back to article It's your Loki day: The Reg takes Elementary OS Jólnir for a quick test drive

A new minor version of Elementary OS, a rather modernist and minimalist Ubuntu derivative, fixes a lot of small details. The Register took it for a quick spin. screenie view Fans of American Gods might recognise that Odin, the Allfather of the Norse gods, has many names – and "Jólnir" is one of them. Elementary OS 6.1 makes …

  1. AMBxx Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    General question

    Does anybody like this file explorer idea of having a few really BIG folders? I much prefer being able to see everything rather than scrolling around big pictures. Windows is the worst offender, but this looks bad too.

    1. cray74

      Re: General question

      Have you tried alternate views in file explorers? I never use "large icons" in Windows' file explorer except to browse my photograph folders. "Details" is much more succinct and informative for me.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: General question

        Yes, on my computers. Problem being the dozens of customer servers where I really can't start mucking about with any settings,

        1. Geoffrey W

          Re: General question

          So, essentially, the issue is with the server administrators, not with Microsoft or Windows, and it seems a bit unfair to blame either of those two for something you dislike which is easily changed. We all know Microsoft is evil but not in this case.

        2. gotes

          Re: General question

          Ah, so to prevent your customers using the giant icons, the option should be removed for all Windows users? Makes sense.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: General question

      Windows is the worst offender

      I beg to differ.

      Ubuntu comes with two different file explorers by default. (As far as I can tell - I don't recall installing a second one.) Both called Files, for some inexplicable reason. I would say both have their good points, but I've honestly yet to find one. Both have plenty of bad points, however - one fails to connect to Windows shares on the network, for example, while the other can't copy and paste files over RDP. Go figure. Both feel clunky, awkward, and annoying to use after Windows Explorer (with the Details view) - and Windows Explorer is far from perfect.

      But most amusingly of all, you can't copy files from one and paste them in the other because that would, I presume, be too convenient.

    3. Paul Kinsler

      Re: General question


    4. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: General question

      I stopped using Windows Explorer ages ago. Mainly because it kept thinking everything was a movie or picture when it wasn't.

      XYPlorer is my current weapon of choice.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: General question

        I did too.

        I'm now using Finder.


        1. joed

          Re: General question

          ? It may be just because I'm predominantly a Windows user and my macOS exposure is only on the support side (likely still more in depth than that of average Mac user) but I'd not call File Explorer trade for the Finder an upgrade. What a mess (other that proper file search that MS can't grasp and keeps trying to shove in Bing instead).

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: General question

      On MacOS you can set icon view and then decide yourself how large you want the icons to be with a slider at the bottom.

      If I want to work quickly with pictures I slide it to large, if I'm working with files in icon mode I make it smaller (although I tend to switch to list mode for that - I use icons mainly for previews which even work for LibreOffice files).

      I think that users in general ought to have control over size and grid settings, with a fat "default" button for when they've made a mess of it. That strikes me as a sane approach: let the user decide.

      One small problem I see with this OS: flatpacks. Does that not open up the install to malware? Packages are screened, and to install non-packaged things and get them to execute tends to be too complex for end users. Flatpacks don't strike me as subject to the same level of scrutiny, which can lead to Microsoft-alike levels of security (i.e. none)..

    6. T-Rex Neb

      Re: General question

      I'm sure I don't understand your comment. In eOS, "Files' allows you to see your files in three possible ways, as icons; as vertically expandable, sortable list; and in a horizontally expandable list. Please elucidate.

  2. Youngone Silver badge

    Not for me

    I have played with Elementary a few times and I would love to like it, but I just can't.

    I can understand how people would like it though. I may be one of those people with strong personal preferences I suppose.

    1. _andrew

      Re: Not for me

      I like the idea of elementary OS, especially the use of Vala for their GUI apps, but a fixed dock-thing at the bottom of the screen is a deal-breaker for me. That'll probably keep me off Windows-11 for as long as I can arrange that, too. Vertical screen real-estate is too valuable. The left-hand side of the screen is the only correct location (for me). Windows-10, macOS and all of the other Unix distros that I've used manage it (or have no such thing, which is also fine). (Maybe not CDE, but I didn't use that for long before replacing it with something else.)

      1. Lon24

        Re: Not for me

        Linux distros come in at less than a dime a dozen. The one I standardised on was recommended as the most Windows-like (when Windows was XP) and thats what I was transiting from. The distro evolved into a very different beast but still suited my needs and style.

        I do try others occasionally hoping for an even better solution. Without a compelling USP, however, I'm not going to spend time spinning up a VM to see if this fits. Elementary may have one but this review didn't spell it out for me.

        My takeaway was it wasn't very customisable if the designer's taste doesn't match mine. Plus you would need to go repository hunting to replicate my current application set. That doesn't sell well to using it for business or personal use for me. Sorry.

    2. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Not for me

      Because it uses Flatpak it won't just be ever be for me I guess.

      Give me deb or give me cake.

      Elementary Os is not a good cake

      1. Liam Proven Silver badge

        Re: Not for me

        [Article author here]

        > Give me deb or give me cake.

        It 100% has that and all the usual Ubuntu stuff is right there, an `apt install` away. Or do what I did and add Synaptic.

        So I had that and LibreOffice, Firefox, Chrome, and Pidgin within minutes. The reason I removed them from the dock for the screenshot is that they don't come as part of it, they're not visible in the AppCentre thing, and they neither look nor feel like other EOS apps.

        Me, personally – I *like* menu bars, I dislike CSD, I want a vertical dock and so on.

      2. jtaylor

        Re: Not for me

        "Give me deb or give me cake."

        This article is about the desktop experience, not package format. I use Xfce and couldn't tell you whether it's running on Linux, never mind which flavor. Have you noticed a UI or style that is unique to Debian?

    3. Liam Proven Silver badge

      Re: Not for me

      [Article author here]

      > I may be one of those people with strong personal preferences I suppose.

      TBH, I am one, too. I do not think I will be adopting EOS myself.

      My initial impressions were not that positive. What changed my mind was that the project lead answered my questions well, cogently and coherently, and explained why the company made the choices they did. Unlike many distros, it has a revenue model, and can invest in original R&D.

      Secondly, I compared it to a bunch of other distros I've tried recently: Ubuntu Unity, which is my daily driver, and Mint 20.2 Cinnamon, Fedora $LATEST, Debian $LATEST, etc.

      It has its own identity. It's not chock-full of all the usual suspects, like so many distros. Its desktop is not a bunch of Javascript extensions bolted on to GNOME, or any other off-the-shelf thing.

      I feel it has a long way to go to become a fairly complete system, with its own tools for everything, and maybe that is not the way to go anyway. They have chosen the angles they want to address. They aren't mine, but they aren't me.

      Their choices are not mine, but they are not as arbitrary as I initially thought. I came away with a sort of grudging respect. :-)

      Does that help clarify?

  3. mattaw2001

    Gnome breaking customizations on update deserves a higher billing

    "On the other hand, it feels much more coherent than GNOME, and if you do customise GNOME, it will inevitably break when you upgrade your distro."

    I feel that the fact that Gnome normally breaks customizations on update deserves a slightly higher billing. The current trend of software seems to be: provide an "experience" and if you want to customize a part of it, to tell you to get lost and make sure you know you don't own the computer. The GNOME project seems to be one of the poster children of this movement by actively removing all customization and not even giving a tiny nod to customization compatibility, even for legit gnome shell extensions.

    I know it is their own effort, project, etc. and they can do what they want, but I wish they gave a big warning sticker on login stating this. I have wasted a lot of time getting GNOME3 to work the way I wanted, only to lose most of it.

    1. NATTtrash

      Re: Gnome breaking customizations on update deserves a higher billing

      "I know it is their own effort, project, etc..."

      Well, you picked an "odd example" to make this point. I think it isn't as liberal as you present it here. I mean, GTK is "present" in many places, and base of countless GUIs and DEs, the current xfce CSD and "don't-place-my-OK-button-top-left" discussion/ pleading being just one example of potential collateral damage.

      "The GNOME project seems to be one of the poster children of this movement..."

      And ask yourself whether the GNOME project even cares about all those "noises"...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    All these Elementary reviews seem to be by people in the Linux world.

    Not surprising, really, but I wonder why we almost never see reviews from long time MAC or Windows users.

    1. Adair Silver badge

      Re: POV

      Why do you wonder - they use Windows/Mac and presumably have no interest in using an alternative OS.

    2. jtaylor

      Re: POV

      I'd certainly like to hear a Windows or Macintosh user's experience trying Elementary Linux. Unfortunately, I don't know any such person who would be interested. They just run whatever programs on their PC; the desktop is (literally) background, and the underlying OS is invisible.

      The highlights of our conversation would probably be "Where do I install Zoom?" "Can I sync photos from my phone?" and "What keys do I press for the screen reader?"

      1. T-Rex Neb

        Re: POV

        Well, let me be your huckleberry, then. I've used Macs since 1984, PCs from 1988-2012 (w/ a 2 yr hiatus from 92-94), and Linux in various flavors for the past 11 years or so. I'm getting ready to start IT work in a windows environment in the near future. ( I got used to Win 7, but I can't stand Win 10. ) I currently have 4 macs and 3 Linux machines. I'm running Mojave, Big Sur, and Monterey on my Macs and elementary OS 6.1 and PopOS! 21.04 on my Linux laptops.

        I do the majority of my production in MacOS, because the programs req'd just work. I really like eOS because its look and feel is so Mac-like, and it doesn't slam a bunch of apps onto your system that require foreknowledge to competently operate like Mint Cinnamon, or Ubuntu (whether Xfce or Budgie).The pitfall to eOS is that it's a complete reinstall between major versions Luckily, now that everything's in the cloud, it's not as big of a deal as it could be, but it's still a real time suck. That said, on my Lenovo ThinkPad L420 that's running PopOS! 21.04, it won't upgrade to 22.04 for some damn reason or another so there's that.

        I've multibooted old macbooks w/ OS X, Win 7, Win 10, Xubuntu, and elementary OS, and I've run VMs of various distros, and I can tell you that I like the UIX of elementary OS, Ubuntu Budgie, and PopOS!, in that order.

        I like that I can pick my own office-suite in eOS, instead of being saddled w/ LibreOffice as a fait accompli. I like that I can install FreeOffice, TeamViewer, ExpanDrive, Opera, and Edge as debs; Morgen, VLC, Todoist, RamBox, and BlueMail as snaps; and Steam as a Flatpak.

        I suppose I could install Zoom on this eOS box as .deb, fiddling w/ photos is something I do on my Macs and no one I know or assist needs a screen reader.

        I like Linux, specifically eOS, but for me, it's still not as a great as MacOS in terms of just getting my shit done.

  5. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    The article doesn't seem to be reviewing an OS, it seems to be reviewing a desktop.

    1. gotes

      I think we're all fairly familiar with the underlying OS.

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