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The Mac-ifying of the Linux Desktop

Elementary OS desktop

The sheer variety available to the Linux desktop brings with it a level of discussion and debate most other platforms do not know. Which desktop is the best? Should Linux hold onto what has always worked? Should the Linux desktop mimic what others already know? Dare Linux look and feel like OS X?

That last idea is a bit of a conundrum – one with multiple arguments. First and foremost, there is no debating that OS X is a fast-growing platform. It not only has deep roots in Linux architecture, it has been accepted by numerous types of users. There have been many attempts at “cloning” the OS X desktop on Linux. Some of those clones have succeeded, to varying levels. One in particular (PearOS) succeeded so well it was bought by an unknown American company and removed from existence. That company is rumored to be Apple (a Black Lab Linux developer announced (in a goodbye letter) he was leaving the team to join Apple “...in a Linux endeavor they recently acquired.” It's fairly easy to put that two and two together.) But still, until there are facts, it is conspiracy, at best.

But what is it about OS X that not only draws the users, but has Linux developers scrambling to clone? One fact that cannot be denied about OS X is the consistency found throughout. No design element has been overlooked and every window opened retains the overall look and feel better than any other desktop. Beyond that, you have to start looking at apps...even more specifically, the likes of iTunes. Since the smartphone has become such an incredibly integral component of day-to-day life, users rely upon the tools to keep those devices in sync with their data. Whether you like the app or not, few apps do a better job of syncing multi-media and other data as does iTunes. Without something similar – Linux loses out.

Matthew Garret, in his essay The Desktop and the Developer proposes that “A combination of improved desktop polish and spending effort on optimising developer workflows would stand a real chance of luring these developers away from OS X with the promise that they'd spend less time fighting web browsers, leaving them more time to get on with development.”

Improved desktop polish. That statement alone should ring very true with Linux desktop designers across the globe. I would add modern to that – Improved modern desktop polish – because users are no longer happy with the likes of flat desktops, such as Gnome 2, Fluxbox, or KDE. Users, especially the average user, wants polish, they want something that looks as modern as the mobile tools they use.

Distributions, such as Ubuntu, have gone to great lengths to take that idea of consistency and elegantly apply it throughout. Unity does an incredible job of working the look and feel of the design to every aspect of the desktop. Linux Mint also has grown, leaps and bounds, with unifying the look and feel of the desktop.

Have Ubuntu and Mint caught up to OS X? With respect to unification of look and feel, it's becoming a very close race. As for application familiarity, that's another debate all together.

OS X-Like Linux Distros

As for distributions cloning OS X, PearOS has been forked, but even the fork is running into some levels of resistance. At first it was named Clementine and showed promise. The distribution then ran into legal issues with the name (the original name belongs to my media player of choice, Clementine). Now, Klementine OS is nowhere to be found.

Beyond the conspiracy theories, beyond the purchasing and obfuscation, why would a Linux distribution want to mimic the look and feel of OS X? When you do a search for “OS X Linux clone”, you generally come up with the following distributions:

  • PearOS

  • Elementary OS Luna

  • Clementine (now Klementine)

  • Red Star OS.

After much digging, I discovered yet another Linux distribution with a desktop aimed at resembling OS X. This distribution is called Pirum OS. This distribution was started by high school developer Tyler Wolf and, almost as quickly as it started, was re-branded into The Pear Project. No development, no signs of life.

This disappointment sent me reeling back to Google to discover LuninuxOS. Outside of having a double-take of a name (it's pronounced loon-e-nux o-s), the platform has a single idea: that an alternative computing operating system should be beautiful, simply, fast, reliable and fun. After a bit of digging, it turns out this distribution is also no longer in development.

Why try to clone OS X?

All of this leads me to a single question: With so many challenges (some legal), why do developers insist on attempting to create an OS X clone of Linux? I've scoured through the various pages of the different distributions to seek out that answer. There are numerous conclusions to draw:

  • The developers want to mimic the OS X look because of its popularity

  • The developers feel the familiarity of the OS X interface will draw users

  • There is some truth to the ease-of-use claims that surround OS X.

Once you give some of these distributions a try, you quickly come to realize that some are simply a standard GNOME (in most cases) desktop with a Dock and a Panel. Once you get beyond the theme of the desktop, there is little OS X to be found. You won't find iTunes or any of the other software stacks that draw people to Mac. What you will find is the standard Linux software. And that is nothing to hide. In fact (outside of the desire to look like OS X), when you examine the single most common goal of all of the OS X clones to have come and gone, you have one common goal:

Beauty.

All of these clones want to emulate what is often considered the de facto standard when it comes to elegance on the computer desktop: OS X. But by whose standard? Compare OS X to some of the modern Linux desktops, such as: 

  • Unity

  • GNOME 3

  • Deepin Linux.

All of a sudden, OS X doesn't look so modern. In fact, OS X is still hanging on to the same metaphor it's used for thirteen years. The true beauty to OS X stems from the hardware, not the software. Install an OS such as Ubuntu 14.10 or the latest Deepin Linux on a Macbook Pro Retina and see what real, modern elegance looks like.

Focus on innovation

With every OS X project that comes and goes, hardship seems to follow. Either it's crossing the boundaries of copyright (and having the project closed), failing to drum up enough developer interest to get the project truly off the ground, or having the project purchased (insert your own conspiracy theory here). So the big question still remains. Why? Why not focus on doing what Linux has always done better than any other platform – innovate. If you want to create a platform similar to OS X, take what Apple has done well and blend it with what Linux has done well and create something completely unique.

Remember, trademark and patent law is very confusing and challenging. The owners of those patents will go out of their way to prevent you from infringing on what they've created. Don't think, for a second, that the likes of Apple will allow someone to perfectly mimic their desktop without putting up a fight. Some outstanding distributions have come and gone because they desperately wanted to cling to what Apple was doing. PearOS was a darling among a large crowd and could have gained a strong foothold for the Linux desktop. It disappeared in a shroud of mystery.

Is it an impossible battle to fight? All in the name of cloning something that people either love or hate? No matter how you slice it, Apple is mighty. We may never know if they flexed that might to prevent a clone desktop from gaining any momentum. What we do know is that Linux is the king of innovation and will continue to enjoy a number of brilliant and modern desktops.

 

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  • mapBaker Said:

    I started using Linux SPECIFICALLY to get away from the dungeon-like look and feel of OS X...

  • Israel Said:

    The biggest difference between the two is FREEDOM. OSX... there is no way to change the color of anything except the loading bars, and window buttons... but you can only change them slightly. In Linux, I can change everything. I am not locked in to iTunes. I am not locked in to Apple anything. Apple products are expensive and sub-par. Most of the hardware is seriously behind. Apple is a status symbol. It says "I spent thousands of dollars for a computer". GNU/Linux is also a status symbol. It says "I value my liberty"

  • Wilco Said:

    Why copy OS X? It is the worst GUI I've ever worked with.. (Well, except for unity)

  • opensas Said:

    Hi Jack, with all due respect, I think that when you refer to elementary you don't seem to know the os well enough to state that it's just an OS X clone. Elementary team focuses on the user experience as a whole (not just beauty). They have documented their guidelines here: http://elementaryos.org/docs/human-interface-guidelines And they ara faaar away from begin a standard GNOME desktop with a dock and a panel. They've developed a whole new desktop environment with several apps following the same guidelines. Unlike mac os, they discuss lot's of features and mockups in public (http://elementaryos.deviantart.com/) and they develop a lot of software (https://launchpad.net/elementary) I invite you to give it a try for a couple of weeks, and then meet it's community (https://plus.google.com/communities/104613975513761463450) and talk with the developers. I'm sure you'll find something very different from an OS X copycat. Can't talk about the rest of the distros you mention because I haven't really tried them.

  • carrinebchaud Said:

    i agree 100% and by the way maybe i don't use Mac OS X a lot, but when i am using elementary, i don't have the feeling i am using something that tries to be OS X. It would have been interesting if the author of this article actually used intensively all the distros mentioned as OS X like before really speaking about them!

  • joncr Said:

    As someone who had Macs and Linux desktops sitting on the same desk for ten years and more, I question the judgement of anyone who thinks anything now happening in Linux is anything at all like OS X. Sure, we have docks and unignorable imitations of the johnny-come-lately and entirely ignorable Launch Pad. But, anyone who thinks imitating those makes Linux more Mac-like probably confuses a tomato with a Red Delicious, At least it's better than imitating Windows. (Talking about you, KDE.) The world of design is not constrained by Windows and OS X. Linux does not need to simply imitate.

  • Jan Corazza Said:

    GNOME 3 is *definitely* not copying OS X. Simply being different than Windows and having a dock is not a good criteria for that judgement. It's very different from both Windows *and* OS X. PearOS is kind of dead so it's irrelevant. And when it comes to Elementary, then yes, they seem to be borrowing quite a lot. And honestly I don't mind it! I didn't use OS X much, but Elementary did a really good job at creating a usable and efficient UI.

  • carl Said:

    "It not only has deep roots in Linux architecture" It's UNIX/BSD roots not Linux, I'm surprised this mistake actually made it on to this site!

  • William Said:

    That is a rookie error all right. To make it at all, I would suspect he does not know that there are any differences between System V and BSD let alone that there are a lot of differences or what they are.

  • Montoya Said:

    Linux has roots on UNIX; but on MINIX, not BSD. MacOs has roots on BSD

  • William Said:

    A very curious article. While elementary OS is not my primary distro, I do like and typically recommend it to new Linux users. I know elementary OS backwards and forwards and as someone who has not only been using Linux since 1996, but who has also been using a Mac since 2005, I can say with absolute certainty that you have most definitely not spent any real quality time with elementary OS - it is overwhelmingly not Mac like. Your ignorance is evidenced by listing two distros that were full OS X clones but don't even exist anymore. And for any interface features that are borrowed, we have reached a point with GUIs where we are sometimes borrowing the best of this and that from this and that and I see nothing wrong with the practice. As fast as elementary OS is coming up, I am astonished that you, as a representative of Linux.com, would seek to isolate elementary OS from potential users. It's popularity is soaring higher everyday. A fantastic amount of people coming to elementary OS are brand new Linux users who tried every major distro and this is where they settled - that speaks volumes. It's remarkable that a person in your position would be anything less than grateful for what they are doing to popularize Linux and earn new Linux users. I'm sorry to say it, but your article is FUD and unhealthy for Linux as a whole. This kind of hostility from within the Linux community, against the Linux community is reprehensible.

  • Anthon Said:

    Yet another Linux distro with fancy icons and windows that opens fast. But the fact remains that even with all the bling bling you will still be stuck with crap like gimp, libreoffice, drivers that only work to the minimum and no one and everyone to blame.

  • Heath Said:

    Anton, I have no problems with drivers on Elementary - and I have a new i7. Bluetooth and all. Not sure what you are talking about. As far as Gimp goes, well it does its job and like most Linux software it isn't bloated to death with a ton of features you won't ever use. As a Windows user since 3.0, I find Linux to be a better OS than Windows is now. I also like MacOS. Elementary OS is my favorite distro, but hey, if you are a Mac fanboy, why are you even here on Linux.com? Could it be that you feel threatened by the rise of Linux? Huge strides the last couple of years.

  • ty Said:

    I can't relate. Perhaps you learned how to use M$, Adobe and Gimp & others don't behave the same. I took the time to learn the first two you mentioned and have found them to be exceptionally powerful for dealing with large documents / complex images. If you don't know how to use them, doesn't make the program "crappy"

  • Alejandro Jimenez Soto Said:

    Linux is a big community, community means harmony, and beauty in the hands of those who want to innovate without represion.

  • tmr Said:

    Urgs... another one of the people who mistake inspiration for cloning. Grey-ish + Dock-on-Bottom = Osx clone Panel on bottom = Windows clone No panel = fvwm just a slim panel at the bottom = openbox? tiles = twm clone And they are all just xerox clones. XD BAH! Yes, some distributions try to mimic some other OS. But seriously? elementary of all? Probably the ONE linux distribution that focuses on usability and focus... Just because Daniel Foré and the team like some aspects of the OSX ui? Oh I have a brandnew idea: Lets put the dock on the left side and make the ui ... well.. black/orange/sand-colored! Totally new! I hope that with time, you Sir, will come to see how important "taking the good parts and improving the rest" has always been and always will be for mankind. Also: The UI is very VERY much a matter of taste. So "OSX - the ugliest interface ever!" and "OSX - the best that has ever been created!" and "OSX - almost on par with windows 7" can all be true at the same time. If you feel the need to share your fears of the clone wars, at least inform yourself thorougly before you do.

  • dragoniteore Said:

    Elementary OS has some similar visual details with OS X, but it's very far from being a clone. How are you even allowed to post this stuff here which is toxic to Linux ecosystem. Elementary OS is doing what no other distro has done so far: trying to make best UX.

  • Anonymous Said:

    Ignoring sensible, well reasoned designs and and implementing inferior but more unique ones is counterproductive, and expecting Linux developers to do that is doubly so as Linux has a much deserved reputation for confused and inconsistent design. Operating systems are tools. When you're trying to put a nail through wood, do you reach for the unique hammer, with its U-shaped handle and a head made of Nerf foam, or the boring hammer, designed to be as effective and simple as possible? Uniqueness over effectiveness is not a virtue. Beyond that, lumping Elementary OS in with these other distros unfairly misrepresents the tremendous amount of work the developers have done to make a more complete out-of-the-box experience. On top of an entirely new DE and framework, they created a number of their own applications (all of which utilizing a unified design language and the same underlying technologies) to fill serious gaps in the end user's experience. Spend five minutes on the Elementary Launchpad page (https://launchpad.net/elementary) and you'll understand that it's much more than just spit and polish. It's strange to me that Ubuntu suffered little blowback for its blind and thoughtless introduction of terrible OS X UI elements (i.e. the antiquated and messy global menu bar) that hindered usability, but Elementary is so often derided for knowing what OS X features actually enhance usability and are worth implementing. The enthusiasm with which some members of the Linux community jump to dismiss one of the few distros that adheres to a clearly-defined HIG is just plain disappointing, especially when poor design and usability has long been Linux's biggest barrier to entry.

  • Richard Palmer Said:

    I find the XFCE desktop to be functional and attractive. On Xubuntu, for a couple of years but Mint, Debian and Manjaro also offer this. It can be made to look like OS-X if required. .

  • kgenkov Said:

    "Why? Why not focus on doing what Linux has always done better than any other platform – innovate. If you want to create a platform similar to OS X, take what Apple has done well and blend it with what Linux has done well and create something completely unique." That's what elementary does.

  • abc Said:

    the sheer amount of ignorance and idiocy in this article is almost comical. Have you ever even used elementary OS?

  • def Said:

    I did. Albeit I won't call it a clone of OS X, it looks like it. But, there's nothing bad about it.

  • Falcao Said:

    Well, I would say that I don't feel simpatetic with OS X like enviroments, to tell the truth I think that altough it may be desireble from developers point of view, for users would be a drawback focusing all distros to emulate one particular GUI. In my case, I love diversity that Linux world brings. Many Windows users would more likely feel better with Cinnamon, some love Gnome, some like Unity, Linus (if I am not wrong) like XFCE and so on. I would prefer not to lose this.

  • farqad Said:

    I think you miss the real point. It is not about mimic OS X (which would be a nonsense). It is about taking the best of everything. Linux distros, OS X and Windows have their own benefits and drawbacks. If you are smart enough, you don't lose time saying you're better than your competitors, but you try to learn from their success (for small or big this can be). OS X has a great look-and-feel. It is not perfect and has some drawbacks. But it is a nonsense criticizing it. Developers likes it. Users likes it. But what make OS X really popular is that it has a great apps environment and it has the App Store. Besides iTunes and Calendar (which, in my humble opinion, have no real opponents in the Linux world), on OS X one can find Microsoft Office (which, unfortunately, is still far better than OpenOffice and LibreOffice), PhotoShop, the latest version of Skype, etc... If Linux distros want to attract not only open source and single developers, but also big software companies, it has to change its focus. Canonical has done it and, not by chance, Ubuntu is now much more popular than Fedora, OpenSuSE or Mageia.

  • EatACock Said:

    If you don't know what you are talking about you shouldn't say anything at all. A few of you idiotic mistakes have already been mentioned. Here is another one, PearOS was shit it was more a elementary clone with MacOS wallpapers. It wasn't bought it just died in hell with your dignity.

  • Darkstar Said:

    In regards to elementary OS, are you also opposed to biological evolution? Taking the best from the rest while passing on the worst and simultaneously innovating entire new paradigms is no different.

  • Robert Said:

    "It not only has deep roots in Linux architecture" Maybe I am reading that wrong. OSX takes from BSD not Linux.

  • Asdf Said:

    "Install an OS such as Ubuntu 14.10 or the latest Deepin Linux on a Macbook Pro Retina and see what real, modern elegance looks like." For fuck sake. Your article is not only poorly written, you have no fucking clue what you are talking about, and you can't even spend to fucking seconds researching the current Ubuntu release version.

  • William Said:

    14.10 ---- I was so overwhelmed with the factual errors, overall lack of quality of the article, and amateur ranting style I somehow over looked that. Wow. Does Linux.com not have an editor? Mind = blown over that getting through.

  • Admiral Vinogradov Said:

    Shockinly bad writeup, isn't it :) Perhaps linux.com have no editor, but they do have our clicks. So they win :) This "article" is flame/click bait, nothing more or less than that. And as a rare person who actually kinda likes and uses Ubuntu with Unity, if this was also an attempt to promote that over other distros, it may just backfire. Also, I don't like the rabid fanboyism in some of the comments. But this kind of bait can't work without it, so (some of) the comments are in perfect symbiosis that makes up worthless internet trash that passess off as content. Oh and let me bookmark this site, so I can blacklist it :)

  • NH Said:

    Too big a generalisation this Anthon. I'm using modern machines here and no driver problems ever. Mint and Fedora etc. You're experience must be with old versions or somethins as Gimp is excellent and Libreoffice is superb. Libreoffice exceeds MS office in many ways (https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Feature_Comparison:_LibreOffice_-_Microsoft_Office) although I use Gnumeric instead of Calc.

  • Anthon Said:

    So why is half of all Linux forums cluttered with users having problems with drivers - all the time? And seriously, If you call gime excellent I seriously doubt your judgment.

  • LD Said:

    Funny, I have tried the OSX style on different distros and it feels just too gimmicky, To be honest I really like the standard KDE interface with a few small modifications here and there.

  • James Bannon Said:

    I'm running KDE at the moment. It's OK. I used to use GNOME, but stopped doing that when they came up with GNOME3. GNOME3 and the Unity desktops are the worst GUIs I've ever used. Whoever came up with them must have been smoking something truly awful. Why is it that developers have gone down the route of designing for notepads? Such interfaces may be fine for notebooks, but are damn all use for a desktop! Windows 8 is the same. I've had a look at Elementray OS, but I don't like the look of the apps it comes with by default. I'll stick with Debian & KDE for the present, though for my next machine I might get a MAC.

  • msx Said:

    Unity is _really_ nice, at least in its last inception in !4.04 LTS. Like you I used to run KDE (for about 6 years back on Arch and then for about a year in ChakraOS) and before that GNOME2. But Unity is something different, a totally different breed, the HUD option for accessing applications' menus is just wonderful, not to mention that Unity must have been coded by real hackers who loves to use the keyboard as EVERYTHING within Unity is accessible vía the keyboard. About being the worst GUI well, that's absolutely subjective, did you know you can set the launcher (the bar w/ the icons) to stay hidden all the time or pop up when you need it? I understand that for a hardcore KDE user Unity lacks just too much flexibility - after all KDE is the king in that area - and honestly I don't think it ever will be even near KDE in that regard as in the event of a paid support the people at the other side of the phone can't spend an hour blindly guessing what the heck the user has done with its desktop. But, on the bright side, Unity feels much mature now and it will get better with the upcoming Qt conversion, no doubt about it. Install Unity Tweak Tool and Compiz Config Settings Manager, customize Unity to your liking and may be you'll see this DE with other eyes... Hell, I barely use mouse this days, the way you can access all Unity's functions and features using your keyboard is VERY CLOSE to the way you could use Ratpoison, Awesome, SpectrWM or the WM of your choice! And still you get a nice full-fledged desktop, very snappy and really useful as the integrated search in the Dash do marvels. Cheers.

  • opensas Said:

    ok Israel, you got me, best answer so far...

  • Steve Said:

    Ugh... Elementary OS... How is this distro so popular?! I feel like my hands are tied when using it.

  • Rune Jensen Said:

    eOS has many flaws or, more, missing features. But I use it not so much for what it is now, but for its extremely huge potential. I am using it for web design, pen testing and such ATM. But my thinking is, if the developers do this the right way, the eOS will get ahead of both Mint and Ubuntu and even bigger. You should try reading about the mind set the developers have. It's amazing how they are dedicated to get every detail right, not only in design, but everything; Design, Usability, attracting developers, and even a business strategy. That's why I use it. It's much more complete over all than any other Linux OS. You can say that eOS team has the same mind set like that of Steve Jobs, which could be why part of the way their OS remind of OSX. It's derived from the same way of thinking that Jobs had, but from there will evolve to its own. If you do not like the OS now, just give them time, I'm sure you will be surprised.

  • salparadise Said:

    Why? Because it does what an OS should - it gets out of the way and lets you get on with doing stuff and looks rather nice as well. I'll grant you that it's less than ideal in some areas - no "space left on device" display anywhere on the File Manager, requiring a terminal to be opened and the 'df -h' command to be issued. The default selection of Apps is questionable - Midori crashes a lot and doesn't work with flash (and yes I did follow the "how to make flash work on midori" guide) and Geary is just hideous. It looks gorgeous, out of the box - none of this nasty jagged font nonsense that one gets with Debian, anything that runs KDE and most xfce distros (Voyager Linux, a French spin of Xubuntu, is a pleasant exception - that too looks very good 'out of the box' and ROSA Linux is the only KDE based distro that seeks to be visually pleasant - it's very close to elementary in that respect.) Generalisation alert - nobody, except the sort of IT-goblins who sit in darkened rooms lit by a single 25watt bulb, think that dark grey backgrounds to all menus and applications are cool. But still we get distros released where that is the norm (I'm particularly looking at you Manjaro). White is too bright, colours are distracting, dark colours are hard on the eyes - light grey works perfectly. It's popular because Linux has changed - many users are now not developers or sysadmins, but are enlightened home users - they want to do the whole IT thing without all the garbage and obscene price tags that one finds in the world of proprietary software. For them, elementaryOS is ideal. I suspect that it has also attracted a lot of Linux users who are sick of nasty looking fonts, badly chosen colour schemes and klunky, oversized window borders (all of which can be changed, but it's nice to come across a distro where a vanilla install makes you think "I don't need to change anything other than the wallpaper"). It works because it's quite obvious that a great deal of work has gone into making it easy on the eye, whereas many distros seem to think about the desktop last of all and as an after-thought and given that it's built on top of Ubuntu LTS releases, it offers a lifespan that is acceptable, rather than the "reinstall your box every 6 months" nonsense we get from other distros. In short, it's Linux for ordinary people (without the badly designed UI paradigm shift that is Unity).

  • Rune Jensen Said:

    I second that. I really only needed to change the wall paper. And of course I set up the hot corners. But nothing else. I absolutely love the thinking behind design consistency and the not-full-screen menu with no annoying GIF animations like the Windows8 (no - I do not like Windows8 design at all). And colors in the elementary design are so easy on my eyes. I like Mint very much, it's also a nice distro and I liked also Ubuntu and xUbuntu, but elementary will always be my prefered, because I do not have to change much. ...and it's actually pretty fast too.

  • Cas Tuyn Said:

    Why mimic OSX? It is absolutely counter-productive against Linux. After 25 years in Unix, Solaris and Linux I got a MacBookAir 7 months ago. Although the hardware is a beauty, tho OS is not. One example is window focus. See what happens when you need to copy many texts from one browser window to another. - On a Mac, you (1) drag over the text, (2) ^C, (3) Move the mouse to the field you need to insert it, (4) Click to focus, (5) ^V. - On Linux, you (1) drag over the text, (2) Move the mouse to the field you need to insert it, (3) Middle-click to paste. And under which rock have you been hiding calling the upside-down mouse scroll direction "Natural" ? Really....

  • Brian Said:

    I am an Elementary OS user and it appeals to me mainly because of the philosophy by which they develop it and its execution therein. As a minimalist at heart I appreciate their commitment to simplicity, and I find that it follows the original Unix mantra (as does OS X to a fair extent), an application should do one thing and do it well not try to be all things to all people. There is a trend of creating once-stop-shop monolithic applications with every conceivable feature packed in them and they all end up with the same result, as unwieldy and unmaintainable bloatware. Applications that end up in this state are not nearly as useful and end up being more of a distraction or obfuscation to a given task than aiding you in realizing productivity gains (if for nothing more than the fact it's difficult to find the function you need). I love Linux and open source software but if one is to really look at why it isn't as successful on the desktop the reason is simple: any operating system that has been successful have a few things in common, If you look at Windows, OS X, Android, or even Unix you can recognize them almost instantaneously, even between versions, they have a similar look and feel and users know what to expect. If you were to try to wade through all the desktop environments and user interfaces that Linux has to offer the sheer number is overwhelming. While I agree with the importance of choice and the freedom to create of your own volition it also has the byproduct of rendering a thousand different half baked efforts who are mostly trying to accomplish the same goal but going about it in subtly different ways because they couldn't amass critical mass from a development effort standpoint. If you doubt my point take a look at the Ubuntu app store versus the Google Play store, in the former case it is more or less a shiny new front end for the same repos that have always been there and has pretty much the same offerings. If you look at the Play store by contrast you will see the results of a polished governing process and the application of standards that are as close to a perfect balance as one could reasonably be able to strike between freedom and actually getting things done, for better or worse, you can't argue with its success.It's also a factor of psychology, in order for someone to use and promote something they have to identify with it. There are user conglomerates around more or less all of the technologies and platforms out there but the primary difference is their organization. The ones that surround the most successful ones tend to be more of a single group whereas with platforms like Linux they are more cellular in nature, and while that has the potential to work well, its more difficult to organize and orchestrate unified actions that may be necessary to survive changes in the environment. You really can't condemn those groups that realize these factors (like the Elementary OS team) and attempt to abide by them in order to be successful, otherwise there is no point in exerting the effort to distribute your work beyond your own hard drive to begin with.

  • Henk Bloemenveld Said:

    Well, I don't know why you see Elementary OS as an ''osx clone'', because it obviously isn't. The fact that a distro has a dock doesn't make it a bloody OSX Clone. Besides; Elementary OS is the first Linux distro ACTUALLY working to get a complete, noob friendly experience, so that average people can finally use Linux too. And yes, they're influenced by OSX, but they're also influenced by Gnome Shell and other distros; they simple pick out the best things (according to them). Also, eOS is the first Linux distro that looks beautiful AND is blazingly fast. The fact that you say that eOS is just another OSX Clone is pathetic, and proves that you just didn't do enough research... Too bad.

  • Wardah the Bla'qQ Said:

    I agree. I have Elementary OS installed on my kids' PC. They love it. It looks pretty, sure, but the thing is, it doesn't get in the way. So when my 6-year old wants to play him some Frozen Bubble or Supertux, he turns on the machine, clicks the menu bar, finds the game in the correct category, and plays the game. Also, I have owned an iMac with OS X 10.3.9. (seriously Apple, they're all OS number 10? You'd think that with their "user-friendlyness" in mind, they'd drop the multiple number-dot-number-dot-version-sub-sub-sub-version nomenclature). I had been using Windows and Linux for years before that. I found the OS X experience appaling on so many levels. It is NOT intuitive. At all. How can I tell? Because I didn't know how to go around it. Worse yet, people who've been Mac users for over a decade still struggle with the most basic tasks (Where are my files stored now? Did it install, did I drag it correctly? How do I open a *.doc file if Office doesn't recognize it? How do I open a video file? yadda yadda). Also, eOS looks NOTHING like OSX. The main menu bar does not become the toolbar for the active window, which is a big deal in Mac. The menu is not even remotely similar to that of OSX, because OSX doesn't have one main menu at all. You have the tipical File/Tools/Edit setup for everything in OSX, including the desktop. Not sure how is eOS a clone of OSX.

  • salparadise Said:

    It's interesting how one man's experience can be so completely different to another's. I spent a year or so using OSX, after several years of Windows and Linux. I found it to be supremely intuitive. I found myself thinking along the lines of "I don't where function X is on a Mac, but if it were me I'd put it here" and clicking on 'here' revealed what I was looking for. This happened time and again. I wonder if it was the years of self-taught Linux use, or luck or just sharing a way of thinking with the designers, or what? But it is very curious how two people, both fluent in the use of computers, can have such radically different experiences on the same UI. Definitely one for the "there is no universal truth in UI design" school. eOS is likened to the Mac Desktop because it resembles it. The dock on the bottom, the bar across the top, the look and feel of the file manager. Some people can't get past the surface of anything and so only see what's on the surface, which in this case is Mac-like. I do wonder how such people cope with buying things like cars, seeing as how they all have wheels on each corner and doors and windows, it must get quite confusing for them.

  • Ceyhun Said:

    All linux distros should not like any OS especially windows. Linux has own styles. We are enormous familly like : http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/Linux_Distribution_Timeline.svg Opensource Brotherhood

  • mdc Said:

    The author of this very mediocre article seems to have forgotten two important reasons when he said: "Why try to clone OS X?" [...] The developers want to mimic the OS X look because of its popularity The developers feel the familiarity of the OS X interface will draw users There is some truth to the ease-of-use claims that surround OS X. [...] a. Because they like OS X look and feel - I do too. b. Because it's fun and because they can. So what's up with all this retarded ranting? You love to surf the web using elinks? Nice, do it. Do you prefer to just don't launch a full display server and instead run all your graphical applications in a framebuffer? Well, go ahead and do it. You just don't like elementary OS? Well, shut your mouth off and keep moving, nobody cares about a subjective ranting. Some people enjoy Slack while other Arch. Some people enjoy Debian while others Gentoo. Some people find Ubuntu a good base for their own flavor/spin/distro. Some people love GNOME while others prefer KDE; others will rather go with the mice desktop or with i3m. It's just a matter of choice. I don't understand why this whining is published on Linux.com. When I find the time to do so, I will do my rant too about how low has Linux.com fallen publishing this kind of destructive crap.

  • Zeusto Said:

    This article has the same "informative" value of a CNN breaking news broadcast about a can of soda being mistaken for the wreckage of the Malaysian plane or Lindsey Lohan going back to rehab.

  • Sinoninni Said:

    It is not my impression that neither Pear or Klementine is being developed. Please redo some research and rewrite your article.

  • moulou Said:

    GNOME 3 did the job for me, I found everything I need as a student in linux distros, there s no need for others (OSs), it will be great if I will contribute

  • joncr Said:

    There's a lot more going on in OS X than the way it looks. I'd bet most folks who are in a panic about Linux morphing into OS X have never owned a Mac.

  • YW Said:

    elementary OS is not a OS X clone. Who ever wrote this article should've do some research first before include elementary OS in this "OS X-Like" category. Come on, how could this kind of article even get published?

  • tte Said:

    `Elementary OS Luna is one of a handful of Linux distributions that commonly come up in search results for “OS X Linux clone."` Linux.com is one of a handful of ugly websites with questionable content that come up in a search for "Crappy Quasi-Journalists."


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