After wiping my hard drive again and making it minty fresh, I am back with another Linux Preview. This time if you haven’t guessed it, is Linux Mint 14 or Nadia for short. I feel like Linux Mint gets pushed behind the shadows of Ubuntu, Fedora and Debian for no good reason. Linux Mint is even built from Ubuntu, so you get the good software support and updates from Ubuntu plus the updates from Mint.
When first booting into Linux Mint I was somewhat surprised that no dialog came up asking to install or use the Live CD. You get pushed right into the Live CD with an icon on the desktop to install to your hard drive. I assume this is for convenience for Live CD users, but I haven’t seen other distros do this yet. But in the end it doesn’t matter because you still get quick access to install it.
The installer is very simplified. You can run through the whole process in just a few minutes, and it feels like it is faster than some of the other installers out there. It has options to install alongside existing Operating Systems, Overwrite the whole drive, and to do your own custom formatting; this is the norm for most installers. Shortly after copying files to the disk you will get greeted with yourself? Yes, after installing your webcam will turn on (given you have one plugged in), and it will attempt to make your new avatar. I wasn’t expecting myself to pop up on screen, but it is nice that this feature is added. I’m not sure if they added this to the install so after you login you can create users with this same method. I hope they did because it would be a pain to do it the long way of taking a picture and then finding the file of it.
To install Mint you do need to be connected to the internet, atleast for the version I used. Mine included the codec version, so I assumed it had to download them. I have yet to try the non-codec install to see if it still required an internet connection to install.
I installed Mint using Cinnamon Desktop Environment and was pleased with the results. It has a very Gnome 2 look to it, with panels and a category based main menu. The amount of themes Cinnamon and Mint come included is crazy. I think there were at minimum 50 to pick from right from install, and not to mention all of them online. Along with themes you can change the window handles to custom themes. Themes mostly handle the panels, alt-tab design, and the menu design. Window handles require a different theme to be installed.
You can customize nearly everything you see on the screen easily. I was able to move the close button on a window to the left without having to open a configuration editor. I was able to change the size of the bottom panel so it was more visible on my laptop. And there are so many more, such as adding applets, rearranging your panels, backgrounds, etc.
Mint also has different builds with other window managers such as MATE, KDE, Xfce. So you do have a good variety to pick what you want. You can always install another environment after install too.
I have to say, adding Alt+Tab previews to the screen was really nice and I haven’t seen it before in any operating system. When you switch between windows you get a preview of what the window is and has on it. Also having unlimited work stations isn’t the most common thing to have, and it is nice to see it added to Mint. You can use Hot Corners (flinging mouse to a corner of screen) and open up the Workstation view. All workstations are listed in a single row and not a table, but it works fairly well. You can see which programs are minimized and opened.
Getting Your Hands on Mint
If you would like to try Linux Mint, and I think you should since it is very user friendly and I think easier to get a hang of instead of a Unity environment like Ubuntu, you can visit the links below to their various web pages.