This is not a drill, folks: elementary OS 7 ‘Horus’ is now available to download.
It may only been a year since elementary OS 6.1, but it feels like we’ve been waiting for ever — and thankfully it’s been worth the wait! elementary OS 7 release rides atop a refreshed Ubuntu 22.04 LTS software stack, and utilises a new(er) Linux kernel (v5.15) to ensure distro works as best it can, everywhere it can.
In this post I whizz you through through elementary OS 7’s key changes, offer a few thoughts based on first-hand experience (I got to try the release a few days early) and, most importantly of all, point you at the official download link so you can grab a copy and test it out for yourself.
elementary OS 7 “Horus”
Install & Setup Experience
I find elementary OS’s installer to be the best offered by any desktop Linux distribution I’ve tried. Big claim, I know: but it’s just so quick, straight-forward, and smart. In OS 7 it’s smarter as it automatically switches to a left-handed mouse layout if the user is clicking away with the right mouse button – a small but thoughtful touch.
The distro also displays a focused set of “onboarding” slides the first time a user logs in to help new users configure their system. A couple of new options have been added to this welcome wizard, including a new “Sunset to Sunrise” option for dark mode, and a toggle to turn on automatic updates.
One of my biggest bug-bears with elementary OS is that it uses single-click to open folders instead of double-click, as is standard in Ubuntu (and most OSes). In earlier versions of the distro you couldn’t change this behaviour easily.
But in elementary OS 7, you can.
Just right-click in an empty part of a Files window to enable/disable the “Select folders with single click” option added to the context menu. Fast, efficient, welcome.
Now, how about letting us open the application launcher with a tap of the Doh! You can do this already, I’ve learned — I had no idea!
super key? 😉
AppCenter is elementary’s point-of-call for app installs, removals, and update management. Ergo it plays a pretty important part in the overall elementary experience. For this release, devs worked to improve AppCenter in a couple of key areas.
First up, the software hub is faster than before and much better at keeping you informed when background tasks are going on (y’know, so you don’t think it’s not doing anything at all). It also adapts gracefully when resized and tiled (much needed) and supports two-finger swipe gestures to navigate back through pages (a nice touch 😉).
Presentation wise, app info pages in AppCenter now put screenshots to better use and devs can add captions to call attention to specific features in these. Additionally, app listings now pick up the accent colour specified in the AppStream data (meaning apps on Flathub look nicer in AppCenter too, yay).
But my favourite AppCenter changes: a menu option to manually run a software update check; support for installing OS updates offline; and no more scary warning dialog when you try to “side load” apps from Flathub.
Keep in mind that cannot search/find/install apps from the Ubuntu repos (i.e. software like VLC, GIMP, Blender, Lollypop, etc) using AppCenter, but full command-line access via
apt is available.
New Music App
A brand new version of Music, elementary’s core app for playing audio files, is included — but brace yourself: Elementary devs rebuilt Music from the ground up to focus on an “on-demand” experience that reminds me of apps like Amberol.
This mean no library view, no filters, and no egregious playlists, tag editing or anything els — all gone! Music now sports a simple two pane layout: you drag and drop files on the left hand side, and control playback on the right. In an era where streaming music is dominant this pivot, while drastic, does makes sense.
And while I reckon this change will be jarring to those who were content with the old version, plenty of dedicated music managers are out there, most of which are much better at handling MASSIVE collections than elementary’s no-frills Music ever was.
Code is elementary’s default text editor (and a pretty good one it is too). Devs will be pleased to hear the app now tiles gracefully (yup, even on smaller screens). It also gains a full-height project sidebar, light/dark mode options, and moves options for Find on Page and Find in Project from the toolbar and in to the app menu.
Settings aren’t the most glamorous part of a Linux distro but they are important. Elementary’s bespoke user experience is, compared to other desktop environments and distributions, more refined, with a focused set of options that users can toy with but not always change.
In elementary OS 7, there are a smattering of new settings, including power profiles (performance, balanced, and battery-friendly power saver); support for triggering terminal commands in hot corners; and an editable keyboard shortcuts overview that makes it easier to modify (and reset) key combos based on your own preferences.
Security buffs include a setting to prevent USB devices from connecting when the device is locked, and the network indicator is able to indicate and support WPA3 networks.
Some smaller notable changes in elementary OS 7:
- Web app support in Web browser
- Redesigned app icons
- Feedback app improved
- Mail supports Microsoft365 accounts in unified inbox
- Tasks now has offline support
- Terminal supports custom colour palettes
- Change display brightness by scrolling on power indicator
- Option to open/close multitasking view using the
And that’s kind of it; you can read the official release announcement for additional details about this release, including the rationale behind some of the changes it makes.
Download elementary OS 7
You can Download elementary OS 7 from the elementary project website. The download is accessed through a ‘pay what you want’ mechanism (if you don’t want to pay anything you need to enter ‘0’ as a custom amount, but I urge you to pop back and put donate if you do end up liking what you find).
For now, you can’t upgrade to elementary 7.0 from 6.x directly so a fresh install is necessary. Refer to the upgrade guide on the elementary GitHub for more details on how to do this whilst preserving your user files.
Don’t want to upgrade right away? You don’t have to; elementary OS 6.1 is supported for the duration of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS support cycle, meaning you get critical security updates until 2025, with ESM support beyond that.
Keep in mind that this post is an overview of what’s new but not a review of elementary 7. Performance will vary based on the hardware you used and, importantly, will not be representative in a virtual machine or when uses as a live distro.