The Linux distribution elementary OS 6 Odin is finally here, coming in years after their last release and honestly - it really is a thing of absolute beauty. elementary OS 6 is built on top of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS with the 5.11 Linux Kernel making it good to use for years to come.
Unlike a lot of other Linux distributions elementary OS is a lot more than a different style and a few tweaked packages. It has their own desktop environment with Pantheon, which has a very clean and clear design. The Pantheon desktop gives you a bottom icon-style dock with a top panel that gives you access to their applications menu, time / date and indicators. All together, it does look very slick.
The thing about elementary OS is that you're not supposed to see it like just another distribution, as it's a whole platform. The team mentioned this release being the "biggest update to the platform yet". Not only does it have their own desktop environment with their own constantly tweaked style, it also has its own developer ecosystem and applications too. A big part of this is the AppCenter, which gives developers a pay-what-you-want model and everything is reviewed by the elementary team to ensure "a native, privacy-respecting, and secure experience".
A big improvement for elementary OS 6 is that all AppCenter applications are now Flatpaks, which comes with security and sandboxing improvements. They've hooked up a "portals" system so users get control over how apps interact with each other and your data.
There's a huge amount more that's new including:
- Multi-touch support throughout elementary OS 6.
- A richer notifications system that supports visual indicators, action buttons and more.
- A new to-do application named Tasks.
- Built-in support for firmware updates powered by the Linux Vendor Firmware Service which supports lots of hardware vendors.
- Upgrades to many of their own applications like their web browser now just known as Web which includes Intelligent Tracking Protection and ad blocking built-in and enabled by default their mail app was rewritten with tighter integration with the online accounts system and upgrades to their calendar, mail, camera and other applications.
- Panel tooltips on indicators will note if they have a middle-click function, like the audio indicator for example that allows middle-click to mute and so the tooltip mentions it.
That's not even half of it. The desktop and window management was upgraded too, with nifty features like giving you window titles when hovering over in the Multitasking View to help you find the exact one you want. A favourite of mine though is the right-click menu now having a screenshot option for super-easy shots of applications. You can also right click your desktop now to get some quick functions like changing the wallpaper, configuring display settings and system settings too.
The list of improvements continues on for what feels like forever. The installer has been cleaned up and makes installing just a few clicks, improved performance across the whole thing due to their work on the experimental Pinebook Pro and Raspberry Pi builds, a new Universal Access indicator to expose toggles for various accessibility features, new wallpapers and the dark style shown in my shots above - no more bright white applications if you don't want them. You can also customize various parts of the colour scheme too so that's nice.
Overall it's an massive step up for elementary OS. Easily one of the best looking desktop Linux distributions around.
See all that's new in their rather long and detailed announcement.