Elementary OS 5.1.4 Review: Parental Control Finally Works?

The distribution follows the point-release model, and we are here to review the changes in the latest elementary OS 5.1.4 Hera release. Parental Control is renamed to Screen Time & Limits, but let's find out if it works.

Elementary OS 5.1 Hera has received a point release with a handful of new features and bug fixes, and we will be reviewing the significant changes in this article. For those new to elementary OS, this Ubuntu-based Linux distribution uses their inhouse built Pantheon desktop environment and AppCenter.

elementary OS 5.1.4 desktop
elementary OS 5.1.4 desktop

The distribution follows the point-release model, and we are here to review the changes in the latest 5.1.4 Hera release.

Elementary OS 5.1.4 Hera: What’s New?

1. Screen Time & Limits

The main attention was given to the Parental Control feature that existed in the distribution since several years ago, but the feature was found to be not working for most users. I never got it to work myself on my virtual machine. So did this update solve the issue?

The dev team decided to rename the “Parental Control” feature to “Screen Time & Limits” and also improved the app features. Most importantly, it is now available for your account in addition to other non-administrator accounts. This means you can set your own rules for screen time, internet access, and app usage. The tool has three tabs – Screen Time, Internet, and Applications.

Screen Time

Screen Time is working well this time, and I was notified that the screen is about to lock. You can set the time period that the user shall be able to log into your system. The user will be automatically logged out once the period ends.

Screen Time & Limits
Screen Time & Limits

Applications

I added the AppCenter in the “Applications” tab to see if it launches the app, it works! The app didn’t launch at all. There is no notification saying that the app was locked due to Screen Time limits or anything like that, although I think there should be one – maybe that’s something the elementary OS team needs to take a look at for future releases.

AppCenter Blocked
AppCenter Blocked

Internet

The most important thing that didn’t work for me is the Internet. I added google.com to the list of websites that are not allowed to open for the particular user account, but it didn’t block the URL from opening. I tried restarting the virtual machine to see if it works, but still no luck. I used the epiphany browser that ships with the elementary OS. I think the dev team has some serious work to do when it comes to the URL blocking.

Screen Time Limits - Internet
Screen Time Limits – Internet

2. Applications Menu

The dev team also worked on improving the “Applications” menu. The revamped app is lighter and more fluidic. Also, the Category view now shows apps in a scrollable list instead of a grid. This is a step towards a standard menu workflow that was requested by several elementary OS users.

Applications Menu
Applications Menu

3. System Settings

The system Settings app has received some work on the inside to make it more usable. It now supports deep searching for individual settings and shows the path to get to each one so that you get used to going directly to the option in the future.

Settings App
Settings App

The Dock Settings now show icon sizes instead of a slider, making it easier to visualize.

Settings - Dock
Settings – Dock

4. Other updates

The User Accounts Settings now only shows more accurate reasons for settings being locked. Also, you will now see a lesser prompt for administrator permission on demand when enabling or disabling accounts.

The AppCenter is made lesser resource hungry as it will now only check for updates at system startup, although you can force the update by launching the AppCenter yourself.

elementary OS 5.1.4 AppCenter
elementary OS 5.1.4 AppCenter

Apart from that, the video app will now remember the last-played video and its playback position. It’s also more stable now, and they have fixed a missing icon in the episode view. Not just these, the team has sprinkled a ton of performance fixes all over the system that will only make your experience with the elementary OS better and polished.

Updating to elementary OS 5.1.4

Like any other point releases, this one too is easy to apply on your elementary OS 5.1 system. You can use the AppCenter or fire the following commands in the Terminal to update it command-line way. If you are not on Hera yet, you need to first upgrade to 5.1 to get this update.

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

command-line update
command-line update

Conclusion

Elementary OS 5.1.4 comes as a surprise major update to make the Linux distro reliable and lighter. I think there is still some work left in the new Screen Time & Limits feature. It works well in blocking the apps and setting the time limit for a user account. What do you think of the elementary OS? Do you have specific feedback to the dev team to make it better?

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1 COMMENT

  1. The parental controls were the main reason I decided to install this version of Linux. Having a feature that flat out doesn’t work is unacceptable! Neither internet limits nor restricting applications works for me.

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