macOS is definitely one desktop OS that is very good, consistent and a pleasant desktop OS aesthetic compared to other OS to date, people who are used to using macOS will definitely feel addicted to this OS made by Apple. But to use it, you need to buy and own a Mac device, which is certainly not cheap. If you are a Windows computer user and want to experience how to use macOS on your computer, but don’t want to create a Hackintosh, you can try another alternative, namely using Elementary OS Luna.
Elementary OS Luna is a Linux based distro Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. It is the second OS developed by the Elementary OS team after Elementary OS Jupiter (which is based on Ubuntu 10.10).
The Elementary OS team was motivated by a “desire to create a Linux-based OS that emphasizes consistency and great design”, and their design ethos is focused on providing a concise and consistent user experience with minimal need for configuration and documentation. To me, Elementary OS is very similar to macOS as you get on a macOS computer.
Install Elementary OS Luna
Like Ubuntu and its derivatives, OS Luna is packaged as a live distro. In other words, you can burn it to a CDr (or create a bootable thumb drive) and boot right away for testing.
If you feel like it, and want to install it, run the Ubiquity installer from the dock and go through the step-by-step installation process.
The installer will walk you through the process, so it is a simple and straightforward process. The installer will even help you install Luna OS alongside your current OS or replace it entirely.
Interface Elementary OS Luna
The first thing you will notice when you boot into Elementary OS Luna is its user interface. Luna uses a built-in desktop environment called the Pantheon, and it’s impossible to ignore its similarities to macOS X at first glance.
From the dock, to the top bar, to subtle gradients and the monochrome window design, it’s clear that macOS X has had a huge influence on the Elementary OS team’s design philosophy.
However, while the visual resemblance is incredible, it’s mostly just partly out of place and Elementary OS Luna is still a Linux distro.
The Elementary OS Luna app launcher is called Slingshot, and can be accessed from the top left panel. Slingshot can display installed apps as an unsorted and categorized grid.
The top bar itself is called the Wingpanel. The wingpanel is just as minimalistic: the aforementioned app launcher on the left, the clock in the center, and the power and connectivity options on the right. Of course, Wingpanel will show an icon if the app needs it, but it’s basically a minimalist and clean top panel.
The Elementary OS Luna dock, nicknamed Plank, works exactly like the dock you get on OS X. Plank, like the OS X dock, highlights which apps are currently in focus, and has indicators to let you know which apps are currently open.
True to the ethos of Basic OS, Plank fulfills its role adequately, without any customization options and complex configurations.
Pantheon also has support for Hot Corners and Workspaces. Apart from that, you also have access to the window and workspace overview screen.
Hot Corners allow you to execute commands such as triggering the workspace overview screen or opening Slingshot when your cursor enters one of the viewing corners. This feature isn’t enabled by default, but it can, in the Desktop section of the System Settings app.
Overall, Luna’s Elementary OS user interface is a pleasure to use. It looks great, is smooth and responsive, and manages to be minimal and look attractive.
Elementary OS Luna: Software
The Elementary OS team’s focus on minimalism goes beyond Luna’s user interface. Elementary OS Luna comes only with the most basic applications that come pre-installed.
Among the applications are:
- Midori, web browser
- Noise, music player
- Geary, email client
- Shotwell, Photo Gallery
- Totem, video player
- Empathy, internet messaging client
- Scratch, a text editor
Just like macOS apps, these pre-installed apps are saved on exit and will revert back to their state on relaunch.
Elementary OS Luna is also equipped with the necessary software center, system setup (Switchboard) and file manager application (Pantheon File). However, it doesn’t include office suites like LibreOffice. It may seem too minimal, but it sticks to the design ethos: concise, consistent and minimal.
Users with more specific needs should turn to the Software Center. Since Luna is based on Ubuntu, there are many applications to choose from which will meet the needs of every user.
For an example of Luna OS Elementary’s approach to apps, let’s take a look at Luna’s file manager, Pantheon Files. Pantheon files, like most applications developed by the team for Elementary OS Luna, offer immersive customization and settings for a clean user experience.
Pantheon files don’t even have a dedicated Settings menu. This does not mean that the functionality is light. With Pantheon Files, you are given a choice between three different views (List, Grid, and Column) and the ability to Show Hidden Files from the right-click menu.
You also have contextual options like Compress, Print and Send files via Bluetooth in the same right-click menu. These options coexist with the usual commands for moving and deleting files. The side panel can also be disabled if desired.
Basic Tweak: A Plugin
One of the drawbacks of Luna OS’s focus on a compact and consistent user interface is the lack of ready-made customization options. There’s almost nothing you can do to customize a Plank or Pantheon File, for example.
Luna OS also doesn’t have built-in theme support. However, you can get access to these and more options by installing Elementary Tweaks.
Elementary Tweaks is a plugin for Luna OS, accessible via the Switchboard, that will give you the ability to change a number of system and display settings, so that you can install Luna OS Elementary exactly how you want it. Some of the things you can do with Elementary Tweaks are:
- Change the icon, theme, button layout and font.
- Animated window tweaks and drop shadows.
- Add and change keyboard shortcuts.
- Change the theme and icon size in Plank.
- Switch between single click and double click on Pantheon File.
Elementary OS Luna manages to provide something other Linux distributions often face: a consistent design and overall user experience – but only with pre-installed apps.
Problems arise when you download applications from the Software Center. Even though it works fine, this application is not programmed with Basic OS. Because of this, these apps may not blend visually with the rest of the OS, and most apps don’t save and restore their state on exiting and relaunching.
Also, it is possible that Elementary OS is too minimal for some users. The fact that it doesn’t come with an office suite or security features like a built-in firewall might prove to be a problem. To fix this, users may have to download Ubuntu application as mentioned.
Overall, OS Luna is a great Linux distro that’s sure to appeal to users looking for a stable and fluid OS that manages to deliver some macOS X visual polish and a consistent user experience.
Elementary OS Luna will never replace macOS X, that’s for sure, but for users who can’t run the latest version of macOS X on their computer, Elementary OS Luna is worth checking out.