Meet “Hera” elementary OS 5.1, here are the new features

Today, the elementary Team officially announced the release and availability of elementary OS 5.1, codenamed “Hera.”  The much-anticipated release comes after over a year of development efforts by the team.

It includes a host of new features and improvements along with brand new artwork and updated components.  Let’s delve into the nuts and bolts of the elementary team’s latest offering.

elementary OS 5.1 - About. Screen
elementary OS 5.1 – About Screen

What’s new in elementary OS 5.1 “Hera”

Significant improvements in “Hera” include:

1. Out-of-the-box Flatpak support

By adding native Flatpak support, the installation of third-party apps not available in AppCenter is more comfortable and more secure.  The AppCenter also includes Flatpak support so that Flatpak apps can be managed along with official repositories applications.  The new in-house graphical utility Sideload enables users to install Flatpak apps with a single click.

elementary OS 5.1 - AppCenter
elementary OS 5.1 – AppCenter

2. Redesigned login screen (aka Greeter)

The redesigned login (and lock screen) greeter not only looks better, but it also works better.  Many issues reported in previous versions, such as HiDPI issues and focus issues have been fixed.  Also, the new greeter shows all user’s usernames along with their backgrounds, which display as cards to help identify them more easily.

elementary OS 5.1 - Login (Greeter) Screen
Login (Greeter) Screen

3. Updated Linux kernel

The Linux kernel has been upgraded to version 5.0.

4. Various System Settings improvements

The elementary team made substantial improvements to the System Settings panel to subcomponents including Sound, Display, Desktop Appearance, Mouse & Touchpad, Displays, Date and Time, Network, Bluetooth, Language & Region, Security and Privacy, and Power settings.

elementary OS 5.1 - System Settings
System Settings

5. New onboarding app/first-run experience

The new Onboarding tool makes it easier for users to set up new elementary OS installs.  Updated options allow the first-run configuration of privacy settings, automatic cleaning of deleted or temporary files, Night Light enabling, or installation of favorite apps.

6. Application updates

Many elementary OS applications were updated, including Calendar, Photos, Files, Camera, Code, Videos, Music, and Terminal.

Given the small team of developers that elementary OS 5.1 has when compared to much more extensive and better-supported distros such as Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora, and the like, the sheer amount of updates and changes included in the new release is overwhelming.

elementary OS 5.1 - Desktop
Desktop

While this article is not a review, I took some time to “kick the tires” on the new release.  To say that I am impressed is an understatement.  The desktop is gorgeous, the changes to the AppCenter, such as Flatpak and SideLoad flawlessly, and the new onboarding app a refreshing and makes installation a snap, making the cleanup typically required after installing a new distro virtually a task of the past.

My only disappointment with the new release is that Dark Mode is not an option.  The dark mode is such a requested feature by Linux users nowadays that Linux developers should make them standard with all new releases.

elementary OS 5.0 “Juno” systems will automatically update to 5.1.

elementary OS 5.1 - In Action
elementary OS 5.1 – In Action

Conclusion

elementary OS 5.1 is the most solid release from the elementary development Team to-date.  The distro is as stable and functional as any Linux distro currently available. Flatpak support is good to have these days to make sure you get most of the available FOSS available out there. Unarguably, Windows 7 users needing to make a switch before the impending end-of-support coming next month would do well to give “Hera” a look. Check out the elementary team’s notes to hear their official say on the important release.

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