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jupiter osLooking for a beautiful, functional operating system? Check out the first Elementary Jupiter OS. This Linux-based operating system is designed from the ground up to stay out of your way so you can simply use your computer. Whether you’re a long-time Linux user or a complete beginner to open source operating systems, Elementary’s elegance is impressive and more than worth checking out.

The desktop wars are back. Ubuntu’s new Unity desktop will make its premier later this month, and Gnome 3 is well under way. If you’re not so sure about the direction these new interfaces are taking, you might well prefer Elementary’s approach. Built on top of the classic Gnome interface with an additional dock, Elementary does all it can not to bother the user with excess information. The result is an operating system, and a series of new programs, with really clean interfaces.

You’ll find a free bittorrent download of Elementary over at ElementaryOS.org, or you can order a disk for $10. Whatever you decide to do, keep reading to see what you’ll soon have.

Main Interface

The main user interface will be familiar to most long time Linux users; it’s basically Gnome. The top panel and menu, for example, are fairly standard:

jupiter os

The difference in this distro to most can be subtle. Check out the file browser, for example:

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jupiter operating system

If you’ve ever installed Nautilus Elementary Nautilus Elementary Simplifies File Browsing on Linux Nautilus Elementary Simplifies File Browsing on Linux Read More this will be immediately familar to you. It’s basically the same program as Nautilus, just refined for the sack of simplicity. Most of the core apps that make up Elementary are altered in this way. A couple were created specifically for this project.

Postler

The default email program, for example, is Postler. Based on the same core as Evolution, the usual default email program for Gnome, Postler “aims to be easy, simple, clean, beautiful, and automagic” according to its creators.

The initial setup screen certainly delivers at that:

jupiter operating system

Setting up my Gmail account couldn’t have been simpler, and once I did the user interface for checking my mail was beautiful:

jupiter operating system

I hope the core Evolution team takes a few pages out of Postler’s paybook, because this is really nice. Want to learn more about Postler, or download it for your current Linux distro? Find more about Postler here.

Another change in Postler, and all core Elementary programs: there’s no top menu bar. Elementary instead tries to make use of a Chrome-style “AppMenu” in its core programs:

elementary os jupiter

Whether you like this is a matter of opinion, of course, but I think it’s an improvement.

Dexter

Complimenting Postler is Dexter, a very simple address book application. There’s not much else to say about this; you can import contacts from elsewhere or create your own:

elementary os jupiter

This program integrates really well with Postler, so check it out in Elementary or find out more about Dexter here.

Other Applications

There are a few other programs added to the user experience, including a dictionary called Lingo and the Midori web browser. There’s also a dock built into the interface by default: Docky.

jupiter os

This Mac-style dock makes managing your programs easier, but it’s not for everyone. Opinion will be divided on this one.

More Resources

It’s worth noting that you’re not limited in terms of your choice of applications; you have access to the Ubuntu Software Center 5 Great Tips For The Ubuntu Software Center [Linux] 5 Great Tips For The Ubuntu Software Center [Linux] Read More and all the software it offers.

Want to customize how Elementary looks? Check out the Jupiter Customization guide to get the low down. For other support, join the Elementary chat room. You’ll learn all kinds of great things!

Also feel free to read the comments below, because our readers post great tips and questions. Come to think of it, feel free to post great tips and questions!

  1. John
    April 14, 2011 at 10:09 am

    Ah yes.. the good ol' sack of simplicity!

  2. Doc
    April 14, 2011 at 2:50 am

    "just refined for the sack of simplicity." *sake*

    • jhpot
      April 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      Yeah, that guy's an idiot.

      Oh, wait....

      Good catch, and thanks.

  3. Shawn Langlois
    April 13, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I installed Jupiter over the weekend on my MacBook Pro, and I have to say that I was pretty happy with it. It has a simple elegance that I like. Looks nice without a ton of "bling". One thing that I loved was that the desktop is essentially cut off. I loathe desktop clutter, so for me, it works wonderfully not to be able to toss stuff on it. However, I can see this being an issue for the majority of users.

    Postler has a nice, clean interface, but just doesn't work well for my uses. I pretty much use Gmail for all my correspondence, and while it works well enough with the service, there just isn't any real incentive to go with it over the web interface.

    Dexter again, nice clean interface, but just seems to be lacking a bit. I couldn't sync my Google contacts so there just didn't seem to be a whole lot of use for my needs.

    I didn't use Lingo, so there's not much to say about it to be honest.

    Midori though, is an issue. Lightweight is nice, but it just seems to lack features that I have come to rely on when compared to Firefox or Chromium. It also struck me as somewhat unstable, as I had it become completely unresponsive on two occasions. I think it's a great work in progress, but not ready to be the default browser.

    All in all, it's a neat little distro, but it's slightly lacking in purpose. It seems more like a proof of concept than anything else, but at least it's enough to grab my interest and get me looking for more. Once they get the new website up and answer some lingering questions I think it will be easier to judge the merits of the distro. Right now it's just a themed Ubuntu with different default packages. How it moves forward will be very telling, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they decide to do.

    • jhpot
      April 14, 2011 at 1:31 pm

      Great overview, thanks for this.

  4. Robert Benjamin
    April 13, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Nope, it's because both OS X and Elementary OS are built not only by programmers but designers, and what they think looks good and work intuitively is similar in alot of cases. However, the next release of Elementary OS will focus on making a whole new desktop experience called Pantheon, check it out: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/201...

    Yes, Pantheon also has some similarities as OS X Lion, and while many people could be concerned that Elementary is just becoming a OS X copycat, never fear. Elementary may use many of the same basic principles that OS X uses but the application is different.

  5. jasray
    April 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    USB install with persistence? Would be nice.

  6. Allen Lowe
    April 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    Postler is NOT based on evolution whatsoever. we wrote it entirely from scratch

    • jhpot
      April 13, 2011 at 6:36 pm

      Oh man, my mistake. I thought it was integrated for some reason, but I should have known something that runs this well has nothing to do with evolution.

  7. Jewigs
    April 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Why does it look so much like OSX?

    • Roy
      April 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm

      I was thinking the same thing. I'm thinking maybe it's because some people believe that simple, user-friendly OS = OS X.

      • Robert Benjamin
        April 13, 2011 at 8:40 pm

        Nope, it's because both OS X and Elementary OS are built not only by programmers but designers, and what they think looks good and work intuitively is similar in alot of cases. However, the next release of Elementary OS will focus on making a whole new desktop experience called Pantheon, check it out: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2011/02/elementarys-slingshot-plank-apps-just-what-are-they-and-why/

        Yes, Pantheon also has some similarities as OS X Lion, and while many people could be concerned that Elementary is just becoming a OS X copycat, never fear. Elementary may use many of the same basic principles that OS X uses but the application is different.

  8. Akja100
    April 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Docky = Mono == NO. Never.

    • Gaurav Butola
      April 13, 2011 at 5:21 pm

      They are working on a new dock called plank which is written in vala.

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