Why I prefer elementary OS Freya over Ubuntu 14.10

elementary os vs ubuntu

When we laid out our featured article on things you need to do after installing Ubuntu 14.10, we shared a few little issues we have had with the latest Ubuntu release. Well things got worse, and I decided to try something else for a change. I've been using elementary OS Freya as my daily driver since then. And I have to say, I'm mighty impressed so far. And the fact that Freya is still very much in beta makes the whole affair all the more interesting. A list of reasons why I prefer elementary OS Freya over Ubuntu 14.10 at the moment.

Implementation of Workspaces

elementary freya vs ubuntu 14.10

When it comes to desktop UI's, if there is one thing that I could not live without, it must be the multiple workspaces feature. Most Linux interfaces has this by default (except the recent Ubuntu Unity releases, another change which I don't like much). But the implementations varies from one distro to another. Freya has one of my favorite implementations of multiple workspaces functionality. It is simple yet very polished and sophisticated (though I have to confess that I like GNOME Shell's implementation of workspaces more). 

Application Launcher

elementary freya review

It has to be fast and accurate. That is the only thing I expect from an application launcher. I don't care about fancy animations or blurred out eye-candiness. Catch my drift? Yes, I'm talking about you Unity. We have discussed about Unity's performance woes in detail before but things haven't changed much since. On the other hand, Freya's launcher is like a breath of fresh air. It is super-fast, nimble and very accurate. Some third-party apps I installed from outside of default repos doesn't seem to appear while searching for it even though it is there in the Launcher list, the only glitch I've faced so far, and a very isolated one at that. Probably will get fixed when final release happens. Unity desperately needs to fix its launcher though. 


elementary freya review

Actionable notifications, one of biggest advantages elementary OS has over Ubuntu in my opinion. There is a notification for everything including your Terminal actions, which is great. Implementation is just perfect and it is actionable, unlike in Unity. There is even a notifications-specific tweaking tool within the System Settings app.

Design and Performance

elementary freya

Though I kind of like Freya's minimalistic design language, design is nothing but a matter of taste. But consistency in design is non-negotiable. And Freya ranks highly in terms of design and consistency in my opinion. But what makes it even better is its outstanding performance. It definitely feels lighter and much faster than my Ubuntu 14.10 installations (have two of them in fact). We have been impressed by the performance of previous iterations of elementary OS as well and this one is no different. Freya offers blazing fast performance. 

Desktop Zoom

elementary freya OS

Desktop Zoom is one of those features I so dearly missed ever since the advent of Unity and the demise of good old Compiz config settings manager. And it is enabled by default in Freya! Just hit Super + =/- and you are good to go. And it works so smoothly without any stutter whatsoever.

A Boot Splash Screen that just works!

elementary freya review

My favorite Ubuntu's has almost always been 04 releases, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS being one of my favorite to date. But boot splash screen is one thing that never seem to work properly even with all the tweaks I could find on the internet. In elementary OS Freya "beta" though, it just works! The glowing elementary OS splash screen has been 'glowing' without a glitch ever since I started using Freya back in Oct-Nov.


elementary freya review

Yes, 'hotcorners' are not unique to elementary OS, Unity Tweak Tool will help you replicate the same functionality in a jiffy. But still, Freya comes with 'hotcorners' feature tucked neatly inside the Desktop settings app. Very handy.

Back in 2012, we predicted that elementary OS Luna could be the start of something big. Looks like we were right all along. Except for some stray incidents, Freya has been remarkably stable for me. But still won't recommend it on production machines owing to the fact that it is still a beta. I hope that the developers are able to iron out all the minor issues before the final release. 

Unity, on the other hand, is undergoing some major rework lately and I hope Ubuntu comes out on top again by the time Ubuntu 15.04 "Vivid Vervet" is released. After all, Ubuntu has been my go-to distro since forever. But until then, I think I'll stick with elementary OS Freya. See, this is what I love about Linux, even if your favorite distro goes kaput, you have plenty of alternatives to choose from. Good luck to both the projects and thanks for reading.