elementary OS

elementary OS is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu LTS. It promotes itself as a "fast, open, and privacy-respecting" replacement to macOS and Windows and has a pay-what-you-want model.[3][4] The operating system, the desktop environment (called Pantheon[5]), and accompanying applications are developed and maintained by Elementary, Inc.[6][7]

elementary OS
Elementary OS logo.svg
VirtualBox Elementary OS 5.1.7 21 03 2021 21 17 03.png
elementary OS "Hera"
Developerelementary, Inc
OS familyLinux (Unix-like)
Working stateCurrent
Source modelOpen source
Initial release31 March 2011; 10 years ago (2011-03-31)
Latest release5.1.7 "Hera" / 1 July 2020; 10 months ago (2020-07-01)[1]
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Update methodLong-term support
Package managerAPT (command-line frontend)
dpkg (backend)
Kernel typeMonolithic (Linux kernel)
Default user interfacePantheon[2]
Official websiteelementary.io

Design philosophyEdit

The human interface guidelines of the elementary OS project focus on immediate usability with a gentle learning curve, rather than full-fledged customization.[8] The three core rules the developers set for themselves were "concision", "accessible configuration" and "minimal documentation".[8]

Since its inception, elementary OS has received praise and criticism for its design. Wired claimed that it closely resembled macOS, visually and in user experience.[9] The elementary developers dispute that any similarities are intentional.[10]

Pantheon's main shell is deeply integrated with other elementary OS applications, like Plank (a dock), Epiphany (the default web browser) and Code (a simple text editor).[11][12] This distribution uses Gala as its window manager,[13] which is based on Mutter.[13]

Pantheon desktop environmentEdit

The Pantheon desktop environment is built on top of the GNOME software base, i.e. GTK, GDK, Cairo, GLib (including GObject and GIO), GVfs and Tracker. The desktop allows for multiple workspaces to organize the user's workflow.[14]

Pantheon applications that are designed and developed by elementary include:

Bryan Lunduke of Network World wrote that the Pantheon desktop environment, elementary OS's centerpiece, was among the best of 2016.[19]


The elementary OS distribution started as a set of themes and applications designed for Ubuntu which later became its own Linux distribution.[20] Being Ubuntu-based, it is compatible with its repositories and packages, and prior to version 0.4 "Loki", it used the Ubuntu software center to handle software installation/uninstallation. However, after the release of Loki, Elementary bundled their own app store, AppCenter,[19] whose user interface is designed to be intuitive for new users without consuming excessive resources.[21]

elementary OS is based on Ubuntu's Long Term Support releases, which Ubuntu's developers actively maintain for bugs and security for years even as development continues on the next release.[22][23]

elementary OS founder Daniel Foré has said that the project is not designed to compete with existing open source projects, but to expand their reach. It also seeks to create open source jobs through developer "bounties" on specific tasks. As of the 2016 Loki release, US$17,500 in bounties had been raised.[24]

0.1 JupiterEdit

The first stable version of elementary OS was Jupiter,[20] published on 31 March 2011[25] and based on Ubuntu 10.10. As of October 2012, it is no longer supported and thus no longer available for download from the official elementary OS web site except in a historical capacity.[26][27]

0.2 LunaEdit

elementary OS 0.2 "Luna"

In November 2012, the first beta version of elementary OS code-named Luna was released, which uses Ubuntu 12.04 LTS as a base.[28] The second beta version of Luna was released on 6 May 2013, carrying more than 300 bug fixes and several changes, such as improved support for multiple localizations, multiple display support and updated applications.[28][29] On 7 August 2013, a countdown clock appeared on the official website with a countdown to 10 August 2013.[30] The second stable version of elementary OS, Luna, was released that same day, along with a complete overhaul and redesign of the elementary OS website.[31]

0.3 FreyaEdit

elementary OS 0.3 "Freya"

The name of the third stable version of elementary OS, Isis, was proposed in August 2013 by Daniel Foré, the project leader.[32] It was later changed to Freya to avoid association with the terrorist group ISIS.[33] It is based on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, which was released in April 2014.[32] The first beta of Freya was released on 11 August 2014.[34] The second beta of Freya was released on 8 February 2015.[35] The final version was released on 11 April 2015, after a countdown clock appeared on the website eight days earlier.[36][37]

Freya was downloaded 1.2 million times. In line with Elementary's intent to expand the reach of open source software, 73 percent of Freya downloads were from closed source operating systems.[24]

In 2015, the elementary OS developers changed the download page to default to a monetary amount before providing a direct HTTP download for the current stable release. Despite the fact that the user could specify any amount, or no amount at all, it sparked controversy about how such practices are typically not perceived as being in alignment with FOSS distribution philosophies.[38][39][40] The elementary OS team has defended the action stating that "Around 99.875% of those users download without paying", and that it is needed to ensure the continued development of the distribution.[40]

In a review of all Linux distributions, Linux.com gave elementary OS their "best-looking distro" superlative in early 2016. The reviewer noted its developers' design background, their influence from Mac OS X, and their philosophy of prioritizing strict design rules and applications that follow these rules.[41]

0.4 LokiEdit

elementary OS 0.4 "Loki"

elementary OS 0.4, known by its codename "Loki", was released on 9 September 2016.[23] Loki was built atop the Ubuntu "long-term support" version released earlier in the year[a][23] and its updated kernel (4.4). Loki revamped the operating system's notifications and added multiple new pieces of standard software. It let users set notification display preferences. Updated notification menu bar indicators began to display information from the notification—such as the title of an email—rather than a general alert. The operating system also added a system-wide integration for online accounts for Last.fm and FastMail, with other services in development.[24]

Loki replaced Freya's Midori web browser with Epiphany, a WebKit2-based browser with better performance. After the Yorba Foundation which developed the Geary email client was dissolved, elementary OS forked Geary as "Mail" and added new visual and integration features. In a new calendar feature, users could describe events in natural language, which the calendar program interprets and places into the proper time and description fields when creating events.[24]

elementary OS also created its own app store that simplifies the process of installing and updating applications.[24] Project founder Daniel Foré called the AppCenter the biggest feature in the Loki release, and noted its speed improvement over other installation methods and internal development benefits for departing from Ubuntu's upgrade tools.[19] Loki developers received $9,000 in bounties during its development—nearly half of the project's total bounty fundraising.[24]

Jack Wallen of Linux.com praised Loki as being among the most elegant and best-designed Linux desktops. He found the web browser and app store changes to be significant improvements, and the email client revamp "a much-needed breath of fresh air" in a stagnating field. Overall, Wallen surmised that existing users would appreciate Loki's polish and new users would find it to be a perfect introduction to the operating system.[24] Bryan Lunduke of Network World lauded Loki's performance, usability, polish, and easy installation, but considered it a better fit for new Linux users than for those already established.[19]

The elementary OS team received a large donation from an anonymous donor in early August 2018. The donation has allowed the development team to hire an additional full-time employee and expand long-term viability for the project.[42]

5.0 JunoEdit

elementary OS 5.0 "Juno"

elementary OS 5.0, known by its codename "Juno", was released on 16 October 2018. The update brings changes to the AppCenter pay-what-you-want system, as well a Night Light feature for changing the screen color at night, and adjustable window tiling as well as several other new features for the Pantheon desktop and elementary OS applications.[12] The update also contained a new Housekeeping feature in settings, which removes trashed, as well as temporary, files after a given time interval.[43]

Jack Wallen, writing for TechRepublic, praised the update for bringing subtle changes and improving upon Loki.[44] Jason Evangelho, writing for Forbes, called the update elegant, stating that "elementary OS 5.0 Juno, thus far, does just work. And looks absolutely beautiful doing it."[45] In a review from LinuxInsider, the reviewer called the operating system a "very solid Linux distro" despite criticizing it for lacking power-user features.[46]

As of November 2018, Juno has been downloaded over 160,000 times, with 1% of people choosing to pay (with $10 being the most common amount, followed closely by $1)[47]

As part of an October 2019 update, elementary OS started supporting Flatpak out of the box,[48] thereby making it easier to install any of the wide array of Flatpak apps that are available.

5.1 HeraEdit

elementary OS 5.1 "Hera"

Summary tableEdit

Version Codename Release date Base
Old version, no longer maintained: 0.1[49][50][51] Jupiter 31 March 2011 Ubuntu 10.10
Old version, no longer maintained: 0.2[52][53] Luna 10 August 2013 Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
Old version, no longer maintained: 0.3[54][55] Freya 11 April 2015 Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (trusty)
Old version, no longer maintained: 0.3.1 3 September 2015
Old version, no longer maintained: 0.3.2 9 December 2015
Older version, yet still maintained: 0.4[56][57][58] Loki 9 September 2016 Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (xenial)[23]
Older version, yet still maintained: 0.4.1[59] 17 May 2017 Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS (xenial)[60]
Older version, yet still maintained: 5.0[61][62][63] Juno 16 October 2018[64] Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (bionic)[65]
Current stable version: 5.1 Hera 3 December 2019[66] Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (bionic)
Future release: 6.0 Odin[67] TBA Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (focal)[68]
Old version
Older version, still maintained
Latest version
Latest preview version
Future release


  1. ^ Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Xenial Xerus, will be supported until 2021.[23]


  1. ^ "Hera Updates for June, 2020". elementary.io. 1 July 2020. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  2. ^ James, Cassidy (14 November 2012). "Hello, Luna Beta 1". ElementaryOS.org. Archived from the original on 4 July 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  3. ^ Verma, Adarsh (6 January 2018). "9 Most Beautiful Linux Distros You Need To Use (2018 Edition)". Fossbytes. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  4. ^ "The fast, open, and privacy-respecting replacement for Windows and macOS ⋅ elementary OS". elementary.io. elementary, Inc. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Open Source ⋅ elementary". elementary.io. elmeentary, Inc. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  6. ^ "Brand ⋅ elementary". elementary.io. elementary, Inc. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  7. ^ "elementary · GitHub". github.com. GitHub. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  8. ^ a b "Human Interface Guidelines". elementary.io. elementary LLC. Retrieved 16 April 2017. Users will accomplish tasks more quickly because you will have a straight-forward interface design that isn't confusing or difficult.
  9. ^ Finley, Klint (25 November 2013). "Out in the Open: Say Hello to the Apple of Linux OSes". Wired. Condé Nast.
  10. ^ Foré, Daniel (18 November 2016). "Busting Major Myths Around elementary OS". elementary. Retrieved 22 November 2018.
  11. ^ Verma, Adarsh (4 March 2018). "Top 10 Best Linux Distros For 2018 — Ultimate Distro Choosing Guide". Fossbytes. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  12. ^ a b Blaede, Cassidy James (16 October 2018). "elementary OS 5 Juno is Here". elementary. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  13. ^ a b Foré, Daniel; Tate, Sam; Beckmann, Tom; Davidoff, Sergey (15 September 2012). "Meet Gala: The Window Manager". ElementaryOS.org. Archived from the original on 26 November 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2013.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  14. ^ Inc, elementary. "Learning The Basics". elementary.io. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  15. ^ Blaede, Cassidy James (2 January 2018). "Scratch is now elementary Code". elementary. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  16. ^ Foré, Daniel (23 February 2018). "Meet the Upcoming Installer". elementary OS. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  17. ^ "Here is the brand new Pop!_OS installer that may feature in elementary OS 5.0 Juno too". FOSS Linux. 8 April 2018. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  18. ^ "Installer, elementary and Pop!_OS collaboration". System76 Blog. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  19. ^ a b c d Lunduke, Bryan (13 October 2016). "elementary OS 0.4: Review and interview with the founder". Network World. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  20. ^ a b Gupta, Vishal (19 April 2011). "Elementary OS "Jupiter": Awesome Linux Distribution Based on Ubuntu". AskVG. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  21. ^ Nemec, Tom (13 August 2013). "Elementary OS 'Luna': Eine Mac OS X ähnelnde Linux-Distribution". Weblogit (in German). Archived from the original on 9 February 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  22. ^ Gilbertson, Scott (10 May 2016). "Ubuntu 16.04 proves even an LTS release can live at Linux's bleeding edge". Ars Technica. Condé Nast.
  23. ^ a b c d e Nestor, Marius (9 September 2016). "elementary OS 0.4 "Loki" Officially Released, It's Based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS". Softpedia. SoftNews.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g Wallen, Jack (9 September 2016). "Elementary OS Loki Has Arrived". Linux.com. Retrieved 25 September 2016.
  25. ^ Foré, Daniel (15 August 2015). "How old is Elementary's project?". Elementary blog. Archived from the original on 2 September 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
  26. ^ Pastor Nóbrega, Javier (19 October 2012). "Elementary OS "Jupiter" deja de estar disponible". MuyLinux (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  27. ^ Andrei, Alin (12 October 2012). "Elementary OS Jupiter no longer available for download, makes room for Luna". Web Upd8. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  28. ^ a b Andrei, Alin (14 November 2012). "Elementary OS Luna beta 1 available for download". Web Upd8. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  29. ^ Larabel, Michael (6 May 2013). "Elementary OS Luna Beta 2 Released". Phoronix. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  30. ^ Jacobs, Robin (9 August 2013). "Mysterious countdown appears on elementary OS website". Muktware. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  31. ^ Jacobs, Robin (11 August 2013). "Elementary OS Luna says Hello World". Muktware. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  32. ^ a b Foré, Daniel (16 August 2013). "Luna+1's Name and Some Other Stuff". elementary-dev-community mailing list. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  33. ^ James, Cassidy (22 June 2014). "Elementary OS Isis is now Freya". ElementaryOS.org. Archived from the original on 24 June 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  34. ^ Foré, Daniel (11 August 2014). "Freya Beta 1 Available for Developers & Testers". ElementaryOS.org. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  35. ^ Foré, Daniel (8 February 2015). "Freya Beta 2 is here!". ElementaryOS.org. Archived from the original on 10 February 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2015.
  36. ^ Nestor, Marius. "Countdown on elementary OS Website Suggests a New Freya Release". softpedia. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  37. ^ "Elementary OS Freya (Stable) Available for Download | UbuntuHandbook". ubuntuhandbook.org. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  38. ^ "Online Community Goes Nuts After elementary OS Devs Say People Should Pay". softpedia. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  39. ^ "Should you pay for Elementary OS?". InfoWorld. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  40. ^ a b "Payments". blog.elementary.io. Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  41. ^ Bhartiya, Swapnil (12 January 2016). "The Best Linux Distros of 2016". Linux.com. The Linux Foundation.
  42. ^ "Mystery Donation Lets Elementary Hire Full-Time Staff". 4 August 2018.
  43. ^ "How--and why--you should enable Housekeeping in elementary OS Juno". TechRepublic. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  44. ^ "Elementary OS Juno has arrived, and it is spectacularly subtle". TechRepublic. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  45. ^ Evangelho, Jason. "elementary OS 5.0 Juno Just Released -- Here Are The Best New Features". Forbes. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  46. ^ "Pantheon Desktop Makes Linux Elementary | Reviews | LinuxInsider". www.linuxinsider.com. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  47. ^ Foré, Daniel (30 November 2018). "Updates for November". elementary. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  48. ^ "elementary OS Now Has Support for Flatpak Apps".
  49. ^ elementary OS 0.1 Jupiter - Unremarkable, Dedoimedo
  50. ^ First Look at Elementary OS [LWN.net]
  51. ^ Elementary OS 'Jupiter' released, reviewed - OMG! Ubuntu!
  52. ^ Elementary OS releases "Luna" [LWN.net]
  53. ^ Elementary OS 0.2 "Luna" review | LinuxBSDos.com
  54. ^ DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 658, 25 April 2016
  55. ^ "Elementary OS Freya: Is This The Next Big Linux Distro? | Linux.com | The source of Linux information". Archived from the original on 18 March 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  56. ^ DistroWatch Weekly, Issue 685, 31 October 2016
  57. ^ An Everyday Linux User Review Of Elementary OS Loki 0.4
  58. ^ Elementary OS 0.4 Loki - Ragnarok, Dedoimedo
  59. ^ Tried Elementary OS 0.4.1 Loki again - Negatory, Dedoimedo
  60. ^ "Loki 0.4.1 Stable Release!". medium.com. 17 May 2017. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  61. ^ "Let's talk about elementary OS 5.0 Juno". medium.com. 12 February 2018. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  62. ^ "elementary OS 5.0 Juno released! Check Out the New Features". itsfoss. 3 February 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  63. ^ "Elementary OS Juno will be version 5.0, not 0.5". OMG! Ubuntu!. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  64. ^ Blaede, Cassidy James (16 October 2018). "elementary OS 5 Juno is Here". Medium. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  65. ^ Developer Preview: Juno Beta 2 Is Out; Elementary OS – Medium
  66. ^ "Introducing elementary OS 5.1 Hera". elementary.io.
  67. ^ https://github.com/elementary/wallpapers/pull/94/files
  68. ^ Kumar, Sarvottam (17 January 2020). "Elementary OS 6 Will Release with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Base". Fossbytes. Retrieved 27 March 2020.


  1. ^ "Pantheon Login Screen". GitHub.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Pantheon's Window Manager". GitHub.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Wingpanel". GitHub.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Slingshot". GitHub.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Plank in Launchpad". Launchpad.net. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  6. ^ "Plank readme". Launchpad.net. 23 January 2011. Retrieved 11 August 2013.
  7. ^ "Switchboard". GitHub.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  8. ^ "Mail". GitHub.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Calendar". GitHub.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  10. ^ "Music". GitHub.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  11. ^ "Code". GitHub.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Pantheon Terminal". GitHub.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Files". GitHub.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  14. ^ "Installer". GitHub.com. Retrieved 19 February 2019.

External linksEdit