Feeds

Mint 15 freshens Ubuntu's bad bits

Slipping between GNOME and Unity sheets with Olivia

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

Mint gets MATE

Cinnamon 1.8 offers a much better integrated system settings panel. Previously some system settings were part of the Cinnamon system setting panel and some the GNOME settings panel, which was confusing and annoying. Thankfully, everything is in one place now. The panel itself is largely unchanged, but given that one of the major appeals of Mint over desktops like Unity or GNOME Shell is the ease of customization, the unification gives Cinnamon a much more focused, integrated feel and will go a long way toward helping newcomers get to terms with the desktop and tweak it to their liking.

Another nice new bit of integration in this release involves what Cinnamon calls "Spices" - little applets, desklets, themes and extensions that enhance the desktop. Previously Spices were downloaded from a website and installing them was a manual process. In Cinnamon 1.8 the process of finding and installing Spices is all handled within the "extensions" pane of the Cinnamon settings panel.

Mint 15 spices

A Cinnamon extensions pane helps spice up your desktop

Other new Cinnamon features include a screensaver that allows for personalized messages and support for "desklets", which are essentially desktop widgets. This release ships with a scant three, which you can find by right-clicking the desktop and selecting the desklets menu item. That will open a panel with a clock, a photo frame and a launcher. A few more can be found by hitting the "Find More Online" button, including an XKCD widget, but look for more desklets options to show up once the community gets to work.

The Mint team also has some new features for those who prefer the MATE desktop. Adhering much more to the look and feel of GNOME 2.x, MATE offers an alternative to GNOME 3's fallback mode. Mint 15 ships with MATE 1.6, which doesn't look all that different from its predecessors, but offers a ton of under-the-hood improvements. The file manager has been slightly overhauled, offering some of the same sidebar features found in Nemo, and there are some new settings options as well.

Mint 15 is all about polish, not just in Cinnamon and MATE, but in everything from the login screen, which can now be customized with themes that use simple HTML and CSS, to the installation menu which helpfully offers to encrypt your disk and install LVM tools if you'd like them.

Mint also packages a few apps you won't find in most distros - extras like VLC and GIMP are included along with standards like Firefox, Thunderbird and LibreOffice. There are two ways to look at that: some will like it since it means you don't have to go download the apps yourself, though others will no doubt think of it as bloatware.

That's the good news for Mint 15. The bad news is that Mint is a very young distro and thus far it tends to take Ubuntu releases part and parcel. Bugs in Ubuntu will hit Mint as well, which means at least some of Mint's appeal - that it's improving on Ubuntu - is lost. It's also a little unclear whether Mint is planning to follow Ubuntu, as the older distro moves further and further away from the Linux mainstream.

While some aspects of Mint's future may be uncertain, for now the Mint project continues to churn out impressive releases. Mint 15 has been rock solid in my testing. It even runs quite well on my underpowered EeePC netbook.

Indeed, Mint 15 manages to succeed at what the Mint project set out to do - take what's good about Ubuntu, fix what's bad about it and add a little polish on top. While previous releases have shown promise, Mint 15 is the first to really deliver on those goals. If the world of GNOME Shell and Unity leave you feeling cold, Mint 15 just might offer a solution. ®

Reducing security risks from open source software

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?
Nokia and marketing types first to get the bullet, says report
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.