Elementary’s slick Mac-OS-X-like interface and simple applications may help woo some users that have been scared away by the complexity of Linux in the past, but Foré and team aim for more than that. In addition to getting the look and feel right, they want to ensure this is an efficient, stable operating system. Although Elementary is based on the popular Linux distribution Ubuntu, the team has stripped away many of the applications typically included with Ubuntu and replaced them with lighter weight alternatives.
They want to improve what’s already there, but they don’t want to reinvent the wheel. That’s a constant challenge, one the Elementary team says they can solve by focusing on making the OS modular and reusing as many common open source libraries as possible. For example, they created their own lightweight windows manager and desktop environment, but they built it on an open source library called libmutter — the same one used to create the popular Mutter window manager.