icons, it simply uses whichever relevant icons are available in the theme (e.g "preferences-appearance").
Personally, I agree with you that the mouse icon (and I've stated this elsewhere) is needlessly similar to OS X's. Frankly, the designer likes Apple' design aesthetic and probably liked their icon, and tried to create his own take on it.
Which is fine, but yeah -- it probably shouldn't be something we ship with, given our long-standing history of perceived similarity to OS X.
> Do I change the settings app JUST to look different than OS X, and lose out on the well-established excellence of Apple's design?
I want to single that statement out and go on from there. I'm a bit hesitant to write this comment because, well, I'm about to criticize you and Apple, and at least the latter tends to invite downvotes and a not so nice discussion. But I think it is important to try to get that message across.
When I see an OS X clone or designers trying to copy OS X, like Ubuntu did with Unity (placing the windows title buttons to the left just because, global menu and so on) I don't think it is bad because it is copying something. I feel when something like this happens like an opportunity is missed to do something better, and that someone must have made the decision who sees himself as designer and uses OS X and now copies OS X. Which is bad mainly because: The "well established excellence of Apple's design" is questionable. It is just not there, from my perspective.
Apple made good stuff. The iPhone was groundbreaking, like maybe other of their stuff before - I won't argue with that. But that doesn't mean all of it is great. And especially on the software side. When judging the software I tend to think that it is not always that great - one finds clear usability errors, weird graphical designs, whole concepts that only seem to work for people being strongly accustomed to them. To copy them blindly leads to disaster, not only when copying the errors Apple made, also when copying sound concepts.
Take the global menu Ubuntu copied. It sacrifices visibility and therefore discoverability of the menu items for visual appeal. And yes, that leads to issues - just yesterday I looked a guy over the shoulder on a crypto party who came from windows, had unity freshly installed and didn't find the option he should have because it simply wasn't visible. I had to show him that the item was hidden, that he had to hover the global menu bar. Clearly, from an usability perspective, Unity became worse because it tried to copy OS X (guess which system its designer at the time was using. You won't need three tries.).
What I'm trying to say is: You say you tried to come up with your own design. I applaud that. And now you copied something which was there, which is alright (though to copy the Mac OS Icons is a ripoff in bad style, completely unnecessary, even if that wasn't you fault). But I want to invite you to free yourself from the thinking that a design is excellent because it is made by Apple. Don't fall into this trap. Don't regard good design as process which is a restyling of old Linux programs with their own design history or windows influenced stuff to stuff that looks and feel like OS X and therefore is good. Stuff is good because it works and is beautiful or whatever you want to achieve, and it is not necessary to copy Apple when trying to build something useable and beautiful. And it is especially not necessary that when already copying Apple, then even to copy the visual characteristics like the icons or the colours or the font. Elementary is a name in some circles by now already - please use that to try to find your own style (Linux would profit!).
Maybe you personally don't even do this. Maybe you are not a designer who uses OS X and defines himself by that and therefore only copies OS X. But the presentation of the elementary OS sure gives the feeling that this is exactly what happened - OS X guys building what they already have, just in "free", just running under Linux. That would be a pity, because the Linux desktop can use people trying to design it into a better form - what it doesn't need is to become OS X.
PS: It would've been really easy to find better categories. That the whole thing is just x sections with one or more rows of Icons in it, that is alright - one could easily come up with that solution when designing it from scratch, it is sound. But why the section names? Just by glancing on it one has to realize there are other possible and sound options.
All I can say in response to this is that design is easier said than done. We didn't copy, we came to the same conclusions. I'm not saying those are the only conclusions, but we're not human-computer interaction theorists, we build practical things. Sometimes practicality trumps purity, and sometimes purity trumps idealism.
If you're criticizing us for not being perfect and not innovating enough, I can't argue. But don't assume (I am explicitly rejecting the claim) that we simply love OS X and want to make our own free version of it, or that we treat Apple as some sort of standard of "proper design". All I can do is invite you to come down to the trenches with us and see what it's all about. I think you'll find it's harder than you might imagine.
P.S It absolutely would not have been easier to find better categories. Those categories are the result of the manual naming tens of thousands of Debian packages going back a decade or more. We give users the option of browsing (as has been the tradition on the Linux desktop for the last 7+ years) by the traditional categories, or by using a free-form fluid list.
P.P.S Frankly, I find your dismissal of our design efforts mildly insulting, though I know you only meant to provide constructive and thoughtful criticism (which I appreciate, at any rate). A bit of constructive criticism for you would be to avoid assuming that because something seems like an obvious solution that it must have been the first or easiest solution. This can come across as arrogant and belittling, and has the tendency to undermine the constructivity of your feedback.
And that there are exactly four of them so it turned out like the well-established excellence of Apples design is an happy accident as well? ;) Come on - it is highly unlikely you (=the project) would've arrived at the current result without some form of OSX influence. Anyway, that's beside the point, and if you find that insulting I won't repeat it here - probably enough comments in that direction for now.
Trying to be constructive: You might want to try to use visual distinction to minimize the appearance of copying, especially if that wasn't what happened. Things like the font and the OSX-icon are unnecessary in every case.
Thanks for the invitation, if it's a serious one. I'm using my own ambiance-themed icewm-desktop with my own dock at the bottom, had a look at a lot of window managers, and HCI is what I do atm. If I someday want to work on a desktop for more user than myself I might even remember the offer and will count on a proper introduction^^
Part of my point was that it is harder than just to copy Apple. I'm happy to hear you say that.
In every case I give you the benefit of the doubt that it might behave so much in its own way that the resemblance would be insignificant when actually using it.
And have fun with your release - I bet it will be quite popular.
Resemblance to OSX seems to be quite significantly negative to you, but I would wager it is not for most people. I would also wager that unique visuals are not important for the mass majority of users, and that this also can have a negative impact on usability for many of them.
I might have older icons because I'm running Lion on this hard drive (I've got Mountain Lion on my other drive, I don't recall any icon differences) but their icons do not look the same as mine.
Your previous comment was a slew of accusations that they have copied OSX (with few examples of such copying), along with ranting about how unspectacular Apple is. They never stated there was no influence from OSX; it's obvious there is, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Two comments above my first comment micampe posted screenshots. Some of the icons are clearly lookalikes. And even if they weren't: An Apple mouse for a linux-icon is a noteworthy choice and could be called a Mac/apple-Icon even without visual resemblance of the icon style itself.
I don't like it when my comments are called rants when they aren't. I tried very carefully to walk the line here, especially I didn't want to (and didn't) bash Apple.
It's obvious that there is influence and I argued why that may be dangerous. Software design is in a special position, copying Apple can be a bad sign and so on... I won't repeat it.
It would help you a lot if you kept a blog about how all your design exploration progresses. Later you could point people to that and say: "see, there's a process behind it". Not to mention that it would save a lot of time for those coming after you in the future.
>In the end however, I was faced with an ultimatum. Do I change the settings app JUST to look different than OS X, and lose out on the well-established excellence of Apple's design?
Which can be rephrased as: I'm a hack and could think of no original ideas of my own, so I opted to copy another OS verbatim.
Thankfully Apple doesn't think that way not even for their own design -- they improve (or at least attempt to) OS X's design with each release. And they have even more excuses than you to rest on their laurels (namely, that the laurers are theirs to begin with).
> Take the global menu Ubuntu copied. It sacrifices visibility and therefore discoverability of the menu items for visual appeal.
I think you are missing some context.
Early Apple experiments in GUI design initially used multiple menu bars anchored to the tops of windows, but this was quickly dropped in favor of the current arrangement, as it proved slower to use (in accordance with Fitts's law). The idea of separate menus in each application was later implemented in Microsoft Windows and is the default representation in most Linux desktop environments. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menu_bar
This was in 1983, when Tognazzini was working on the Lisa, inventing some of the UI concepts we still use and very carefully considering efficiency when choosing them. You may disagree with him—his stance that the mouse is faster than a command line shell is widely controversial—but visual appeal was not nearly his main concern.
* I argued with him for months and ended up saying "ah, screw it".
* Ubuntu and Gnome do it too!
I don't see any of these as exculpatory. Not that what you've done is necessarily wrong per se, I'd just rather you come by it honestly. I don't think any of these designs (or for example some of the icons - or even the decision to group elements into these categories) are "inevitable".
What kind of "hacker" community does not allow room for the occasional independent thought expressed with a hint of abrasiveness? I welcome downvotes from passive aggressive screwballs on this site. They are a badge of honor.
They're definitely similar; there's no doubt the magic mouse is what's being portrayed. But it's not a direct copy. I'd be more worried about Document Viewer using a variation of the Adobe Acrobat logo.
Speaking as a user, the problem is one of marketing and first impressions. In the video, the guy shows a laptop that looks a lot like a MacBook and shows an OS that looks a lot like MacOS. This gives me the impression that Elementary is the equivalent of Adibas-branded shoes - some cheap knockoff aping some of the look, a little bit of the feel and not being anywhere near the functionality.
Personally, if I wanted to make an OS look like MacOS, I'd advertise it as "We wanted MacOS on the PC, but Apple don't give it. So we made an OS based on Linux that follows the same attention to design."
Or better yet - change the look. I doubt that stylish grey is the only possible colour. I can see that it's not MacOS, but it feels dirty when it looks a lot like MacOS, down to using a Mac look-alike laptop in the ad, and you claim to have made something original.
100% agree. I personally only noticed this tonight shortly before the launch (at which point it was too late to change), but I definitely dislike the fact that we (in fact, the video was created by a fan) used a video which showed off a wallpaper Apple used in OS X.
Frankly, I expect we'll try to get that amended soon.
I am a bit confused. A lot of it looks like Ubuntu, but with slightly different GUI. At first I thought it was just a variant of Ubuntu(like Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc)...is it? How does it differ from it? Sorry if this seems like a naive question. I am really interested in trying it out...will do so shortly after I am done my exams :P
Our desktop interface and apps are actually quite different from Ubuntu, though we are an Ubuntu-based distribution.
To give some concrete examples:
- We use our own desktop environment and window manager, Pantheon and Gala, respectively.
- We write many of our own apps in-house or work closely with the third-party apps we ship with. For example, our music player, settings application, and calendaring program (to name a few) are all written completely by us. Our mail program, web browser, and photo management app are developed by third-parties who we have strong developer and personal connections to.
- Similar to the above point, we have our own human interface guidelines. You might find you like it more than Ubuntu's.
- elementary OS is extremely fast and lightweight. Our ISO is ~200 MB less than Ubuntu's, and our OS boots faster and is more responsive. A simple youtube or google search should back me up here.
I hope this was helpful to you and perhaps others. Again, we really appreciate your interest and curiosity. I'd definitely encourage you to give it a whirl once you've aced your exams :)
Why browser and mail program ? I mean I can understand usability considerations of photo apps and music player, but you can do so much more by dropping effort on those two apps.
I dont mean it in a "resistance is futile" kind of way - but more in terms of not-immediately-needed kind of way. Especially the browser. Webmail suffices for now - I know people want a Sparrow-like mail app on the desktop, but there is so much more effort that can be put in on projects like color calibration, Redshift-like functionality , etc.
You are off to a decent start - I really, really hope that you guys dont start building Twitter apps. Instead you should expose API guidelines for things like Contractor (OSX Services?) and have something like extensions.gnome.org - but maybe in Vala for performance.
Thank you for the reply! :) I will definitely give it a whirl. I have been playing around with the rasp Pi and given that your OS is approx 200MB, I wanna try seeing if I can make the two work together(or if someone else has, do let me know).
In fact we are very very interested in investigating tiling WM capabilities for the next release of our window manager, Gala. As someone who suffers from the lack of good touchpad drivers for my primary computer, a Macbook Air, I am very excited for tiling support as well :)
I'm kind of the same. I still use OSX on my 2007 MBP for portable, and I'm using Awesome WM with Ubuntu on my desktop. What other kind of tiling WMs exist and/or what do you use?
I still switch to Windows occasionally for gaming (although I try to limit my gaming habit). Another reason for using Windows for me would be screen capture software (Webcammax [best], Manycam, more...) which is completely absent from Linux (hint hint, elementary. I think this could be revolutionary).
I was really interested in developing something like this. But I see you have made a ton more progress. I am working on plans to design a Linux Laptop(and I mean a very sweet laptop), but I had plans of trying to make it accessible to people like my mom and basically everyone. I would love to collaborate on such a product. I am really glad I'm not the only one thinking about these things.
Can we work on making optimized hardware in the same way Apple products are. Can we work on optimizing power consumption, apparent load time etc etc. I can't wait to give this OS a shot.
Looks great, nice work. But where can we find a more technical overview? I wasn't even sure whether it was Linux or BSD based or something else until halfway down the front page, and had to check the Developers section to find out it's based on Ubuntu. But which version, and what big changes did you make under the hood?
It currently has package signing, right? What's the problem? I'm confused at how a historical problem that has been fixed even matters when discussing why or why not to use it. It's like saying you wouldn't use OS X because 10.1 didn't support Intel processors.
You must be new to Linux. Knowing which distro and version it is built on immediately tells you a great deal about what "user-centric features" are available in it, without having to list and explain them all.
And this is HN, man. For the average poster here, "technical" features and "user-centric features" are one and the same.
There are a million and one themes for GTK. I wish they had picked one - anything except the OSX clone.
What they don't realize is that there are a bunch of howtos out there around customizing Ubuntu to "look like OSX" and this looks like one more.
I wish this discussion could be around performance enhancements and innovations in usability, but I cannot get past the OSX clone-ness.
In an admittedly egoistic sense, I am a loner Latitude/Ubuntu user in a world of Air/OSX all around me. This is not something I will be able to explain off. And this is in India. I assume it will be much worse in the US.
I appreciate your honesty. You should know that we didn't "pick" our GTK+ theme. In fact, it predates the OS itself and is the result of (seriously) 100+ man hours of refinement and tweaking, including working with GTK+ theme engine developers.
It was created to be beautiful and usable, not as an OS X clone. I can assure you OS X was used (along with Windows, iOS, and Android) purely as inspiration -- not as a target or design guide. There are only so many neutral window control colors. We use silver and black (apps can request to use the dark variant), Windows uses transparency, Ubuntu uses a muddy brown, and OS X uses chrome.
If you really feel opposed, as you pointed out, there are dozens of excellent GTK+ themes. Some people have even written them specifically with elementary in mind. Feel free to use them :)
I can agree with this to some extent, and I don't have a solid answer as far as a different approach. However, knock-offs feel cheap, and because elementary feels like a knock-off, it's having trouble gaining some mindshare.
Taking steps to differentiate from OS X a bit more would (arguably, perhaps) be an improvement, albeit not a technical one.
I honestly don't know! I don't know of anyone who has tried Luna on an rMBP. I would encourage you to burn a copy of luna to a USB disk and boot into the live environment. You can play around with it and see how it looks, with no changes to your hard drive.
I'm sure other people with rMBPs will be trying Luna in the coming days, so hopefully we can assess what the current state of affairs is and make any necessary changes.
Speaking on behalf of the whole elementary team, it would be greatly appreciated if you gave it a shot and reported your findings to us via Google+, Twitter, or via direct bug report here: https://bugs.launchpad.net/elementaryos
elementary OS Developer here, I believe GTK 3.10 (and we use GTK+ for all our apps) will be the first GTK version with High DPI support, so I'm not 100% sure retina will work perfectly (you'd have to try).
Also, I'm no pro on this, I'm not even sure if retina is that high DPI feature they keep talking about. However, if it is, Luna+1 (code name for next version of elementary OS) will use GTK 3.10 (or a newer one) for sure.
I'd like to nudge in one thing: option flexibility. I'm still downloading and about to try it out; but I hope that the setting does allow the user to tweak everything they can tweak and not hide options away for the sake of hiding things. My personal thing, but it's shared with many, is that flexibility can lead to a personally complete design.
Flexibility is definitely something we try to be opinionated about. We don't offer a lot of easy GUI customization out of the box, but you'll find that there's quite a bit hidden beneath the surface or is easy to code up yourself.
If you're really interested in a completely customizable and hand-tailored OS, I'd honestly suggest you look into something like ArchLinux or Gentoo. Both platforms have made available most of our applications and components, so you can pick and choose to build the desktop you personally want :)
Pantheon's Arch Linux support is not finished - I'm pretty sure you can't run Pantheon on it. However, on Gentoo I'm sure you can.
Besides that, we do offer some customization, you just have to use dconf-editor to change the configuration keys and not a GUI for several things. And there's also "elementary Tweak" which adds even more configuration.
I never heard of elementaryOS but it looks great at first glance. I have a specific question I was wondering: how will distributions using non-Unity DEs/WMs such as elementary handle the replacement of X with Mir? I'm not familiar with how child distros handle divergent dependencies in general so I'd love to hear what elementary is doing.
The simple answer is: we don't know yet. We actually had a conference call with some folks from Canonical a few weeks ago discussing this very issue. At present, it seems like there are three options (I'm taking these points mostly from the minutes from that call):
1. Port everything to Qt and use Mir (because GTK+ might not work under pure Mir -- they've been backing Wayland so far). This would require an IMMENSE amount of work and would be tantamount to rewriting almost every line in our codebase.
2. Help port GTK+ (or make an extension/fork of it) to Mir. This might honestly be less work than #1, but elementary would be at a specific disadvantage because most of our developers (speaking for myself as well) don't really have the skills needed for something like this.
3. Do nothing and use XMir until we absolutely must switch.
We don't have an official or internal consensus on this point yet, to my knowledge. However, I would personally tend to think we'll be leaning toward #3, depending on how XMir shapes up.
This is definitely an area of interest and importance for us, and it's something that will undoubtedly continue to be discussed as we begin the L+1 cycle and beyond.
Rebasing to Debian definitely comes up a lot. Our main reasons for sticking with Ubuntu are:
- we rely very heavily on Launchpad
- we rely on the hardware support and testing work they do
- the Ubuntu userbase seems to be a bit more in-line with the kinds of people who will enjoy elementary OS (this isn't a technical reason)
- we have some close relationships with Canonical/Ubuntu employees/developers
It's definitely a possibility, though personally I don't see it becoming feasible in the near term.
Vala is, all in all, fantastic. The way I describe it to people is "it feels like C# but runs at C speed", and that's pretty much accurate. The only issues we have are binding bugs and Vala bugs, both of which are harder and harder to find these days. And when you do find one, the development community is very active and you can find the help you need.
For concurrency, I have personally written async vala code (which has some excellent support, including closures), but there is full thread support via GObject. The thread safety stuff is the same as the underlying library, and lots of work goes into GLib/GTK+ to make them thread safe where appropriate.
Yes, targeting Qt with Vala would a real problem. That's why we have absolutely no plans to move to Qt :) Not that it hasn't been brought up -- I remember some very vocal discussions in IRC a few years back when a few developers (mostly who have since moved on, interestingly) tried to convince us to jump ship and go to Qt. It was a lot more feasible back then too, since we were still pretty early in the Luna cycle. But the insurrection was ultimately quelled with practical concerns and majority mindshare :)
How do you feel about using Python generating code just like Vala code is generated?
Doesn't GObject basically mean all the languages supported are compatible and we can write libraries/applications (which are generated into C code) and they are binary compatible with each other without extra code or configuration.
I think that's really interesting and could make very fast, and robust applications very flexible as well.
Firstly, this is really impressive and a great idea. Thanks for starting this project, as Linux badly needs some new ideas for UI design. I've had a look at the video.
Unfortunately, my first impression from the video was that this is a direct copy of OS X, down to the apps, and in terms of UI and experience, not in terms of skin-deep chrome. The reasons for that were:
General window chrome - toolbars, buttons
Dock on bottom (why not sides, our screens typically have too much horizontal real-estate?), bouncing icons in dock, similar 3D shelf feel to earlier Mac OS dock.
iTunes app demonstrated has a UI which is almost exactly like the iTunes in Mac OS - there's plenty of room for innovation here, why present things in the same way?
Finder app again presents exactly like Finder in Mac OS, but with tabs
System preferences again has a layout very reminiscent of Mac OS - in isolation this doesn't mean much, it's cumulative
Exploded windows view is very like Mission control, X symbols on top left look like iOS
Spinning progress indicator is similar to the style introduced by Mac OS
Typography is reminiscent of iOS7 because of use of Raleway which is reminiscent of Helvetica Neue - not a big deal and it is a nice font.
Window chrome is a close match to the current Mac OS grey, fullscreen buttons top right, titles centred etc. Again, in isolation this means nothing.
So those are some reasons people might think you are copying from Mac OS X - NB the grey window chrome is the least of your problems. Individually they don't mean much, but cumulatively they give the impression you haven't spent enough time rethinking the way these apps and OS services work and have by default chosen the Mac OS way - I think if you want to call it an OS (built on Linux) it should provide a different experience, which is different enough to be new and interesting. One other tip on your video was that to me it feels like you're rehashing the discussions you had in making a video for the first 20 seconds - I don't care about all that meta stuff, I just want to see the OS in action. Just jump in with something impressive.
So all that negativity out of the way (and I thought it necessary because you don't acknowledge that you did intend it to be reminiscent of OS X), this is a great effort, and I might even try it out sometime (like most people I have a very high resistance to switching OS, but this one is intriguing). You have clearly put a lot of work and polish into this, so congratulations on the effort, and I think it's a really worthwhile project, but be wary of sticking too close to existing designs.
Mac OS X is not the apotheosis of interface design, far from it, it's just one of a million possible pathways, and is probably at a local maximum where you can't easily escape without trying things which are radically different.
Personally I'd put some effort into differentiating yourself visually from other OS's, not just for the sake of it, but because there are so many other possibilities to explore - there are tons of areas you could improve - launchers, overlapping windows, window chrome (do we need toolbars there all the time), as that's an important part of the first impression, and if you have something sufficiently different it can really help people remember you and be tempted to try it out. Think for example of the tabbed windows in BeOS, it immediately gives it a different identity and makes it stand out, without sacrificing usability.
I clearly tought of Steve Jobs while watching the video. But not in a copy-print way. You took elements and added yours.
Also I know you were using Vala to develop, is it a good part of your productivity ? It seems you were free to think about solving the problem the best way. Or maybe you're just all very good..
Hello, I'm also a developer. Vala is one of the best parts of our productivity. Despite being a young programming language, I believe it has a bright future ahead. It feels "cozy" to both C/C++ and Java/C# developers and it has great documentation (valadoc.org). To write GTK+ applications, there's nothing better, Python is too slow and C would be too much work at times, so we sticked with Vala.
>Or maybe you're just all very good..
We have some great programmers in the team accomplishing the seemingly impossible every now and then, I'm still amazed at some of the things we've pulled off.
Yes, that worked fine. But I had to install the dconf-editor package first, then invoke dconf-editor from the terminal.
Booted my ancient workstation (quad Xeon, nvidia GT520 graphics card) and had the usual issue with 'composited' dekstops and nouveau - very slow screen refresh.
This is not a LunaOS specific problem, it happens with Gnome Shell based distributions. (Ubuntu 12.04 drops down to the Unity 2d shell which is much more responsive, XFCE is fine with built in compositor). My guess is that LunaOS UI is built on top of Gnome shell somehow?
I'd have to install the proprietary drivers for this particular card.
dconf was added to the applications menu, I just didn't see it until I went to the second page of the menu! Fault between monitor and keyboard. It also took me quite a time to work out how workspaces work...
I was on a beta version of elementary OS a couple months ago, and it was like a breath of fresh air.
elementary OS sets out to settle the number one complaint casual users have of other Linux distributions: design. Other Linux distributions look like a mish-mash of a bunch of different designs by many different people. elementary OS has a beautiful, striking, and (most importantly) consistent vision driving the look and feel of all its applications.
The only thing that previously kept me suggesting elementary OS to people who don't normally use Linux was its instability as a beta release. If this release is as stable as I hope it is, then elementary OS is without a doubt the best distribution to introduce new people to Linux.
I think the following quote pulled from an update on elementary's website defending some unconventional decisions they've made illustrates best what they're trying to do:
We know there are many traditional Linux users out there exclaiming that Linux is all about choices and we should make everything configurable because that’s freedom. But that isn’t why most of you are here in the first place. You’re here because we’ve been making choices for you. Lots of them. We always have and always will. We’re the open source OS with opinionated design. That’s what makes elementary so good. We trim the fat. We optimize. We organize. We rethink.
That's an attitude that's sorely missing in the Linux community. elementary is tackling hard problems and succeeding.
I look forward to the the success of elementary OS.
I have never heard anybody say Linux doesn't look sexy. Remember when we were comparing Compiz to Windows XP, or Enlightenment to Windows 2000? Ubuntu is one of the few OSs that can pull a black theme.
Linux problems include:
1. Hardware compatibility
2. Office compatibility (also Adobe + games)
3. Easy to mess up your system with no hope of fixing it
I don't see how any of these address the problems with Linux.
I run Gentoo with XFCE as my main OS, SUSE at work, and Windows to make presentations.
Fun things to do include: tight WINE integration, better genkernel, modular configuration structure so that it is harder to mess up and easier to restore.
Compiz is sexy, with it's sexy animations, and it's sexy rotations, and I still couldn't get it as usable as I had windows be. That's the point. Sexy is secondary to utility. They appear to be basically trying to copy the good parts of OSX.
Which "good parts", exactly, are you talking about? There's a lot of talk of elementary copying OSX, but much of the video is default functionality of GNOME/Compiz -- no one is specifying _exactly_ what is being copied. The only major difference is a grey theme, which is probably triggering the whole OSX copy nonsense.
In fact, the video (and Luna) uses neither GNOME nor compiz. We use our own window manager called "Gala" (it is based on the same library that gnome's is) in our own desktop environment called "Pantheon".
OS X & Linux are not direct competitors, they are in different market segments. Extensive hardware support is not that important to end users. The important thing is that the OS supports well the individual hardware you use.
Hardware support matters to end users in terms of portability of app data. If I use an app which is not ported to other platforms, I can't use my data in a new hardware, until the platform itself is ported.
If the data has an open format, then this problem is reduced, but many applications out there have a proprietary data format.
Hardware compatibility hasn't been an issue for me for years. Back in 2000? Yes, major issue.
#2 -- Specifically Adobe applications & Excel present big roadblocks from companies rolling over from Windows on OSX. Much of the other software that stopped companies in the past is now web browser based.
Yes but users still need to install new software and make basic changes. The complaint, as I understand it, is that when breakage occurs, for whatever reason that may be, you pretty much get locked out of your system. Either you have a lot of work to do to repair the issue or you may just need to do a re-install.
I am far from a Linux/Unix expert, but I think this has to do with updates and dependencies. Using an Ubuntu LTS release along with not messing with any of the system settings seems to be fairly fool proof. Windows has its share of problems but the only complete failures I have experienced in two decades of use were hardware or malware related.
"elementary OS sets out to settle the number one complaint casual users have of other Linux distributions: design."
In this regard Elementary seems to be part of a larger trend in the linux desktop world, rather than unique. GNOME 3 has been heavily influenced by designers, to the point where there's been developer backlash.  Canonical employs thirty people to work on the design of Ubuntu and their other products, and they're still hiring. 
It's interesting that the features of this OS sound like the features of Gnome in the late 90s (we care about design, and we don't swamp the user with choices)... and Ubuntu a few years later. I truly wish this project the best but it will be an uphill battle when Apple revamps the look of OS X, and Elementary OS is left looking like a dated, less consistent version of someone else's system software. That sounds more cruel than I intended, but I don't see the future in slavishly copying OS X... even the Dock, the worst feature of OS X!
Judging by the screen shots there's some talented people involved in the project, and probably a lot of care. On the other hand there's something broken with the decision making process when you wind up borrowing Apple's Dock.
for the linux user interface, I'd say copying is all good, but you can't always copy your competitor. it's better to invent new things and make your competitor copy you. then you've made it and have entered the competition.
this desktop seems good-looking and simple to use, I'll give it a try.
Sorry but the number one complaint about GNU/Linux is certainly that it doesn't run the same programs people are forced to use at work and at school or that their friends use (games maybe). The OS is not the issue, the compatible programs are. That said, improvements in the OS can't hurt. Elementary looks superb design-wise.
Does anybody else remember what people said about Eazel in 2000? Because what you are saying is giving me deja vu. If only some designers would come in and fix Linux, it'd be a smashing success, inevitably. Didn't work out so well for those guys.
I am no Ubuntu fan (I use openSUSE) but there is no way that this distribution is better for new users than Ubuntu. The mind share Ubuntu has is huge as much as it pains us Ubuntu is the reference when it comes to desktop Linux.
Background: have been using the early (read: 'unstable') betas of eOS for quite sometime now (almost 1 year in fact!)
I have gone so far as having installed it onto actual live / production (networked) environments (who were previosly running M$ junk).
Apart from a few minor quibbles (most of which were easily fixed) it has been absolutely flawless!!
The biggest testament to the design philosophy / directions that these guys have taken is, in my opinion, the simple fact that I was able to transition non-technical end users from using Windows to using eOS (and therefore Linux) in a live SME environment without any downtime and very, very minimal training! Try doing that with some other OS's or distros!! And this was with the beta/unfinished version!!
Given how well that went, I have also now managed to get it installed successfully on at least 4 Macs (iMacs, MacBook Pros and a recent MacBook Air). And I didn't even bother with rEFIT or any dual booting shenanigans.....I literally downloaded the ISO....burnt it to a CD ....booted the Mac from the CD ans clicked "Install Elementarty OS"..... and in about 10 mins flat I have brand new, screaming FAST, lightweight and beautifully thought-out Linux OS running perfectly!
Oh, and just for the record....as someone with a background in design and who has used every flavour of Apple hardware and software since the AppleII 'Euro Plus' (the one with Steve W's signature on the box!;) .....this is NOT a simple 'knock off' of OSX or anything else. The people who say this I would wager have either not used it so are basing it off a few screen grabs which tell you nothing..or, just have no idea about UI/UX whatsoever. As someone who has been using this day-in day-out now for quite some time.....this already is way ahead of Apple in a lot of respects (and wherever it isn't yet, I have total confidence that the eOS team will keep improving it!).
This is not a paid advert, I have absolutely no affiliation with this project, I just thought I should put my 2 cents in so hopefully some others can benefit from my experiences with this GREAT project!!!
This is cool. Finally, a Linux distro that I could set my less-than-technical friends and family with.
(Why not Ubuntu, you might ask? Simple: Ubuntu ships off their users' desktop search results to Amazon by default. I know it can be disabled and all that, but that's besides the point. I can't recommend software from people who don't respect their users' privacy.)
Wow, such vitriol. Let me guess, you're a big Ubuntu fan, and my assertion about privacy offended you and your clan. Now you're trying to peg me as some sort of moral absolutist. Well, I'm not, I just do what I can do when it comes to getting people to use software that respect their privacy.
Obviously, people make their own decisions. Sometimes they ask recommendations, and I respond with my honest opinion. So when it comes to Ubuntu, I tell them that I would not recommend it, for the reason I explained above.
I'm the exact opposite of a big Ubuntu fan (I was, but after the switch to Unity everything started being slow, and Canonical started getting weird, and I realized I didn't really like the community behind it, but those are all tangential points), and I agree with him/her/whatever. Making the claim that you're saving them from "the evils of Amazon and Canonical", while not doing the same for other things that are worse offenders than Ubuntu is rather hypocritical.
Your first comment implied that you're moral absolutist on this front.
Okay, you might be suggesting that they not use those other things, but your attempt to debase the previous comment on the grounds that they might like Ubuntu is silly and worthless.
As someone who just watched the video but hasn't used it yet, that was my thought as well. Are they doing things design-wise and interface-wise that are different than OSX? Or are they simply aiming to re-implement OSX's GUI in Linux? (This is meant as an honest, non-sarcastic question, my curiosity is piqued but I'm genuinely wondering what their goal is)
Yes, absolutely we are doing different things. Examples include our launcher (from the top left hand corner), slingshot, our deprecation of the desktop as a place for folders, and our human interface guidelines. As another concrete example, we are very much trying to eliminate menu bars entirely. Instead, our apps use the "AppMenu" -- a cog wheel that works similarly to Google Chrome.
If I can make a suggestion, then, since I have your attention. The video on the page that the OP linked to basically shows a very OSX-like interface, especially by showing off the dock, a very (for the six seconds it's on-screen) iTunes-seeming music app, the expose-style window manager, and the multi-desktop. Maybe try highlighting some of these other concepts if possible in the video that most people who are coming to your site with no idea what makes elementary different are watching? Might help stem some of the "this is just Linux that looks like OSX" comments.
I appreciate the suggestion. We (as the elementary team) did not actually create the video -- rather, a (very talented) fan created it of his own accord and sent it to us.
I agree that we would be well served by highlighting the features of elementary OS which are visually dissimilar to OS X, but frankly, Apple doesn't own light color schemes and multi-desktops. The latter has been on Linux long before Apple implemented them in OS X with Leopard in ~2005. Furthermore the "dock" wasn't invented by Apple (RISC OS had it first, iirc).
I hope I'm not coming across as overly defensive. I definitely appreciate the comments and I understand that you are expressing your opinions about what you got out of the video. But, as I've said elsewhere in this thread, we're not embarrassed by our dock and multi-desktop implementation (which, by the way, actually works rather differently than any other implementation we know of, particularly with regard to dragging apps around). We're proud of them, and we want to show them off -- aesthetic parallels to OS X or not.
I understand that you didn't do it with the _intent_ of copying MacOS, as such. However, to someone who has used MacOS, it's probably going to be perceived as a MacOS ripoff, and that tends to lead to negative responses; things which look almost but not entirely like other things really rub people up the wrong way, as we saw with the weird pseudo-native SWING themes and so on.
If you know anything of design, Elementary is not a clone nor is mimicking OSX. Or, put differently; everybody is copying everybody. If you have good enough eye sight, then you can see that the difference between OSX and Elementary is huge. Dock was used before OSX, so you can't say that's copying from OSX. The light-gray colors and clinically clean interface was also used before OSX.
Sorry, I wasn't trying to be insulting or anything, as an OSX user, it just looks very similar to me, and I was hoping someone would point out a difference in philosophy or implementation, not that the dock was used pre-OSX (which I'm sure it was).
We absolutely do not use the genie to minimize apps (nor is such functionality even available in the program we use for our dock, Plank), and in fact we came up with our full screen button months before Apple made that design change public. For proof (or at least evidence coupled with my personal assurance) of the latter claim, see this mockup which was submitted July 10, 2010. That's 1 year and 10 days before OS X Lion (the first release to feature similar maximize buttons) was released -- even before the betas.
Also, it should be noted: that window control control does not behave the way OS X's similar one does. Fills the screen but does not take the application full screen.
That is not our dock, and that is not Luna. We didn't make that video. Apparently it was made by a fan who had built his own version of Luna using some of our software. I can assure you that genie animation is nowhere in any code elementary ships with.
Yeah, but with Elementary OS, everything from the colors to the buttons to the layout of apps is almost identical to that of OS X. There's no innovation here--it's just Linux with the GUI of OS X. If I wanted that, I'd just use OS X.
OS X and elementary OS share incredibly similar core design and usability ideals, but elementary is no mere rehash of OS X. They challenge a number of things people take for granted in OS X, such as double-clicking and minimise, but they're obviously not afraid to borrow things that OS X does well.
Hey, thanks for being cool about it. I'm not sure a good alternative would be, but I do have this advice. Google often takes ideas from competitors and remixes them to the point of making them original (a good example is the gesture password on the Android lockscreen). You can remix ideas from competitors. So in this case, instead of a bounce, a spin could work.
I'm nowhere near an expert but I thought this could help.
Thanks for the advice, and I definitely see where you're coming from. I tend to be an advocate of the "take good ideas but make them seem different" approach, but I think a core philosophy in elementary (perhaps to its detriment at times) is: "don't change for change's sake". I wrote more about that philosophy, and the general perception of elementary copying OS X in my comment here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6193676
Do you really think this is a legitimate concern? I'm asking this as someone who is intimately (well, less so in recent months) involved in elementary's strategic planning -- I am on the core team.
Can you suggest specific aspects of our OS that would judged to be too similar to Apple's products so as to warrant a claim of infringement, other than a general aesthetic similarity and the color of our window borders?
There probably isn't much. The icon showing a magic mouse might infringe a trademark, though; Apple tends to trademark icons where practical, which is likely why TouchWiz scrapped its very iOS-esque icons a while back.
* The side-swipe at Apple in the video for doing "one thing well" is a misleading statement. Apple build computers that do a lot of things, not just to enjoy music.
* The sly dig at Apple product videos at the beginning gets more and more ironic as the video slowly transforms into the Apple product video style towards the end.
* And the side-swipe is just poor form considering the OS does look OSX-inspired. I know this is an old argument about eOS but it's worth mentioning when the sly digs in the video bring it up.
I only intend this criticism as constructive because I know you guys are on to a great thing here, I just don't think you need the hints towards other OS's to put yourselves ahead of the game, you are better than that!
* I commend you guys for the hard work you have put into this OS. Elementary was my distro of choice when I was a Linux user, it's fast, beautiful and task orientated, so keep up the good work
* It's fantastic to see the base install apps conforming to a visual style whereas on other distros the theming can look quite disjointed.
I haven't used a Mac since a bit after the introduction of quadro or whatever it was, so I don't have a dog in most of the discussion above. I also don't own a mobile device. Those facts probably date me as a Linux user.
Here's a suggestion for designers: the age of the Linux user base is aging at a rate of one year per year. That doesn't mean there are no young ones, only that we are going where no Linux user has gone before (I joined various Linux projects back in 1992.)
Every human on earth, after there mid 40s, experiences changes in the geometric optics of their vision system. As my eye doctor says, the denial rate is 100% and the participation rate is 100% -- if you are lucky enough to reach that age.
Please design an accessible operating system we can still use in our 80s. This is a very big opportunity. How old will you be in 2038 is maybe a good design target. ;)
Accessible on a mobile device, a desktop, and able to function smoothly with presbyteropia is the basic design spec.
Get your team an old geek geezer or two to tell what works and what doesn't. When I forget my reading glasses at work, I have to use the Magnify app on Win7. Go ahead and try this, and see what the experience is like and if it's so perfect it can't be improved on you are done. Otherwise, work on that aspect of your design.
Even if you are young and not 'there' yet, try out the Magnify app, and try whatever Linux has to offer on your distro of choice for the same thing. It completely changes how you size windows and operated effectively. It will give you insight into important principles of design such as navigating windows, scrolling, keyboard usage, etc.
There is no need to make the very best of what exists today -- make the very best that will be needed tomorrow.
I haven't yet tried the OS so I can not speak from an experience, but after watching the introduction video, I think it was pretty clear that they took some design ideas from OS X (I'm putting it lightly). Even the wallpaper was the same.
I'm downloading the OS right now and I hope I'll like it. It always makes me happy to see people trying to get casual users to use Linux. I hope they succeed. Having said that, the introduction video left a bad taste in my mouth.
Update: I'm using it right now and I love it! Great job. I have to give it more time, but I may even use this as my main OS on my notebook if everything goes smoothly. Looks very promising.
I showed ElementaryOS to my art-student sister and she loved it! She wants me to install it alongside her Windows OS so she can dual-boot.
She loves the simplicity and says that what she does on the net and her PC is completely covered by Elementary. Document writing, web browsing, text chat, email, video viewing, audio listening - all can be done easily and user-friendly.
Elementary is not enough for my advanced needs (I don't like docks, I prefer taskbars), but looks like Elementary might have some traction in the regular-user market.
Here I am stuck on "pretty" OS X because of the support for sexy hardware and all I really want is awesome window manager, chrome and some terminals. If only there was a haswell ultrabook with a huge trackpad, nice backlit keyboard, hd screen and out of box linux support with drivers that gave windows graphics performance and os x battery life. Anyone who wants a dumbed down UI has got an iPad already.
Luna is built on the rock-solid foundation of Linux (the same software that powers the US Department of Defense, the Bank of China, and more). It has no known viruses, which means no pesky anti-virus software to slow down your system.
Was there a reason to start with Ubuntu and not go upstream a bit and use Debian? I associate Unity and the UI of Ubuntu as the biggest differentiator between Debian and Ubuntu, and if they pulled that out, why not go upstream a bit and knock out more of the cruft?
It looks like this might be an interesting competitor/test ground wrt Gnome 3 (and beyond). They're using Vala heavily, and they don't have any strong committed user base yet -- and therefore no need for backwards comparability.
Also nice to see a project that goes beyond simply building on top of Linux -- rethinking how apps are open/closed/minimized is a great example of this.
I doubt I'll ever use it for anything other than fun, though. I need my legacy apps, I can't work with a mouse (due to RSI and efficiency -- I've become addicted to xmonad like tiling wms, and vim/vimperator keybindings).
But if they can provide a solid alternative desktop experience, that's great!
It looks like it's a Darwin/GTK3 open source OS and desktop environment. Previous release "Jupiter" of 2011 was based on Linux. Has its own development library, "Granite". I'm surprised I haven't heard of it before, it does look interesting.
elementary is what Ubuntu should have been. Basically, they've built a new desktop environment from the ground up with focus on design and usability. This the first release of the DE (first release was based on Gnome), so it's still a bit immature, but there's already a big following.
I think the user experience of Unity is largely stable, so I agree with your point. I just thought I'd mention that there's a rewrite of Unity underway, so the software itself might not be stable in upcoming Ubuntu releases.
From their blog post about window controls , it sounds like they are taking the iOS approach to application close / minimize, but I can't find any technical description of how they plan to accomplish that without forcing applications to implement additional event handlers, or something fancy with preserving memory and file handles.
I've been using Elementary OS since beta 1 and I have found it to be the most usable Linux distribution. Don't get hanged up about them copying mac os. Even a novice user would find it easy to use. Let's not forget the soothing feel of the UI. It feels light.
Even android has some parts copied from ios, and yet you don't want to complain about it because it lets you get similar experience within your budget. It gives you a likeable option, copy or not.
Just give it a try. Don't judge from the video alone.
This is cool but I'm not really sure if I like the "opinionated" design aspect of it all. The terminal application is drawn with a slight level of transparency that you can't seem to (easily) turn off. I like my terminals like my coffee in the morning.
Also my first port of call was to remove Midori and install firefox.
I must admit though, the interface is a lot lighterweight than unity and much better in my opinon. Whenever I install Ubuntu on anything I immediately remove unity and install gnome-classic.
Mac OS X is my primary OS. I also have to run quite a lot of VM's. I have been running eOS since beta 1. It's by far & away my favourite Linux distro.
Whilst some of the designs are similar and may offer some familiarity to OS X users initally. The user experience is very different and has clearly been well thought out and crafted. My only gripe is the time between updates/releases otherwise I'm a happy user of OS X and eOS.
I think design is not the number one issue of desktop Linux. Windows is very ugly and it still dominates desktop computing, by the way KDE looks and feels amazing. The first problem desktop Linux has to overcome is the lack of support from computer manufacturers. Most people are not gonna go out of their way to find a computer with Linux. Another very important issue is that Windows compatibility is unavoidable. Even OS X which has an even bigger share of the desktop market than Linux can't fully replace Windows. Most people are gonna need Windows software sooner or later. Linux has to sell itself as a better alternative to Windows, not as an affordable alternative to Windows, people might end up having to spend more money by using Linux.
P.S. I still think self contained applications like in OS X & Windows are way better than the Linux model. Other than that and hardware support, UNIX-like systems are superior to Windows in all aspects. I can't live without a decent shell & decent support for dynamic languages.
Outdated DLLs (library code, like stuff that handles image formats and many other tasks) is a big (security) problem in Windows -- and has always been. I think the package model used by most Linux distributions is far better.
> I still think self contained applications like in OS X & Windows are way better
The single-folder application is a focus of Canonical's new package format project. I would actually prefer a more LXC-style container format (similar to Docker.io) than another deb/rpm zip file, but that is personal preference.
I'm really, really impressed with the responsiveness of the UI. The only OS I recall using that was that responsive was BeOS.
Unfortunately, Elementary OS seems to have fallen victim to the aesthetics-over-functionality trend that's currently plaguing the software world. The user interface is just too simplistic for this to be a productive OS for day-to-day work. None of the applications specific to this distro seem to have menus or configuration options. I can't put files or directories on the desktop. I tried to use what it came with, but it ended up being to frustrating; I had to install Firefox, Thunar, and Thunderbird instead of using the out-of-box browser, file manager, and email client.
I really like some of the basic work that's gone into this OS, but it just doesn't seem like it can be a viable substitute for more full-featured distros.
How is the performance?
My wife owns an old Acer Aspire One A150 and it has become really slow (even if it's running Windows XP) so I'm thinking about installing Linux Mint or.. something else like this?
Oh, mine is an AO756, with a Celeron CPU so it can handle XP like a breeze. Your Atom CPU isn't very comparable, so I'm not sure what you should expect. ElementaryOS is on par with Ubuntu performance wise, although seemingly snappier compared to Unity (I always use openbox wm with Ubuntu). If you're looking to improve performance, you could try Elementary, but Lubuntu or Ubuntu with openbox would be a safe bet.
We've got them coming! Some of the guys who work on the build process and the ISOs have cranked out some ARM builds of Luna. I don't think they're perfect quite yet, but I fully expect them to be available for download from the website as soon as they are :)
As a mixed Windows/Ubuntu user (sticking to I3 tiled windows manager for reference) just trying this out, I have to say this is quite impressive.
I might actually change my Ubuntu setup for this, but I still haven't decided.
Edit: To make it clear, I've considered elementaryos before. I've even booted a live-installation once or twice. But now I'm considering putting this on one of my main systems. This is snappy. This is an improvement.
I've never heard about elementaryOS, and frankly the webpage sucks at providing info.
There is no info about what is this, what does it do, no screenshots (picture to small to comfortably show a window bar and 2 icons is not a screenshot).
Will my apps work on it? What architecture is this thing supposed to work with? Is it for smartphones or PC's? etc.
Pictures are pretty, btw (so I don't sound all negative ;p )
One strong point for Linux in the desktop is hardware compatibility. Issues like wifi and graphic cards support, battery duration, hotness, hibernation and suspension support are vital for users and power users (designers, developers). This is most important today than application availability. Unfortunately I don't see any hardware compatibility list for ElementaryOS yet.
I just quickly installed this in a VM and it's literally just a poorly done OS X skin laying on top of Ubuntu, all the way down to dock icons bouncing when clicked. The installer is the standard Ubuntu-derivative fare without much modification whatsoever.
It's not really much of an upgrade from just running Xubuntu or one of the more minimalist window managers out there.
elementary OS is based on Ubuntu. The apps mostly are written in-house specifically for elementary OS, and are developed on Launchpad and published as Debian/Ubuntu packages available through the official Ubuntu repositories and elementary's PPAs.
I'm very impressed with the responsiveness of Elementary's Pantheon when compared to Unity on Ubuntu 12.04. I've been using Ubuntu for over 5 years and I have to say, I haven't felt such a polished user experience.
But they focus none of there efforts on elegant, usable, and consistent design. Because none of the effort done was for design. Its literally a carbon copy of OS X. The layout, the colors, the gradients, the multitasking, the dock, the app bounce on the dock, the music app, the exposé style window layout, the mission control tile multiple desktop layout.
Any Linux distro with its own UI spent more time on elegant, usable, and consistent design than Elementary did.
The exposé looks like it's laid out slightly differently than OS X and includes buttons to close the window.
The multiple desktops is on the bottom and not part of exposé. It includes a new desktop button. It has a dark background rather than blending in with the desktop. It appears you can drag app icons from one desktop to another-- I've never seen that feature before.
The header is black/dark grey, not silver. The colors, gradients and layout of their music player and iTunes look significantly different when compared side by side.
The file manager is greyscale: it doesn't appear to use blue tones like Finder, except for folder icons.
Windows in OS X have 4 buttons, all different colors. Windows in Elementary have 2 buttons, styled the same.
This may seem like a pedantic critique of your comment, but my point is that it's clearly not a "carbon copy" of OS X. The statement "none of the effort was done for design" is not a fair criticism of the Elementary development team.
This comment is just nonsense. What elementary did was obviously use all existing designs as reference and then carefully thought through every detail to determine what they thought was best. They happened to agree a lot with Apple. It is definitely NOT a clone. It is definitely similar. You have no clue about the process in building these things.
It breaks my heart when I see a comment like this because I know how much hard work goes into the design, but I can't blame people for not seeing it. It's sad. I wish they would differentiate even if it's just for the sake of differentiation.
I had to go ahead and add ubuntu restricted extras from the software center, but after that everything worked. I didn't have to add any drivers for this distro to get sound, vid, mic, etc working properly. That's not surprising because the last few Ubuntu releases have gotten a lot better at out of the box hardware support. That's probably from Debian, but I don't actually know.
I believe oakaz was referring to the ability to actually play movie and audio files which use non-free formats, such as MP3. This is a frequent/historical pain point for laypersons using Linux desktops.
The answer is yes. In the installer, there is a checkbox that asks if the user wants to install these non-free codecs.
Now Arch, in the past I've used Ubuntu and Gentoo. I may be misremembering, but I think in all of them there is a packages with non-free codecs either pulled in automatically or at least recommended when you install a media application.
Yo aroman, moving to GitHub has been discussed several times in the last months, we even have a couple of projects there (www.github.com/elementary), but besides all the reasons you named it's also proprietary software. Still, I believe the biggest reason is translations and PPAs.
I would like to just say that I like OS X's design, why wouldn't you want to copy it?
Edit: I noticed a lot of people saying Linux is, in fact, sexy, due to compiz and what not. Linux looks like shit and always has, there is no elegance. I, for one, have never been happy with the appearance of any Linux distro, even if for some small thing that just bugs me. Compiz might let you do some wigglying and having a box, but what Linux needs is polishing and that's what it looks like Elementary is doing, so props to that.