ElementaryOS – Luna

Get ready for quite a long post!

Ever since the elementaryOS project began, it has been slowly gaining popularity for it’s simple, yet stunning interfaces and it’s lightning fast responsiveness. Naturally, being curious and intrigued, I decided to try out the Jupiter release on my laptop nearly a year ago. It was wonderful! The laptop was a delight to use. It was slick, fast, highly responsive and more importantly, stable. Now, I am not the kind of guy who really cares a lot about stability. I like to experiment with new softwares and am almost always running alpha/beta applications/distros. But that does not mean I like to deal with application crashes every other second as well. And for production computers, stability is a huge deal. And hence, it seemed like elementary was the Perfect Distro.

But later on, when I changed my laptop, i was shocked to find that Jupiter wont run well on my Dell Vostro 3550. It contained an older kernel which did not have built in support for Centrino N-1030 wireless cards that my Dell came with. And since wifi was my only source of internet, i had to be content with using other distros and wait for the new release to come by. And thus, I waited on and on… It never came.

Now, the elementary experience is all about perfection and simplicity. There is no point in using elementary if things randomly crash or the UI has missing graphics and icons. It’s just not elementary. Initially, the luna release was scheduled to be based on Ubuntu 11.10, but due to various stability issues, it was pushed to the 12.04 release. Now while all this may be for the greater good, the enormous wait tends to make people lose interest. Atleast I can say personally, that the lack of an alpha or beta is rather irksome. Not only do pre-release versions of distro’s provide the developers an option to test their software out in the world, it also provides enthusiastic testers and other curious developers to get a sneak peak of the new technology and improvements that the next release would bring. And for a distro like elementary, where perfection matters a lot, I am really surprised to find that there has been no official builds yet.

So, after scouring the web for the best ways to test luna, I came across a few posts. This one particular post : http://blane.me/2012/03/test-drive-elementary-os-luna/. I liked this post because it makes use of netinstall and helps you install elementary from the ground up. Other methods involve installing elementary using a script after installing ubuntu which will remove half of the files installed with ubuntu. Also, I did find an ISO of elementary Luna for those who dont want to mess with command lines and terminals. You can get it from here : http://noiaggiorniamo.blogspot.in/2012/02/lets-test-elementary-os-luna-02-daily.html#more.

Now, regardless of which method you chose to test, or how adventurous you are, here are a few things to remember.

  • Elementary Luna – Is NOT READY! It’s a work in progress. And needless to say, is not fit for production machines.
  • It is not advisable to test by installing to hard drive at this time if you are not ready to deal with the problems and the glitches that may occur.

Now, since that’s out of the way, let’s focus a bit on the problems/glitches I have faced in the last 2 hours or so (since i installed Luna).

  • The wallpaper. There is no straightforward way to change the wallpaper in Luna. And by default, it is in centered mode. This left me with two grey bands on the sides of the wallpaper. To change this, install gconf-editor and change the parameter in /desktop/gnome/background/picture_options and set it to “stretched”. You can change the backgroud by changing the /desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename value.
  • The wallpaper-plug package does not work if installed from the repositories. It seems to be a packaging issue, as compiling by hand makes it work flawlessly.
  • Plank, the elementaryOS dock, seemed to have 4 icons for the file manager marlin. And there seemed to be no way to drag the icons out to remove from the dock. To fix this, remove all files from ~/.config/plank/dock1/launchers. This will remove all the applications from the dock. To add, open the application, right click the icon on the dock and select “keep in dock”.
  • It is not possible yet to change the order in which the icons are placed on the dock. Not by dragging the icons atleast. To change the order, open the corresponding dockitem file from ~/.config/plank/dock1/launchers/ and edit the sort value. The dock items are aligned in ascending order of their sort values.
  • A small glitch with feedly was that the first time you import an OPML file, clicking on a feed on the left side will not list the feed items on the right pane. It works, however when you change the view by clicking on the buttons after the search box. This issue is one-time-only and does not occur once feedly is reopened.
  • Footnote, a new note taking utility, is extremely fragile and crashes with almost every click.
  • Ctrl+Enter does not complete the URL by adding .com at the end. This is more of a missing handy feature than a bug
  • Postler, Merlin and Scratch seems to work without any issues so far.

The “issues” listed above are for reference only. It is by no means to scare you off in case you were interested to try out luna, but you should be aware of the issues you might face in the endeavor. Also, please understand that the above issues are not really major. Pre-release softwares are expected to have errors. And that’s one of the reasons there is no alpha or beta releases so far by the elementary team. However hard we might try to get luna up and running, i think everyone will have to wait for the official ISO to get that true elementary experience.

Phew. This was a rather long post (told ya!), but i think the topic deserves one. The elementary devs are truly doing a great job here.

3 Responses to ElementaryOS – Luna

  1. Jason April 12, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    “Ctrl+Enter does not complete the URL by adding .com at the end. This is more of a missing handy feature than a bug”

    ESSENTIAL!!! I wouldn’t know how to navigate without that shortcut.

    • nbprashanth April 12, 2012 at 9:52 am #

      Agreed. I guess a lot of us are used to that feature. I hope they add it soon. It shouldn’t be too much of a hassle i guess.

  2. Eduard Gotwig July 16, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    I want to inform you that there is soon going to be a beta out for Luna.

    The wallpaper. There is no straightforward way to change the wallpaper in Luna. And by default, it is in centered mode. This left me with two grey bands on the sides of the wallpaper. To change this, install gconf-editor and change the parameter in /desktop/gnome/background/picture_options and set it to “stretched”. You can change the backgroud by changing the /desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename value.

    is FIXED

    The wallpaper-plug package does not work if installed from the repositories. It seems to be a packaging issue, as compiling by hand makes it work flawlessly.

    is FIXED

    Plank, the elementaryOS dock, seemed to have 4 icons for the file manager marlin. And there seemed to be no way to drag the icons out to remove from the dock. To fix this, remove all files from ~/.config/plank/dock1/launchers. This will remove all the applications from the dock. To add, open the application, right click the icon on the dock and select “keep in dock”.

    is FIXED – you can drag app icons from slingshot, “applications” menu popup

    It is not possible yet to change the order in which the icons are placed on the dock. Not by dragging the icons atleast. To change the order, open the corresponding dockitem file from ~/.config/plank/dock1/launchers/ and edit the sort value. The dock items are aligned in ascending order of their sort values.

    is FIXED trough dragging like in Jupiter

    Ctrl+Enter does not complete the URL by adding .com at the end. This is more of a missing handy feature than a bug

    is FIXED, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_of_keyboard_shortcuts

    Marlin got replaced with Files, and btw. the feed reader is not part of the distro, and there are 2 elementary ones right now in development.

    Tough, you should wait for the beta.