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