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.
What’s new in Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon
Here’s a sample of the new features in this release:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.