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Pop OS is a very special Linux distro. It has its own unique place in the desktop Linux world. When it was first launched, many thought it to be just Ubuntu with a different theme. But Pop OS quickly climbed up the distro ranks and now has a large and loyal user base. The thing about Pop is, it provides a very premium and polished user experience. And now with Pop OS 21.04 bringing the all-new cosmic desktop environment, it’s better than ever.
What’s New in Pop OS 21.04
The New Interface
The biggest change we see in Pop OS 21.04 is the all-new Cosmic Desktop Environment. And straight off the bat, Cosmic desktop is near perfection. It’s polished, looks stunningly gorgeous, and is so user-friendly and accessible. Cosmic desktop is based on GNOME 3.38. It’s not based on GNOME 40 yet, But I suppose it will be in the near future releases.
The desktop looks familiar and GNOME lineage is apparent everywhere. First off, the dock at the bottom is an edge-to-edge panel by default. Pop OS has always been productivity oriented and has made the desktop more workable. This is another plus point for that. Easy app launching and app switching are facilitated here. Of course, this dock has extensive customizability available in the settings.
The top panel is stock gnome stuff, with a bit of tweaking done. Workspace switcher has been moved to the left side of the screen, which I welcome. As most controls are on the left side of the screen anyway. But if you prefer it on the right side, you can go right ahead and do just that.
Super button summons a new launcher. This is a fast way to launch applications as well as switch between running apps. You can see how polished it is. The running apps are highlighted very nicely when you’re using this. It has good keyboard shortcuts and is definitely a great tool for more focused working. Again, what the super button does can also be customized. We can use it for this launcher, workspaces, or for the application grid.
The whole desktop looks premium and on both laptops and desktops, this looks impressive. What’s even more impressive is just how productivity enriching this desktop is. Tiled windows are the way to go for most people who’ll be using multiple windows. This whole thing is built to provide an enhanced desktop experience that is fit for software developers and other professionals. This fast and simple launcher, pop shell along with its tiling window manager, and a high degree of desktop customization that’s made accessible even to Linux newcomers, well, if You want to get some work done, I’ll be recommending this.
Pop OS performance has always been on par with top operating systems, if not better. The last release, that is Pop 20.10 had seen significant performance improvements over 20.04. Phoronix had reported a performance gain of around 14 percent between these 2 releases, which is quite remarkable. The new 21.04 delivers a similar nimble performance. The desktop itself is very responsive. Pop OS has its own set of animations and effects which give it a very fluid touch. App opening and switching are smooth. Pop OS is made to deliver the best possible performance at a very foundational level.
How to Download Pop OS 21.04
You can download Pop OS ISO files depending on the hardware you have. So that, no matter if you’re rocking an NVIDIA GPU, or an AMD one or an Intel integrated, You’ll be getting the max performance immediately after installation. Gaming and other demanding tasks like compiling also run very nicely on Pop. Overall, performance-wise, Pop OS will provide you that nice boosted computing experience.
Usability & Stability
Usability is where Pop OS particularly appeals to me. If I recommend Pop OS to a Linux newcomer, I’m sure that that person will not be facing any problems with driver installation, installing software, or customizing the desktop. They can just install Pop and start using it and love it. Everything is as simple as it can be made here.
Take desktop customization for example. Everything can be changed right here in the settings. To do most of these things in stock gnome, You’ll need to install an additional tool called Gnome tweaks. But here, everything is there in settings, where they are expected to be. Yes, Cosmic desktop is a lot of new extensions on gnome. But they are well integrated into the system and they can be customized easily from settings.
The advantage of Cosmic desktop being a collection of extensions on top of gnome means that they can be turned off individually or all together and you get stock gnome. And since these are extensions, you can just install them on other distros too. Pop OS is built on a solid Ubuntu base. Ubuntu is very dependable and stable for everybody. It’s well tested and adheres to the highest of standards as it is used in servers across the globe. Pop OS, therefore, is recommended for professionals, businesses, schools and universities, home usage, and everywhere else.
The latest version is Pop OS 21.04. Now, this is a non LTS release and will be supported for the next 6 months from the installed date. And after that, you’ll get a simple version update to the next release. So stability wise, Pop OS is just golden. Wherever you want it, you can use it.
Pop Shop is the default software store on Pop OS. Opening it up, it’s very simple and clean looking. Firstly we have the editor’s picks and then, all the software are arranged into categories.
Pop OS uses the Ubuntu software repositories and this brings thousands of latest, well tested packages to its users. The software availability on Pop OS is just excellent because of the Ubuntu Lineage.
What Tools Do You get with Pop OS
Pop OS also brings in a few software through its own repositories. We get Flatpaks instead of snaps. It’s interesting that Pop has gone with flatpacks instead of Ubuntu’s homegrown snaps. It should be appreciated that when you’re installing software, you get to choose how you install it. You can choose .deb or flatpak there. Now that these universal package managers are getting very mainstream, I think all the distros should provide an option like this in their default software stores. Ubuntu especially.
You can also install software from PPAs on Pop. PPAs are maintained by the software developers or trusted maintainers. Using these, you can install software that is not available in the official repositories and also newer versions of the software available in the repositories. Finding and installing software on Pop is really easy and convenient and I loved Pop Shop.
Gaming on Pop OS
Pop OS provides one of the best setups for gaming on Linux. The installer files are GPU-oriented, so right after installation, your system is ready to perform at max thrust. No conditions here. Pop shop has tons of fantastic games available.
Then you can also use Steam and Lutris. With these two, you can play many top windows exclusive games too. Steam’s proton feature is what I personally use. With steam play enabled, many windows games are installable and playable on Linux like they are Linux native. You just click on install.
Talking about the gaming performance, Pop OS will mostly give a better frame rate on OpenGL and Vulcan games when compared to windows. For DirectX games, windows will perform better but there’s no significant loss in fps on Pop, even when these games are being run through proton. So for gaming enthusiasts as well as casual gamers, Pop OS will be a great choice, that leaves no room for complaints.
Pop OS has a vast and growing community. Since Pop is a popular distro, it’s easy to find troubleshooting and self help guides for it. For most things, Ubuntu guides should work on Pop and there’s definitely no shortage of those. Now Pop specific guides and articles are also growing significantly online. Pop Os has a beginner friendly community and that’s great for newcomers. Pop planet is a great resource if you’re new to Pop OS, do check it out.
How to Install Pop OS 21.04
Getting started with Pop is really simple. Go over to their official site and download the ISO file. Now you have 2 options there. If you have an NVIDIA GPU, choose “DOWNLOAD 21.04 (NVIDIA)“. If not, choose the other one.
Flash the ISO onto a USB stick and live boot into it. The installation process is very simple and all the steps are very beginner-friendly. Pop will be installed in around 15-20 minutes. With Pop, GPU drivers will be already installed so you don’t need to mess around with them. All in all, Pop OS is very easy to get started with, even for Linux beginners.
When we look at Pop OS comprehensively as a computing environment, it makes a lot of sense. It’s dependable, looks impressively stunning, has the best in class software availability, and provides a very premium user experience. That right there is a big yes for most people. Pop OS doesn’t aim to be the most innovative thing there is or the most cutting edge Linux distro. No, it’s meant to be a high quality operating system for professionals and homes. And it achieves this with flying colors. Definitely check out Pop OS. You might want to check out the 20.04 LTS version too.
So here “Introducing Pop OS 21.04 – PREMIUM Cosmic Desktop” – I believe you have found them as reminders and helpful.
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