elementary OS 7.1: Paving the Way for a Seamless User Journey

elementary OS 7.1 ships with improvements across the entire release, focusing on security and user experience. Here's what's new!

Elementary OS is a Ubuntu-based Linux distribution emphasizing a clean, easy-to-use interface. It is particularly noted for its user-friendly design, making it an attractive option for users new to Linux or those who prefer a more graphical user experience.

The in-house backed Pantheon desktop is the default desktop environment, known for its visual appeal and user-friendliness, often drawing comparisons with macOS due to its clean, intuitive design.

After the distribution released the major elementary OS 7 “Horus” in early February, the first update to it is now available. So, let’s see what has changed.

What’s New in elementary OS 7.1

elementary OS 7.1
elementary OS 7.1

Based on the Ubuntu 22.04.3 LTS release and powered by the Linux kernel 6.2, elementary OS 7.1 “Horus” has many new features that make using the operating system even easier and more secure than before.

Seamless Installation

The elementary OS’s installer is one of the best in the Linux ecosystem – as simple as possible and, simultaneously, doing great what it is designed for. In other words, with just 5-6 clicks, you get an operating system installed and ready to use, which shouldn’t be difficult even for novice Linux users.

elementary OS Installer
elementary OS Installer

Designed with Privacy in Mind

elementary OS 7.1 pays special attention to privacy. In this light, the release introduces an easy-to-use tool for monitoring applications that run in the background. As a result, the user has more control over these programs, boosting the system’s overall security.

So, whether you allow a client application to run in the background is up to you now. The tool is available in “System Settings” > “Applications” > “Startup.”

Startup applications.
Startup applications.

We can’t help but draw a parallel with the similar functionality introduced in GNOME 44. However, the approach is to provide more user control instead of the restrictive method used in the GNOME implementation.

The AppCenter, the beating heart of elementary OS, has also received security improvements. For example, when you install an application, it will now inform you if it tries to access any of the following resources on your system:

  • Read your location, send notifications, or automatically start and run in the background without asking first.
  • Access system folders or your home folder.
  • Read and write system settings.
  • Possibly escape the sandbox altogether and gain arbitrary advanced permissions.

Although elementary OS 7.1 comes with Flatpak support out-of-the-box, we were surprised that the Flathub repository is not added by default. Of course, you can quickly do that by referring to our guide on the subject.

Improved System Maintenance

Conscientious disk space management and maintenance are paramount to optimal system performance and longevity.

In this regard, the approach towards eradicating temporary files and meticulously handling thrashed data plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the system against unnecessary clutter and potential slowdowns.

In elementary OS, the Housekeeping app is in charge of this task, as now an additional option has been added to it, allowing you to remove screenshots as well.

Housekeeping App
Housekeeping App

elementary OS 7.1: Personalization Improvements

The customization options of the operating system have received a lot of attention in elementary OS 7.1. For example, the release introduced five new display filters to assist users with color perception deficiency, changing the color of the entire display.

On top of that, a grayscale filter was added, which can help avoid distractions or alleviate screen addiction.

Color Filters
Color Filters

Gestures and keyboard navigation have also undergone some improvements. In this light, there are now more options for switching workspaces using hot corners. Moreover, this release introduces an additional keyboard shortcut for switching between windows (“Alt + ~“) of the same app, and you can now navigate with the arrow keys while holding down “Alt + Tab.”

But what is most importantly, in the Multitasking View, previously unavailable shortcuts such as Pointer position, Screenshots, and Zoom are now available, in addition to regular workspace switching shortcuts.

Finally, the Behavior page of “System Settings” > “Keyboard” is also completely revamped.

elementary OS 7.1 Keyboard Settings
elementary OS 7.1 Keyboard Settings

Application Enhancements

With each update or version release, the elementary OS team concentrates on elevating user interaction by making notable enhancements in the preinstalled applications, as elementary OS 7.1 is no exception to this rule.

This release ships with GNOME Web 44.6 as the default browser, which improves performance and web standards compatibility, plus a new saved password popover.

The Mail app now allows renaming folders by secondary-clicking on them and selecting “Rename Folder.” In addition, special folders like “Archive” and “Spam” are better detected and appear at the top level, even for the Gmail accounts that used to hide them as subfolders.

Furthermore, in the conversation list, you can now use a multi-touch swipe or click-and-drag left or right to quickly archive or trash a conversation, and support for multiple custom signatures has been added.

Files app, the most used in any operating system, is also not missed in the list of improvements. The new Zoom controls make it easier to set comfortable icon sizes and expose keyboard shortcuts in their tooltips.

Files App
Files App

At the same time, the Undo and Redo buttons now have tooltips that show what operation will be performed before you click them, as well as keyboard shortcuts.

However, the feature that impressed us the most was the new Bulk Rename functionality. First, select multiple files, then second-click and choose the “Rename” options to get a bulk renaming dialog.

Finally, we will mention that the Videos app has undergone a rewrite, which has made it more reliable and performant. In this regard, it has a flatter app appearance, performs smoother animations, and brings improved playback position saving and in-app notifications.

Other elementary OS 7.1 Highlights

The Panel’s Network indicator has received much-needed attention and now provides an improved user experience while using VPNs.

Furthermore, most options now appear as circular toggle buttons with icons instead of a list of switches, which saves space and shows the status of your connections much clearer (if you have many).

At the same time, the Bluetooth devices listed in the panel can now use any custom device names you’ve set up before falling back to more generic ones.

The Sound and Power indicators have also improved visually, allowing more precise and convenient handling.

Moreover, including the latest long-term support Hardware Enablement stack from Ubuntu, the distro provides an option to include proprietary drivers so that your hardware devices function correctly during installation.

Finally, the operating system can automatically check for and notify of updates to device Firmware when they’re available.

Overall, elementary OS 7.1 fixes over 200 bug fixes and brings many design changes and new features detailed in the release announcement.

You can download the brand-new Elementary OS 7.1 “Horus” from the project’s website through a “pay-what-you-can.” If you don’t want to pay anything, manually enter “0” in the custom amount box for a download button to appear. But of course, we encourage you to donate if it is within your means.

Our Conclusion

elementary OS 7.1 is undoubtedly an excellent release with precise attention to every detail, aiming to give the best user experience.

Yes, Pantheon is one of the most awesome desktop environments, but its direct similarities to macOS cannot go unnoticed. Whether this sought-after effect is for the better, only users will decide.

However, throughout the tests, the feeling of working with a “closed box” never left us. The lack of “Help” > “About” in almost all apps, as well as the presence in the top spots of paid apps in AppCenter, only reinforces this impression.

The distribution’s target audience is new Linux users who want as minimal contact with the command line as possible, with almost everything moved to GUI applications. And, of course, there is nothing wrong with that. The final result is enviable and deserves only admiration.

However, suppose you are a Linux user wanting to go deep under the hood, customizing and tuning your system to tailor your needs and requirements. In that case, elementary OS is not your distribution.

But despite the above, elementary OS 7.1 is a noteworthy release that would easily capture the heart of any novice Linux user, so we recommend giving it a try.

Bobby Borisov

Bobby Borisov

Bobby, an editor-in-chief at Linuxiac, is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, he has worked as a Senior Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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