Friday, December 21, 2012

Battle of the Linux Mac OS X Clones: Elementary OS 0.2 Vs Pear OS 6 Vs LuninuX 12.10

Mac OS X always deserves a special mention in the operating system world, for being the most attractive (arguably) distro around. It is kind of an aspiring product for almost everyone I know - they want to own a Mac at the end of the day! However, exorbitant price and seeking value for money at times limit our aspiration to own a Mac. But, don't worry! Linux can help you create our own Mac! And those who don't know how to customize Linux, there are three distros to help you out.

Pear OS, Elementary OS (though beta stage) and LuninuX OS are closest to Mac OS X from the Linux world. Incidentally all three are Ubuntu derivatives. Both Elementary OS 0.2 Beta and Pear OS 6 are Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS derivatives with some original elements incorporated whereas LuninuX 12.10 is a Ubuntu 12.10 derivative with a vast array of out-of-the-box applications.

I did a short experiment to compare across the three. I did a live boot followed by installation in my Asus K54C 2.4 Ghz Core i3, 2 GB RAM laptop with touchpad. A separate 8 GB drive is reserved for this kind of experiment I conduct. 

All three distros are Gnome 3.* based and hence, neither of them support limited resource machines. I chose the 32-bit pae versions as they work on 64 bit machines as well without any issue.

Battle of the Mac OS X Clones: Who leads?
A high level comparison is given below:

Parameters Elementary OS Beta 1 Pear OS 6 LuninuX 12.10
Size of ISO 651 MB 862 MB 1500 MB
Booting time (post installation) 20-30 sec 20-30 sec 20-30 sec
Desktop Pantheon, Gnome derivative Pear Aurora 1.0.5 Gnome 3.6 with Docky
Linux kernel 3.2.0 3.2.0 3.5.0
CPU Usage (post installation) 1-5% 1-5% 1-5%
RAM usage (post installation) 270 MB 235 MB 280 MB
Installation time (with 1 MBPS connection) 30 min. 30 min 30 min
Wifi detection Immediate Immediate Immediate
Touchpad detection Manual, unable to set Automatic Manual, unable to set
Office Document viewer, Geary Mail, Maya Calendar Document viewer LibreOffice 3.6 suite, Document viewer, Evolution mail & calendar
Internet Empathy, Midori browser Empathy, Firefox 17, Facebook client, Twitter client, G+ clinet Opera, Skype 4, Softphone, Empathy, Filezilla, Bit torrent, Feed reader, Gwibber
Graphics Shotwell Photo Manager, Simple Scan
GIMP 2.8, Pinta image editor, Image viewer, Inkscape vector editor, Diagram editor
Sound & Video Totem Movie Player 3.0.1, Noise 1.0 Music Player
Gnome MPlayer, Brasero disc burner, DVD maker, Banshee music player, Cheese webcam booth, sound converter, Sound Juicer sound extractor, Sound editor, Sound recorder, Me TV Television, Openshot video editor, PiTiVI video editor
Accessories Scratch 1.1.1, Archive Manager, Calculator, Terminal Calculator, Gedit, Screenshot, terminal Archive manager, calculator, contacts, terminal, Notes, Map viewer, Screenshot
Others

Games, Wine
File Manager Pantheon Files 0.1 Nautilus 3.4.2 Nautilus 3.4.2

Both Pear OS 6 and LuninuX are heavier in size over Elementary, with LununiX having the richest ensemble of applications. In terms of just volume of applications, LuninuX scores over other two hands down. Unfortunately, LuninuX lacks in terms of originality. 

Pear and Elementary brings on the table some degree of uniqueness. Elementary has it's unique home grown design, Pantheon file manager, Pantheon desktop, Geary mail client, Maya calendar, Noise music player, Scratch notepad, etc. I used them for a few days and found them satisfactory. Both LuninuX and Pear use Nautilus as file manager whereas Elementary uses Pantheon, which is not based on Nautilus but written from scratch. Geary supports only one email ID which is a setback. Even Maya is of no use to me as I can't sync it with Gmail or Facebook. Noise is good as a music player, still I prefer Clementine. Like I said, there are better applications available in the Ubuntu stable and they are not the best that I have used, frankly.

From Elementary Luna
From Elementary Luna
From Elementary Luna

Pear has interesting home grown social network applications like standalone Facebook, Twitter and G+ clients. I used them extensively and though they are not as versatile as their Android counterparts at this point but it is an encouraging thing. Social network integration will be the primary focus in 2013, now that most of the Linux distros offer good stability and high level of functionalities. So, Pear scores over the other two in terms of uniqueness. Settings manager is more or less same in all three leveraging the single window all integrated settings display.

From PearOS 6
From PearOS 6
From PearOS 6

Eye candy quotient is one of the main USPs for any Mac OS X clone. Though Elementary is simple and clean but looks stunning. However, Pear OS looks the most gorgeous of the three - Starting from boot screen to menu, repository, subtle animations, everything is well crafted and bear a very positive look. LuninuX looks a bit bland with least attention to artwork and detail when compared to the other two and I don't appreciate the two menu options. It is confusing. 

From LuninuX 12.10
From PearOS 6
From Elementary Luna


When compared to Pear OS, Elementary looks equally great (in a different way) but the boot up screen for Elementary is comparatively bland to Pear.

From PearOS 6

From PearOS 6
From PearOS 6
Out of the box, Pear OS 6 worked better on my system, even the touchpad was detected automatically. Otherwise, all three of them boot up fast, work exactly similar with no lag or stress on the system. Further, they are really smooth to use and highly functional.

Overall
All three are simple, intuitive and feature rich. Just based on looks, Pear OS 6 leads the race at the moment followed by Elementary OS. In terms of by default applications, LuninuX wins the race hands down - the other two don't have even Office installed. But, when there is a Ubuntu Software center, who cares about built in applications? 

In terms of originality, it is a tough race between Pear and Elementary. Both bring to table certain unique proposition - Gnome 3 forked desktops, (Elementary) unique file manager, great user experience, original applications, etc. In fact Elementary OS puts more originality elements on the table but given the limitations that Elementary OS has in home grown apps and higher social network integration in Pear OS, I am keeping Pear slightly ahead at this point in time. One thing to note here, Elementary OS is still beta and there might be some incremental changes added by the time the final release comes out.

So, in nutshell, my ranking is like this:
1. Pear OS - closest to Mac OS X experience
2. Elementary OS - a brand new distro showing a lot of originality and promise
3. LuninuX OS - feature rich but lacks looks or original element

I tried to be as objective as possible in my analysis. But, it's human to be subjective and the choice of OS depends a lot on individual's needs and aspirations. Also, Linux is a peculiar world, what works for one may not work for the other. So, please feel free to comment your choice from the Linux Mac OS X clones.

33 comments:

  1. Well, I've tried Pear and Elementary. While they're very nice and superficially resemble OS X (top panel and a dock) , they really don't work like OS X. (I use Linux and OS X every day.)

    I suppose the key difference is the underlying presence of Gnome 3.

    Gnome 3, and these distros, copy Apple's Launch Pad. But, in OS X, you can launch applications like you have for years without calling up that huge ugly stack of icons. Gnome 3 and its derivations don't give you an alternative.

    On the other hand, it's always a good idea to emulate Apple's attention to detail and aesthetics.

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    1. Yup, neither of them is actually Mac OS X in terms of functionality. Rather they are Ubuntu actually. However, what I like is the attention to details and aesthetics, as you mentioned. Linux Mac OS X clones generally tend to simpler to operate and aesthetically pleasing.

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    2. Sorry, but Gnome 3 didn't copy from launchpad. Gnome 3's dash was designed before apple's launchpad and released before apple's launchpad was announced.

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    3. Thanks for the info. It is a very good point - a lot of users used to think that GNOME emulated it from Mac OS X.

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  2. What I personally like about elementary OS is "slingshot" launcher, its soo different but yet so simple and functional its a joy using it. Subjectively i found it the most user friendly of all menu launchers. Pear is good as its pure gnome 3 launcher, and its all good, but Elementary has a winner in that category for sure. On the other hand, Elementary is not that stable, so devs are not there just yet, but overall its a very good experience. Pear - will try, it seems pretty good distro, and have some nice features :-)

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  3. PearOS borrow many things from others. Browser manager from ZorinOS (a distro from rusia). Software Store app from Deepin Linux (a distro from china). Pear Linux Tweak which forked from Ubuntu Tweak. and many more from elementaryOS likes plank, wingpanel (they even give special thanks to elementaryOS team in their website).

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    1. I agree Pear OS has borrowed a thing or two from other distros, but the overall design is really a polished one and is very smooth to use. Also, what I like is it's attempt to integrate social networks with the OS, which is going to be really critical going forward. Windows 8 and Ubuntu 12.10 are attempts in the same direction, even Pear OS is gearing up for the same. Looks promising indeed!

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    2. Hey there, Im 24/7 member of Pear OS and you can find me there by the name of Leor.
      Is true what you say but that review is a little outdated.
      First of Zorin is from Ireland, not from Russia.
      The web browser manager was not created by Zorin. Anyone can use it and modify
      Deepin Linux which was created by chinese developers. Anyone can use it and modify.
      Pear Linux Tweak? Now we have MyPear created by PearLinux to tweak all.
      Will be released Pear Cleaner and Pear PPA Manager.
      MyPear, Pear Cleaner and Pear PPA Manager are based on Gambas 3.
      We integrated themes and a color changer to Plank (correct me if Im wrong)
      And yes many things were taken from Elementary Team, thank you Elementary :-)

      But in the end who takes from who?

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    3. I agree Leor. Linux means freedom and to me the overall user experience matters the most - Pear OS is right now best of the three I compared. Thanks for putting together a great OS. Though I would like to mention here that Pear OS 64 bit version was less stable (6 months back) than the 32-bit version. I faced issues with launcher which kept on crashing in the 64 bit version after the first update. Later I replaced it with the 32-bit version (pae kernel, detected 8 GB RAM perfectly!) and now it is working like a charm for me.

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    4. You have to thank David Tavares for start this project years ago.
      Did you knew that his first website was hacked several times until he lost it? Probably was some Mac or Elementary user but that is not of my business and makes me sad for never see that website :/

      Yes 64-bit is still unstable but slow we get their and Im learning to program so I can help David on his work ^^

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  4. Pear Linux gives us a choice who like the MAC OS style and like Linux.
    thanks for the project and developers.

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  5. Yes its very true that whenever we talk about an advanced operating system, the first name comes to our mind is Mac. The inbuilt backup option is available in Mac OS X but still it is recommended to create drive clone with some third party tools like Stellar Drive Clone & CCC.
    These apps help to create a bootable copy of Mac OS X

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  6. What about Fuduntu?

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    1. Es muy buena distribución, la usé en una netbook y trabaja sin ningún problema, lo único que le falta es una wiki en español y que tengan mejores repositorios.

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    2. Fuduntu is good but looks less like Mac OS X. I compared between Mac OS X clones in this article.

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    3. I take my word back. I am using Fuduntu 2013.1 this week and it is very impressive Linux distro. You are right - Funduntu should be included in this review. I'll rewrite it including Fuduntu in a week or so.

      Thanks for pointing it out. My earlier comment was wrong.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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  7. Hey, from where to download the wallpapers of Pear OS 6? I am trying to find them but have no success. Any link or new blog post would be much appreciated. :)

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    1. Even I found very few wallpapers for Pear OS, mostly whatever are in the distro itself. I guess Mac OS X wallpapers do gel really well with Pear and I have downloaded a whole of Mac wallpapers to compensate :).

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  8. They are not really "clones".
    None of them are that alike that they should be called clones.
    They have their own way of working, not it a better nor worse way (Though i think it's better)
    I am a developer who loves linux and got my first mac when i way 9, Elementary has been a great choise for me!
    Even though i know almost everything in mac, i think it has so many unneeded features and ways to do your stuff. In Elementary there is only one, obvious way to do it and that simplicity is just how it should be!

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    1. I agree. But Mac OS X is the prime motivation in their design. Elementary is really good and they recently came up with a new testing release. I'll try it sometimes next week.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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  9. I was running Elementary OS Luna beta 2 and loved it but was looking for more of a Mac feel so switched to Pear OS 7 and to be honest to anyone who reads this, Luna is in my opinion the better distro. I think Pear OS would be great for someone doing supercomputer things. But for me, who uses my computer like a netbook, Luna is a more Customizable, more clean and beautiful OS.

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    1. Hi James:

      I agree, Pear is more flashy but Elementary is more functional.

      Regards,
      Arindam

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  10. i think luna (elementary os) looks A LOT better than pear os. it is not only a mac clone it goes some steps forward.

    - the way you ALT + TAB ... just awesome
    - animations ... normally i don't like if there's too much of them but in luna they are really good positioned between usable and good-looking
    - single click to open folders. in windows i hated it, in luna it's awesome :P
    - better looking icons - the look of the pear icons (osx style) is so outdated ...
    - luna is even simpler looking than osx

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    1. I agree with you. After reviewing 0.2 release, I am simply amazed. Possibly, every Linux distro should be like Elementary - simple, intuitive and effective.

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  11. In my opinion the use of the touchpad makes all the difference between Mac OS and the rest. This inlcudes smoothness of scrolling, precision and ease of navigating through the entire system. So far I have at best seen clunky adaptions on Linux. Touchegg is a start but it would be great to see things become as smooth as on the Mac.OS

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    1. I agree. Given the development I see in last 2 years, I am pretty sure that things will improve for Linux as well.

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  12. Couple of updates to this comparison: Fuduntu = gone; PearOS = gone; LuninuX = no idea, so weird corporate ownership; elementary OS = still up and kicking for now at least.

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    1. Yes, very sad news for Pear OS users. Great that Elementary is still up and kicking. Having used elementary for a considerable time, it is a damn good distro which gets the basics right. I hope to see more of elementary this year with another ubuntu lts release in the pipeline.

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  13. Ubuntu was on my list of distro to test run with every release. till I really get annoyed they introduce old but resolved issue with new problem. I started with other distro, Arch is good, but the upgrade path is painful. and finally PearOS or Elementary OS. My experience with PearOS is not that straight forward, I need to first install PearOS 6 then follow by PearOS 8. I like the search option on PearOS. and now it is gone. Sad.

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    1. Yes, the news on PearOS is a bit sad. However, Elementary OS is there and having used it for considerable period of time, I feel it is another good distro to look out for. It gets the basics more correct than Ubuntu with Unity.

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  14. Elementary os is definitely snappier when opening up applications, but I do believe that pear has a better set of apps to start with, and a slightly better look.

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    1. Unfortunately Pear OS won't release any further versions as the developer has abandoned the project. Sad :(

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