The live environment is pleasant, the default wallpaper is stylish and modern. Everything I'd expect from an Ubuntu egg that prides itself on how it looks. The installer is "Fisher-Price" simple, this is not a criticism, I do select Something Else and select my install partition and decline to format as I did this with Gparted earlier. The installer does not lack power just because it's graphical, it's just well designed and slick as you'd expect from Ubuntu, it hides complexity, but it's there if you need it.
This is modified GNOME3 shell, so it smooth and slick, I didn't really like the Applications drop down, so I switched from View as Grid to View by Category...much more productive (for me).
Window buttons...there's no minimise button. The right hand button in the title bar toggles maximise. You need to right-click title bar and select Minimise from the menu to minimise the app to the launcher at the bottom edge of the screen. The close 'X' is on the right a la Ubuntu.
I opened up Software Centre from the launch bar and searched for Audacious, themes are listed: $3.00 (ignored), Audacious was simple to deploy - just click Install. The Software Centre is well presented, not the fastest however.
I fired up a terminal to install wine, being Ubuntu based elementary naturally accepts the command:
sudo apt-get install wine
and I ended up with version 1.4 which was a shock, I was hoping for the 1.7.32 development release or the stable 1.6.2. version at the very least. 1.4 seriously? I'm so used to installing more recent versions from the Liqourix Ubuntu repo that I forgot I'd forgotten all about the Ubuntu Wine ppa. After some complaints about the missing dependency wine1.7-amd64, which I just installed manually, everything was good and I have 1.7.18 now. Phew, and relax. I may have to look at updating to something newer later on, but at least it's not 1.4! World of Warcraft (not very demanding I know) runs a treat.
The music management / player app is Music 0.2.2 which works reasonably well but with too much functionality for my taste. Hence the install of Audacious, but I'll be testing Music long term to see if it's robust and flexible. VLC is available for video playback which is smart as it's the defacto standard.
Midori is the default web browser. I've used this before and it has a Chrome-alike web search enabled address bar so no Home button. I like a home button, but I also like using Flash on a couple of pages still: my Football team's live commentary stream and a couple of flash games. If the commentary stream was updated to HTML5 say I'd ditch Flash like a hot potato...meanwhile it's unfortunately a necessary evil. Not surprisingly Midori doesn't ship with a Flash plugin or seem to have one at all...web search required.
System Settings | Keyboard | Layout says English (UK) but typing shift + 2, shift + 3, hash returns: @, #, \...define UK? The spellchecker in scratch doesn't want to stay on en_GB either. Found a niggle and finding it irritating. I encounter the same thing using the nVidia-Settings module to set the primary display. Pressing Apply closed the app and made no change to the display. A reboot cured both issues, but why did I have to reboot? This is not Windows! A quick poke around while in System Settings reveals a very fine selection of wallpaper. I was surprised when I could change wallpaper without a reboot.
As you can see (above) Steam is not without it's issues. But I'm sure this is nothing I can't fix...he says confidently. It was a simple matter to resolve the Steam issue (above) I simply renamed the SteamLibrary folder began an installation, closed Steam, deleted the new SteamLibrary and renamed the old one back to it's original name, restarted Steam. It now thinks it installed all my previous installed games itself...dumb app.
The constant need to reboot the thing after every setting change was grating. I was genuinely surprised I could switch wallpaper without a reboot. However, the most frustrating event occurred on Day 2 when the nudging from Steam made me try to update my graphics driver from 304 to 331...a show stopping error. Not only would the GUI not load (trivial) the boot sequence would not complete. This is my fault for using the GUI tool I conclude. I retreated to antiX to do some searching and take some notes before going back and trying to hammer my way back to working in elementary.
After two days elementary is merely irritating me. Part of what irritates me is that some people rave about this pretty little Ubuntu egg and elevate it because of it's simplicity and ease of use above distros like Debian. While Debian is stable and robust elementary only remains so if you don't mess about with and try to customise what is delivered out-of-the-box. One manifestation of dumbing down going on in this distro is the absence of a file management tool on the default launcher (Plank) layout.
The distro seems to be suggesting that you don't need to know where your files are or manipulate them directly. All your interactions with files will take place through a GUI application associated with them. The most obvious example of this paradigm in practice is Music, or indeed any other music or media manager. You point the application at your media files and it "imports them" and then you assess and manage them through the application. Fine I can drag Files out of the Applications menu and drop it on Plank, but every time you subvert the normal functioning of desktop environments like GNOME and stray from the design brief the developers were working to warp the way the distro works and then it becomes clunky and snagging points emerge.
Day three and I've already had to reboot twice after two hours of operation. I'm beginning to remember what it was like to use Windows. In fact one reboot was for a show stopper error. I closed Steam and the entire OS locked up, amazing. Oh and the Firefox dictionary is English (United States) again. Graphics are just plain glitchy even using Firefox, the screen corrupts and I have to scroll up and down or sometimes minimise and restore (which is extra irritating as there is not minimise button) to fix the display.
Linux is flexible and customisable and any critique of any environment will always be countered by the riposte that you can modify it to suit you. However, if I tweak elementary and make it more complex (and more powerful) at what point does it stop being elementary and just become my re-spin of Ubuntu? I don't know. The Lunu Desktop Environment is OK but it's streamline and function light for my taste. My test will continue for several days and I may warm to, now I have it bent to my way of working.