Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon and MATE

It’s always a major event in the world of desktop Linux when a new version of Linux Mint is released. This time around it’s Linux Mint 17.1, a long term support release that will be supported until 2019. Linux Mint 17.1’s code name is Rebecca and it brings numerous bug fixes and tweaks, along with some significant new features for the Cinnamon and MATE desktops.

In this review I’ll cover the MATE and Cinnamon desktops, as well as the common feature changes shared by both desktops. Screenshots of both desktops and the new common features are at the very end of the review. The screenshots of the common features were done mostly in MATE, but the features work the same in Cinnamon.

What’s new in Linux Mint 17.1
Here’s a sample of what’s new in this release:

Cinnamon 2.4
MATE 1.8
MDM 1.8
Linux kernel 3.13
Ubuntu 14.04 package base
Compiz support for MATE
Update Manager improvements
Kernel selection screen redesigned
Language Settings enhancements
Login Screen improvements

For a complete list of changes to each desktop, see the Cinnamon and MATE new features lists.

Linux Mint 17.1 download and install
You can get Linux Mint 17.1 in 32-bit or 64-bit versions, and you can download Linux Mint 17.1 from this page. Or you can just use these links to access download mirrors and torrents:

Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon 32-bit
Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon 64-bit

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE 32-bit
Linux Mint 17.1 MATE 64-bit

The Linux Mint 17.1 ISO files weigh in at between 1.3GB and 1.5GB, depending on whether you choose 32-bit or 64-bit Cinnamon or MATE. For this review I picked the 64-bit versions of both desktops.

Installing Linux Mint 17.1 is about as easy as it gets. It uses the same installer as Ubuntu, so even those who are totally new to Linux should have no problems getting Linux Mint 17.1 to install on their systems.

I really wish there was something I could complain about or note here that would add some spice to this section of the review, but I had no problems with my install and it was quick too. You can watch a slideshow about Linux Mint 17.1’s features and software while you wait for your install to complete.

Common features and improvements in Linux Mint 17.1
I’ll cover the common feature changes that apply to both desktop environments here. I’ll talk about specific changes to each desktop in their respective sections below.

Linux Mint 17.1 Login Screen
The Login Window Preferences menu now provides Theme, Auto Login, and Options icons on the left side to make it easier to access different settings. You can access HTML and GDM themes from the same list, and you have the option of previewing the theme via a preview button.

The login screen itself now has a wallpaper slideshow. When you first load it, you’ll notice that it scrolls through different wallpaper backgrounds. You have the option of choosing one wallpaper by clicking a button in the controls in bottom right corner to stop the slideshow and stick with your preferred wallpaper. However, I recommend checking out the range of wallpapers before sticking with just one of them. Some of them are downright beautiful, and there are many to choose from in this release of Linux Mint.

The only problem I noticed with the login screen slideshow is that in some wallpapers, it’s hard to see the buttons because of the colors of the wallpaper image. They become almost invisible and you have to stare hard to find them. This is a very minor nitpick though because I actually thought it was great to see such a range of choices available right on the login screen.

Linux Mint 17.1 Update Manager
The Update Manager now groups packages together based on their source package. When you look at a line in the Update Manager it now shows a software update that may include multiple packages. In the new features list, the Linux Mint developers cautioned against selectively installing packages:

When a developer fixes a bug or writes new features, the source code is modified and all packages which are related to it become available under a new version. It is therefore futile and sometimes dangerous to apply some package updates and not others within the same source package.

I suspect that most users will appreciate the changes in Update Manager. They make it less of a chore to know what’s in a particular software update, and should help users avoid installing incomplete package updates.

I ran Update Manager immediately after installing both Cinnamon and MATE, and had no problems with the new version of Update Manager. Everything installed without a hitch, and I definitely prefer this version of Update Manager to previous ones.

Linux Mint 17.1 Linux kernels menu
The kernels menu has been redesigned to make it faster for you to see security updates and regressions. Descriptions have been added in your chosen language, and the main window will remain in view after you install your kernel updates.

Linux Mint 17.1 Language Settings
The Language Settings menu now includes two settings for your locale: Language and Region. Input Methods support has been added in this release as well.

Linux Mint 17.1 artwork and fonts
Linux Mint 17.1 uses the Noto fonts, and Mint-X (the Linux Mint theme) now comes in various colors including Aqua, Blue, Brown, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, Sand and Teal. You can right-click on a directory to change its color too. Linux Mint 17.1 also includes retro, modern and flat themes.

And there are many more background wallpapers to choose from as well that span backwards to the very beginning of Linux Mint. I counted about one hundred and forty one different backgrounds in the Background tab of Appearance Preferences, so there really is something for everybody in terms of wallpapers. And, of course, you can get more online as well.

Changes and improvements to the Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon desktop
The Linux Mint developers have put some effort into making Cinnamon faster, and in reducing memory usage. The developers note that about thirty memory leaks were located and fixed in Linux Mint 17.1. So Cinnamon may run noticeably better on current as well as older hardware. I can’t say I noticed any big changes in how Cinnamon performs, but it was never a problem before for me so I didn’t expect to be wowed with it in terms of increased speed in Linux Mint 17.1. But some folks may notice much better performance from Cinnamon.

Cinnamon also now starts with a cool zoom animation. I noticed it when I loaded the live desktop to do my install. It adds a bit of zest to Cinnamon that wasn’t there before when starting it up. It’ll probably take you by surprise the first time you see it, but it definitely improves Cinnamon’s coolness factor.

Cinnamon also supports single-button trackpads in this release, and you can configure actions for two or three finger click. You can also configure the desktop font in Cinnamon. The screensaver can be configured with a custom date format, as well as custom fonts.

The Theme and Background Settings have been redesigned, and you have the option using a background slideshow. Network Settings are based on the latest GNOME configuration module, and privacy settings have been added. Cinnamon’s Control Center has a new Notifications icon and menu, along with a Privacy icon and menu.

The Nemo tool bar also was redesigned for this release, and it includes configurable buttons and a new button that lets you open a terminal in your current directory (this button defaults to being hidden though). Nemo also supports emblems now for directories and files. The sidebar includes highlight effects if you hover, and smarter dynamic bookmarks.

I really liked the option of making directories different colors, it’s a fun way of highlighting important folders. And it makes it much easier to distinguish them visually from folders that you don’t use or care about as much. To make a folder a different color, just right-click it and choose the color from the popup menu.

The emblems are also a neat way of customizing and visually distinguishing your important folders. To add an emblem to a folder, just right-click it and select properties. Then click the Emblems tab. There are thirty six different emblems you can choose from including Favorite, Important, and Urgent. You’ll see your emblem displayed on your folder.

Compiz in the Linux Mint 17.1 MATE desktop
The big attraction in Linux Mint 17.1 for MATE users is the inclusion of Compiz. The default window manager Marco is still available, but you can now go to Desktop Settings, click on Windows and then use the Window Manager drop down menu to change to Compiz. Then logout and log back in to start using Compiz.

I switched to Compiz to try it in Linux Mint 17.1 MATE, and it certainly has a definite coolness factor to it. However, I soon got bored with the glitz of Compiz and switched back to Marco. Don’t get me wrong, I can see how Compiz has a lot of appeal for some users. Expo is a great feature and who doesn’t enjoy seeing a rotating cube of their desktop? I also liked the Wobbly Windows feature as well, it looks very amusing if you drag a window around on your screen. But it’s not something I’d really use on a day to day basis.

But I am certainly glad that Compiz is now available for MATE users that want it. If you aren’t familiar with Compiz, go to Control Center then click on CompizConfig Settings Manager, and you can scroll through the various effects. Marco Giannini posted a quick video on YouTube of Compiz in action in Linux Mint 17.1 MATE that demonstrates some of its cool effects:

The Linux Mint developers posted a couple of cautions in their list of new features for MATE, and I want to post them here for folks who might into problems using Compiz in Linux Mint 17.1 MATE:

CompizConfig is also installed by default so you can configure every aspect of Compiz to your liking.

If things go wrong, remove ~/.config/compiz-1 for Linux Mint to regenerate it automatically.

If you’re unable to log in or if compiz does not work at all on your computer, open a terminal and run “mate-wm-recovery” to switch back to Marco on your next login.

There’s also a warning message that pops up when you go to open the CompizConfig Settings Manager:

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE CompizConfig Settings Warning

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE CompizConfig Settings Warning

The Linux Mint 17.1 Control Center
One thing I want to point out to newcomers to Linux Mint, or Linux in general, is the Control Center in Cinnamon and MATE. Control Center is where you have access to all of the tools needed to configure your Linux Mint system. Do take some time to browse through it and familiarize yourself with the layout so you can quickly find what you are looking for as you configure your Linux Mint computer.

You can access the Control Center in MATE by clicking on the menu button on the panel, and then clicking on Control Center. In Cinnamon you can click on the panel menu button and then click on the gears icon (it’s labelled as Control Center in the bottom right of the panel menu if you hover your cursor over it).

Control Center’s layouts are slightly different in Cinnamon and MATE, but it’s easy to find your way around and locate the tool you need to adjust your system settings. Control Center in Cinnamon is broken down into categories such as Appearance, Preferences, Hardware, and Administration. In MATE the categories are slightly different and include Personal, Internet and Network, Hardware, System, and Other.

Linux software included in Linux Mint 17.1
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
None installed by default but available in the Software Manager

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
HexChat
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
Sound
Videos
VLC Media Player

Office
Dictionary
Document Viewer
LibreOffice

System Tools
Caja
Disk Usage Analyzer
GDebi Package Installer
Log File Viewer
New Login
Power Statistics
System Monitor
Terminal

I have no complaints about the selection of default software in Linux Mint 17.1. There are plenty of applications for most basic desktop needs, and you can always get tons more software in the Software Manager. I highly recommend that you click on the Featured icon when the Software Manager first loads up. There are forty five applications there that are worth checking out, including Steam, Wine, FileZilla, Wesnoth, Blender and numerous others.

The Software Manager itself is a very easy tool to use to add or remove applications. I particularly like that you can click on an application and then scroll down to see star ratings and reviews by other Linux Mint users. It’s a big help in weeding out some applications while also promoting others. I always enjoying seeing the comments posted by other users as I can sometimes learn interesting tidbits about an application.

To add or remove an application, just click on it in the Software Manager and then click the Install or Remove button. There are more than seventy one thousand applications available in Software Manager, so if you’ll have plenty of packages to choose from to use on your Linux Mint 17.1 system. Applications in the Software Manager are broken down into the following categories:

Featured
All Packages
Internet
Sound and Video
Graphics
Office
Games
Accessories
System Tools
Fonts
Science and Education
Programming

If you prefer to use it, Synaptic is also available. Experienced Linux users may prefer it to Software Manager, but I don’t recommend that folks new to Linux use Synaptic. By all means check it out though, and learn about it. Synaptic is a powerful tool in the right hands, but Software Manager is a much better option for casual Linux users that just want to find applications, and install or remove them.

Where to get help for Linux Mint 17.1
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below. You might also want to check out these Linux Mint 17.1 resources:

Linux Mint Blog
Linux Mint Documentation
Linux Mint Downloads
Linux Mint Forum
Linux Mint Site

Amazon has a selection of books about Linux Mint that you might find useful as well. And you can also buy USB sticks with Linux Mint bundled on them.

Please be aware before doing an install that there are some known issues in the release notes for Linux Mint 17.1:

Keybindings migration

Cinnamon 2.4 uses new schemas for keybindings. If you’re upgrading from an earlier version, you can migrate your old keybindings by running the following command:

  • cinnamon-desktop-migrate-mediakeys

Issues with Skype

In 64-bit, if you’re experiencing issues with Skype, install the package “ia32-libs”.

DVD Playback with VLC

If VLC does not find your DVD player, click on Media->Open Disc, and specify ‘/dev/sr0’ as the disc device.

HiDPI

HiDPI is detected automatically. You can however force Cinnamon to run in low or in high DPI mode by going to Menu->Preferences->General.

EFI support

If your system is using secureBoot, turn it off.

Note: Linux Mint 17.1 places its boot files in /boot/efi/EFI/ubuntu to work around this bug.

Misconfigured Swap when using home directory encryption

When using the option to encrypt the home directory, an upstream issue in the installer results in the Swap partition not being configured properly.

Click here and here for more information on this bug.

Solving freezes with some NVIDIA GeForce GPUs

If you are unable to boot Linux Mint with an NVIDIA card, or if you are experiencing constant freezes and system lock ups, please append “nomodeset” to your boot arguments. At the boot menu of the live DVD/USB, press Tab to edit the boot arguments and add “nomodeset” at the end of the line.

If you’re still having issues, you can also remove “quiet splash –” from that same line.

Alternatively you can use the “nouveau.noaccel=1” boot argument.

Once the system is installed, use the Driver Manager to install the nvidia-304 driver.

Booting with non-PAE CPUs

To boot Linux Mint 17.1 on CPU which do not officially support PAE (Pentium M processors for instance), please use the “Start Linux Mint with PAE forced” option from the boot menu.

Issues with KDE apps

If you’re experiencing issues with KDE apps (Okular, Gwenview, KStars..etc) run the following command:

  • apt install kdelibs-bin kdelibs5-data kdelibs5-plugins

Note: These issues do not affect the KDE edition. A regression in KDE 4.14 prevents these applications from working fine out of the box outside of KDE.

Other issues

If you’re experiencing keyboard or mouse freezes, please check the following bug report: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/nfs-utils/+bug/1270445

If you own an AMD CPU with an MSI card and your computer keeps rebooting, please check the following bug report: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1309578

Final thoughts about Linux Mint 17.1
I was very impressed with Linux Mint 17.1. The common feature upgrades and bug fixes add real value to this distribution. The changes in Update Manager, the Login Screen, Language Settings, Kernel Menu, and artwork should please almost all Linux Mint users. And the huge range of background wallpapers, along with the slideshow feature make it a great choice for those who want frequent changes to the look of their Linux Mint systems.

Cinnamon and MATE have both improved significantly in this release as well. Compiz brings MATE up to par with Cinnamon in terms of desktop glitz, and the changes in Cinnamon have made it even better than it was in previous versions of Linux Mint. I had fun futzing around with Compiz on MATE, and there’s no doubt that it adds some serious desktop bling to an otherwise rather sedate, traditional desktop environment. And Cinnamon’s colored folders and emblems make it much simpler to visually identify your important and most used folders. I really liked having that option even though I initially didn’t think it would matter too much.

Upgrading to Linux Mint 17.1 seems like pretty much a no-brainer to me after my experience using it. If you’re already running Linux Mint then you should be able to use Update Manager to get Linux Mint 17.1, and I recommend that you do so when you have the chance. It’s well worth upgrading, and I think you will enjoy the latest version of Linux Mint quite a bit. There’s not much to complain about in Linux Mint 17.1, the developers did a great job in tweaking MATE and Cinnamon while also improving the common features that both desktops share with each other.

But which desktop should you choose? Cinnamon or MATE? Frankly, I don’t think you can go wrong with either desktop in Linux Mint 17.1. If you aren’t sure which one you might prefer, try installing both in VirtualBox. Use each of them for at least a few days each, then make up your mind and install whichever one you prefer. Both of them work very well, but my personal preference right now is MATE since I lean more toward the traditional desktop set up.

Linux Mint 17.1 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on Linux Mint 17.1? Tell me in the comments below.

Linux Mint 17.1 screenshots:

Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon Colored Folder

Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon Colored Folder

Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon Control Center

Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon Control Center

Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon Desktop

Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon Desktop

Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon Folder Emblems

Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon Folder Emblems

Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon Menu

Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon Menu

Linux Mint 17.1 Featured Applications in Software Manager

Linux Mint 17.1 Featured Applications in Software Manager

Linux Mint 17.1 Install Slideshow

Linux Mint 17.1 Install Slideshow

Linux Mint 17.1 Login Screen

Linux Mint 17.1 Login Screen

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE Compiz Cube

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE Compiz Cube

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE CompizConfig Settings

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE CompizConfig Settings

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE Control Center

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE Control Center

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE Desktop

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE Desktop

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE Menu

Linux Mint 17.1 MATE Menu

Linux Mint 17.1 Software Manager

Linux Mint 17.1 Software Manager

Linux Mint 17.1 Synaptic Package Manager

Linux Mint 17.1 Synaptic Package Manager

Linux Mint 17.1 Update Manager

Linux Mint 17.1 Update Manager



Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon

Linux Mint has long been one of the most popular desktop distributions, so it’s always a big deal when a version is released. This time around it’s Linux Mint 17. This review covers the Cinnamon version of Linux Mint 17, but much of it also applies to the MATE version with the exception of changes to the MATE 1.8 desktop.

As to which desktop environment you should use, I think it just gets down to your own personal preference. MATE is a more traditional desktop while Cinnamon has a more modern feel to it. If you aren’t sure which one you might like better, my advice is to try both of them and then make your decision.

Linux Mint 17 is a long term support release. It will receive security updates until 2019. The Linux Mint developers plan to use this package base until 2016, so upgrading should be a piece of cake once you start using Linux Mint 17.

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Desktop

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Desktop

What’s new in Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon

Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Update Manager

Drivers Manager

Login Screen

Language Settings

Software Sources

Welcome Screen

Cinnamon 2.2

System Improvements

Artwork Improvements

Main Components

LTS Strategy

Update Manager

The Update Manager has had some serious improvements to it in this release. It’s faster, and you don’t need root mode to load it. It also doesn’t look for an Internet connection, and it doesn’t lock your APT cache when it starts up. You can also see kernel information in a new section of Update Manager.

There’s also a type column that lets you see differences between traditional and security updates, backports and romeo updates. Update history now also includes all updates on your Linux Mint 17 system, including apt-get, Update Manager or via gdebi or dpkg.

Kudos to the Linux Mint developers for making Update Manager a much more useful tool. Update Manager is far better now it ever was in the past.

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Update Manager

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Update Manager

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Linux Kernels

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Linux Kernels

Driver Manager

The Driver Manager can install drivers now even if you aren’t connected to the Internet. You’ll be asked to insert the disc or other install medium in order to add your drivers.

Linux Mint 17 Driver Manager

Linux Mint 17 Driver Manager

Login Manager

Login Manager (MDM) has also been improved. Multi-monitor support is better, with more options. And the HTML greeter offers HiDPI support. You can even use a user name that’s not present in the usual list of users, and the animation in the background uses less CPU resources.

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Login Menu

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Login Menu

Language Settings

Language Settings is a new menu that replaces Language Support. You can easily select a language, apply it to your entire system and also install new languages.

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Language Settings

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Language Settings

Software Sources

The Software Sources menu has gotten improved usability and a few interface tweaks. You’ll see a warning now against use of backport and romeo components. That should come in handy for those who aren’t sure what they are but like to experiment anyway.

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Software Sources

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Software Sources

Welcome Menu

The welcome menu is faster and does not use webkit. While I’m always glad to see improvements, I never thought it was slow before. Did anybody else? It seemed pretty zippy to me in past releases, but maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Welcome Menu

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Welcome Menu

System Settings

The System Settings menu has been tweaked to include subcategories, along with some other interface changes. You can now see all settings all the time, you don’t need to switch between normal and advanced modes. This is a change I’m very glad to see since it has the potential to cut down on confusion among newer users who were’t familiar with System Settings.

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon System Settings

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon System Settings

Artwork Improvements

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon comes with artwork improvements as well. The Mint-X theme has been changed in this release too. Tints and widgets are both improved. Check out the desktop backgrounds that are available now, some of them are quite beautiful.

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Desktop Backgrounds

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Desktop Backgrounds

Hot Corners and HUD

Hot corners and the HUD have been tweaked a bit. The HUD will only appear now if you bring a window very close to the edge of the screen. And you can now choose hover, icon click or both for hot corners. The top-left hot corner default has been disabled.

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Hot Corners

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Hot Corners

Lock Screen

The lock screen is now separate from the power management settings. You can easily change when your screen locks, or turn it off altogether. And you can add a custom message to your lock screen.

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Lock Screen Menu

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Lock Screen Menu

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon download and install

You can download Linux Mint 17 from this page. You can get Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. The install is incredibly easy and fast, even folks new to Linux should have no problems. You can watch a slideshow during the install that will show you some of Linux Mint’s features and applications.

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Boot Menu

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Boot Menu

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Install Preparation Screen

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Install Preparation Screen

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Install Type Menu

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Install Type Menu

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Install Slideshow

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Install Slideshow

Linux software included in Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release. There are thousands and thousands of other applications available in the Software Manager. Be sure to check the Featured Applications section first if you aren’t sure which applications to install. There are some great ones there and that list might save you some time browsing around the Software Manager.

Games

Games are available in the Software Manager

Graphics

GIMP

gThumb

Image Viewer

LibreOffice Draw

Simple Scan

Internet

Firefox

HexChat

Pidgin IM

Thunderbird Mail

Transmission

Multimedia

Banshee

Brasero

Videos

VLC Media Player

Office

LibreOffice Calc

LibreOffice Draw

LibreOffice Impress

LibreOffice Math

LibreOffice Writer

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Software Manager

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Software Manager

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Featured Applications

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Featured Applications

Where to get help for Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon

If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or post in the Desktop Linux Reviews forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out these Linux Mint 17 resources:

Linux Mint Blog

Linux Mint Documentation

Linux Mint Downloads

Linux Mint Forum

Linux Mint Site

Please note that there are some known issues with Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon. Here’s a list of them, bear them in mind before you do an install.

Issues with Skype

In 64-bit, if you’re experiencing issues with Skype, install the package “ia32-libs”.

DVD Playback with VLC

If VLC does not find your DVD player, click on Media->Open Disc, and specify ‘/dev/sr0’ as the disc device.

HiDPI

HiDPI is detected automatically. You can however force Cinnamon to run in low or in high DPI mode by going to Menu->Preferences->General.

EFI support

If your system is using secureBoot, turn it off.

Note: Linux Mint 17 places its boot files in /boot/efi/EFI/ubuntu to work around this bug.

Solving freezes with some NVIDIA GeForce GPUs

If you are unable to boot Linux Mint with an NVIDIA card, or if you are experiencing constant freezes and system lock ups, please append “nomodeset” to your boot arguments. At the boot menu of the live DVD/USB, press Tab to edit the boot arguments and add “nomodeset” at the end of the line.

If you’re still having issues, you can also remove “quiet splash –” from that same line.

Alternatively you can use the “nouveau.noaccel=1” boot argument.

Once the system is installed, use the Driver Manager to install the nvidia-304 driver.

Booting with non-PAE CPUs

To boot Linux Mint 17 on non-PAE CPUs, please append “forcepae” to your boot arguments. At the boot menu of the live DVD/USB, press Tab to edit the boot arguments and add “forcepae” at the end of the line.

Other issues

If you’re experiencing keyboard or mouse freezes, please check the following bug report: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/nfs-utils/+bug/1270445

If you own an AMD CPU with an MSI card and your computer keeps rebooting, please check the following bug report: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1309578

More at Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon Release Notes

Final thoughts about Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon

Linux Mint rarely disappoints when a new version is released, and Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon is no exception to that rule. This release comes with lots of improvements and it has the virtue of being a long term support release. So not only do you get the benefits of all the various new features and tweaks, you get a desktop distro that you can use with confidence for the next few years.

There’s a ton of stuff to like Linux Mint 17, I think most Linux Mint users are going to be delighted with it. My experience has been extremely positive while using it. It’s definitely one of the best choices out there right now for desktop Linux users. I highly recommend checking it out if you need a desktop distro for your system.

What’s your take on Linux Mint 17? Tell me in the comments below.

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon

Linux Mint 16 Petra has been released so it’s time for a review. The newest release of Linux Mint is always a big deal in the Linux world, and I’ve been looking forward to checking out Linux Mint 16 for a while.

Please note that I’m going to cover the Cinnamon version of Linux Mint 16 in this review. I’ll do a separate review for the MATE version later.

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Preinstall Boot Menu

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Preinstall Boot Menu

What’s New in Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Cinnamon 2.0
MDM 1.4
USB stick support
Performance improvements
Software Manager improvements
System improvements
Artwork improvements
Linux kernel 3.11
Ubuntu 13.10 package base

Cinnamon
Cinnamon 2.0 comes with sound effects for events, a better user management applet, improved edge-tiling as well as edge-snapping. Nemo has better MIME handling so it’s easier to associate applications and commands with file types. It’s also faster than in the last release of Linux Mint. The file operations window will now show as an icon in the system tray if you close it.

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Sound Effects

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Sound Effects

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon User Applet

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon User Applet

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Nemo MIME Handling

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Nemo MIME Handling

There’s quite a bit in Cinnamon 2.0, more than I can cover in this review. You can see a full list of Cinnamon 2.0 improvements in the announcement on Segfault. I recommend checking it out to delve into all of the improvements in this release. Cinnamon is coming along quite nicely, each release makes it more and more polished.

MDM 1.4
The login screen has been improved in this release. It is faster, bugs have been fixed, and it’s easier to switch between users. It also comes with Num-Lock support.

Apparently, the Linux Mint developers removed 24,500 lines of code from MDM. Wow. Talk about slimming down the login screen!

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Login Window Preferences

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Login Window Preferences

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Login Menu

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Login Screen

USB Stick Support
There’s a new USB Stick Formatter tool that makes it easier to format or make a bootable USB stick. You can format to ext4, FAT32 or NTFS. It’s also integrated with Nemo, along with the USB Image Writer application.

All of this is very convenient for users who need USB stick support, particularly the Nemo integration.

Performance Improvements
This release comes with a number of helpful performance improvements.

    • The boot and login sequence no longer scan your system for btrfs partitions.
    • The MDM display manager no longer listens or communicates over the network.
    • The Update Manager is now started with a delay to make it faster for the session to load.
    • The Software Manager features significant speed improvements.
    • The Linux Mint 16 ISO images are not as compressed as before. They take more space and are bigger to download but also easier on the system and faster to decompress during the live session.

Software Manager Improvements
Software Manager has had a lot of bug fixes as well as some performance buffs. It uses less memory, starts faster and searches faster than it did in previous version of Linux Mint. It can also display multiple screenshots while you are browsing applications.

I’m very glad to see these changes in Software Manager. Multiple screenshots might not seem that important, but they do matter when you are checking out an unfamiliar application and trying to decide if you want to install it. The performance improvements are also quite welcome, and should make for a much better user experience while finding software.

See the software section for screenshots of the Software Manager.

System Improvements
There are a few miscellaneous improvements that need to be noted as well:

  • Safer kernel updates.
  • Faster boot sequence and faster login.
  • Better EFI support.
  • Better support for Steam and its addition in the repositories and the featured section of the Software Manager.
  • Additional private/secure search engines in certain countries.
  • APT “recommends” disabled by default.
  • Better colors in terminal and the addition of “ll” as an alias to “ls -al”.
  • Better help support.

Artwork Improvements
Even the artwork in Linux Mint 16 got some buffs. There’s a collection of gradient backgrounds that should add some pizzaz to the desktop. And the Mint-X theme has better GTK3 support and a consistent look between GTK2 and GTK3 applications. There are also some new icons for Mint tools and some other third party apps as well.

Three Cinnamon themes come bundled with Linux Mint 16: Linux Mint, Mint-X and the default Cinnamon theme.

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Backgrounds

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Backgrounds

System Requirements for Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
  • 5 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Download
You can download Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 1.25 GB. You can get Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon in 32-bit or 64-bit versions.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Installation
Installing Linux Mint 16 is as easy as usual. The install is quick and painless, and you can flip through a slideshow while your install completes.

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon is also a live distro, so you can just run it off the disc before actually doing an install on your computer. Please note that the performance running off a disc will not necessarily be as good as running it after a real install. But it will give you a taste of what Linux Mint 16 has to offer.

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Prepare Install

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Prepare Install

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Install Type

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Install Type

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Install Slideshow

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Install Slideshow

The Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Desktop
I covered some of the changes in Cinnamon 2.0 in this release, so I won’t go into that again here. The Linux Mint 16 desktop looks very good indeed when you first load it. The desktop isn’t cluttered with icons and it’s very easy to find your way around.

To get started using Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon, just click the menu button on the panel. You’ll see a list of application categories, administration tools, preferences, as well as your home folder, the software manager and other useful items. Even those completely new to Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon should not have much of a problem moving around the desktop.

The panel at the bottom contains icons to show the desktop, launch Firefox, launch the terminal or load the home folder. The other icons on the right of the panel cover the usual stuff: notifications, the user applet, networking, sound, updates, the time and your desktop spaces.

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Desktop

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Desktop

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Home Folder

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Home Folder

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon My Computer

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon My Computer

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon System Settings

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon System Settings

Linux Software Included in Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon
Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
Available in the Software Manager

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb
Image Viewer
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
Videos
VLC

Office
LibreOffice

Linux Software Management Tools in Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon
I covered the changes to the Linux Mint 16 Software Manager in the What’s New section, so I won’t repeat that here. Suffice to say that the Linux Mint 16 Software Manager is one of the best software management tools for desktop Linux distributions.

Applications are broken down into categories, or you can opt to search for a specific application. To add an application, just click the Install button. To remove one, click the Remove button. While checking out an application, you can see star ratings and user reviews for it.

When you first load the Software Manager, be sure to browse the Featured category. There are lots of very good applications available there, and it will save you time browsing around trying to find the best applications.

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Software Manager

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Software Manager

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Software Manager Featured Applications

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Software Manager Featured Applications

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Software Manager Westnoth Game

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Software Manager Westnoth Game

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Software Manager Westnoth User Reviews

Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon Software Manager Westnoth User Reviews

Problems & Headaches Found in Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon
I had no problems installing or running Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon. It ran very well for me. If you’ve noticed any problems, please share them in the comments below for the benefit of other readers. Thanks in advance.

Here’s the list of known issues with Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon:

Recommended packages and 32-bit libraries

Recommended packages are no longer automatically installed in Linux Mint. To install a package with its recommended packages, use the command “apt install packagename –install-recommends”.

If you’re experiencing issues with Skype or other 32-bit programs under Linux Mint 64-bit, install the package “ia32-libs”.

DVD Playback

Totem will read your files and decode multimedia on the Internet but it does not properly support DVD playback in this release. To watch DVD movies, please use VLC instead.

If VLC does not find your DVD player, click on Media->Open Disc, and specify ‘/dev/sr0’ as the disc device.

EFI support

If your system is using secureBoot, turn it off.

If you installed Linux Mint in Virtualbox in EFI mode and it cannot boot post-install, type “exit”, choose “Boot Maintenance Manager”, “Boot from file” and select EFI/linuxmint/grubx64.efi.

Post-installation, the EFI boot file is located in /boot/efi/EFI/linuxmint/grubx64.efi. If your system is unable to find this file, copy it to /boot/efi/boot/bootx64.efi (alternatively you can write “fs0:\EFI\linuxmint\grubx64.efi” into a /boot/efi/startup.nsh file).

PAE required for 32-bit ISOs

The 32-bit ISOs of Linux Mint 15 use a PAE kernel. If your processor is not compatible with PAE please use Linux Mint 13 Maya LTS instead. Linux Mint 13 is supported until 2017.

mint4win

The mint4win Windows installer was not able to reliably handle the size of the ISO images. It was therefore removed and isn’t available in Linux Mint 16.

Other issues

Linux Mint 16 is based on Ubuntu 13.10. Make sure to read the Ubuntu release notes.

Where To Get Help for Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out the Linux Mint 16 community site, forum, or blog.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on.

Final Thoughts About Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon
I’m very pleased with Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon. There’s quite a lot to like in this release, and very little to dislike. Cinnamon 2.0 adds some additional polish to an already great desktop environment. The login tweaks, USB stick support, and various performance enhancements also add value to Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon.

I highly recommend Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon if you’re looking for a new desktop distribution. It’s particularly good for folks who are totally new to Linux and who want to get some experience with it. It will work very well as a replacement desktop operating system for Windows or OS X users.

Linux Mint 16 is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced users.

What’s your take on Linux Mint 16 Cinnamon? Tell me in the comments below.

Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

Linux Mint 15 “Olivia” has been released so it’s time for another review of one of the most popular distros of all time. Linux Mint has always been one of my favorite distros, it has so much to offer any desktop linux user. This release doesn’t disappoint either. There’s quite a bit here for fans of Linux Mint, and it’s almost certain that most of them will want to upgrade to Linux Mint 15.

Please note that this review covers the Cinnamon version of Linux Mint 15. I’ll probably take a separate look later on at Linux Mint 15 MATE.

Linux Mint 15 Welcome Screen

Linux Mint 15 Welcome Screen

Linux Mint 15 Preinstall Boot Menu

Linux Mint 15 Preinstall Boot Menu

What’s New in Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Ubuntu 13.05 Package Base
Linux 3.8 Kernel
MDM 1.2
Cinnamon 1.8
Software Sources
Driver Manager
MDM Greeters
Nemo Updates
Desklets for Cinnamon
Cinnamon Screensaver
Control Center Changes
Spices Management
Various System Improvements
Improved Hot-Corner Configuration
Coverflow Alt-Tab
Timeline Alt-Tab
Horizontal or Vertical Window Maximization
Software Manager Tweaks
Update Manager and Welcome Screen Tweaks

Linux Mint 15 Login Screen

Linux Mint 15 Login Screen

MDM now has three login screen applications (greeters).  There’s a GTK greeter, a themeable GDM greeter, and a new HTML greeter (also themeable).

These changes spice up (no pun intended) the login screen and should make things more interesting. It’s  now possible to create “animated and interactive” login menus.

Frankly, I’ve never been one to pay much attention to login screens. After all, you’re there to login not to savor the look and feel of the menu. But I don’t mind these changes at all. Why have a boring, drab login menu when you can jazz it up and give the user something different to see?

Linux Mint 15 Software Sources

Linux Mint 15 Software Sources

MintSources is the new Software Sources tool. It makes it easy to disable or enable optional components, and it lets you easily use back ports, source code, and unstable packages. Finding a faster mirror is also very easy, since you can do it with just one click by seeing a speed-test of available mirrors.

This is a great addition for power users of Linux Mint, who want a quick way to have more options in terms of software. The new tool looks great and performed well for me. Finding a faster mirror can be a huge timesaver, so I was very pleased to see that included.

Note that MintSources also contains PPA, authentication keys management and third party repository access.

Linux Mint 15 Mirror Speed

Linux Mint 15 Mirror Speed

Linux Mint 15 Driver Manager

Linux Mint 15 Driver Manager

Driver Manager (MintDrivers) is another great tool in Linux Mint 15. It uses an Ubuntu backend, and it makes it easy to deal with drivers in Linux Mint 15. You can see drivers by package name, along with their version. Known brands are clearly marked with icons.

Anything that makes driver management easier and faster is also quite welcome. Let’s face it, we’ve all had driver issues at one time or another, so Driver Manager will be a very useful tool for years to come.

Linux Mint 15 Desklets

Linux Mint 15 Desklets

Linux Mint 15 Get More Desklets

Linux Mint 15 Get More Desklets

Desklets lets you add widgets to your Linux Mint 15 desktop. Linux Mint 15 includes a launcher, clock and photoframe desklet by default. While it’s still early for desklets, it will be a nice option for some users.

Alas, I won’t be one of them. I’ve never liked widgets, and I still don’t. I may be a bit of a luddite on this, but they just seem like clutter to me. That’s my personal sense of them, however. I know that there are some people who will really enjoy them, so I consider it a plus that Cinnamon 1.8 offers them. But I won’t be using the damned things. Heh.

Linux Mint 15 Screensaver and Lock Settings

Linux Mint 15 Screensaver and Lock Settings

Cinnamon now has a screensaver that lets you set up an away message. I generally don’t lock my screensaver, but I’m sure there are plenty of people that do. So it’s nice to have this option to let people know when you’ll be back or whatever.

Linux Mint 15 System Settings

Linux Mint 15 System Settings

You won’t be needing Gnome Control Center to access certain config modules. Cinnamon Settings now includes all configuration modules. This is a good improvement, I like anything that streamlines system management tools. Why hop around from menu to menu, when you can do everything from just one? Makes a lot more sense to me.

Linux Mint 15 Applets

Linux Mint 15 Applets

Spices are applets, extensions, desklets or themes. You can manage them right from your desktop, without having to go to a web page. The menu is very easy to navigate, and makes it pretty simple to find what you are looking for, or to find what you have already installed.

System Requirements for Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

Here’s what you’ll need to run this Linux Mint 15 Olivia:

  • x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
  • 5 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port

Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon Download

You can download Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 959 MB.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBox before running it on real hardware.

Linux Mint 15 is available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. You can choose the MATE desktop or the Cinnamon version. You can also choose to download a version with multimedia codecs or without (depending on the country you live in).

Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon Installation

Linux Mint 15 is a live distro, so you can opt to run it off a disc to check it out. It’s also very easy and quick to install it to your computer. You can watch a slideshow while your install completes.

Linux Mint 15 Install Type

Linux Mint 15 Install Type

Linux Mint 15 Install User Name and Password

Linux Mint 15 Install User Name and Password

Linux Mint 15 Install Slide Show

Linux Mint 15 Install Slide Show

Linux Mint 15 Install Complete

Linux Mint 15 Install Complete

The Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon Desktop

I covered some of the changes to the desktop above, so I won’t repeat that here. Suffice to say that this release of Linux Mint has added some very good improvements to desktop tools and bling.

The Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon desktop looks as good as it always has, and you’ll note that the wallpaper now has a “15” inside of a circle.

Click the menu button on the far left of the panel to access applications, update manager, system tools and all the usual stuff. It’s very easy to find your way around, even if you aren’t familiar with Cinnamon or Linux Mint.

Linux Mint 15 Desktop

Linux Mint 15 Desktop

Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon Menu

Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon Menu

Linux Mint 15 Backgrounds

Linux Mint 15 Backgrounds

Linux Software Included in Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
Available in the Software Manager

Graphics
Document Viewer
GIMP
gThumb
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
Videos
VLC Media Player

Office
LibreOffice

Linux Software Management Tools in Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

Software management in Linux Mint 15 is primarily done via the Software Manager. It’s one of the best tools of its kind, particularly for those new to Linux Mint. There are more than 64,000 software packages available, so there’s plenty to choose from for your computer.

You do, however, also have the option of using Synaptic though I don’t recommend using it unless you really find a need. Synaptic is quite powerful, but the Software Manager is arguably a better option for most desktop users.

In this release, Software Manager includes automatic pagination. More results will load as you get near the bottom of a list. Large scores are no longer cut off, and you can search within a particular category. Packages that appeared in the Java section are now in the Programming category.

Take note of the Featured Applications category, there are some great applications there that you might find useful.

Adding or removing software is very easy. Just find the application, then click the Install or Remove button.

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager Featured Applications

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager Featured Applications

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager Games Category

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager Games Category

Linux Mint 15 Install Wine

Linux Mint 15 Install Wine

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager User Reviews

Linux Mint 15 Software Manager User Reviews

Linux Mint 15 Update Manager

Linux Mint 15 Update Manager

The Update Manager in Linux Mint 15 can now refresh the APT cache in user mode, without user intervention.

Problems & Headaches Found in Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

I didn’t run into any noticeable problems with Linux Mint 15. I didn’t expect to though as Linux Mint has usually run very well for me. However, if you’ve seen any problems or issues, please note them in the comments below. It’s helpful for other readers to be aware of any potential pitfalls before doing an install.

Here’s a list of known issues for Linux Mint 15 Olivia:

PAE required for 32-bit ISOs

The 32-bit ISOs of Linux Mint 15 use a PAE kernel. If your processor is not compatible with PAE please use Linux Mint 13 Maya LTS instead. Linux Mint 13 is supported until 2017.

EFI support

If your system is using secureBoot, turn it off.

If you installed Linux Mint in Virtualbox in EFI mode and it cannot boot post-install, type “exit”, choose “Boot Maintenance Manager”, “Boot from file” and select EFI/linuxmint/grubx64.efi.

Post-installation, the EFI boot file is located in /boot/efi/EFI/linuxmint/grubx64.efi. If your system is unable to find this file, copy it to /boot/efi/boot/bootx64.efi (alternatively you can write “fs0:\EFI\linuxmint\grubx64.efi” into a /boot/efi/startup.nsh file).

HDMI Sound output

If your HDMI Sound output does not work out of the box, you can try the following solution:

In a terminal, type the following commands:

  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-audio-dev/alsa-daily
  • apt update
  • apt install oem-audio-hda-daily-dkms

Other issues

Linux Mint 15 is based on Ubuntu 13.04. Make sure to read the Ubuntu release notes.

Important information

Mint4win

When installing Linux Mint with mint4win, choose loop0 for both the target partition and the grub destination.

Local repository and GnomePPP

GnomePPP is not installed by default but it is present within the default installation of Linux Mint. Your Linux Mint system comes with a local repository which is disabled by default. You can enable it by using the “Software Sources” tool from the menu. This repository contains GnomePPP as well as a collection of drivers.

Where To Get Help for Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out the linux mint community site, linux mint forums, linux mint blog, and linux mint documentation.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon

Linux Mint 15 stands supreme right now as the best all-around desktop Linux distro available. Oh sure, there are other distros that might serve certain readers better depending on their specific preferences, but for general desktop use Linux Mint 15 is probably the best choice available.

It’s the distro I usually steer complete newbies to Linux to, given all that it has to offer. I’ve never heard any of them complain about it either, after using it. That’s not to say that it’s perfect for everybody. Some people prefer a more minimalist distro like CrunchBang or a maximalist distro like Ultimate Edition. That’s the great thing about Linux, there’s always something available for everyone.

But Linux Mint 15 remains at the top of the heap for general desktop linux users. I highly recommend it to those seeking an alternative to Windows 8 or even Apple’s OS X. Linux Mint has matured over the years, and this release is like a sweet slice of cake, just waiting to be eaten.

Linux Mint 15 is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users. I encourage those totally new to Linux to try it out, it’s a great way to get your feet wet with Linux.

What’s your take on Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon? Tell me in the comments below.

Linux Mint Debian Edition 201303

I’m often asked what my “favorite” Linux distro is by readers. Well, if I have one, it has to be Linux Mint Debian Edition. LMDE has so much to offer Linux users since it combines the power of Debian with the elegance of Linux Mint. There really is something for everyone to love in LMDE.

Linux Mint Debian was upgraded recently so it’s time to take another look at it. I downloaded the Cinnamon version for this review. You can also opt for the MATE version if you prefer that to Cinnamon.

Before I get into the review, I want to clarify what separates Linux Mint Debian from the Ubuntu-based versions of Linux Mint. I know that this has confused some folks who are new to Linux.

Here’s some info from the LMDE FAQ:

1. Is LMDE compatible with Ubuntu-based Linux Mint editions?

No, it is not. LMDE is compatible with Debian, which isn’t compatible with Ubuntu.

2. Is LMDE fully compatible with Debian?

Yes, 100%. LMDE is compatible with repositories designed for Debian Testing.

3. What is a semi-rolling distribution?

Updates are constantly fed to Debian Testing, where users experience frequent regressions but also frequent bug fixes and improvements. LMDE receives “Update Packs” which are tested snapshots of Debian Testing. Users can experience a more stable system thanks to update packs, or switch their sources to follow Testing, or even Unstable, directly to get more frequent updates.

4. How does LMDE compare to the Ubuntu-based editions?

Pros:

  • You don’t need to ever re-install the system. New versions of software and updates are continuously brought to you.
  • It’s faster and more responsive than Ubuntu-based editions.

Cons:

  • LMDE requires a deeper knowledge and experience with Linux, dpkg and APT.
  • Debian is a less user-friendly/desktop-ready base than Ubuntu. Expect some rough edges.
  • No EFI, GPT or secureBoot support.
Linux Mint Debian 201303 Welcome Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Welcome Menu

What’s New in Linux Mint Debian 201303

Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

  • Update Pack 6
  • MATE 1.4
  • Cinnamon 1.6
  • Installer improvements (graphical timezone and keyboard selection, support for installation on multiple HDD, slideshow, webcam and face picture support)
  • Device Driver Manager
  • Plymouth splash screen

As noted above, this release includes Update Pack 6. There is no list of exactly what is in Update Pack 6, so I can’t list highlights here for you. However, I have heard that these updates often contains hundreds of changes, packages, etc. So it would go way beyond the bounds of this review to really delve into it.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Update Pack Information

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Update Pack Information

You can see a list of changes in MATE 1.4 here, and you can see what’s in Cinnamon 1.6 here.

One thing that I liked about this release was the installer’s ability to automatically partition the disk. I cannot remember if this was in previous versions, but it’s a great thing for newbies who want to use LMDE. Many of them might not be familiar with disk partitioning, so having the installer take care of it helps to make LMDE more accessible to them.

System Requirements for Linux Mint Debian 201303

I want not able to locate a specific hardware requirements list for Linux Mint Debian 201303 on the Linux Mint site. If you know the specs, please post them in the comments below. Also, if the LMDE developers read this, please consider including a hardware requirements list for each release as it makes it much easier to include that information in the review.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Download

You can download Linux Mint Debian 201303 from this page or use these torrent links:

The file I downloaded weighed in at 1.31 GB. You can get Linux Mint Debian 201303 in 32 or 64 bit versions.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBoxVMWare, or Parallels before running it on real hardware. And if you’re totally new to Linux, then you might want to check out some of the books about linux available on amazon.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Installation

The Linux Mint Debian 201303 install is not difficult, the installer will create the partitions you need automatically. However,  you do need to set a root partition. You can do this by simply right clicking on your preferred partition. I mention this for the newer folks who may not be familiar with LMDE’s install, but who might want to use it.

Note that LMDE 201303 is a live distro, so you do have the option to run it without doing an install. Boot into the desktop, and you’ll see that it is much the same as the installed desktop. Just click the Install Linux Mint icon to start your install.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Live Desktop

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Live Desktop

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Install Disk Partitioning

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Install Disk Partitioning

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Install Slide Show

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Install Slide Show

The Linux Mint Debian 201303 Desktop

As I noted earlier, I opted for the Cinnamon version of LMDE 201303. The desktop contains the usual icons, along with the striking Linux Mint wallpaper. I love the Debian swirl included in the wallpaper, it’s a small thing but it helps set this version apart from the Ubuntu versions.

It’s also easy to find your way around the LMDE Cinnamon menu. Everything is laid out just as you’d expect so it’s easy to manage software, access system tools, logout or shut down your system.

When you first boot into LMDE 201303, you’ll see a Welcome to Linux Mint menu. If you’re new to LMDE, be sure to check the menu carefully as it contains some very helpful information along with support resources.

The question of which version is better has come up fairly often, Cinnamon or MATE? I like both of them, I just happened to go with Cinnamon for this review. If you haven’t used either, then I suggest trying both of them in a virtual machine to see which environment  you prefer to use on a daily basis. I really can go either way, they are both great to use. But your mileage may vary depending on your tastes.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Installed Desktop

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Installed Desktop

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Home Folder

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Home Folder

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Backgrounds

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Backgrounds

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon Settings Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Cinnamon Settings Menu

Linux Software Included in Linux Mint Debian 201303

Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
Games can be downloaded from the Linux Mint Software Manager

Graphics
Document Viewer
GIMP
gThumb
ImageMagick
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Firefox
Mozilla Thunderbird
Pidgin IM
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
Movie Player
Sound Recorder

Office
LibreOffice (Base, Calc, Draw, Impress and Writer)

Linux Software Management Tools in Linux Mint Debian 201303

When you first login to your LMDE 201303 desktop, you should take a moment to click the Update Manager icon on the panel (the shield icon) to update your system. It’s easy and it will just take a few moments to be sure your system is up to date.

Adding or removing software is easy in MODE 201303. Just click the Menu button on the panel, then click the Software Manager icon, then type in your admin password.

Software applications are broken down into categories, there are more than 37,000 packages available. I always recommend that new users click the Featured icon, which has around 30 of the top applications. It’s a great place to start if you are new to Linux in general.

You can add or remove software by clicking the Install or Remove button.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Update Manager

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Update Manager

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Software Manager

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Software Manager

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Featured Applications

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Featured Applications

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Wine Install

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Wine Install

Problems & Headaches Found in Linux Mint Debian 201303

My experience with LMDE 201303 was quite good. It was very stable and seemed speedy enough for my needs while running various applications, system updates, etc.

However, you should be sure to check out the list of known problems below before doing an install on your system. It’s always best to know about these things ahead of time.

ATI drivers installation

Make sure to reload your APT cache before using DDM (Device Driver Manager).

If after installing ATI fglrx drivers with DDM and after rebooting the computer you don’t have any 3D acceleration (in Cinnamon this would result in the desktop to load without a panel and windows missing their window frames, in MATE this would result in slow performance when moving windows), do the following:

  • Right click on the desktop and open a terminal
  • Make sure you’re connected to the Internet (use Gnome Classic if you can’t use Cinnamon)
  • Type the following commands and reboot the computer:

apt clean

apt update

apt reinstall build-essential module-assistant fglrx-driver fglrx-modules-dkms libgl1-fglrx-glx glx-alternative-fglrx fglrx-control fglrx-glx

sudo aticonfig --initial -f

Login and password for the live session

The Live session should log you in automatically. If it doesn’t, or if you need to login manually (for instance, to try out Cinnamon), you can use the following credentials:

  • For the username, type “mint”
  • For the password, if asked, just press Enter.

No EFI/GPT support

Linux Mint Debian requires BIOS and a traditional partitioning scheme.

Multi-core and multi-CPU support in 32-bit kernel

To guarantee compatibility with non-PAE processors, the 32-bit versions of Linux Mint Debian come with a 486 kernel by default. This kernel does not support SMP, and as a consequence is only able to detect one core and one CPU. If your CPU has multiple cores, or if you have more than one CPU, simply install the 686-PAE kernel and reboot your computer.

GTK theme and icons fail to load

Sometimes the MATE session fails to theme itself properly and shows up with ugly looking panels and icons. This is due to a race condition with MDM and it usually only happens in live mode. There are a number of workarounds for this. If it happens rarely, simply retheme the session by typing “mate-settings-daemon” and “killall caja”. If the problem persists, you can add a “killall gnome-settings-daemon” and a “killall mate-settings-daemon” in the PreSession’s default script for MDM. Alternatively you can switch to GDM3. Note that users reported similar issues between GDM and Gnome and even LightDM and Unity.

To find out more about this issue, refer to the following bug report.

Modprobe errors, warning messages during the boot sequence

The errors and warnings which appear in the boot sequence (especially the ones related to modprobe and mounts in the live boot sequence) are cosmetic bugs and can be ignored.

Upstream issues

LMDE is based on Debian Testing. Make sure to read the known issues related to it.

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Boot Menu

Linux Mint Debian 201303 Boot Menu

Where To Get Help for Linux Mint Debian 201303

If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you. You might also want to check out the Linux Mint community site and forums.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Linux Mint Debian 201303

As usual, I’m quite pleased with the latest update of Linux Mint Debian Edition. It remains my preferred distro for when I grow tired of distrohopping and just want to settle in for a while with one distribution.

The only onion in the ointment in this release is that it still requires the user to set a root partition during the install. This is not a hard thing to do, but it may perplex newer users who haven’t done it before. I’d like to see the installer do this automatically, assuming the user opts for automatic partitioning.

Linux Mint Debian Edition 201303 is best suited to intermediate and advanced Linux users. Beginners certainly can give it a whirl, though there are other versions of Linux Mint that are better for them.

What’s your take on Linux Mint Debian 201303? Tell me in the comments below.

Linux Mint 14 MATE

I recently took a look at Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon. Now it’s time to review its counterpart Linux Mint 14 MATE. The MATE desktop environment is a fork of GNOME 2. It offers a more traditional desktop experience than Cinnamon. Please see the MATE about page for some background information.

Which one is better? Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so you’ll have to make up your own mind. I can use either of them without a problem though I’d have to lean a little bit more toward MATE than Cinnamon.

What’s New in Linux Mint 14 MATE
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Ubuntu 12.10
Linux 3.5
Bug fixes for GNOME 2
Bluetooth and Mate-keyring work
Caja supports Dropbox
Character map
Fast alt-tabbing with Marco compositing
Selection of notification styles
New button to compare files in file conflict dialog

MATE 1.4 Notification Style in Linux Mint 14

MATE 1.4 Notification Style in Linux Mint 14

Caja in Linux Mint 14 MATE

Caja has a toggle button, and a new button to compare files.

Compared to the cool stuff in Cinnamon, the What’s New list for this release of Linux Mint 14 MATE is rather underwhelming. However, it’s important to keep it context. Cinnamon and MATE are at two different phases of their development.

MATE is improving fast as a desktop environment, and it is geared toward those who prefer the older and less flashy GNOME  2 environment. So we shouldn’t expect a lot of amazing, whiz-bang type features in every release.

I’m very glad to see the GNOME 2 bug fixes, and I think it makes sense for the MATE developers to focus on practical improvements that lay a solid foundation for future MATE changes.

Linux Mint 14 MATE Welcome

The Linux Mint 14 MATE Desktop

The Linux Mint 14 MATE Desktop

System Requirements for Linux Mint 14 MATE
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • a 32-bit PAE-enabled x86 processor or a 64-bit x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both PAE 32-bit processors and 64-bit processors).
  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
  • 5 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port

Linux Mint 14 MATE Download
You can download Linux Mint 14 MATE from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 1.01GB. You can also buy Linux Mint 14 on DVD from Amazon.com:

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBoxVMWare, or Parallels before running it on real hardware. And if you’re totally  new to Linux, then you might want to check out some of the books about linux available on amazon.

You can get Linux Mint 14 MATE in 32 or 64 bit versions, and you also have the option of downloading it with or without codecs preinstalled.

Installation
Installing Linux Mint is easy as always. It took about ten minutes, and I had no problems. You can see a short slideshow during the install.

Linux Mint 14 MATE Install

Linux Mint 14 MATE Install
Linux Software Included in Linux Mint 14
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
Available in the Software Manager

Graphics
Document Viewer
Eye of MATE Image Viewer
GIMP Image Editor
gThumb
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox Web Browser
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
VLC Media Player

Office
LibreOffice

Linux Mint 14 MATE Software Manager

Problems & Headaches in Linux Mint 14 MATE
I didn’t notice any problems while running Linux Mint 14 MATE. It did quite well for me. However, if you’ve seen any issues please share them in the comments below. It may be of use to other users.

The Linux Mint developers have posted a list of known issues:

PAE required for 32-bit ISOs

The 32-bit ISOs of Linux Mint 14 use a PAE kernel. If your processor is not compatible with PAE please use Linux Mint 13 Maya LTS instead. Linux Mint 13 is supported until 2017.

AMD Radeon HD 2xxx-4xxx series card

The ATI drivers for these cards are now available in a separate branch called legacy series. Unfortunately these legacy drivers (version 12.6) have not been updated to work with Xorg 1.13.

If you own one of these cards you can either:

Additional drivers

To install additional drivers, please run the “Software Sources” tool from “Menu->Preferences->Software Sources” and click on the “Additional Drivers” tab. The tool used in previous versions of Linux Mint (Jockey) was discontinued upstream in Ubuntu.

Mouse Integration in Virtualbox

In Virtualbox, if your mouse cursor jumps unexpectedly click on “Machine->Disable Mouse Integration”.

Moonlight

Moonlight was removed from Linux Mint because of a bug that made Firefox crash. The bug was fixed upstream and you can install the Moonlight plugin from the project’s website.

Where To Get Help for Linux Mint 14 MATE
If you’re having problems, please post your questions in the comments below or register for the DLR forum. Other readers might be able to assist you.

You might also want to check out the Linux Mint community page, and the Linux Mint forum. Be sure to also view the Linux Mint documentation as it’s a helpful resource.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Linux Mint 14 MATE
Linux Mint 14 MATE seems to be in very good shape. While it’s not in the same league as Cinnamon in terms of new features, that’s okay. It serves a different role by providing a more traditional desktop environment Mint users.

Linux Mint 14 MATE Menu

My experience with it indicates that it’s improving quickly. If you’ve been hesitant to try it in the past, check it out now. In an age of flashy desktop environments, MATE takes us back to the golden years of traditional interfaces, and thank goodness for that.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux commentary; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 14 MATE
Web Site: http://linuxmint.com
Price: Free
Pros: Bug fixes, bluetooth and keyring functional, Caja supports Dropbox, notification styles, character map, other Caja improvements.
Cons: No earth shattering new features for me to rave about.
Rating: 4/5

Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

Linux Mint 14 was recently released. Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, and offers the Cinnamon or MATE desktop environments. This review covers the Cinnamon version, you can read the MATE review here.

What’s New in Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Ubuntu 12.10
Linux 3.5
Cinnamon 1.6
Workspace OSD
Windows Quick-List
Notifications Applet
Alt-Tab Thumbnails and Windows Previews
Better Sound Applet
Nemo File Browser in Cinnamon
MDM Improvements
Software Manager Changes
System Improvements
Artwork Updates

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Welcome

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Welcome

This release brings updates Linux Mint to Ubuntu 12.10 and Linux Kernel 3.5. If you aren’t familiar with Ubuntu 12.10, please see the review I wrote earlier about it.

Cinnamon 1.6 is a large update. There’s quite a lot of stuff in it, here’s a quick breakdown of some of them:

You can now name workspaces on your Cinnamon desktop. They are also persistent, so if you log out or shut down, your desktops will be there waiting for you when you come back. As someone who frequently uses multiple desktops, I love this. I can set up my workspaces with names for each task, and they are always there when I need to use them.

Workplace OSD

Workplace OSD

The Windows Quick-List applet is on by default, and is found at the far right end of the panel. It’s a useful applet since you can see all of your windows, across all of your workspaces. This makes it easy to switch between windows regardless of which workspace you use.

Window Quick-List

Window Quick-List

There’s a notifications applet available as well in Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon. I’m glad to see this since it’s a pain to keep track of them in each application. It’s easier to have them all in one place.

Notifications will appear, then disappear after a few seconds.

Notifications Applet

Notifications Applet

You can customize the Alt-Tab Thumbnails and Windows Previews by going into Cinnamon’s Settings and clicking on Windows. You can choose from the following options:

Icons
Icons and Thumbnails
Icons and Windows Previews
Windows Previews

Alt-Tab Thumbnails and Window Previews

Alt-Tab Thumbnails and Window Previews

The Sound applet has the following improvements:

More space for album artwork
Volume slider shows visible percentage (and amplification is now limited to 100%)
Mute buttons and tooltips for sound and microphone

Improved Sound Applet

Improved Sound Applet

Cinnamon 1.6 also has its own file browser called Nemo. Nemo is a fork of Nautilus. The Linux Mint developers give a detailed explanation here on why they felt it necessary to fork Nautilus. I found their reasoning compelling, and I think it was a good decision for Linux Mint Cinnamon 14 users.

Nemo File Manager

Nemo File Manager

There’s more to Cinnamon 1.6 than I can cover here, here’s a sampling of other features. You can get more info about Cinnamon 1.6 here.

Edge Flip
Grid View in Expo
Configurable panel heights
Panel auto-hide delay options
Expo and Scale applets
Brightness applet
Mouse scroll to switch windows in window list applet
“Close all” and “Close other” in window list applet
Cinnamon 2D (A new session which uses software rendering, to help people troubleshoot  compatibility problems with Cinnamon)
Workspaces and Menu pages in Cinnamon Settings
Faster menu filtering
Menu activation on hover
Settings applet is now part of the panel context menu
New widgets (for Applet developers): radio buttons and checkboxes

MDM has also been improved in this release. It supports legacy GDM 2 themes, and 30 are included with Linux Mint 14.  More can be had at GNOME Look. MDM also supports user lists and faces. You can now also switch users via the lock screen.

MDM Themes

MDM Themes

Faces and User Lists in MDM

Faces and User Lists in MDM

User Switching from the Lock Screen

User Switching from the Lock Screen

Software Manager also has some changes, I’ll talk about them in that section of the review.

There have been some system improvements in this release as well. These include MintStick, Gedit 2.30, and two more commands for MintSystem (dns-fix and xchat-systray).

The artwork has been updated and there are now some absolutely gorgeous wallpapers available with Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon. The icon theme has also been enhanced in this release.

Wallpapers

Wallpapers

System Requirements for Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

Here’s what you’ll need to run Linux Mint Cinnamon 14:

  • a 32-bit PAE-enabled x86 processor or a 64-bit x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both PAE 32-bit processors and 64-bit processors).
  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
  • 5 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port

Download Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

You can download Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon free from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 927 MB.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in a virtual machine via VirtualBoxVMWare, or Parallels before running it on real hardware. And if you’re totally  new to Linux, then you might want to check out some of the books about linux available on amazon.

Linux Mint 14 also comes with the MATE desktop, which I will probably cover in a separate review.

Linux Mint Cinnamon 14 Installation

The Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon install is quite easy, even if you’re new to Linux. The install takes about seven minutes or so, and you can watch a slideshow while it completes.

Note also that Linux Mint is a live distro, so you can run it off a disc to check it out before bothering with a full install on your computer.

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Install 1

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Install 1

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Install 2

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Install 2

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Install 3

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Install 3

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Slide Show

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Slide Show

The Linux Mint Cinnamon 14 Desktop

Themes & Wallpaper
As I noted earlier, this release includes some truly beautiful wallpapers. I spent some time trying them out and I loved them. Wallpaper is obviously not a huge deal in a distro, but I always enjoy it when I’m surprised by new ones (particularly if they are really pleasing to the eye).

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Live Desktop

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Live Desktop

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Desktop

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Desktop

There are also some great themes included in this release that will jazz up your Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon desktop. Between the themes and the wallpaper, you get a lot of sweet eye candy right out of the box in this release.

To change your wallpaper or theme, go to the Cinnamon Settings menu. Click on Themes or Backgrounds.

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Wallpapers

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Wallpapers

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Themes

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Themes

Linux Software in Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

Here’s a sample of the linux software included in this release.

Games
No Bundled Games (available in the Software Manager)

Graphics
Document Viewer
GIMP
gThumb
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
Sound Recorder
VLC

Office
Document Viewer
LibreOffice (Base, Calc, Draw, Impress, Writer)

Software Management Tools in Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

As I noted earlier, there have been some improvements to Software Manager. It has its own apt client, so aptdaemon is no longer used. It also has full debconf support in this release.

Software Manager runs as root, so you can skip typing in your password every time you install an application. You also disable the “search while typing” feature.

New stuff aside, the Software Manager is as easy as ever to use. Applications are listed in convenient categories, and there are some great apps ready for download in the Featured category (hit that one first).

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Software Manager

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Software Manager

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Featured Applications

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon Featured Applications

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon VLC

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon VLC

Adding & Removing Software
It’s very easy to add or remove software. Just find the application in the Software Manager, then click the Install or Remove button.

Problems & Headaches Found in Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

The new features in Workplace OSD are welcome. However, I found it odd that the Workspace Switcher applet wasn’t on the panel by default. Nor was the Expo applet, or the Brightness, Trash and Scale applets.

This seems a bit odd to me. While I knew how to add them, how many new Linux Mint 14 users would not even know they exist? I suppose your perspective on this depends on whether or not you consider them basic functionality. I do, so it seems strange to me that they aren’t already activated when a user boots into their Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon desktop.

What’s your take on this? I’m curious to know, perhaps I’m overreacting. Tell me in the comments section. It will be interesting to see if others feel the same way or not.

There’s a list of known issues for Linux Mint 14, so be sure to read through them below before doing an install.

PAE required for 32-bit ISOs

The 32-bit ISOs of Linux Mint 14 use a PAE kernel. If your processor is not compatible with PAE please use Linux Mint 13 Maya LTS instead. Linux Mint 13 is supported until 2017.

AMD Radeon HD 2xxx-4xxx series card

The ATI drivers for these cards are now available in a separate branch called legacy series. Unfortunately these legacy drivers (version 12.6) have not been updated to work with Xorg 1.13.

If you own one of these cards you can either:

Additional drivers

To install additional drivers, please run the “Software Sources” tool from “Menu->Preferences->Software Sources” and click on the “Additional Drivers” tab. The tool used in previous versions of Linux Mint (Jockey) was discontinued upstream in Ubuntu.

Mouse Integration in Virtualbox

In Virtualbox, if your mouse cursor jumps unexpectedly click on “Machine->Disable Mouse Integration”.

Moonlight

Moonlight was removed from Linux Mint because of a bug that made Firefox crash. The bug was fixed upstream and you can install the Moonlight plugin from the project’s website.

Other issues

Linux Mint 14 is based on Ubuntu 12.10. Make sure to read the Ubuntu release notes.

Important information

Mint4win

When installing Linux Mint with mint4win, choose loop0 for both the target partition and the grub destination.

Desktop icons in Cinnamon

The names of the desktop icons are now configurable. By default they’re called “Computer” and “Home” and are not localized. You can change them as follows:

  • gsettings set org.nemo.desktop computer-icon-name “MyComputer”
  • gsettings set org.nemo.desktop home-icon-name “MyHome”

CD images

Because of the size of the content, and the fact that a vast majority of systems nowadays can either boot from DVDs or from USB, Linux Mint no longer provides images which fit in 700MB CDs. It is however possible and easy to to modify ISO images. By removing packages such as Java, Mono, LibreOffice, Gimp..etc.. Linux Mint ISOs can be made to fit within 700MB. For instructions on how to remaster the Linux Mint ISOs, please read the following tutorial: http://community.linuxmint.com/tutorial/view/918

Local repository and GnomePPP

GnomePPP is not installed by default but it is present within the default installation of Linux Mint. Your Linux Mint system comes with a local repository which is disabled by default. You can enable it by removing the comment sign “#” in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/local-repository.list and refreshing your APT cache. This repository has GnomePPP as well as a collection of drivers.

Where To Get Help for Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum has discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

You might also want to check out the Linux Mint community page, and the Linux Mint forum. Be sure to also view the Linux Mint documentation, particularly if you are new to this distro.

If you’re new to Linux, you might want to check out some of the books available about it at Amazon. You can learn quite a bit that you will probably find useful later on. You can also save lots of money with deals on laptops and tablets, desktops and monitors, components, and computer accessories.

Final Thoughts About Linux Mint Cinnamon 14

There’s an enormous amount to like about Linux Mint Cinnamon 14, and very little to dislike. If you’re using Linux Mint 13, then an upgrade to this release should be on your to-do list.

Cinnamon itself is getting more and more polished, and it’s no surprise that many former Ubuntu users have opted to use Linux Mint instead of Ubuntu. This release just seals the deal even more. If you aren’t a fan of Unity then you should absolutely check out Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon.

Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon
Web Site: http://linuxmint.com/
Donate to This Distro: http://linuxmint.com/donors.php
Price: Free
Pros: Cinnamon 1.6; updates to Software Manager, MDM, and the Linux Mint artwork (especially the gorgeous wallpapers included).
Cons: Some very useful panel applets are not installed by default, and this may confuse inexperienced users.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4.5/5

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon

In my last review, I covered Linux Mint 13 MATE. However, there’s quite a bit going on with Cinnamon so I decided to do another review to cover it separately. The Cinnamon desktop is quite different than MATE, and it’s worth looking at in its own right.

Excuse me though if I cover some familiar ground if you’ve already read the MATE review. Some of this will be quite familiar to you.

Cinnamon is based on GNOME 3 and Clutter.

Before I get into this review of the Cinnamon version of Linux Mint, let me deal with the issue of MATE versus Cinnamon. Some folks are going to wonder which one they should choose. Here’s a quick run down of the pros and cons of each from the Linux Mint developers:

MATE:

Pros:

  • MATE is stable and it works on all computers
  • MATE is among the most productive and easy to use desktops available.
  • MATE continues where Gnome 2 left off and introduces its own incremental improvements.
  • MATE comes with support for mintMenu, mintDesktop, Compiz and everything that made Gnome 2 the most popular Linux desktop.
  • MATE is built with GTK2, it features more themes and integrates with more applications than any other desktop.

Cons:

  • Some parts of Gnome 2 were not migrated to MATE yet and a few aspects such as Bluetooth support might not work as well as they did with Gnome 2.

Cinnamon:

Pros:

  • Cinnamon is among the sleekest and most modern looking environments
  • Cinnamon features innovative features and emphasis on productivity with traditional desktop metaphors
  • Cinnamon is built on rapid technologies and its development pace is really fast
  • The Cinnamon community is very active, and produces a lot of new themes and applets

Cons:

  • Cinnamon requires 3D acceleration and might not work well for you, depending on your graphics card and/or drivers.
  • Cinnamon is brand new and unfortunately not yet as stable as more mature and established desktops such as MATE, KDE or Xfce.
  • Cinnamon relies on Gnome 3 and Clutter, which are also both brand new and going through rapid transformations.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Ubuntu 12.04
Linux 3.2
Cinnamon 1.4
Yahoo as the default search engine
Latest Mint-X and Mint-Z themes
Additional art work for backgrounds from artist masterbutler
MDM Display Manager

Ubuntu 12.04 has been out for a while now, and there’s been a huge amount of coverage by the media. If you aren’t caught up with what it offers, you can check out my review here on DLR.

Kernel Newbies has the dirt on what Linux 3.2 has to offer. So, drop by if you aren’t up to speed on what’s in Linux 3.2.

The switch to Yahoo as the default search engine is related to search engine revenue sharing. The Linux mint developers have been very direct about this change here:

Linux Mint switches to Yahoo as the default search engine for the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Yahoo is the 2nd biggest search engine in the World, and the first major search engine to share revenue with Linux Mint. The results page is full of features, it comes with a nice layout, images, videos and blogs search, points of interest, time filters and cached results. Underneath the interface, Yahoo comes with a strong network of advertisers and its addition represents a huge opportunity and an additional source of income for Linux Mint.

Personally, I prefer Duck Duck Go to Yahoo. Duck Duck Go also has a revenue relationship with Linux Mint. So I think you can use either search engine and still feel like you are supporting the Linux Mint project.

Cinnamon 1.4 has quite a lot to offer, and it’s why I decided to do a separate review for this version of Linux Mint. Please note that I was in a bit of a rush to get this one out the door for those who were interested in Cinnamon, so some of the screenshots below are courtesy of the Linux Mint site, drop by their donation page if you want to make a financial contribution to Linux Mint.

Here’s a list of what’s new in Cinnamon 1.4:

Expo & Scale Overview
New Settings Applet and Panel Edit Mode
Localization
New Configuration Options
Menu Improvements
Window List Improvements
Applets Improvements
Cinnamon Settings Improvements

If you’ve ever used a Mac, you’ll feel right at home with the Expo and Scale overviews since they are quite reminiscent of OS X’s Expose feature. Expo lets you see and manage your workspaces. Scale makes it easy and fast to select a window. You can also add additional workspaces in Expo, or close one that you already opened by clicking on the close button (the “x) in the upper right corner of the workspace.

The Expo Overview in Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon

The Expo overview in Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon.

The Scale Overview in Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon

The Scale overview in Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon.

There’s a handy new applet that you can access by clicking on the little arrow icon on the panel. It will launch the Settings Applet. You can troubleshoot, turn Panel Edit Mode on or off, and access Panel Settings. You can also add or remove applets, and access other settings. If you want to move applets, you’ll need to turn on Panel Edit Mode since applets cannot be moved any more.

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Settings Applet

The Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon settings applet.

Localization support means that Cinnamon 1.4 supports 39 languages, and includes support for right-to-left languages.

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Localization

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon comes with support for 39 languages.

The menu now includes drag and drop support. You can add applications to panel launchers, add/remove applications to favorites, and reorder your favorites. You can also right-click the menu to use the menu editor to change how apps and categories are displayed in the menu.

The Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Menu Editor

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon comes with a new menu editor.

The window list has also had some changes. You can change the order of windows in it via drag and drop. You can right-click a window and send it to another workspace. You can also drag a file onto a window and the window will come into focus.

As you can tell, Cinnamon 1.4 has had many improvements added to it. It’s a no-brainer upgrade if you are still using an earlier version.

System Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
  • 5 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Download
You can download Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon from this page. The download file for Cinnamon was about 856.7 MB. You can also buy Linux Mint on disc from Amazon.com. There are also helpful books about Linux Mint available from Amazon (the discs and books are listed on that link).

You can download Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon in 32 or 64 bit, and you have the option of downloading it with or without codecs installed.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in VirtualBox before running it on real hardware. VirtualBox is free and open source software that will let you run distros on your Linux, OS X or Windows desktop.

Installation
Installing Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon is very easy. It’s probably one of the easiest installs you’ll find in any distro. It didn’t take long and I had no problems. You can watch a slideshow while your install finishes. Please note that Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon is also a Live DVD, so you can burn it to a DVD and boot off of it if you want to try it, before installing it.

Getting Ready to Install Linux Mint 13

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon requires at least 5.2 GB of hard disk space.

Erase Disk for Install

Getting ready to erase the disk to install Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon.

Slide Show During Install

You can watch a slideshow while installing Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon.

The Login Menu

The Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon login menu.

The Desktop
I covered some of the changes in Cinnamon 1.4 at the beginning of the review. Suffice to say that this really is the best version of Cinnamon yet, with much to offer any Linux Mint user.

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Desktop

The Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon desktop.

When your desktop first loads, you’ll see the Welcome Screen. Don’t click it closed if you’re new to Linux Mint. It has many helpful information links on it that will save you time and trouble later.

Welcome Screen

The Welcome Screen has lots of helpful information about Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon.

Other than the Welcome Screen, there’s just an icon for Computer and an icon for Home on the desktop. To get started, click the Menu button in the panel. You’ll find all the usual things like application categories, system tools, preferences, administration, the software manager, and lots of other stuff.

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Menu

The menu in Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
Available in the Software Manager

Graphics
Document Viewer
GIMP
gThumb
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
Sound Recorder
VLC Media Player

Office
LibreOffice

Software Management

The Linux Mint Software Manager has more than 38,000 packages available for download. Applications are broken down into the usual categories, and you can search for them if you prefer that instead of browsing.

Each application contains user reviews, an overall score, a screenshot, and details such as the version and size. You can also see what installing it or removing it will do in terms of packages. You can also rate applications, and submit your own user reviews.

Software Manager

The Software Manager has more than 38,000 applications.

Featured Applications in Software Manager

The featured applications list in Linux Mint 13’s Software Manager.

Deluge in the Software Manager

Deluge in the Linux Mint 13 Software Manager

Adding & Removing Software
Just find the software you want in Software Manager, then click the Install or Remove button. It’s very easy to add or remove applications in Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon. The Software Manager makes it totally pain-free to find, install or delete applications from your computer.

Problems & Headaches
I had a good experience using Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon. I only noticed one momentary glitch when I opened the menu. I clicked the button again and the menu closed without a problem. I’m not sure what it was, but it wasn’t a significant issue.

Some people will want to have both desktops on their computer (MATE and Cinnamon). Since they don’t ship together in one download like in Linux Mint Debian, here’s how you can do it:

1. Click the Menu button.
2. Click the Administration button.
3. Click the Synaptic Package Manager button to start Synaptic.
4. Do a search for “mate desktop” without the quotes.
5. You’ll see a list of packages that can be installed, select the mate-desktop-environment package.
6. Click the Apply button to install your packages.
7. Log out of your Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon session.
8. Click the session icon on the login screen.
9. Click the MATE option.
10. Click the Change Session button.
11. Type in your user ID and password to login.
12. A menu will pop up giving you the option to use MATE as the default desktop, or to use it just for this session.
13. Your MATE desktop will load. You can go back to Cinnamon by choosing it on the session menu on the login screen.

Install MATE in Synaptic

You can add the MATE desktop to your system via Synaptic.

Change Desktop in Sessions Menu

You can change your desktop by going to the sessions menu on the login screen.

I hope future releases will let us name our workspaces. This would make it easier to specify which workspace is for which task. It would really make it better organizationally. The Linux Mint developers have already said that this is something that might show up in a future release, so I’m very happy to know they’ve already noticed the need for workspace naming.

While my experience was very good, there are known issues with this release. Here’s a list of known problems from the Linux Mint developers:

Boot hangs on systems using b43 wireless cards

An upstream issue in the kernel prevents Linux Mint 13 from booting on computers with b43 wireless cards. If you’re in this situation, try the following:

To boot the live DVD, choose the “Compatibility mode” or add the following kernel argument to the boot options: b43.blacklist=yes
Install Linux Mint on the hard drive
If not present already, in Grub, modify the boot options to add: b43.blacklist=yes
Install the b43 firmware on the system

For more information on this problem, please read this bug report.
64-bit only for Mint4win

If you’re planning to use Mint4win, please choose either MATE 64-bit or Cinnamon 64-bit. Although Mint4win is present on all images, it is only functional with the 64-bit ISOs.
Window popping behind installer in MATE Edition

One or two windows might open during the installation of the MATE edition while the installer is mounting partitions and copying files. This is a cosmetic issue. Feel free to dismiss any error message and to close these windows during the installation process.
Moonlight

Moonlight was removed from Linux Mint because of a bug that made Firefox crash. The bug was fixed upstream and you can install the Moonlight plugin from the project’s website.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.


You might also want to check out the Linux Mint forums, and community page.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon has an enormous amount to offer. Cinnamon 1.4 brings Mac-like features such as Expo and Scale to the Linux desktop. Other changes such as the menu improvements, settings applet, localization, and additional configuration options just make Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon that much better.

There’s not much to complain about with this release, and there’s quite a bit to be thankful for on the part of Linux Mint users.

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon is suitable for beginners, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon
Web Site: http://linuxmint.com
Price: Free
Pros: Expo and Scale overviews; menu improvements, settings applet; localization; more configuration options; window list improvements; other changes and improvements.
Cons: Requires 3D acceleration; may not work on certain kinds of hardware configurations.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4.5/5

Linux Mint 13 MATE

Edit: I’ve done a separate review of Cinnamon, for those who prefer that desktop.

Woohoo! It’s Linux Mint time again! Linux Mint 13 (wow, not exactly a lucky number!) has just been released, so I hopped right on it. Linux Mint has long been one of my favorite distros. We’ll find out in this review if the latest version measures up to its previous incarnations.

Linux Mint 13 comes with two different desktop options: MATE or Cinnamon. For this review, I picked the MATE version. You can download either of them. See the install section of the review for download details.

The Linux Mint 13 Welcome Menu

The welcome menu contains link to useful information and help for Linux Mint 13.

Which one should you pick? Well, the Linux Mint developers have come up with a helpful list of the pros and cons of each. If you still aren’t sure after reading them, try running them as Live DVDs to get a taste of each. Just burn each to its own DVD, then boot into that DVD to run Linux Mint without doing an install.

MATE:

Pros:

  • MATE is stable and it works on all computers
  • MATE is among the most productive and easy to use desktops available.
  • MATE continues where Gnome 2 left off and introduces its own incremental improvements.
  • MATE comes with support for mintMenu, mintDesktop, Compiz and everything that made Gnome 2 the most popular Linux desktop.
  • MATE is built with GTK2, it features more themes and integrates with more applications than any other desktop.

Cons:

  • Some parts of Gnome 2 were not migrated to MATE yet and a few aspects such as Bluetooth support might not work as well as they did with Gnome 2.

Cinnamon:

Pros:

  • Cinnamon is among the sleekest and most modern looking environments
  • Cinnamon features innovative features and emphasis on productivity with traditional desktop metaphors
  • Cinnamon is built on rapid technologies and its development pace is really fast
  • The Cinnamon community is very active, and produces a lot of new themes and applets

Cons:

  • Cinnamon requires 3D acceleration and might not work well for you, depending on your graphics card and/or drivers.
  • Cinnamon is brand new and unfortunately not yet as stable as more mature and established desktops such as MATE, KDE or Xfce.
  • Cinnamon relies on Gnome 3 and Clutter, which are also both brand new and going through rapid transformations.
The Home Folder in Linux Mint 13

The home folder in Linux Mint 13.

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Ubuntu 12.04
Linux 3.2
MATE 1.2
Cinnamon 1.4
Yahoo as the default search engine
Latest Mint-X and Mint-Z themes
Additional art work for backgrounds from artist masterbutler
MDM Display Manager

Linux Mint 13 is based on Ubuntu 12.04. If you aren’t familiar with it, please see my earlier review here on DLR.

You can check out a list of Linux 3.2 changes over on Kernel Newbies.

Yahoo is now the default search engine in Linux Mint. There is apparently a revenue sharing arrangement between Yahoo and the Linux Mint developers. Here’s some info about that from the Linux Mint site:

Linux Mint switches to Yahoo as the default search engine for the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Yahoo is the 2nd biggest search engine in the World, and the first major search engine to share revenue with Linux Mint. The results page is full of features, it comes with a nice layout, images, videos and blogs search, points of interest, time filters and cached results. Underneath the interface, Yahoo comes with a strong network of advertisers and its addition represents a huge opportunity and an additional source of income for Linux Mint.

Yahoo in Linux Mint 13

Yahoo is now the default search engine in Linux Mint 13.

The MDM display manager is based on GDM 2.0. It offers quite a bit including event scripting, language selection, graphical config tools, themeability, and language selection.

You can choose some gorgeous backgrounds, if the default Linux Mint wallpaper starts to bore you after a while. They were done by an artist named masterbutler. Just right-click your desktop and choose Change Desktop Background to see them. Click the one you want and your background will change to the new wallpaper.

Linux Mint 13 Backgrounds

Check out the gorgeous wallpaper in Linux Mint 13.

The latest Mint-Z and Mint-X themes are included in this release, along with superior support for GTK3.

Mint-X is the default theme, but you can easily switch to Mint-Z in the Appearance Preferences menu. Just click on the Appearance icon in Control Center to make start making the change. Either theme is attractive. You can also click the Customize button to change any theme to your liking.

Linux Mint 13 Themes

The latest Mint-Z and Mint-X themes are included in Linux Mint 13.

Customize Themes in Linux Mint 13

You can easily customize any theme in Linux Mint 13.

System Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
  • 5 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port

Linux Mint 13 Download
You can download Linux Mint 13 from this page. The file I downloaded weighed in at 941.6 MB. You can also buy Linux Mint on disc from Amazon.com. There are also helpful books about Linux Mint available from Amazon (the discs and books are listed on that link).

As I noted earlier, you can download a MATE version or a Cinnamon version. Both desktops come in 32 or 64 bit. You also have the option of downloading Linux Mint 13 with or without codecs installed.

If you’re a distrohopper then you might want to try it in VirtualBox before running it on real hardware. VirtualBox is free and open source software that will let you run distros on your Linux, OS X or Windows desktop.

Installation
The Linux Mint 13 install is about as easy as it gets. The install took about 15 minutes, and I didn’t run into any problems.

Prepare for Linux Mint 13 Install

Linux Mint 13 requires at least a 5.7GB hard disk.

Erase Disk for Insall

Getting ready to install Linux Mint.

Slide Show During Linux Mint 13 Install

Watch a slide show while Linux Mint 13 finishes installing on your system.

The Linux Mint 13 Login

The Linux Mint 13 login menu.

The Desktop
The MATE desktop is almost totally uncluttered with icons. The only icons you’ll find are one for Computer, and one for the Home folder.

When your desktop first loads, you’ll see the Linux Mint Welcome Screen (there’s a screenshot of it on the first page of this review). If you’re new to Linux Mint then I highly recommend taking a careful peek at it. The Welcome Menu contains links to documentation, support, community resources and project information. If you closed the Welcome Menu too soon and want to see it again, just open the Control Center and click on the Welcome Screen icon listed under Personal.

If you click the Menu button, you’ll find the Mint Menu is there in all its glory. You can easily access important places, system functionality, favorite applications, or all applications if you prefer. Once you switch the view to All Applications, you’ll see the usual breakdown of app categories. It’s very easy to find your way around, even if you’re totally new to Linux Mint and the MATE desktop.

If you want to tweak your system, click the Control Center option that’s listed under System on the Mint Menu. From there, you can change tons of things in your Linux Mint computer. It’s all broken down for you into the following categories:

Personal
Internet and Network
Hardware
System
Other

It’s very easy to find the tool you need to adjust your system to your liking.

I really like the MATE desktop. I find it extremely comfortable to use, and it behaves just the way I want it to when I use it. The screenshots below will give you a taste of what it’s like to use MATE.

The Linux Mint 13 MATE Desktop

The Linux Mint 13 MATE desktop.

The Linux Mint 13 MATE Menu

The Linux Mint menu on the MATE desktop.

The Linux Mint 13 Control Center

The Linux Mint 13 control center.

The Linux Mint 13 Computer Folder

The Linux Mint 13 computer folder.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
Available in the Software Manager

Graphics
Document Viewer
GIMP
gThumb
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Desktop Sharing
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
Sound Recorder
VLC Media Player

Office
LibreOffice

Software Management
The Linux Mint Software Manager has more than 38,000 packages available for download. Applications are broken down into the usual categories, and you can search for them if you prefer that instead of browsing.

Each application contains user reviews, an overall score, a screenshot, and details such as the version and size. You can also see what installing it or removing it will do in terms of packages. You can also rate applications, and submit your own user reviews.

The Linux Mint 13 Software Manager

Applications are broken down into categories in the Software Manager.

Featured Applications in the Linux Mint 13 Software Manager

The featured applications category in the Software Manager.

VLC in the Linux Mint 13 Software Manager

VLC comes preinstalled in Linux Mint 13.

Adding & Removing Software
To add an application, just find it in the Software Manager and click the Install button. Then type in your password, and the install will begin. To remove an application, click the Remove button.

Next, I’ll share some of the problems I encountered, show you where to get help, and I’ll share my final thoughts.

Problems & Headaches
I didn’t notice any overt issues with Linux Mint 13. It ran very well for me. One thing I do recommend doing though is to run update manager right after you boot into your MATE desktop. It’s always a good idea to make sure your system software is up to date before you start using a new version of a distro.

Linux Mint 13 Update Manager

Run the Update Manager to update Linux Mint 13.

One thing that some would consider a problem is how both desktops, MATE and Cinnamon, aren’t included by default the way they are with Linux Mint Debian Edition. There’s a way to fix this, if you want to have the option of switching between them on the login screen.

Here’s how you can do it:

1. Click the Menu button.
2. Click the Package Manager button to start Synaptic.
3. Do a search for “Cinnamon” without the quotes.
4. You’ll see a list of packages that can be installed.
5. After installing these packages, log out of your MATE desktop.
6. Click the session icon.
7. Click the Cinnamon option.
8. Click the Change Session button.
9. Type in your user ID and password to login.
10. A menu will pop up giving you the option to use Cinnamon as the default desktop, or to use it just for this session.

Obviously, if you installed Cinnamon and you want MATE then you’d have to follow these instructions but just substitute MATE for Cinnamon when you search in Synaptic.

I don’t really consider having to install the other desktop like this to be much of a problem. But I’m including it here for those who might want to do it. See the screenshots below.

Install the Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Desktop in Synaptic

Use Synaptic to install Cinnamon (or MATE) in Linux Mint 13.

Change Linux Mint 13 Desktops in Sessions Menu

You can switch between desktops in the Sessions menu on the login screen.

The Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon Desktop

The Cinnamon desktop in Linux Mint 13.

Known Problems
There are some issues that have been noted by the Linux Mint developers. Here’s a list of those from the Linux Mint site:

Boot hangs on systems using b43 wireless cards

An upstream issue in the kernel prevents Linux Mint 13 from booting on computers with b43 wireless cards. If you’re in this situation, try the following:

To boot the live DVD, choose the “Compatibility mode” or add the following kernel argument to the boot options: b43.blacklist=yes
Install Linux Mint on the hard drive
If not present already, in Grub, modify the boot options to add: b43.blacklist=yes
Install the b43 firmware on the system

For more information on this problem, please read this bug report.
64-bit only for Mint4win

If you’re planning to use Mint4win, please choose either MATE 64-bit or Cinnamon 64-bit. Although Mint4win is present on all images, it is only functional with the 64-bit ISOs.
Window popping behind installer in MATE Edition

One or two windows might open during the installation of the MATE edition while the installer is mounting partitions and copying files. This is a cosmetic issue. Feel free to dismiss any error message and to close these windows during the installation process.
Moonlight

Moonlight was removed from Linux Mint because of a bug that made Firefox crash. The bug was fixed upstream and you can install the Moonlight plugin from the project’s website.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

You might also want to check out the Linux Mint forums, and community page.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Linux Mint 13 MATE is an excellent addition to the Linux Mint tradition.

The MATE version of Linux mint is a great choice for those who don’t have the hardware to run the Cinnamon version, or who simply prefer the MATE desktop environment. Linux is all about choice, and being able to choose MATE instead of Cinnamon adds real value to Linux Mint. Kudos to the developers for giving users the option to pick which one they prefer to run.

Linux Mint 13 MATE is suitable for beginners, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 13 MATE
Web Site: http://www.linuxmint.com
Price: Free
Pros: Works well for those who don’t have the hardware for Cinnamon. Easy install; excellent software manager, and selection of software. Also offers a version without codecs installed.
Cons: You won’t get the cool features of Cinnamon, such as the Mac-like Expo and Scale overviews.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4.5/5

Linux Mint 12 MATE

The recent release of Linux Mint 12 has gotten quite a bit of attention. Most reviews of Linux Mint 12 have focused mainly on the GNOME 3 desktop (as pointed out in the comments of my Linux Mint 12 GNOME 3 review by reader liquidkermit). But there’s another desktop environment included in Linux Mint 12 called MATE.

MATE is a fork of the venerable GNOME 2 desktop environment. MATE is a much more task-oriented desktop environment, unlike GNOME 3 and Unity which are more application-centric.

Why would people be interested in MATE rather than the new GNOME 3 desktop? Well some folks simply do not like GNOME 3, even with the extensions the Linux Mint developers have added to improve it. MATE offers the chance for users to stick with the tried and true interface of GNOME 2.

The Linux Mint 12 MATE Desktop

Linux Mint 12 MATE

You can access MATE by choosing it on the Linux Mint 12 login screen. Just click the little gear icon near the login box and choose MATE. You’ll load MATE instead of the default GNOME 3 desktop.

Before I get into this review, please bear in mind that it’s early for MATE. The Linux Mint developers have posted a message warning users that MATE may not be as stable as they like since it’s so early. Here’s that message, please bear it in mind if you try to use MATE in Linux Mint 12:

MATE is brand new, it’s not completely stable yet, and it’s missing a few parts. It’s being actively maintained and with close collaboration between the MATE developers and Linux Mint. With time the project will gain maturity and provide users with a traditional and solid desktop experience.

Eventually, MATE will be in every way identical to Gnome 2 and represent the future of traditional desktops within Linux.

What’s New In This Release
Since MATE is new, there’s not really a “new features” list for it. However, there are a couple of new features in Linux Mint 12 that also apply to MATE. Some things that are new apply only to GNOME 3 so I haven’t included them here. If you want to see those, please see the Linux Mint 12 GNOME 3 review that I did earlier.

Two new features in this release:

New wallpaper
Duck Duck Go as the default search engine

The new wallpaper offers an attractive Linux Mint logo as the default selection. There are also some nature scenes from places like Yellowstone National Park and India available as well.

Duck Duck Go is part of Linux Mint’s new business model. It’s very different than Google, it doesn’t change search results depending on who’s doing the search. Nor does it track or record user information. It’s built on open source code as well, and it contributes to open source development. I tried it out and it seems to work very well. Give it a shot and see how you like it before considering switching back to Google or whatever search engine you usually use.

DuckDuckGo Search Engine

DuckDuckGo Search Engine

Here’s the blurb from the LM developers about it:

Duck Duck Go: The new default search engine is Duck Duck Go. It doesn’t show different results depending on who’s making the search, it doesn’t track or record user information, it provides you with optimized results and it’s built on and contributes to Open Source.

Development of a new business model: Search engines will share with Linux Mint the revenue generated for them by Linux Mint users. Some search engines partnered with Linux Mint already and are present in Linux Mint 12.

Easy installation of other engines: The way you install search engines in Linux Mint 12 is radically different than in previous releases. Clear explanations and easy instructions are there for the user to understand how search engines help Linux Mint and to decide what to do. The installation of additional search engines is also now much easier than before.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
  • 5 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port

Installation

The installer is obviously the same for MATE as for the GNOME 3 version of Linux Mint. I loved that since all I had to do for this review was paste in the screenshots from the other review. Boy, I wish it was that quick for every review. Ha, ha!

:biggrin: :whistle: 😉

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Install 9

Install 9

Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

As I noted earlier, you can access MATE via this login screen. Click the little gear in the upper right corner of the login box and select MATE. You will then load the MATE desktop instead of the default GNOME 3 version.

The Desktop: Home Again!
When I booted into the MATE desktop, it felt like I’d come home again. I kid you not. If you have been discombobulated or disgusted with GNOME 3, then you will feel yourself start to relax the instant the MATE desktop loads for you. It’s as though you never left your previous version of Linux Mint.

There are no kooky GNOME 3 menus in MATE. You can do all of the same things you could before in terms of window management, etc. It’s really your Linux Mint desktop the way it was truly meant to be, with no compromises to suit the insane GNOME developers who have unwisely tried to foist a mobile interface onto a desktop operating system.

You are probably getting the idea that I like the MATE desktop better than even the modified GNOME 3 desktop in Linux Mint 12. Yep, you’re absolutely right. You can just slide into the MATE desktop with true ease and comfort. It’s all there for you and you don’t need to fiddle around with the madness of GNOME 3 at all.

The desktop comes with the usual Home, Trash and Computer icons. The familiar MintMenu is there in all its glory and without any vile GNOME 3 corruption whatsoever.

Desktop

Desktop

MintMenu

MintMenu

Themes & Wallpaper
You get the lovely new Linux Mint wallpaper when MATE loads up. It’s quite attractive. It doesn’t look like the new themes are available, but who cares? There are plenty of other themes available and you can get more online if you want. Note the error message about a theme not looking right though.

Themes & Background

Themes & Background

Admin Tools

System Management
Here’s a look at the Control Center.

Control Center

Control Center

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
No games, they are available in the Software Manager though.

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
VLC

Office
LibreOffice

Software Management
The Software Manager is the same in MATE as it is in GNOME 3. So it’s just as easy to find and install (or remove) applications. If you aren’t familiar with it, the Software Manager has about 36,000 applications in it. There’s quite a lot to check out. You can see star ratings of applications and read user comments as well.

Software Manager

Software Manager

Featured Applications

Featured Applications

Adding & Removing Software
It’s very easy to add or remove software. Just find the application you want and click the Install or Remove button. Then type in your password into the verification menu and your install/remove will begin.

Install Frostwire

Installing Frostwire

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
Flash is installed by default, so I had no problems with that sort of content.

Flash Video Content

Flash Video Content

Multimedia Applications
You get the same multimedia applications in the MATE desktop as you do with GNOME 3. Banshee, Brasero, GNOME MPlayer, Movie Player and VLC are all there. And there’s plenty more in the Software Manager if you need something else.

Multimedia Section of the Software Manager

Multimedia Section of the Software Manager

Problems & Headaches
This is where this review gets rather weird, or perhaps weirder than usual. 😉

Even though MATE is early and the Linux Mint developers have warned against possible problems, I actually noticed fewer problems with MATE than I did with the GNOME 3 environment in Linux Mint 12. If you read the problems section of my review of that desktop, you’ll know that I encountered some weird rendering problems of the application menu.

I encountered nothing of the kind in Linux Mint 12 MATE. It ran very well for me. I deliberately went on an application-opening rampage and opened up a bunch of applications to see if I’d get any crashes, lockups, slowdowns or other noticeable problems. Nothing happened, the applications all opened quickly and didn’t crash or slow down.

My experience may have been exceptional or perhaps MATE is farther along than we realize? I’m just not sure.

So I’m very keen to know if others have seen any burps or problems while running Linux Mint 12 MATE. Please post your experiences in the comments so we can all benefit from them. And if it ran great for you, then post that too. It’s good to know if perhaps it’s more stable than indicated in the Linux Mint developer’s note I included at the beginning of the review.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.


You might also want to check out the Linux Mint community site or forum.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Well it’s pretty clear that I prefer MATE to even the modified version of GNOME 3 in Linux Mint 12. If you have a similar perspective then I think MATE is for you. I say that with the earlier caveat about MATE being very early in its development, so don’t get too upset if you try it and you encounter a burp or two.

Still, even though it’s early I’m excited and happy about Linux Mint 12 MATE. My experience was quite positive and I think that’s a good harbinger of things to come for it in Linux Mint. I’m very glad the developers decided to include it.

Linux Mint 12 MATE is probably best suited – whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced user – to those who truly dislike GNOME 3 and prefer a more task-centric, GNOME 2 desktop environment.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 12 MATE
Web Site:  http://www.linuxmint.com
Price: Free
Pros: Fork of GNOME 2. Offers a task-centric desktop. Includes the original MintMenu.
Cons: It’s still early in MATE’s development; it might be unstable at times.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced users who prefer the GNOME 2 desktop interface.
Rating: 4.5/5

 

Linux Mint 12 GNOME 3

The moment so many have waited for is finally here. Linux Mint 12 has been released! This update to Linux Mint has had many people on edge since it marks the move from the older version of GNOME to GNOME 3.2. GNOME 3.2, as you might already know, has had many detractors. Linux Mint users have wondered how on earth such a popular distribution would make a transition to such a reviled and hated desktop interface.

Well I’m happy to say that Linux Mint 12 has survived the move to GNOME 3, thanks to the ingenuity of the Linux Mint developers. Until I saw how the Linux Mint developers implemented GNOME 3, I’d feared that Linux Mint might become another GNOME 3 casualty. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened and you’ll find out why in this review.

Live DVD Desktop

Linux Mint 12 Live DVD Desktop

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Ubuntu 11.10
Linux 3.0
GNOME 3.2
Mint GNOME Shell Extensions (MGSE)
MATE (fork of GNOME 2)
Two new themes (Mint-Z and Mint-Z-Dark)
Backgrounds (includes photos from India and Yellowstone National Park)
New default search engine is Duck Duck Go

Mint GNOME Shell Extensions make it possible to use GNOME 3 the same way you used previous versions. It includes a bottom panel, application menu, window list and it makes GNOME 3 into a more task-oriented desktop. I’ll have much more to say about them in the desktop section of the review. Suffice to say that they are the biggest things in Linux Mint 12, in my opinion. Other developers using GNOME 3 should add something similar in their distros.

Application Menu

Application Menu

MATE is a fork of GNOME 2 that some users might find helpful. The Linux Mint developers warn on their What’s New page that MATE is still new and is thus not completely stable. So be aware of that if you decide to experiment with it.

I didn’t spend much time with MATE since the focus is really on GNOME 3 for this release. However, I expect that some users might gravitate toward MATE if they still dislike GNOME 3 even with the extensions included. If you spend any time with MATE, please post your experiences with it in the comments. I’d be curious to know how well it worked for you. You can choose MATE from the login menu.

(Edit: I just did a full review of Linux Mint 12 MATE. So that should give you a better idea of what you can expect from it.)

MATE

MATE

Linux Mint 12 comes with two new themes. Mint-Z and Mint-Z-Dark are based on Mint-X and Zukitwo.

Themes

Themes

The new default search engine is Duck Duck Go. This is part of the Linux Mint developer’s strategy of using search engines as a business model to help support Linux Mint financially. Duck Duck Go doesn’t track or record user information, nor does it show different results depending on who does the search.

Duck Duck Go

Duck Duck Go is Linux Mint 12’s new default search engine.

No worries if you prefer to use a different search engine, you can easily switch Duck Duck Go for another search engine. I actually like it and I urge you to give it a try for a while before deciding to change it. It works well and it has the extra benefit of helping to finance Linux Mint. So check it out and see how you like it.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
  • 5 GB of disk space
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port

Installation
The installer is very easy to use, as you might expect. Newcomers to Linux Mint should not have a problem using it. The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Install 9

Install 9

Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

The Desktop
The first thing you’ll see when you boot into your desktop is the usual Welcome to Linux Mint menu. Newcomers to Linux Mint should pause for a moment and check out the links in the menu. You’ll find quite a few helpful things there that can get you started using Linux Mint, and can also help you if you run into any problems. Give it a read and take note of what it has to offer.

Welcome to Linux Mint

Welcome to Linux Mint

The second thing you’ll notice is that GNOME 3 in Linux Mint is a bit different than GNOME 3 in other distros. I mentioned the Mint GNOME Shell Extensions earlier in the review but let me elaborate on why they are so important. They add a bottom panel, a window list, an application menu, tray icons and a task-oriented desktop. All of this was sorely missing in GNOME 3 and my hat is off to the Linux Mint developers for having the wisdom to see what was wrong it. There’s even a media player indicator included.

Application Menu

Application Menu

The application menu in the screenshot above is particularly helpful and I find it much faster than using the GNOME 3 menu (in the screenshot below) to open applications. I understand though that others might feel differently. If that’s the case then you might consider Fedora 16 instead of Linux Mint 12 since Fedora uses the generic GNOME 3 desktop rather than the extensions found in Linux Mint.

GNOME 3 Menu

GNOME 3 Menu

The larger issue here, of course, is the stupidity of various developers who seem intent on foisting dreadful mobile interfaces on desktop users. We’ve seen this with Unity and GNOME 3, of course. But we’ve also seen Microsoft fall prey to it with the horrific “Metro” interface mess in Windows 8. Mobile is mobile and the desktop is the desktop. There’s absolutely no need to try to mix the two; it just ends up making a horrible experience for desktop users who work in a task-oriented way not an application-oriented way.

Thankfully the Linux Mint developers understood this and fixed GNOME 3 by including the Mint GNOME Shell Extensions. Now I wish other developers would get a clue and emulate them. I tried the Fedora 16 version of GNOME 3 and found it absolutely awful to use for any length of time.

Linux Mint 12 Desktop

Linux Mint 12 Desktop

The desktop itself features the usual Computer and Home icons, and that’s about it. You won’t find a zillion icons cluttering it up.

Themes & Wallpaper
To change your wallpaper, just right-click the desktop and choose Change Desktop Background. Linux Mint 12 comes with a nice selection of wallpaper. The wallpapers are mostly Linux Mint themed, but there are a few nature scenes as well.

Themes and Wallpaper

Wallpaper

Themes

Themes

Admin Tools

System Management
Here’s a look at the system settings menu. It covers all of the usual things.

System Settings

System Settings

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
No games are included but you can download them from the Software Manager.

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb
Image Viewer
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Pidgin IM
Thunderbird Mail
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
VLC

Office
LibreOffice

Software Management
As far as I can tell, there were no changes to Linux Mint’s software manager. That’s not a problem though as it works very well just as it is. If you’re new to it then I think you’ll find that it offers an amazing amount of software (more than 36,000 packages). I suggest spending a few minutes browsing around to familiarize yourself with its interface. It’s quite easy to use and you’ll find plenty of applications to add to your Linux Mint system.

Software Manager

Software Manager

Software Manager Internet Category

Software Manager Internet Category

Chromium Browser

Chromium Browser

Adding & Removing Software
It’s very easy to add or remove software. Just find the application you want and click the Install or Remove button. You can also view user reviews and ratings of a particular application before deciding to install it on your Linux Mint system. I opted to install Chromium, as I generally prefer it to Firefox. Firefox is still a fine browser but Chromium just floats my boat a bit more.

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
I had no problem running flash based content. Flash was installed by default so I didn’t have to do any fiddling to get things to work in my browser. I opted to try Carly Simon’s video “You’re So Vain” and it ran fine.

I met Carly Simon when I was in my 20s and working at a movie theater on Martha’s Vineyard. She was coming out of the theater and I chatted with her briefly. I asked her who her song “You’re So Vain” was about – Mick Jagger or Warren Beatty. She gave me a witty answer that, alas, has been lost in the mists of time. I suspect that the song was about Warren Beatty though. And who could blame her? Back in his “Bonnie and Clyde” days, he was a great looking guy.

Okay, that’s it for my trip down memory lane. Back to the review. :angel: 😆 :tongue:

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
Linux Mint 12 comes with Banshee, Brasero, GNOME MPlayer, Movie Player, and VLC. So you’ll get a good default selection of software to use for multimedia content. If you need more, just check the Sound and Video category in Software Manager. There are more than 100 applications available there, so you should be able to find what you’re looking for and then some.

Banshee

Banshee

VLC

VLC

Multimedia Category in Software Manager

Multimedia Category in Software Manager

Problems & Headaches
My experience with Linux Mint 12 was mostly very positive. It was quite stable and seemed relatively speedy. I did not experience any application crashes.

I did, however, notice some odd rendering behavior by the applications menu at the bottom of the screen. Certain categories did not display properly. Here are two screenshots that show the problems. The first screenshot should show the applications menu, but as you can see most of it isn’t showing. The second shows the menu but some stuff on the right isn’t rendering properly.

I’m not sure what the problem is here. I installed Linux Mint 12 into VirtualBox so perhaps it’s a VirtualBox problem? I’d be interested in knowing if others have seen something similar on their hardware. If so, please post your experiences in the comments section.

It was still possible to use the applications menu by simply moving the cursor around (most of the categories do show up), but it’s definitely something that should be fixed.

Application Menu Error 1

Application Menu Error 1

Application Menu Error 2

Application Menu Error 2

There is a list of known issues available on the Linux Mint site in the release notes. You may want to browse this before installing Linux Mint 12 on your system, just in case any of the problems might be issues for you.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

You might also want to check out the Linux Mint forums, tutorials, community site, and the documentation page.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
The Linux Mint developers have really done what I thought would be impossible. They’ve taken GNOME 3 and managed to make it usable. Linux Mint 12’s implementation is the best version of GNOME 3 I’ve seen in any distro, and other developers should borrow from Linux Mint 12 in their own distros. I’d wondered for a while what would happen to Linux Mint when it finally moved to GNOME 3. I’m pleased to say that it has made the transition quite well.

As good as Linux Mint 12’s implementation of GNOME 3 is…well, it’s still GNOME 3. So the desktop doesn’t function quite the same as GNOME 2. There are certain things you can’t do and certain things that are just different. This could be a significant problem for those devoted to the GNOME 2 type interface and you should think carefully before doing an upgrade to Linux Mint 12 if you are happy with Linux Mint 11 or other prior releases.

Other desktops such as KDE, Xfce and LXDE also offer viable alternatives to GNOME 3. So you might consider checking some of those out if you decide that you can’t stomach GNOME 3 in any form. You could also try using MATE to see if it will work well enough for you.

While there are a few warts in Linux Mint 12, it’s better than I had hoped for considering the move to GNOME 3. If you aren’t sure if it’s for you then try running it in VirtualBox before you make a decision to install it on your system.

Linux Mint 12 is suitable for beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 12
Web Site:  http://linuxmint.com/
Price: Free
Pros: Mint Gnome Shell Extensions help make GNOME 3 usable by providing a bottom panel, application menu, system icons and a window list. MATE has potential for those who prefer GNOME 2. New artwork and backgrounds. Duck Duck Go default search engine.
Cons: Applications menu rendering problem. MATE is still early and could be unstable. MGSE helps but might not be enough for those who truly despise GNOME 3.
Suitable For:  Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Rating: 4/5

 

Linux Mint 11 (Katya)

Each time a new version of Ubuntu is released, a new version of Linux Mint quickly follows. Linux Mint 11 has just been released and it’s probably the best version of Linux Mint ever. If you aren’t familiar with Linux Mint then you’ve missed out on what is arguably one of the best desktop Linux distros available. Linux Mint 11 is based on Ubuntu 11.04 but it takes that distro to a whole new level, as you’ll see in this review.

Please note that the Linux Mint developers have wisely decided to use GNOME for this release. They have not followed in the footsteps of Ubuntu by using Unity. This will probably please most current Linux Mint users since Unity has caused an enormous amount of controversy in the Linux community.

Linux Mint comes in CD or DVD form. The CD does not include multimedia codecs and other restricted software, so it’s fine for those in countries where such things are banned.

You can easily upgrade to the DVD version and install multimedia codecs via the welcome screen or the menu (just look for Install Multimedia Codecs or Upgrade to the DVD Edition). Upgrading to the DVD version will also get you LibreOffice, Samba, Java, more fonts, and other goodies. So it’s worthwhile to do it if you choose to download the CD version instead of the DVD version.

Welcome

Welcome

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Software Manager improvements (spash screen, bigger category icons, fonts category, improved applications screen)
Update Manager speed improvement
You can turn off fortune cookies in Desktop Settings
New default background featuring 3D Linux Mint logo
Overlay scroll bars
Mint-X theme improvements
LibreOffice replaces OpenOffice
Mint Search Add On for Firefox, Chromium & Opera
Changes to the default software selection

The Software Manager looks fantastic in this release. The splash screen and bigger category icons are great additions. The font category is perfect for font junkies (though personally it’s not something I’d pay much attention to but your mileage may vary). The improved applications screen is also quite welcome.

Linux Mint’s software management tool was quite good before but these changes make it even better. It’s pretty much at the top of the heap these days and should be regarded as an example of how to do a software manager the right way. I’ll have more to say about it in the software section of the review.

Splash Screen

Splash Screen

The update manager is faster than in prior releases. It now just looks for package updates rather than checking your Internet connection, updating rules and then getting package updates. I confess though that I didn’t think it was really that slow in the past, but I’ll take whatever speed improvements I can get.

Rules are also now included in Update Manager and when new rules are released a new version of Update Manager is also released. Dialogs have also been improved and Update Manager will now hide itself after updates are done (no more dialog confirmation is necessary after updates are complete).

Update Manager

Update Manager

Fortune cookies are the funny quotes that appear in the terminal. Apparently some people had a stick up their rear end about this so you can now turn them off in the Desktop Settings. It’s not something I ever cared about but there you go. If you’re an anti-fortune-cookie person then you can now celebrate your victory over them.

Terminal Fortune Cookie Control

Terminal Fortune Cookie Control

The Desktop Settings tool also now detects which desktop environment is running and shows settings for that desktop specifically (GNOME, KDE, Xfce, LXDE, Fluxbox, etc.). This is great if you’re a desktop-hopper that can’t settle into one environment for any length of time.

The new default wallpaper is very cool. I’ll have more to say about that in the desktop section of the review.

The overlay scroll bars are what they are and, frankly, I don’t really care for them. I don’t consider them more than a nuisance though. But if you dislike them enough, you can disable them. I think it would be nice to have that option in the Desktop Settings control instead though. It would make it easier and faster to get rid of them.

Live Desktop

Live Desktop

The Mint-X theme has been better integrated with Synaptic, GIMP, Banshee and Deluge.

The search add-on might be helpful for those who use Firefox 4, Chromium and Opera. It contains bug fixes, more spit and polish, and lets you more easily search Wikipedia, YouTube, Amazon, IMDB and other popular sites.

The Mint developers also made some changes to the default software selection. LibreOffice is now the default office suite (woohoo!). Gwibber is no included by default, Banshee replaces Rhythmbox, and gThumb replaces F-Spot. I’m fine with these changes, particularly the inclusion of LibreOffice. I shed no tears whatsoever for the demise of OpenOffice; it’s time has come and gone. LibreOffice is where it’s at now.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

* x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
* 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).
* 5 GB of disk space
* Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
* CD/DVD drive or USB port

Installation
The Linux Mint 11 installer is as easy as you’d expect. You can watch a slideshow about Linux Mint 11 while your install finishes. The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Linux Mint 11 is a Live CD/DVD so you can try it before you make a decision about installing it.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Install 9

Install 9

Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

The Desktop
The desktop is contains just two icons: Computer and Home. The panel contains the usual stuff (updates, time/date, volume, networking, the menu button and a show the desktop icon).

The excellent Linux Mint panel makes it very easy to access applications, system admin tools and important places on your system. You can also search, adjust your screen resolution and even launch System Monitor if you need to see what’s running and what’s consuming your system’s resources.

Desktop

Desktop

Menu

Menu

Themes
The default theme is Mint-X and it’s quite attractive in its own right. This release provides better integration with Deluge, GIMP, Banshee, and Synaptic. It also includes new radio buttons.

However, if you dislike it you can easily change it. There are a few other choices, as well as a link to download more themes online. I doubt many people will want to switch from the default them, I sure didn’t. It looks great to me.

Themes

Themes

Wallpaper
The new default wallpaper is gorgeous! It’s sort of a brushed metal 3D-ish version of the Linux Mint logo and it works really well with the default theme.

If it doesn’t float your boat, there are a few other choices included or you can download more online.

Wallpaper

Wallpaper

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
No Games Installed By Default

Graphics
GIMP
gThumb
LibreOffice Draw
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Giver
Pidgin IM
Sun Java 6
Thunderbird Mail/News
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Banshee
Brasero
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
Sound Recorder
VLC Media Player

Office
Dictionary
LibreOffice

Software Management
As I noted earlier, the Software Manager has a neat splash screen that appears when you launch it. It’s also got bigger category icons and a new font category. These tweaks, combined with the improved application screens, make this the best version of Software Manager ever. Newbies to Linux Mint will be delighted to use Software Manager and veteran users will most likely enjoy them as well. As you can tell, I’m a big fan of the Software Manager and I’d like to see more distros move in the same direction as Linux Mint.

Of course you can also use Synaptic to manage your software if you want. It’s not as glitzy as Software Manager but it will get the job done just as well. I recommend that Linux newbies start with Software Manager though and play with Synaptic once they have their feet on the ground with Linux Mint.

Synaptic

Synaptic

Software Manager

Software Manager

Featured Applications

Featured Applications

User Review Comments

User Review Comments

Adding & Removing Software
As always, it’s quite simple to add or remove software in Software Manager. Just find the application you want and click the Install or Remove button.

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
As always with Linux Mint, I had no problems running YouTube videos. Flash is installed by default so there’s no downloading or installing required for you to use YouTube and other flash-based multimedia on the web. Sound and video both worked very well while playing videos.

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
Linux Mint 11 comes with a very solid selection of multimedia applications. All of the basic functionality you’ll need is installed by default. Banshee, Brasero, GNOME MPLayer, Movie Player, Sound Recorder and VLC are all included as part of your desktop.

If you find yourself lacking something, fire up the Software Manager and you’ll find another 96 multimedia applications available for you to download.

VLC and Banshee

VLC and Banshee

Multimedia Category in Software Manager

Multimedia Category in Software Manager

Problems & Headaches
I’m delighted and annoyed to note here that I didn’t see any problems with Linux Mint. The install went very well and I could not find any overt blemishes to report here. My Linux Mint 11 system was stable and quite speedy.

Ugh. :blink: :angry: :sad:

While I’m happy for the Linux Mint developers, it makes it hard to provide anything juicy to report in this section. So I will default to asking you, my dear readers, to please post any problems or headaches you encountered while using Linux Mint in the comments below. I’m sure some of you will run into burps of one kind or another, depending on your hardware.

Thanks in advance if you can share them below for the benefit of other readers.

Note that there are a few burps listed on the Linux Mint site that you might want to bear in mind.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Linux Mint Community site, forums and blog for feedback and support.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Linux Mint 11 is yet another great version of one of the best desktop Linux distros out there. It’s an excellent choice for those new to Linux and will let them hit the ground running. But it’s also worth considering for veteran users and distrohoppers who are looking for a distro to settle in with for a while.

I was very happy to see that the developers have made it easy and simple for CD users to upgrade to the full DVD version. It’s a very good way to help those stuck in oppressive countries or who don’t have DVD players in their computers. The improvements to Software Manager are also something for all of us to be glad about.

The other tweaks and new features are just icing on an already sweet Linux Mint cake. Really, there’s just not much to complain about with this release. Linux Mint still retains its position as one of the best desktop distros available today. I highly recommend downloading it and checking it out if you aren’t familiar with it.

I also commend the Linux Mint developers for using the GNOME interface instead of Unity. The folks who prefer Unity can simply opt for generic Ubuntu while devoted Linux Mint users are spared the trauma of adapting their work flow to Unity’s netbook-ish interface.

Remember though that this release is still based on Ubuntu. If you dislike Ubuntu then I suggest Linux Mint Debian Edition or Linux Mint Xfce Debian Edition. Both are rolling releases and have nothing to do with Ubuntu.

Linux Mint 11 is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 11
Web Site: http://www.linuxmint.com/
Price: Free
Pros: Attractive default wallpaper. Software Manager has been improved with a font category, bigger category icons, better application pages, and a splash screen. Update Manager’s speed has increased. You can turn off fortune cookies in the terminal. LibreOffice replaces OpenOffice.org. This release retains the GNOME interface and does not use Ubuntu’s Unity.
Cons: This release is still based on Ubuntu and is probably not well suited for those who dislike what Ubuntu itself has to offer. Those looking for Unity will definitely have to use generic Ubuntu instead of Linux Mint.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Rating: 5/5

 

Linux Mint 201104 Xfce

Linux Mint Debian Edition has proven to be a popular release for the Linux Mint developers. It’s certainly at the top of my list of favorite distros. Linux Mint Debian edition uses the GNOME desktop and, as good as it is, it’s just not right for some folks (especially those on older or slower computers).

Enter Linux Mint 201104 Xfce version. Now you can get the benefits of a rolling Debian distro and the virtues of the lightweight Xfce desktop environment. Linux Mint Xfce runs on top of a Debian Testing base and makes use of the same repositories as regular Linux Mint Debian Edition.

For those aren’t familiar with rolling release distros here’s a brief bit of background:

In software development, a rolling release approach refers to a continuously developing software system, as opposed to one with versions that must be reinstalled over the previous versions. It is one of many types of software release life cycles. Rolling releases are typically seen in use by Linux distributions. A rolling release is typically implemented using small and frequent updates. However, simply having updates does not automatically mean that a piece of software is using a rolling release cycle; to qualify as a rolling release, the philosophy of developers must be to work with one code branch, as opposed to discrete versions. Updates are typically delivered to users using a package manager and a software repository accessed through the internet. Not all distributions based on rolling release distros are themselves rolling. Conversely, there are rolling release distributions that are based on development branches of non-rolling distros; there are also (partial) rolling release distributions based on stable branches of non-rolling distros.

And if you aren’t familiar with Xfce, here’s a bit more background to bring you up to speed:

Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for UNIX-like operating systems. It aims to be fast and low on system resources, while still being visually appealing and user friendly. Xfce embodies the traditional UNIX philosophy of modularity and re-usability. It consists of a number of components that provide the full functionality one can expect of a modern desktop environment. They are packaged separately and you can pick among the available packages to create the optimal personal working environment. Another priority of Xfce is adhereance to standards, specifically those defined at freedesktop.org. Xfce can be installed on several UNIX platforms. It is known to compile on Linux, NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, Cygwin and MacOS X, on x86, PPC, Sparc, Alpha…

What’s New In This Release
Since this is a rolling release, there really wasn’t a coherent list of new features for this section of the review. However, you can browse the release announcement to gain some additional insight into the virtues of Linux Mint Xfce. I found it interesting that the other version of Linux Mint Debian Edition will eventually be called Linux Mint GNOME Debian or something like that.

Here are some of the highlights from the release notes:

Performance boost
Better software selection

Here are the figures from the Linux Mint blog regarding the performance boost:

  • Mint Xfce: 114 MB RAM (Mint 9 Xfce: 153 MB RAM)
  • Mint Xfce + Writer + Calc + Firefox: 177 MB RAM (Mint 9 Xfce + Writer + Calc + Firefox: 212 MB RAM)
  • Mint Xfce + Writer + Calc + Firefox + Thunderbird + VLC + Rhythmbox: 220 MB RAM (Mint 9 Xfce + Writer + Calc + Firefox + Thunderbird + Gnome MPlayer + Exaile: 256 MB RAM)

The big thing here obviously is the performance boost. I have not verified this but the figures presented seem quite reasonable and if they are true then I think users should be quite happy indeed with this release! That said, it’s not like running any Xfce version of Linux Mint was ever slow or pokey. It’s probably one of the most responsive, least bloated desktop environments you can pick to run. But if the Linux Mint developers can make it even better, I’m all for it.

The software selection basically puts it on par as the GNOME version including adding VLC and replacing Exaile with Rhythmbox. These are good moves and should add value for most users. Of course these programs were available for download but if they come installed by default now, so much the better especially for new users that might not have come across them before.

Welcome

Welcome

Preinstall Boot Menu

Preinstall Boot Menu

Live Desktop

Live Desktop

Hardware Requirements & Installation
Hardware Requirements

As far as I can tell the requirements to run the Debian version have not changed from the Ubuntu version. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:

x86 processor (for both 32 & 64-bit versions)
x86_64 compatible processor (for the 64-bit version)
512 MB of system memory (RAM)
3 GB of disk space for installation
Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
CD-ROM drive or USB port

Installation
The Linux Mint 201104 Xfce ISO file is about 1 GB. Bear in mind that this is a Live DVD so you can simply boot into it to test it. You do not need to actually do an install unless you find it compelling enough to want it on your system. This is perfect for those new to the idea of a rolling release distro or who have no experience with the Xfce desktop environment. You can try before you buy, so to speak (no need to actually buy anything since this distro is completely free but you get the idea).

The install routine is slightly less slick than the Ubuntu version of Linux Mint. You’ll need to be able to partition your hard disk using the tool included with this distro. It’s not difficult but I want to note it here for the folks who are used to installers that do a bit more hand holding.

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Booting & Login
Here’s what the booting and login screens look like:

Boot Menu

Boot Menu

Login

Login

The Desktop
The Linux Mint 201104 Xfce desktop won’t wow you with extravagant wallpaper or sizzling eye-candy. Instead it’s all about speed and functionality, and in that sense it delivers the goods.

When you first boot into the desktop you’ll see the welcome menu. If you are new to this distro or to Linux Mint in general, I highly recommend spending a moment or two looking at the welcome menu. There are a lot of very helpful choices on it that will help get you started with Linux Mint. The welcome menu is a nice touch and goes a long way toward welcoming new users to Linux mint.

After you close the welcome menu, you can begin to poke around on the desktop. It’s got the usual Home, File System, etc. on it. The panel at the bottom contains controls for volume, updates, music player, the time and it also contains the applications menu button on the far left. Clicking that brings up the application categories, settings, help and other useful items.

Welcome

Welcome

Desktop

Desktop

Panel Menu

Panel Menu

The focus of the Xfce desktop really is speed and simplicity. It’s not going to take you forever to find things in this distro. The desktop menus are all set up very well to get you using your system with a minimum of fuss and headaches. This is in sharp contrast to other desktop environments that suck up system resources with unnecessary bloat and eye-candy. Xfce is pretty much the direct opposite of that and it’s one of the reasons why I like this distro so much.

Themes
If the default style doesn’t appeal to you, check the appearance menu in the Xfce 4 Settings Manager to change it to something you like better. There are a fair amount of choices available, and you can change icons and fonts as well.

Appearance Settings

Appearance Settings

Wallpaper
As I noted, the default wallpaper is subdued and some might think it rather bland. If you look in the Desktop settings tools you’ll find a good selection of much brighter Linux Mint alternatives.

Wallpaper

Wallpaper

Admin Tools & Preferences
These screen shots show you what you can use to customize and manage your system.

Xfce 4 Settings Manager

Xfce 4 Settings Manager

System

System

Settings

Settings

Bundled Software
Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
There are no games installed by default. However, there are more than a thousand of them available in the Software Manager.

Software Manager Games

Software Manager Games

Graphics

Graphics

Graphics

Internet

Network

Network

Multimedia

Multimedia

Multimedia

Office

Office

Office

Software Management
There are two ways to manage software in this distro: Synaptic or the Software Manager. I highly recommend using the Software Manager instead of Synaptic. The Software Manager provides user ratings & reviews as well as a much nicer interface than Synaptic. You can get by with Synaptic for sure, but the Software Manager provides a far superior overall experience on a day-to-day basis. I know that there are some hard-core synaptic junkies out there though and if it works for you then great. It’s nice to have choices.

The screenshots below show you what the Software Manager looks like and there’s also one of Synaptic so you can compare the interfaces a bit.

Software Manager

Software Manager

Featured Applications

Featured Applications

Filezilla Install

Filezilla Install

Synaptic

Synaptic

Adding & Removing Software
It’s very easy to add or remove software in the Software Manager. To install an application in Synaptic just find the application and click the check box next to its name. Then choose Mark for Installation then click the Apply button. Removing software works about the same so it’s quite painless for the most part.

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
I had no problem running flash based content in Linux Mint 201104 Xfce. Flash is installed in Firefox by default.

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
The default selection of multimedia applications is quite respectable. VLC, Brasero, GNOME MPlayer, Movie Player, Rhythmbox and MPlayer are all included. There are also an additional 259 applications available in the Sound and Video category in Software Manager. So you’ll have plenty of multimedia tools to choose from if you go with this distribution.

Rhythmbox

Rhythmbox.png

Sound and Video Category

Sound and Video Category

Problems & Headaches
One minor problem I ran into was that Software Manager would not start at one point after I had been running Synaptic. I closed Synaptic and then tried to start Software Manager but nothing happened. Not sure what happened there but I did a restart and tried to repeat the problem. But Software Manager opened without a problem after closing Synaptic. Weird. There must have been a burp somewhere the first time it happened.

That aside, I did not run into any other noticeable performance problems or bugs. Everything pretty much just worked and worked very well. This is a speedy distro and you won’t spend a lot of time waiting for your system to boot or your desktop to load. That’s one of the nicest things about Xfce’s lightweight environment; stuff happens quickly even if you aren’t running cutting-edge hardware.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum; everybody is welcome. Feel free to post a message in the forum and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, as well as other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Linux Mint forum, blog, community site or documentation page.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Linux Mint 201104 Xfce is a great fit for users on slower or older hardware that craves Debian with all of the Linux Mint tools and goodies. It’s also an excellent choice for those who are minimalists and prefer a lightweight but fully functional desktop environment. Both kinds of users should get many hours of enjoyment and productivity from this distribution.

But what about Ubuntu users who dislike Unity? I’m sure there are some out there who are still searching for an alternative distribution. I’m happy to say that Linux Mint 201104 Xfce is great for you guys too. In fact, once you get used to Xfce you may find that going back to GNOME or KDE is simply unnecessary unless you crave eye-candy and a bit of bloat in your desktop environment.

Bear in mind that I tend to be more of a minimalist at heart. I have been around a long while and have seen a lot of things added to desktop computing environments that take up a lot of system resources but don’t provide a whole heck of a lot more real utility value. So I lean toward Xfce and other minimalist environments.

Your mileage may vary considerably as might your work habits. If that’s the case then no problem. There are plenty of distros out there that can give you the coolness that you seek. But I recommend giving this distro a spin even if you are an eye-candy junkie. It never hurts to have some experience with alternative environments so grab a copy of Linux Mint 201104 Xfce and check it out.

This distro is arguably best for intermediate or advanced users. Beginners can use it as a Live DVD to get a taste for it. Beginners who are familiar with disk partitioning or who are willing to learn might want to consider giving it an install.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit Eye On Linux for Linux opinion columns and distro quick looks; visit JimLynch.com for other technology coverage.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 201104 Xfce
Web Site: http://www.linuxmint.com/
Price: Free
Pros: Provides a fast, lightweight Xfce environment on top of Debian Testing. Default software selection now matches the GNOME version of Linux Mint Debian Edition.
Cons: Xfce might not appeal to desktop eye-candy junkies. Linux newbies could stumble over disk partitioning when installing this distro.
Suitable For: Intermediate & advanced users. Beginners familiar with disk partitioning or who are willing to learn might want to consider it as well.
Rating: 4.5/5

 

Linux Mint 10

Whenever a new version of Ubuntu is released, you can be sure a new version of Linux Mint will soon follow. This time around it’s Linux Mint 10. Linux Mint, as you may already know, is one of the most popular Ubuntu remasters. It’s known for its excellent tools, great selection of software and bundled multimedia codecs.

Linux Mint 10 is based on Ubuntu 10.10. If you aren’t already familiar with the changes to Ubuntu 10.10, please read the original Ubuntu 10.10 review then hop back over here to continue reading about Linux Mint. I don’t want to regurgitate all of the stuff about Ubuntu 10.10 in this review.

Linux Mint 10 uses the GNOME desktop environment. It is available in CD or DVD versions (32 or 64 bit). For this review I downloaded the 32-bit DVD release. The file weighed in at about 872 MB.

Live Desktop

Live Desktop

What’s New In This Release
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:

Ubuntu 10.10
Linux 2.6.35
GNOME 2.32
Xorg 7.5

Welcome screen
Install codecs and upgrade to the DVD edition from the welcome screen

Menu
Highlights newly installed applications
Finds and installs software from the repositories
Search engines
GTK bookmarks support
GTK themes support

Software manager
Application icons
Better categorization

Update manager
Ignore updates
Download size

Upload manager
UI, speed, ETA
Connection test
Cancel / Run in background

New look and feel

System improvements

Welcome Menu Improvements
I downloaded the DVD version, so there was no need to upgrade to it via the new Welcome menu. However, I must say that I was very glad that the LM developers added this in Linux Mint 10. I think there are quite a few folks who will appreciate being able to snag the DVD version and the multimedia codecs with just a couple of clicks. It’s little things like this that make Linux Mint such a great distribution. The developers are always fine-tuning what they offer and continually trying to make a better experience for the user.

Welcome Menu

Welcome Menu

Mint Menu Improvements
The Mint Menu is usually either one of the things people love or hate, there’s not usually much middle ground. I lean toward the love perspective so I was very happy to see some of the new improvements. It’s great having newly installed applications automatically highlighted, especially when you already have a zillion applications installed.

It’s also nice to be able to search for applications via the Mint Menu. Sometimes it just sucks having to bother opening the Software Manager to find or install an application.

Mint Menu Application Search

Mint Menu Application Search

I also enjoyed being able to search the web from the Mint Menu. I’m not sure how often I’ll use that feature though, since I’m usually already browsing in a browser window when the need to search for something occurs to me. However, it’s helpful to have the option to use Mint Menu if I’m not already in a browser window.

Mint Menu Web Search

Mint Menu Web Search

The Mint Menu also now supports GTK Bookmarks and GTK Themes. Both features will no doubt add some real value to for some users, but I probably won’t bother much with either of them. You can also configure icon sizes for the Mint Menu.

Mint Menu Preferences

Mint Menu Preferences

Software Manager & Update Manager Improvements
I’ll cover these in the software part of the review.

Upload Manager Improvements
I don’t use the upload manager, so it’s not a big priority for me. Those who do will no doubt appreciate the ability to test a connection, cancel/run an upload in the background, see a new UI, and see the speed of an upload.

Look and Feel
I’ll cover this in the desktop section of the review.

Other Improvements

There are a few other additions to this release and these include:

Adobe Flash Square Included (32 and 64 bit)
Oracle VirtualBox (Metapackage points to non-free version of VirtualBox that includes USB support)
Signed Repositories (no warning for usage of signed repositories)
Highlight (highlight command is faster and more reliable)
Meta Packages (codecs now tracked by “mint-meta-codecs”)
Adjustment System (now LSB compliant

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this distro:

  • x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).
  • 512 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • 4 GB of disk space for installation
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD-ROM drive or USB port

Installation
As always, the Linux Mint install routine is about as easy as it gets. You can view a slide show while it finishes. If you’re new to Linux Mint, you’ll probably find the slide show very helpful.

The screenshots below walk you through the install, from beginning to end.

Install 1

Install 1

Install 2

Install 2

Install 3

Install 3

Install 4

Install 4

Install 5

Install 5

Install 6

Install 6

Install 7

Install 7

Install 8

Install 8

Install 9

Install 9

Booting & Login
Here’s what the boot and login screens look like:

Boot

Boot

Login

Login

The Desktop
As noted at the beginning of the review, there have been some changes to the look and feel of Linux Mint. There are some new backgrounds that have been included by various artists, including a new default background that you can see in the screenshot below. The welcome screen and desktop menu have a brushed metal look to them now and Mint-X is the new theme. There are also new Mint-X icons to help emphasize the new look and feel of Linux Mint 10.

Desktop

Desktop

Overall, I think the aesthetic changes to Linux Mint 10 are mostly attractive. It does have a darker feel to it though, I noticed it when booting into the desktop. I had expected a bright green wallpaper but the new one is far more subdued. I know that some folks may not like this, but I think it mostly works. The icons are attractive and it all seems to gel very well into one cohesive whole in terms of looks.

Themes
If you decide that you dislike the default theme, just right-click the desktop and opt to change your background. There are 10 other themes available, and you can get more online.

Themes

Themes

Wallpaper
The same goes for the wallpaper. If you hate the default, there are about 34 other wallpapers you can choose from in the Appearance Preferences menu. So you definitely are not stuck with the new wallpaper.

Wallpaper

Wallpaper

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
Games Available in the Software Manager

Graphics
F-Spot
GIMP
OpenOffice.org Drawing
Simple Scan

Internet
Firefox
Giver
Gwibber
Mozilla Thunderbird Mail/News
Pidgin IM
Sun Java 6
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Brasero
GNOME MPlayer
Movie Player
PulseAudio Device Chooser
PulseAudio Volume Control
Rhythmbox
Sound Recorder
VLC Media Player

Office
Dictionary
OpenOffice.org

Overall, I don’t have anything to complain about in terms of software selection. Linux Mint 10 covers pretty much all of the bases while not overloading the user with too much software. If you find you need something more, just load up the Software Manager and you should be able to find it.

Software Management
Linux Mint has had one of the better software managers for a long time. This release makes it even better by including a better categorization of software and application icons. Given that it also displays ratings and reviews, the Linux Mint developers have just made a great software manager even better. I’d like to see more distros including the same sorts of features in their software managers.

Software Manager

Software Manager Categories

Internet Applications

Internet Applications

Adding & Removing Software
It’s very easy to add or remove software. Just find the application you want and click the green Install or Remove button. The software manager will add it or remove it from your system, as shown in the screenshots below of Chromium. You can also read reviews and see ratings before you decide to actually install the application.

Chromium Install

Chromium Install

Chromium Reviews

Chromium Reviews

Update Manager Changes
Update Manager has also been tweaked in this release. You can now right click a package and tell Update Manager to ignore it. You will no longer receive updates for it. This is a nice little tweak that puts more control in the hands of the user.

You can also now see the size of your selected updates, so you’ll know how much you need to download to update a package.

Updates

Updates

Sound and Multimedia
YouTube & Flash
Flash is installed by default, I had no problems running YouTube videos. As always Linux Mint comes with a bunch of multimedia codecs installed by default, so you should have no problem running DVDs, etc. If you look in the Software Manager you can find the mint-meta-codecs package if – for some strange reason – you want to remove them from your system.

Codecs Package

Codecs Package

YouTube

YouTube

Multimedia Applications
You get the always-excellent VLC media player, Rhythmbox, Brasero, GNOME MPlayer and a few other multimedia applications bundled with Linux Mint 10. If you need more be sure to hit the Software Manager. There are a total of 75 packages available there, probably far more than anybody will ever really need on their system. But if you want to install them all, have at it.

Multimedia Applications

Multimedia Applications available in Software Manager.

Problems & Headaches
I’m very happy to report that I didn’t run into any noticeable problems with Linux Mint 10. It ran very well for me. I didn’t see slowdowns, application crashes or any noticeable bugs. However, there were a few known problems listed on the Linux Mint site that you might want to be aware of:

Splash screen resolution
If the boot sequence only shows dots and no logo, you can make it look better by following these instructions.

Moonlight
Moonlight was removed from Linux Mint because of a bug that made Firefox crash. The bug was fixed upstream and you can install the Moonlight plugin from the project’s website.

Upstream issues
Linux Mint 10 is based on Maverick Merkaat. Make sure to read the known issues related to this release.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Linux Mint Forums and Community Site.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Once again, the Linux Mint developers take an already great distro and added a few more things that make it even better. One of the things I always hate when writing about Linux Mint is that I hardly ever find things to complain about, and so it is again with this release.

Linux Mint 10 renews Linux Mint’s place at the very top of the desktop distro heap. To put it bluntly, it doesn’t get much better than this if you want to run Linux as your desktop OS.

If you haven’t tried Linux Mint before, then you’re in for a real treat. If you’re a current Linux Mint user, I recommend that you consider upgrading to Linux Mint 10. You can find upgrade instructions here.

Linux Mint 10 is well suited for beginners, intermediate and advanced Linux users.

Click to the next page to view the full gallery of Linux Mint 10 screenshots.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 10
Web Site: http://www.linuxmint.com
Price: Free
Pros: Update to DVD version and install codecs from the Welcome menu; menu improvements let you search for applications, search the web, highlight new applications; software manager includes application icons and better categorization. Desktop look and feel has been improved.
Cons: Not much to complain about, frankly. It’s still based on Ubuntu though, so if you don’t like Ubuntu then consider Linux Mint Debian Edition instead.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users.
Summary: Linux Mint 10 adds some helpful tweaks and improvements to an already great distro.
Rating: 5/5

 

Linux Mint 9 Xfce

Last week I looked at the Debian version of Linux Mint. This time around I’m going to cover the Xfce version; this review was actually partly written before the release of the Debian version. I cast it aside and jumped into the Debian version, but I wanted to get this one done this week and out of the way.

We all know that there are passionate partisans of the GNOME and KDE versions of Linux Mint; yet, oddly, you rarely hear about people raving about the Xfce version. That’s a shame, because sometimes less is truly more. Linux Mint 9 Xfce has a lot to offer to those who have limited hardware, or who simply prefer not to deal with the eye-candy bloat of GNOME or KDE.

What’s New In This Release
There’s quite a bit of new stuff in this release, here’s a sample of what you’ll find:

New Software Manager
New Backup Tool
Improved Look & Feel
Thunar Move to Trash and Delete Options
Windows Installer
Usb Creator
32 & 64 Bit Editions
Faster Boot

I’ll cover the Software Manager in the software section of the review, and I’ll talk about the look and feel in the desktop section.

New Backup Tool
The new backup tool preserves your data and preferences. It also tracks the software you installed. When you go to upgrade to a fresh install of Linux Mint, the backup tool will restore your data as well as the software you had installed on your Linux Mint system.

You can also opt to restore your software selection on a different computer. The backup tool can perform incremental restorations and backups, and it can compress and archive “on the fly.” It also performs an integrity check on each file (but you can turn this off if you want to speed up your backup).

Thunar Options
Thunar is the Xfce file manager, and in this release the edit menu has “Move to Trash” and “Delete” options. Note that the “Delete” option now removes the item(s) permanently from your system.

Windows Installer
The Windows installer is back in this release. While I don’t really use Windows these days, I’m very glad to see this. It might help some of the folks that are considering giving desktop Linux a try.

USB Creator
Included in this release is the Ubuntu “Startup Disk Creator” that lets you easily put Linux Mint onto a USB stick. Hey, who doesn’t keep an extra copy of their favorite desktop Linux distro on a USB device? You never know when you might need it.

This version of Linux Mint 9 is based on Xfce. Please note that Xfce 4.6 has had two bug fix updates since the release of version 4.6, bringing it up to version 4.6.2. Here’s a list of new features and changes to Xfce 4.6 itself.

Hardware Requirements & Installation

Hardware Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run it:

  • x86 processor (for both 32 & 64-bit versions)
  • x86_64 compatible processor (for the 64-bit version)
  • 256 MB of system memory (RAM)
  • 4 GB of disk space for installation
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD-ROM drive or USB port

Installation
The install is typical Ubuntu, it’s very fast and easy. The screenshots below walk you through it from beginning to end.

Booting & Login

Bootsplash & Login Screen
The bootsplash and login screens are standard Linux Mint/Ubuntu fare. The login screen will let you change your language or keyboard settings.

The Desktop
You won’t find a bunch of junk cluttering up the Linux Mint Xfce desktop, it’s mostly clear of icons. If you click the Menu button you will notice that the large Linux Mint menu that you find in GNOME or KDE isn’t present in the Xfce release. Instead you’ll find the usual list of application categories, settings, help, etc. Those used to the menu in GNOME, for example, might miss it in the Xfce version, but that should last for all of about 2 minutes. It’s very easy to get used using Linux Mint Xfce.

You can customize your Linux Mint Xfce desktop settings by right clicking your desktop and choosing Desktop Settings. This lets you choose your wallpaper (there’s a number of Linux Mint themed wallpaper to choose from) and change your menu and icon settings. You can also adjust the brightness and saturation controls.

Note that there is no default Trash icon on your desktop, you’ll need to click the Icons tab in Desktop Settings to add it. I’m not sure why it’s not there by default, it does seem rather conspicuous to not have it there.

If you want to adjust your settings, click the Menu button then choose Settings then Xfce 4 Settings Manager. The Settings Manager lets you adjust all of the usual stuff:

Accessibility
Appearance
Desktop
Display
File Manager
Keyboard/Mouse
Panel
Power Manager
Preferred Applications
Removable Drives and Media
Session and Startup
Window Manager & Window Manager Tweaks
Workspaces.

There are also other settings that can be changed from the main Settings menu.

The Linux Mint 9 Xfce desktop.

Bundled Software

Here’s a sample of the software included in this release.

Games
Available Via Software Manager

Graphics
GIMP
OpenOffice.org Drawing
Simple Scan
Document Viewer

Internet
Firefox
Mozilla Thunderbird Mail and News
Pidgin IM
Transmission
XChat IRC

Multimedia
Brasero
Exaile
GNOME MPlayer
Mixer

Office
OpenOffice.org
Dictionary
Osmo

Software Management
Linux Mint Xfce uses the excellent Linux Mint Software Manager. If you’ve used it in GNOME or KDE, you’ll be quite familiar with it. Applications are broken down into the following categories:

Featured
Accessories
Education
Games
Graphics
Internet
Office
Science
Sound and Video
System Tools
Programming
All Packages

Adding & Removing Software
To add an application, just find it in the Software Manager and click the Install button. To remove it just click the Remove button. The Software Manager makes managing applications on your Linux Mint Xfce system easy and painless. And there’s a huge range of software available.

Sound and Multimedia
As can be expected with Linux Mint, flash is installed by default so watching YouTube videos and other multimedia content on the Web is no problem.

This distro also comes with Brasero, Exaile, GNOME MPlayer and Mixer installed by default. Oddly, VLC is nowhere to be found. I’m not sure why it’s not installed by default, but you can find it in the Software Manager. It’s one of my favorite applications for multimedia, so I miss it when I don’t see it as one of the default multimedia applications.

Problems & Headaches
My experience with Linux Mint Xfce was quite good, I didn’t run into any stability problems or other noticeable burps. I’m a heavy web browser, as you might imagine. So at any time I usually have a ton of tabs open in various browser windows. I never noticed any slowdown or browser crashes nor did I see any problems running various other applications on my Xfce desktop.

The Linux Mint developers, however, have released a list of known problems. I’ve reproduced here so you have a heads up about what you might expect in that regard.

Splash screen resolution
If the boot sequence only shows dots and no logo, you can make it look better by following these instructions.

Moonlight
Moonlight was removed from Linux Mint 9 because of a bug that made Firefox crash. The bug was fixed upstream and you can install the Moonlight plugin from the project’s website.

Problems with Xfce mixer
The mixer doesn’t set up the audio device automatically. You have to left-click on the panel plugin to set up the audio device. You also need to right click on the panel plugin to set up mixer plugin.

Desktop and delete options
The right click delete option on the desktop still moves item(s) to trash.

Gigolo and Windows Shares
Gigolo requires gvfs-fuse to be installed to connect to a Windows Share.

Small fonts
The default font size is set to automatic, but this may cause problems for some applications. The solution is to use a Custom setting of 96. You may still need to adjust the DPI if that’s still too small.

fusion-icon installs Compiz KDE packages
To make sure that installing fusion-icon doesn’t install KDE, install compiz-gnome and compiz. Now when you install fusion-icon it won’t pull in KDE packages. This shouldn’t cause any problems as fusion-icon has the correct settings for Xfce.

YouTube videos worked well, flash was installed.

Where To Get Help
Please take a moment to register for the DLR forum (registration takes less than a minute and you can login with your Facebook account if you want); everybody is welcome. You are welcome to post a message in the Linux Help section and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction. The forum contains discussions about Linux, but also many other topics. Please stop by and say hello when you have a chance.

Drop by the forum to get help, talk about Linux or just hang out.

You might also want to check out the Linux Mint 9 Xfce forum or community site.

Final Thoughts & Who Should Use It
Linux Mint 9 Xfce was a genuine pleasure to use. It’s very fast and doesn’t require a whole lot in terms of system resources. It’s an antidote to other desktop environments that some might argue are bloated with unnecessary eye-candy and unused features.

Personally, I can see the advantages and disadvantages to full-featured desktop environments, as well as minimalistic environments like Xfce. Each user will have to come to his or her own decision as to which suits them best. Frankly, I tend to switch back and forth when the mood suits me.

Linux Mint 9 Xfce is suitable for beginner, intermediate and advanced Linux users who want a fast, minimalistic desktop environment.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments below. Visit the DLR forum for more discussions. Visit JimLynch.com for opinion columns.

Summary Table:

Product: Linux Mint 9 Xfce
Web Site: http://linuxmint.com/
Price: Free
Pros: It’s fast and requires less in the way of system resources. In that sense it’s perfect for those with limited or older hardware.
Cons: Those craving eye-candy and the feature sets of GNOME or KDE might find this distro lacking as a daily desktop environment.
Suitable For: Beginner, intermediate or advanced Linux users.
Summary: Linux Mint 9 Xfce is a near-perfect blend of the minimalist advantages of the Xfce desktop environment and the tools/features of Linux Mint.
Rating: 4/5