Elementary OS Loki: What You Need to Know

A new version of Elementary OS is here. This time it’s called Loki. This new version has some new technology under the hood: snap packages, systemd, a new app center, “do not disturb,” and more. It’s shaping up to be quite a promising release. Let’s break it down and see how good it truly is.

How does this new release shape up to the previous releases of Elementary OS? Is it worth switching? Does the design hold up? Find out all of this and more as we delve deep into Loki and tear it apart piece by piece in this review.

As Loki is a derivative of Ubuntu, it makes heavy use of Canonical’s technologies, especially when it comes to the installation tool. When you boot it up you’re getting the standard Ubuntu Ubiquity installation experience. You’ll tell it which hard drive to install and add the boot loader to and everything else that comes with installing something Ubuntu-like.

elementary-os-ubiquity-installation

The installation goes as expected: fast, easy-to-understand and smoothly. This is to be expected as Ubiquity has a rich history of making it easy for most people to install an operating system. It seems that the Elementary Team really haven’t changed much outside of the theme when it comes to this.

For starters, Elementary OS 0.4 Loki is based on Ubuntu 16.04 long term support, meaning its users can expect solid updates and reliable stability. This also means it will get a lot of the same features that Ubuntu 16.04 shipped with, like snap package support, systemd, and other things.

elementary-os-app-store

That’s not all the new changes though, as Loki introduces an “app center:” a tool created for its users to browse and install software with ease, much in the same way other Linux users on other Linux distributions (including Ubuntu 16.04) can do already with Gnome Software.

One particularly neat new feature is the “do not disturb mode.” This is a mode that comes with the notification indicator (which has been totally redesigned).  This is a mode that allows users to completely mute the Pantheon desktop’s notification system entirely.  Doing so allows users who get bombarded with notifications to get some serious work done.

elementary-os-loki-notification-system

Speaking of indicators, they’ve completely revamped them and re-designed them to be a lot more simple. For example, the network, Bluetooth, and volume indicators are much more simple and easy to use. Connecting to devices is a lot more simple, and overall you’ll be navigating through less menus to accomplish this. The menus are more easily read as well.

elementary-os-loki-network-indicator

There are some other small improvements to the Pantheon desktop, including tweaks to the date and time indicator, the Pantheon application menu now showing badges, a cleaner system settings window, the Epiphany web browser, improved high DPI support, a parental controls feature and much, much more.

Using Loki is a wonderful, smooth experience. When you boot it up everything looks to be exactly where it should be. Elementary OS version 0.4 comes with a slick updated design as the developers have put more work into the indicators, icons, skins and everything in between.

elementary-os-application-launcher

The center of the Loki experience is the Pantheon desktop environment. The developers have mostly kept it the same. Veteran Elementary OS fans will no doubt be happy as everything roughly looks and acts the same way (minus little tweaks here and there). The dock still holds all of your important items and is designed in such a way that makes it responsive and reliable to use.

Design is a central theme when it comes to the Elementary project. When you first boot it up, the inevitable comparisons to Apple’s Mac OS begin. Obviously Elementary has always been inspired by it, but it’s hardly “copying.” If anything they’ve seen what Apple has done and improved on it, with cleaner, nicer icons and overall just a smooth clean look that is very easy on the eyes.

elementary-os-loki-desktop

Central to the design of the desktop is the application dock. The dock has nice big icons with a lot of different items on it, but not too much, as the developers of Loki dislike unnecessary programs. Among the programs, a new browser has popped up: Epiphany. Along with that the dock includes programs everyone needs: the multi-task view (aka workspaces), the Mail email client, a calendar, a music player, video player, photo editor and the settings app and their app store.

Elementary OS Loki is a solid release, as to be expected. Everything is where it should be and works well together. The desktop is smooth, and the installation is very small, so there is not a whole lot of bloat. There’s not really a whole lot of emphasis on new features, though the ones that are added work very well. The notification system is the feature that stands out the most.

The main thing to take away here is that you can make a solid Linux distribution that doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel each time there’s a new release.  Instead it seems that what the team here wants to accomplish with Loki is to make a powerful, clean and beautiful Linux distribution for people who want things to “just work.” It does this rather well.

Would you use Loki? What are your thoughts on the Elementary project? Let us know below!

Image credit: elementary OS hand-made logo

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