Elementary OS 7 is available now and it’s the same old desktop goodness.

Elementary OS 7 builds on everything that previous versions did right.

Screenshot by Jake Wallen/ZDNET

Once upon a time, Elementary OS was my go-to Linux desktop distribution. However, after buying my first System76 desktop, I switched from Elementary OS to Pop!_OS and never looked back. Oh, sure, I sometimes crave the beauty, simplicity, and streamlined look of the Elementary OS desktop (Pantheon), but there are some aspects that have made me not consider returning.

One problem was the unreliable sound when using serious recording hardware. This, of course, wasn’t so much an Elementary OS issue as it was a Plus Audio issue. Unfortunately, it looks like Elementary OS 7 is sticking with Plus Audio for now. This can be seen while issuing. pactl information command, whose output will include the following:

Server Name: pulseaudio

Well, I’m not one to judge elementary OS considering the problematic sound server. Instead, I want to test what it offers to the new user.

In that light, Elementary OS is an excellent desktop operating system that can be used by anyone of any skill level.

other than that: Is Elementary OS Your Best First Linux Distribution?

However, there are issues that are likely to be the first release in the 7.x series. I will highlight them in a moment.

But first…

What is Elementary OS?

I know it’s not a popular comparison in the Linux community, but Elementary OS is as close to MacOS as you’ll find in the open source world.

Basically, Elementary OS is an Ubuntu-based desktop operating system that traces its path. It is one of the most well-designed Linux desktop operating systems on the market. With a UI that’s more user-friendly than almost any operating system, Elementary OS is incredibly easy to use. And it’s not only easy to work with, it’s just as beautiful.

MacOS is mentioned intentionally, because Elementary OS’s desktop environment, Pantheon, is closer to Apple’s desktop operating system. You’ll find a dock, a top bar, a desktop menu, and a system tray. All these pieces come together to create a balanced and easy-to-use interface.

The good news is that the developers behind Elementary OS chose not to make any dramatic changes to the desktop with version 7. For those who are already in love with the OS, this will be welcome news. For anyone who has never tried Elementary OS, you are in for a treat.

What’s different in version 7?

Simply put… not too much but enough. Many of the changes are incremental, such as improvements to the AppCenter, where you’ll find better app descriptions and an easier way to update to the latest versions of the tools you use. Now it’s also easy to sideload apps with alternative sources such as Flatpak. Fortunately, Flatpack is installed out of the box. The only caveat is that Flatpak is not integrated into AppCenter, so all Flatpak installs must be done via the command line.

Another very welcome new feature is the addition of GNOME Web 43, which includes support for creating web apps that will appear in the Applications menu. To use this feature, open a web browser, point it to the site for which you want to create a web app, click the Gear icon, and then click Install Site as Web Application. Once created, you can open this web app from the Applications menu.

Other improvements include:

  • Reduced number of installation screens.
  • Automatically detect mouse usage if present and automatically offer to switch to left-handed usage.
  • The Mail app now offers a more modern look and also supports Microsoft 365 accounts.
  • Tasks app now has offline support.
  • Multiple click modes are now supported in File Manager.
  • The Music app was completely rewritten from scratch, making it faster to queue and play audio files.
  • Power Profile Management is now available with Performance Mode for devices that support it.
  • Custom terminal commands can be configured for hot corners.
  • The Welcome app has been redesigned and includes options for choosing a desktop theme, enabling nightlight, configuring housekeeping (automatically deleting downloaded files, old temporary files, and trash files). including connecting online accounts, browsing AppCenter, enabling automatic updates, and instant help. Access to system settings.
Elementary OS onboarding app.

You can easily customize your initial OS experience from the onboarding app.

Screenshot by Jake Wallen/ZDNET

How does Elementary OS 7 work?

One thing to keep in mind is that I ran Elementary OS 7 as a virtual machine, which is not an ideal test environment. Despite this, the OS performed like a champ. Apps opened quickly and easily, updates were fast, and animations were buttery smooth. As far as performance is concerned, the difference between Elementary OS 6 and 7 is stark, with 7 running smoother and faster.


There has been one caveat to using Elementary OS that has plagued the distribution for some time… the lack of applications in AppCenter. Open AppCenter and you won’t find the likes of LibreOffice. In fact, in the Office section of AppCenter, you won’t find much in the way of office suites. And since LibreOffice isn’t available as a Flatpak app, there are only two options for installing the most popular open source office suite… via Snap (which doesn’t install out of the box) and manually.

other than that: PikaOS is a next-generation Linux distro aimed specifically at gamers.

This also brings up a problem I had. After the first upgrade, AppCenter kept crashing on me. Whenever I clicked on one of the categories it would freeze and then crash. And then, after a while, AppCenter won’t open at all. Even after restarting, AppCenter refused to work. I could find and click on individual apps, but the curated categories were a pain in the ass.

Return to LibreOffice My way of installing it looked something like this:

  1. Install Snap with it. sudo apt-get install snapd -y.
  2. Install LibreOffice with sudo snap install libreoffice.
  3. Log out and log in again (so that the LibreOffice entries appear in the Applications menu).

If you’re okay with using the command line, installation is easy. However, installing an office suite really shouldn’t require that much work. I would recommend that the team either add Snap in the next release and integrate it (and Flatpak) into AppCenter or make LibreOffice available for AppCenter. Either way, an office suite should be considered a must (even though most people now use cloud-based tools).

Aside from that one caveat, I found Elementary OS 7 an absolute treat to use. That’s not surprising, given how fond I’ve been of the OS over the years. The development team is in an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” situation and they did exactly what was needed. The seventh iteration of Elementary OS is an absolute gem of a desktop operating system suitable for any user of any skill level (especially if you don’t rely on a traditional, client-based Office suite).

If you’re interested in giving Elementary OS 7 a try, download an ISO, burn it to a USB drive (using a tool like Unetbootin), install it, and the most beautiful desktop operating system on the market. Enjoy the simplicity of one of the

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