Elementary, My Dear Linux User

I suspect there are as many Ubuntu-based Linux distributions as there are all other distributions combined. Many of them are designed with a specific purpose in mind. Whether the desire is for a different looking desktop, custom kernel or just pre-installed packages, there's probably a version of *buntu out there to fit every need. Elementary OS is just another in a long list of variants, but what it does, it does very well.

Upon first boot, Elementary obviously is designed to look and function like OS X. Although that might turn the stomachs of die-hard Linux fans, it provides an interesting platform for folks who appreciate the clean, functional layout Apple provides on its flagship OS. Elementary OS includes the Ubuntu Software Center, and like most variants, it can install any program in the Ubuntu repositories. Out of the box, however, it's a clean, fast operating system that people familiar with OS X will recognize right away.

Elementary OS doesn't do anything particularly special compared to other Linux distributions, but when I tried it, I really liked it. The graphics are beautiful, and the default applications are lightning fast. If you just want a simple, functional desktop, I urge you to give it a try. At the time of this writing, the version based on Ubuntu 14.04 still is in beta, but the stable version is available today and looks very similar. Give it a spin at http://elementaryos.org.

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Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.