Tuesday, February 10, 2015

elementaryOS Sucks

I bought a used HP DC7900 small form factor tower the other day. While I was waiting to get a new 2TB drive, I tossed in an older 80GB drive to play around with. I knew that the drive had a dual boot setup, but when I booted I found out it had a triple boot setup: Windows XP, CrunchBang Linux, and elementaryOS.

I have fond, distant memories of elementaryOS, so I booted that up first. When the login screen popped up, I thought "Wow, this looks great." It had an amazing wallpaper and a Mac OS X feel to it. But once I opened Slingshot, eOS' application launcher, I remembered why I switched to a different distro: app poverty. After you install elementaryOS, there are very few applications. You get a file manager (Files), a browser (Midori), a simple text editor (Scratch), an audio player (Noise), email client (Geary), and a few other odds and ends. No office suite. No torrent program. No image editor. How's a guy gonna get any work done if he has to spend a bunch of time downloading the apps he needs?

Design Over Function
One of the guiding goals of eOS is create a distro that is beautiful and has a unified UI (User Interface) across applications. According to the eOS site: "elementary is crafted by designers and developers who believe that computers can be easy, fun, and gorgeous. By putting design first, we ensure we're not compromising on quality or usability." In order to create a united UI, they created some basic programs from scratch: Files, Scratch, Noise, and Calculator to name a few. Unfortunately, these beautiful apps are empty and lack features that are incorporated with popular alternatives. For example, VLC media player may not fit eOS' UI design scheme, but it has more features that Noise. The same is true for Midori, which is the default browser. It might be lighter than Firefox, but it is also light on features. (One thing that worries me about Midori is when I opened it, instead of showing me the eOS homepage, it should me an obvious scam page telling me that my computer had a virus.) You're better off installing other apps to replace the default ones. They won't be as pretty, but they will be functional.

Ancient technology
Old Tech
Another promise that the eOS developers make is that if you use eOS you will be on the cutting edge. RIGHT. The latest version of eOS is Luna, which was released roughly 17 months ago is based on Ubuntu 12.04. SO this version is a year old and is running on 2 year old tech? Not so cutting edge. At least, they used a Long-Term Support release, which get supported for 7-9 years instead of 18 months. On top of that the applications in the eOS repositories are old. The latest version of Libreoffice available is 3.5 and Libreoffice just released 4.4. I know you can use a PPA to get the latest version of the software you want, but I think if a distro is going to claim that they are cutting edge, they had better keep their packages up-to-date.

Whenever It's Done
This more of an observation than anything else. If you asked any of the eOS developers when the next version will be done, they all have the same answer "When It's Done." You know, I've heard that phrase before. That was 3DRealms' standard answer for years while they worked on Duke Nukem Forever before they went bankrupt. I've heard of rolling release and timed release, but this is ridiculous. There is such a thing as too much tinkering and too much perfecting.

Nobody Home
After I explored eOS for awhile, I went to the IRC to talk to the users. You know that I found? Nothing. No one was on the distro's IRC chat on a Saturday. To me that is a bad sign. I've logged onto other IRC chats and found at least a few devs ready to help if not a bunch of users arguing. Nope. the eOS IRC chat was a ghost town.

Conclusion
elementaryOS is a very beautiful Linux distro, but it seems to be missing quick a few pieces. It is more of a facade than anything else. The eOS devs released beta 2 for the next version yesterday and I've seen quite a few complaints about lack of features on Google+. I know it's still a beta, but its the third release already. I would not recommend eOS for production use, just for fun and on a backup computer.

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