Elementary OS 5.1 Review

Intro

This review is a expansion on the previous posts I made about my Linux 2-in-1 laptop. Between the last post and this post I’ve jumped around a bit, between different distros. I’ve tested Fedora, Manjaro, Ubuntu and their derivatives. Manjaro Gnome finally overtook Elementary as my go-to distro. The reason for this is simple, Manjaro Gnome works out-of-the-box, no driver issues, working virtual keyboard and everything! The only downside was that Firefox didn’t really optimize to touch, but that’s a minor issue, simply download another browser. However, there’s another reason for why I’m today jumping to Elementary;

1. Manjaro, being a rolling-release, performed harakiri a few times after I’ve installed 100+ set of updates.

2. Elementary 5.1 Hera got released.

So, what about Elementary 5.1?

Well, I’ve just installed Elementary, first thing I notice is a new login screen. Another thing that is enticing is the added Flatpak support, sand-boxing apps.

Currently the WiFi drivers seem to work properly, everything seems to work out-of-the-box except the onboard keyboard. For example, there’s no onboard/virtual keyboard during the log-in process, as there is in Manjaro Gnome. Despite trying several onboard settings, I could never get the virtual keyboard app to work right. It also seems to be bugging a times, not popping up when it should etc. even after configuring “hot corners” to launch the onboard each time I swipe from bottom left or bottom right.

Though, it comes with all the drivers you need out-of-the-box, if your running a nVidia graphics card you might want to install the propriatary drivers.

Gestures

Running a low-spec 2-in-1 I tend to use the touchscreen a lot. For the most part all the needed gestures work, however, I find myself often wanting to fiddle around with my files, copying, pasting etc. This isn’t easy, you can drag and drop files, create shortcut to files, but not ‘right-click’. Right-clicking would typically be done by pressing your finger on one spot until a menu pops up, instead of tapping, this doesn’t work. If anyone has figured this out, let me know. Otherwise, not really any other complaints, everything else seems to work.

Some apps, not related to the Elementary project, such as Firefox, is a pain in the **** to use with a touchscreen, but for most of these apps there are touch friendly alternatives.

In the settings, you see a bunch of new settings the Elementary guys have brought into this new iteration of the OS. I especially like the added desktop customization that they now allow. Also in the “Mouse & Touchpad” section there’s many new useful settings. Though, do not mess with the ‘Clicking’ settings etc. some of them might brake some touch gestures that you might use, if on a touchscreen, of course.

App selection

Basically, the app selection is relatively poor in the app center, now with the added to support for flathub.org, the app library is enlarged. Flathub has a decent library of apps. The one gripe with this is the non-existant distinction between what app is from flathub/flatpak and what is native Elementary/Ubuntu. As an example, I have 2 apps for gPodder. Also, as a power-user I would appreciate if I could select a lot of apps and then install them at once, similar to how Manjaro does it.

Elementary has adopted a pay what you want model for their store, I haven’t yet browsed their “paid” options, but I did pay for Elementary OS 0.4 back in the day. If I can figure out how to fix the broken virtual keyboard support, I would probably as well pay for Elementary 5.1.


Summary

Overall this Operating System is pretty good, especially if your not using a touch screen. It’s really user-friendly and somewhat polished. The Elementary guys also has a pay what you want app store, that gives the user the ability to test out apps and then throws the devs some money if the apps are any good. But, as mentioned before, some touchscreen aspects still need work.

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