Every once in a while I try out alternative OS to see if it might beat the mainstream systems like Windows or macOS. The last time I tried Remix OS which is an Android build designed for desktop and laptop experience. This time I was looking into an UNIX-like OS. I went for elementary OS.
So, what is elementary OS about? If I had to explain it with few words, I’d choose to say that elementary OS is like the macOS experience in a Linux system. It’s a lot more user-friendly and appealing to new Linux users than other similar operating systems, so it’s perfect for those who are switching from a mainstream OS. It’s derived as in GNU / Linux / Debian / Ubuntu / elementary OS.
Discovery and installation
After stumbling over elementary OS, I quickly checked out their website, and after downloading the ISO file to install the system, I saw that you’ll need a USB flash drive to install elementary OS. On a first glance it appears to cost money, but as they ask you only to pay as much as you want, you can also enter 0 if you don’t wish to pay anything. That’s alright for testing, but if you later find that it works well, you can still give them some money for it. Fair is fair.
As I didn’t really have USB flash drive lying around, I quickly discarded the idea to install the OS for trying entirely. I have to say that I would usually share files in the cloud and don’t carry any such devices around anymore. If you don’t have a USB flash drive lying around, you can have a look at the one that I linked above. That’s one of the most reliable thumb drives I could find and with 16GB for about $5 it’s a nice price really.
I found a flash drive after all
Later I came across a 4 GB USB flash drive which was sufficient to cover the 2GB install file. Fortunately, a company gave them away as freebies at the Cisco Live event in Berlin a little while ago. The instructions on the elementary OS website are simple and guide you through the next steps. You’ll need a third party tool called Rufus to put the ISO file on the USB flash drive and format it correctly. It’s a quick process, and you don’t have to set up many parameters other than selecting the right file and checking its hash sum to make sure everything looks alright.
I then booted my computer into an extended mode that let me pick the boot device. Upon selecting the right drive, you can then either test out elementary OS without installing it in a limited way or go right through to install it on your machine. After quickly testing it out I went to install it then.
Sometimes it goes smooth and sometimes not
You might have trouble here and there setting things up if you’re inexperienced, but fortunately, you can find a lot of help on this subject if you google your way around it. If you get stuck with anything during the installation process just reach out to the support community with you questions. Folks are usually friendly if you couldn’t find a resolution with a search.
From a first glance, everything appears to have a strong macOS feeling about it. I would dare to say that no Apple users would have trouble finding their way around on elementary OS. Windows users might need a moment to grasp where the buttons are that they need. I would have expected elementary OS to run a lot smoother than Windows 10 for instance, but there wasn’t the feeling that performance is any better than the bulky competition. This, of course, could vary depending on used hardware.
It’s interesting to change your default OS to try out something new sometimes, but then if you already have Windows 10 on your machine, I don’t see a strong argument to install elementary OS. Some might prefer it, but I think I will go back to Windows for now and check back with other solutions in the future. Please consider this as my own humble opinion. I recommend you to try out new solutions and find your own favorites. So, can elementary OS replace the big players? It could, but I suppose it’s mainly depending on the tools you (want to) use in your workflows.
If you mostly leverage software that’s exclusively available on Windows or macOS, it doesn’t really work out to swap between the systems, but if you can manage to shift it all towards Linux, you might survive the transition without too much pain points. If you’re mostly working within Google Chrome, you can also just install Chrome for Linux on elementary OS and run your work like that. In this particular case, you’ll feel almost no change, but then, you might as well opt for Remix OS or another type of Chrome OS.
Video review and demo
If you’d rather just see elementary OS in action before you try to install it on your system, you can check out the review video by Michael MJD below. What do you think of alternative operating systems? What are you using and why? We’d love to know. Make sure to share your thoughts below in the comments.
YouTube: elementary OS – macOS and Windows Replacement? (Review and Demo)
Photo credit: Screenshots used as feature image is owned by elementary LLC. Screenshot of configuration panel in German done by Spitzl.
Editorial notice: We installed and tested Elementary OS on an HP Omen Laptop. It’s very likely that users will have a different installation experience on different systems, but the actual user experience of the operating system should be the same after the installation has been completed.