elementary OS 6 is Now Available

Posted on August 12, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Linux with 29 Comments

elementary this week announced the availability of what it says is the biggest update yet to its Ubuntu-based Linux distribution, which brings ease of use, pleasant aesthetics, and a commitment to privacy. It’s called elementary OS 6 Odin.

“It’s been a long road to elementary OS 6—what with a whole global pandemic dropped on us in the middle of development—but it’s finally here,” elementary co-founder Cassidy James Blaede writes. “elementary OS 6 Odin is available to download now. And it’s the biggest update to the platform yet! With OS 6, we’ve focused on empowering you to be in control and express yourself, continuing to innovate with new features, and making elementary OS easier to get and more inclusive.”

New features include more pervasive support for multi-touch throughout the system, including touchpad gestures; a redesigned notification system, a new Tasks app, support for firmware updates from several PC makers (including Dell, HP, and Lenovo), and major updates to built-in apps like Web (the web browser formally known as Epiphany), Mail, Calendar, Camera, AppCenter, Files, Code (a coding editor), and Terminal.

elementary OS 6 also adds a schedulable and customizable new Dark Style with 10 new accent colors to the system and the default and system apps, new sandboxing technology for enforcing privacy and security, and a new Portals feature to control inter-app communication, and it AppCenter and some default apps now use the modern Flatpaks container format.

There are also numerous desktop and window management improvements, including updated window and desktop menus, expanded multitasking settings including window tiling, and easier screenshotting. Elementary OS 6 also marks the arrival of a simpler new OS installer that’s been in the works since 2018 and can be configured by PC makers of all sizes. On the accessibility front, OS 6 adds a new Universal Access indicator to display toggles for the Screen Reader, Onscreen Keyboard, Dwell Click, and other accessibility tools so that they’re easy to turn on or off as needed. The system also adapts for those with vision needs, offers text and system scaling, and comes with other accessibility advances.

You can download/purchase elementary OS 6 Odin from the elementary website. If you’ve been following along with my desire to start up a series about Linux, it’s worth mentioning that this is one of my top contenders and is a system I’ll be evaluating soon.

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Comments (29)

29 responses to “elementary OS 6 is Now Available”

  1. jdawgnoonan

    Elementary is a great distribution, and, if any Linux distribution ever becomes truly a mainstream popular OS option, it would be one of the main contenders to compete with Windows or Mac OS.

  2. hrlngrv

    Why post about one Linux distribution which ranks #9 (last 30 days/last 3 months) on distrowatch.com?


    Especially a distribution using Web by default. FWIW, Web uses WebKit. Any idea just how, er, minimalist Web is?

  3. ianhead

    I gave it a try for a few days. First of all, it's absolutely beautiful to look at. The attention to fit and finish is amazing. The decision to use Flatpak for everything going forward is also a great move and really helps mitigate the criticisms that the OS can't keep up with software updates, because its release cadence is so slow and it's based on the rapidly-aging repos of Ubuntu's LTS releases.


    But there are things that turned me off, mostly the AppCenter and the way they've handled the transition to a Flatpak-only approach to app installation. Support for pulling packages from the Ubuntu repositories has been removed from it so the only way you can install any of those packages out of the box, is via the terminal. They're also keeping the Flathub repo turned off by default, they don't advertise it well that you can even use that repo, and when you do add it, there is a bunch of warning text that comes up to say EOS thinks it's unsafe. Plus, they are enforcing that their own repository only allows Flatpak apps from now on, and only a very small number of apps from their dev community have been repackaged as Flatpak.


    This basically means for an end user that doesn't know much about using Linux, when they first install EOS6 and start using it, the AppCenter is almost completely empty. You click on numerous app categories from its front page and NOTHING shows up. No user interested in getting any actual work done would want to run with those defaults for a second. It's a really bad look. As soon as you start installing Flathub apps, the tight and consistent look and feel of EOS6 starts to fall away as more and more apps you're using don't conform to it.


    My impression is that it's still a hyper-minimalist distro that looks like it's for everyday users, but really isn't. Ubuntu is still a better choice as a more robust distribution for general-purpose use, in my view.


    All the same, congrats to the team on the ship - even though I found that it's not for me, it's obvious they've put a ton of work into it and care about the little things.

  4. codymesh

    Linux coverage on thurrott dot com? say it ain't so...

  5. harrymyhre

    I’ve tried Linux before. They always work for a while. Then I change something or change a setting and *poof* the whole thing goes up in smoke. Burned too many times

    • hrlngrv

      sudo rm -rf /* will do that.


      More seriously, I've needed to reinstall Linux as often as Windows, and even when I couldn't boot Linux into GUI mode, I could boot in a virtual terminal and run startx.

  6. hrlngrv

    Linux has LOTS of choices, and I'm not aware of any widely used distribution which can't use multiple desktop environments.


    Pantheon is fine if you want a panel and dock. If you just want a dock, Budgie seems like a better pick to me (reminds me of xfce about 2 decades ago when it provided a CDE-like panel). Nothing to prevent one from installing Cinnamon, MATE, LXDE, XFCE or KDE under elementary OS. Or twm if one's into masochistic minimalism.

  7. jimchamplin

    Time to ditch macOS from my Mac mini.

    • nazmuslabs

      Umm, isn’t the reason you’d get a mac device is so that you can run macOS on it? If you planned on wiping your macOS installation, wouldn’t it have been better for you to get a mini PC. You pay a premium for mac hardware partly because of macOS and deep apple integration (it’s why I still want to get a mac alongside my windows pc).

  8. rebeltoad

    Paul,


    I've listened, read and watched you for over a decade. I respect you very much.


    That said... as you have complained about Microsoft adding adds to Windows... Your site so very much worse. In fact, perhaps in the top 3 or the worst I visit.


    I love what you do and want to support you. But this site is becoming almost unusable.


    It's yours and you can do what you want to with it. This is my feedback to make the experience as good as it should be.


    -RT


    • jim_vernon

      I always have Adblock on and had no idea what you were talking about, so I turned it off and reloaded the page. Oh boy, the amount of ads is comically bad. Ads down the right, ads across the bottom, ads in the middle of articles, ads that are autoplaying videos...wow.


      Honesty, I'd pay for a subscription if it was like $2-3 per month. It's not that I'm trying to be cheap, it's that there are a lot of sites and projects I support and I try to spread the money around. $5 here and $10 there adds up really fast.

  9. Username

    Surely, the problem that dogged this year Linux as desktop is too many distributions? Average user wants simple choices: Windows, MacOS, Linux.

  10. nsemrau

    Huh, looking at the tag "linux" in the site's archive, it is interesting to see that this article apparently is the first news report of a release of a proper stand-alone Linux distribution; not only a brought-over edition on WSL or something along those lines.


    I, for one, welcome this here next step in the slow but inexorable march towards Paul Thurrott's Supersite For Linux. ;)

  11. jdawgnoonan

    I want to add, to me the biggest negative for Elementary is how much on the surface it looks like a version of Mac OS.

  12. behindmyscreen

    I tried Elementary and they hinder power users too much out of the gate IMO.

    • rmlounsbury

      Elementary goes out of it's way to be user friendly and fade into the background. It is Linux so you can bend it to your will. But, if you want to go true power user I'd look elsewhere.

  13. arigigante1

    It's still lipstick on a pig, and the lipstick is a matte gray.

  14. ray2048

    Nice looking OS. I use a different linux distro as part of my daily driver/work flow along with Windows. I am interested in giving it a try and see how it holds to my demanding needs. I will diffinatly install this on one of my other machines and give it a try.

  15. djross95

    Beautiful looking desktop, but those dock icons look about 20 yrs old. I hope this distro does well, as the big guys need some competition!

  16. rmlounsbury

    If I where to go full time Linux off Windows 11; I'd probably go with Pop! OS since it has some excellent workflow/window management tools inline with what Windows has. If I wanted something that just looked great and got out of the way Elementary would certainly tick enough boxes.


    If nothing else, it is nice that in the Linux world there is a flavor for everyone and any need. You are never locked into a monolithic box.

  17. eric_rasmussen

    I love Elementary. When it was first being developed, the team chose Vala as their language of choice for the shell and various components. Vala is very close to C# but compiles down to static binaries and was designed to pair naturally with Gnome's GObject APIs.


    The choice to use something like C# tells me that the team cares about aesthetics inside and out. The C++ code that other developers tend to write is generally good code, but C++ is verbose and clunky compared to more modern languages.

  18. David Magar

    Was excited to update my elementary OS laptop to the new release..... only to find that they still make you a do a complete fresh install on each major upgrade. Pretty unacceptable IMO.


    Unfortunate, because it is a nice distro, looks great, runs smooth, has some cool unique features. Think I'm ready to move on from it though, can't keep putting up with this upgrade issue.

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