Sunday, 7 June 2015

Elementary OS Freya - Not Enough Apps? - (by Ross Devitt)

I've been reading views and even the very few complaints about Elementary OS, however most are positive comments.  In fact, it was a user review that caused me to try it in the first place.  There seems to be only a couple of things people are not satisfied with.
Elementary OS Freya with Conky Clock running in corner of second monitor
Wallpaper - Hill Inlet, Whitsundays, Queensland Australia

One is that there are not enough Applications built into it.  I noticed that too.  One reviewer was surprised that there's no native system monitor.  Another wondered why Libre Office and Firefox or Chrome are not installed as part of the default suite.  More users are concerned that only a few settings can easily be tweaked.

I thought about this, and realised one of the refreshing things about Elementary OS is that I don't have to delete a lot of stuff to replace it with things I like.  The developers have worked hard on what is essentially a new Operating System 'based on' Ubuntu, rather than simply adding a theme to an existing distribution.

To that end it seems they took a fairly new window manager, then wrote enough code around it that Gala has become a new window manager in its own right, with the advantage of still falling back to code that is compatible with the rest of Ubuntu.  So nothing actually breaks, but the user gains from this. They wrote their own 'shell', Pantheon, and again, it makes a pleasant experience.  It is interesting to see some of the big Linux Distros looking seriously at incorporating Pantheon and Gala.

However when it comes to Applications they seem to have decided on enough functions for a beginner to get the job done on basic installation, then leaving the end user who knows enough, to add and remove what they want.

So there's a basic Music Player and a basic Video Player which both work well.  The one thing I liked about the Video Player was that it has a working repeat function, something often either missing or not working in some other light weight players.

The Midori browser complies with modern web standards and is fast.  It also has a Private Browsing mode that doesn't load your system up with redundant tracking data as well as the normal browsing mode.  If you want to slow your system down, just add one ot the big browsers, like Firefox, Chrome or Opera.

I think the one big omission is the lack of an Office Suite.  There might be an argument that the Elementary OS team is building their own, but this is unlikely.  It would also be a stupid waste of resources.  There is little to be gained from trying to compete with something like Libre Office.  As cute as the Gnome and KDE office suites are, they simply don't come close to Libre.  I can see why someone would develop Calligra for example, as a hobby.  But for serious use?  Not really.  Although with a bit of work, the Caligra Writing program might be a reasonable standalone Desktop Publisher, as Microsoft Office was.  Bearing in mind that MS Office was never really as good as its DOS predecessor Express Publisher, which it seemed to more or less mimic. 

So in my personal opinion the one big thing missing from Elementary OS is Libre Office.  And fixing that is as simple as opening the Software Centre and clicking a couple of times!

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