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Elementary OS: Some Thoughts

I don't want to write a lot right now, but I do want to write something.

Over the last few weeks, I have been installing and uninstalling Elementary OS. I actually clicked through and donated $30 to their project, because I appreciate that someone is trying to make a really nice Linux shell.

Two things I keep coming back to though is this.

First, their windows have no minimize button. I'm not sure why that is, I guess for simplicity. Less controls == less complex? Maybe, but I think the intent is to force you to split your tasks up using their Spaces/Expose equivalent. In the end though, it's just frustrating. You want to get the window out of the way, just real quick, and you can't. Unless you close the window, which quits the application and you lose your state.

The other thing is the base. It's nearing the end of 2020 and their OS is still based on Ubuntu 18.04, and that's a shame. If I'm using Linux, it'd be nice to have a development toolchain that's as recent as the servers my code would eventually be running on. I think this is supposed to be taken care of soon, and Ubuntu 18.x is supported through 2023. But still, this is a minor point of annoyance.

Lastly, some bugs. Elementary OS was a little buggy. Opening individual mail messages from the iCloud Mail web app, opened the messages in new windows with huge black areas behind the window. A graphics glitch, I'm sure. And Elementary OS App Center did say it was not officially supported by their distribution. Sometimes the menubar would crash/go away. How do you turn the system off to restart it to fix this? Small, but subtle annoyances.

I also tried installing Elementary OS on my Lennovo laptop, all seemed great until I discovered that Linux doesn't yet support the WiFi hardware in it. Apparently the drivers haven't been enabled in Linux yet.

They are copying, verbatim, Apple's strategy for creating a platform, which is fresh for the Linux world. However they are also bringing over some of the more contentious ideas from macOS too... Like say an App Store and the 70/30 split in profits from third-party developers. After everything that's happened in the macOS and iOS developer communities, that's a strong negative in my opinion. The despondency is reigning high lately in Apple circles, and any indie dev knows all to well where App Stores and profit-sharing lead.

Even though I'm mostly complaining, there is a lot of great stuff to appreciate about Elementary OS... for example, their APIs and language that's as tightly coupled to the system as AppKit and Objective-C or (ugh) Swift is to macOS. That's a bold initiative and it definitely makes the platform more viable for other developers to build on. I would acutally say this is one of the bigger problems that other OS', like Haiku, are facing and something that keeps third party developers away.