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Elementary OS 6 Beta Is Here: What’s New and How to Download It?

It has been more than a year since the last major release of elementary OS. Ever since then, its popularity has grown multifold thanks to its unique philosophy and desktop environment. After fastidious development over the past few months, the elementary OS team is finally ready to unveil their major release of 2021.

Elementary OS 6 Odin is right around the corner and the public beta builds are now available for Linux enthusiasts to download and experience before the stable release.

What’s New in elementary OS 6 Odin?

Elementary OS 6 Odin

Compared to the last release, elementary OS 6 Odin has made major strides in a lot of aspects like user experience and hardware improvements. Alongside enhancements, elementary OS doesn’t shy away from adding some new features either. Let us have a look at these changes in detail.

Look and Feel Changes

One of the most-awaited and requested visual features has now finally been implemented in the Odin release: Dark mode. Inside the Appearance section of the desktop settings, you can change the style from Default to Dark to enjoy a systemwide dark theme across all the supported apps and user interface.

Users have the choice to schedule the dark mode to toggle automatically depending upon the sunrise and sunset of their location. Otherwise, you can specify the manual timings for the same.

Elementary OS 6 Dark Mode Settings

You can also make your desktop look more personal with the new accent colors. With over 10 vibrant colors to choose from, you can ensure that your desktop stands out from the rest as you mix and match the theme and accents.

These accent colors will affect the buttons and elements systemwide much like the dark theme. This gives your dock, panel indicators, and action buttons a consistent look. Applications can however use their own accents colors.

Elementary OS 6 Apps

The Pantheon desktop environment looks as refreshing as ever with an elegant design that focuses on simplicity. Other changes include new typography and iconography as the Open Sans and Raleway fonts make way for the new Inter font; while icons are made more internally consistent.

Multi-Touch Gestures

Elementary OS 6 introduces multi-touch gestures with smooth and responsive animations. Introducing the new 1:1 finger tracking for touchpad and touch screen devices, you can do more with your laptop. Under the hood, it uses the Touchégg Daemon to capture input events and communicate them to Gala, the elementary OS window manager.

Elementary OS gestures menu

Swiping up with three fingers brings up the multitasking view while a two or three fingers horizontal scroll will allow you to switch between workspaces seamlessly. You can even set up four-finger gestures for vertical, horizontal, and pinch movements. This is similar to the newly introduced gestures in GNOME 40.

Elementary OS 6 Swipe Up Gesture

Other app gestures such as paging and navigation have also been refined and extended to other components. The developers have added easy window dragging and a few layout helpers to make it easier to adapt to the app’s interface across small to large displays.

Elementary OS Swipe Gesture

The team behind elementary OS is on the lookout for other use cases for gestures such as the swipe to dismiss notification gesture.

Platform Changes

To use the system’s Evolution Data Server for better compatibility and synchronization, the developers have rewritten some of the built-in elementary OS applications such as Mail and Tasks. The Files application comes with a new navigation mode: single-click to navigate within the app and a double click to open files in their default app.

Elementary OS 6 Installer

The new and homegrown installer finally makes an appearance and promises to bring faster and more straightforward installs for both end-users and OEMs as compared to the old Ubiquity installer. Other platform changes include a custom screen shield to prevent automatic screen-locking while watching videos or other long-running tasks.

In terms of accessibility, Dwell Click has been integrated with the window manager to assist people who may have trouble clicking mouse buttons including those suffering from Arthritis, or other difficulties.

Elementary OS 6 AppCenter

While elementary OS 5 already supports Flatpak sideloading and updates, the newest release will take it a step further by shipping applications via an entirely Flatpak-based AppCenter ecosystem. All AppCenter apps in elementary OS 6 and beyond will be built as Flatpaks.

Hardware Improvements

Over the past year, the elementary OS team has joined hands with specific devices and manufacturers including Pinebook Pro and Raspberry Pi which are relatively lower-powered than a regular computer. To compensate for this, a substantial amount of work has gone into optimizing the performance of the OS.

Elementary OS 6 Firmware Settings

These include reduced and asynchronized inter-process communication between desktop components, removing unused code, and reducing disk I/O. This translates into performance improvements for lower-end as well as higher-end devices.

How to Download elementary OS 6 Beta?

While users can download the stable release of elementary OS 6 Odin from the official elementary OS website in the future, the beta builds are hosted on a different URL.

Elementary OS Builds Website

Simply click on the Get elementary OS 6 Public Beta button to grab an ISO of the latest public beta release. Once you have downloaded the ISO file, you can flash it onto a USB stick as you’d normally do with any other Linux distro. On successfully booting into the OS, you have the choice of either installing it onto your hard drive or trying out the live boot mode.

Download: elementary OS 6 Beta

You Can Help Elementary OS

As much as you’re excited about the latest release, it is important to note that this is the public beta build and not the stable release. Therefore, you can report any bugs and issues that you face via the built-in Feedback application accessible from System Settings > System > Send Feedback.

Beta releases are not meant for everyone and this post isn’t a review of it either. This post is merely to take a look at the new features and provide insights on how you can contribute by testing if you wish to do so. It is highly recommended that you do not install the beta releases on your main or production machine.

Alternatively, you can try it out on a live boot environment or a spare computer for testing and enjoy the latest elementary OS. It is a request that you don’t report issues already reported in this GitHub project board. The entire team is working diligently to provide the best experience to its users.

Good Things Take Time!

At the moment, there isn’t a fixed date for the stable release but a second beta build and a release candidate build will be arriving before it. These beta builds are snapshots of Early Access builds once the developer platform has stabilized. Therefore, upgrade from beta builds to stable releases will not be possible.

You can keep an eye out for future announcements on the elementary OS blog page. While you wait for the stable release, you can try out the various features of elementary OS by installing the latest LTS version.

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