The Elementary OS website has the following tag line underneath the logo:
"A fast and open replacement for Windows and macOS"
When I read that I think "great, I should therefore be able to do all of the things with Elementary OS that I can do with Windows". What does that mean? Well I like to play games so Steam should be available, there needs to be an office suite, I need to be able to watch Amazon Prime and/or Netflix. I should be able to set up all my hardware with the minimum of effort and it should be fairly easy to use.
At the bottom of the Elementary OS homepage the following text is displayed which basically tells you what it is about:
What this tells me is that I should expect to get a set of applications to get started. If this is the case then any extra software I need should be easily found and I shouldn't have an issue installing it.
"elementary OS ships with a carefully curated selection of apps that cater to every day needs so you can spend more time using your computer and less time cleaning up bloatware."
Is this the case? Read on to find out.
How To Get Elementary OS
The developers of Elementary OS make a point of asking for a payment for their operating system. The amount you pay is up to you although the $10 option is the default.
If you plan to try Elementary OS out before making a purchase you can click on "Custom" and enter the amount you desire such as 0.
If you enter 0 into the custom box then the "Purchase elementary OS" button changes to become "Download elementary OS".
When you click on the "Download elementary OS" button a window appears with options to "cancel or download". Click on the "Download" button to download an ISO image of Elementary OS.
How To Create An Elementary OS USB Drive
I highly recommend using Etcher for creating Linux USB drives. It is available for Windows and Linux.
Simply visit https://etcher.io/ and click on the download link at the top of the page. It automatically works out whether you are using Windows or Linux.
The installation differs slightly depending whether you are using Windows or Linux to create the drive. For Linux you just need to double click on the downloaded file and follow the instructions.
For Windows double click on the file and click on the "Install" link. After the installation has finished click on the "Finish" icon and Etcher will start.
The user interface for Etcher is about as simple as it can get.
- Insert a blank USB drive
- Click "Select Image" and find the Elementary OS ISO downloaded previously
- Click "Select Drive" and choose your USB drive
- Click "Flash"
Under the "Advanced" option it says "Unsafe Mode". Checking this box makes all of your drives available including your hard drive. This is of course why it is the unsafe option. You should however now be able to select the drive letter of your USB drive.
How To Boot To Elementary Live
- Right click on the start button
- Choose power options
- Click on "Choose what the power button does"
- Click the link that reads "Change settings that are currently unavailable"
- Scroll to the bottom and remove the tick from the "Turn on fast startup" option
- Click "Save changes".
- Reboot the computer whilst holding the shift key down.
- When the blue screen appears choose to boot from USB device
- You should now see a menu with an option to try Elementary
How To Install Elementary
There is no doubt that Elementary OS looks good. The wallpaper is vibrant, the icons are crisp and clean and everything looks pixel perfect.
The interface is very simplistic so for the Everyday Linux User this is a nice straight forward and easy to use system.
Clicking on "Applications" in the top left corner brings up the menu.
The default view is a list of icons for all of the applications installed on the system and there are a series of little dots at the bottom which help you navigate to the next and previous set of icons.
There is another menu view which shows a list of categories and items within the category.
You can also use the search bar to narrow down the items that are returned.
In the top right corner of the screen there are a series of icons for adjusting audio, power, network, power and bluetooth settings.
There is a clock in the top center of the screen.
At the bottom of the screen is a series of quick launch icons for commonly used applications.
The first icon on the launch bar shows a multitasking screen which is how you interact with virtual desktops.
Connecting To The Internet
Connecting to the internet is very easy. Simply click on the network icon and choose the wireless network you wish to connect to.
I have installed Elementary on my Lenovo Ideapad Y700 and I am pleased to say that any network problems I used to get with this laptop are now well in the past.
The default web browser with Elementary OS is called Epiphany and it is at this point where cracks start to form.
Everything thus far has been a bit too plain sailing hasn't it. All the applications are simple but functional and the desktop is really easy to use. Even installation was a breeze.
One of my requirements and probably many other people's requirements is to be able to watch Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
Netflix will not work with Epiphany and neither will Amazon Prime.
The AppCenter is the tool that you use within Elementary OS to install applications and it looks just as good as the other applications within Elementary.
At first it seems quite useful as well. For instance the default Elementary installation lacks office software.
Clicking on the Office category brings up this screen with the option to install LibreOffice.
The AppCenter isn't as useful for installing applications that I and probably many other people like to use.
For instance Google Chrome:
As Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu you can go to the Chrome website and download it but installing Chrome requires you to use the command line because there isn't anything installed for installing DEB packages graphically.
You can install the GNOME Software Manager which seems to help but seems counterproductive or you can install GDEBI which gave me mixed results.
This isn't the only issue. Installing Steam also caused a problem.
Steam does appear in the search results but clicking on the "Install" button does absolutely nothing. Actually that is a lie. It starts to show a progress bar which almost instantly disappears and then nothing happens.
The solution I went for was to install Synaptic and then I visited this site and downloaded the Debian package at the bottom of the page and installed it.
This installs Ubuntu After Install. When you run it you can choose between a whole host of applications to install including Chrome, Steam, Skype and many others.
You can of course use the command line to install the applications and you will find that for Chrome it doesn't work straight away if you do this. After using dpkg to install the package you will then have to run a fix using sudo apt-get install -f.