Does anyone know the status of Elementary and Vala? I seem to recall there being some question if gtk 3 was going to be supported or not, and Vala was no longer being actively developed?
Edit; ah they’ve had releases just this month! Nice!
Hiya. Just joined the Elementary community, and yes, Vala is their preferred programming language of choice.
How is Elementary for day to day use? I wonder if it is usable on old(-ish) laptops that I try to refurbish with nice linux desktops for the family.
I would expect it to run fairly well on old(-ish) laptops. For me personally, I stopped using it due to not liking the outdated software shipped as part of LTS Ubuntu and hitting bugs that were either old and well known without a fix or fixed upstream. However, this was nearly 3 years ago so there may have been some improvement on the bug front.
I used elementary on a travel laptop for a bit over a week. It works pretty well, it looks nice enough, the applications designed for elementary have a consistent look and feel. There were two annoying issues:
That second issue isn’t really something I would judge the distribution as a whole on, it’s probably just some weird interaction between Atom and Gala (Elementary’ window manager) and might not even be a bug in either project, but the first issue is pretty important. It’s not going to matter a lot to people who don’t do programming probably, but programmers will probably be annoyed that their languages and libraries of choice are outdated and must be “sideloaded”.
I think Elementary is an awesome project, but I really wish they didn’t purposefully make their distribution lag up to two years behind their upstream (which already lags behind their upstream (debian), which lags behind the software they package, so you end up with potentially really long delays from a new version is released until it reaches Elementary).
It’s crazy; I bet there are projects which in mid 2017 released a fix for a bug, which barely missed Ubuntu 18.04, so now, in December 2019, their users on Elementary will receive their bugfix in half a year.
Calling an 18 month old LTS version “absolutely ancient” is ridiculous.
Maybe your use case of software is really, really different than what I’m used to, but no matter the ecosystem, a 2 year old Ubuntu LTS has never posed a problem to me or any of my coworkers. When using a language with a package manager you install your libs anyway, and now that I’m doing C++ I install the correct versions I need in /usr/local anyway.
That said, I did use Debian testing instead of stable for a long time, so I’m not totally averse to the idea of current versions of softrware.
I think it is a matter of perspective. If you come from an operating system where applications are installed out-of-band from the operating system, the idea to wait two years until the next LTS to get updates to applications is quite insane. Imagine having to use a web browser or IntelliJ from late 2017 or early 2018 until April 2020. This is the state most applications in Ubuntu LTSes are in. Adding to that, there is no guarantee that security updates are provided for universe/multiverse, so besides being old, they are potential attack vectors. To give one example, mupdf hasn’t been updated in 18.04 since March 2018 and has many known security vulnerabilities (17 CVEs that potentially affect the version in 18.04).
For some applications there are workarounds such as breaking the LTS policy (Firefox), installing third-party repositories (Chrome) or using Snaps or FlatPaks. But most applications are frozen in time.
But even if you look at the plumbing, e.g. to GNOME on Wayland and Mesa have made so much progress in the last two years, it is a shame to miss out.
I do not deny it is a hard problem (delivering regular releases without breaking too many things). But it seems that systems, perhaps with limited scope, are able to do this fairly well (e.g. OpenBSD).
You’re right, but my rant was more about intention than perspective. You can’t have LTS and fresh releases, it’s the very definition. I’m not telling anyone to use LTS because it’s better. It’s supposed to be more stable - and that is usually the case. Stuff just doesn’t break, usually.
The mupdf case in unfortunate, no disagreement here, but on the other hand we recently got flagged in a customer’s security audit because our nginx -V said it was too old. Turns out that the output doesn’t give the Ubuntu patch levels, so we absolutely had a version that had all the missing CVEs patched (and the misleading version string combined with the too basic security check was the real problem), but that’s what I expect from an LTS release, backporting just the security fixes and not new features.
Personally I’m 100% happy with an LTS release as a base system and then manually updating a few applications where I need the new version (nixpkgs in my case, stow before that). Again, I’m not telling anyone to do this, but it’s one way to work around the shortcomings.
Addendum: I see a bigger problem if you need a core part of a system to be up to date, say GNOME, a lot of stuff depends on it and you probably end up updating your whole graphical suite of applications. That’s unfortunate, but again I don’t think it’s worth complaining. Apologies for potentially misreading the original post I replied to as complaining, if it wasn’t :)
I used it for two years on a recent (ryzen) desktop. It was a decent user experience.
This was less than ideal. I’ve since nuked and paved and went with straight Ubuntu.
The big thing that’s been a real joy for me since switching is how accessible the operataing system is. Keyboard shortcuts for everything are baked into Elementary’s DNA, and the key chorded fullscreen zoom is super smooth in a way I’d only previously seen on MacOS X.
I’m still relatively new to it but look forward to learning Vala and maybe contributing in other ways.
Still no icons on the desktop?
The folks at elementary do a fantastic job, and I appreciate their
design-oriented approach to OS dev, albeit a bit opinionated. I used
elementary OS for a good year before switching back to a minimalist
window manager + bleeding edge distro setup. The primary reason for my
switch was the outdated software – it’d be perfect if they provided a
rolling release alternative.
Coming from macOS, I really like Elementary. It is a bit basic in terms of functionality, but the things it does are clean and done with attention to detail. The OS feels like a lite version of macOS, and not a Winamp skin.