Macworld’s John Moltz says perhaps its a holdover from the Apple Depression of the 1990s, but he sometimes wonders where he would go if he ever needed to leave the Mac.
Moltz notes that he used Windows professionally in my work for The Man, and I hated most of it, and not long ago he experimented with Linux and it left him let down, confused, and questioning many of his initial assumptions.
Enter Elementary OS – a relative newcomer, having first shipped in 2011, whose latest release, Luna, came out in mid-August and presents a distinctly different design sense than Ubuntu Linux, and one that Mac users might find more appealing.
Moltz cites the folks behind the project describing Elementary as “a demonstration of a desire to create a Linux-based OS that championed consistency and great design.”
He notes that some of Elementary seems directly inspired by the Mac OS, such as a dock, which works just like the Dock on the Mac and is even called the Dock, and a music application that’s the spitting image of iTunes.
The text editor saves your file as you type. Applications save their state on exit and restore when relaunched. Scroll bars are thin by default. The Applications menu acts just like Launchpad. On the other hand, notwithstanding the Mac-like elements, much of Elementary OS is quite different. Applications designed specifically for Elementary dont have menus, for example. Instead, options are nested inside a gear icon on the apps toolbar. Its slightly less informative, as all items are on one level and divided into groups by lines and lack an identifier for categories such as File and Edit. But its also a cleaner look, and while some of Elementary OS is inspired by the Mac, much of it also seems inspired by today’s mobile operating systems.
You can download Elementary for free, as you can any other Linux distribution, but contributions are welcomed, and Moltz concludes that if you have an old Mac or PC lying around in want of a modern operating system, Elementary seems like the design-conscious computer user’s best open-source choice.
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