Back to article
Fresh Version of Linux Mint Offers Tweaks and Updates
February 4, 2010
When last we looked at Linux Mint we gave it high marks on the user-friendly scale for administration and productivity applications. The latest release takes the distro to new heights of the same with a few new added touches to boot. Linux Mint 8 (Helena) is based on Ubuntu 9.10 and delivers all the basic capabilities you would expect in an Ubuntu distribution.
Downloading the Main Edition actually gets you 2.5 GB of data but comes in a 705 MB ISO file. Two additional download options include the Universal Edition which is free of proprietary software, patented technologies and support for restricted formats and the x64 Edition. There is a note on the Mint download page that the 32-bit Main Edition is usually more stable and also works on 64-bit processors.
For older PCs you might want to give the Fluxbox Community Edition a try. As of this writing it's still listed as a release candidate, so you'll have to check back later for the final version. This version is targeted at older PCs with minimal CPU, graphics and memory--definitely worth a look if you have an old PC lying around. If you want to give Mint a whirl as a program from Windows, there's mint4win, although there does seem to be some chatter in the Mint forums about compatibility issues with the current release and Wubi due to the use of Grub2.
One new feature on the user front is the mintDesktop. This is a little tool that gives you quick access to tweak your GNOME desktop to the way you want to use it. You have your choice of application menus with the default being mintMenu. MintMenu takes some of the basic concepts from the "slab" menu found in openSUSE and rearranges things a bit. Either clicking on the Menu button at the bottom left of the screen or using the control-Windows key combination will launch mintMenu. At the top right-hand side of the mintMenu box is a toggle for either "All applications" or "Favorites" to quickly move you between the single page of options or the full list of every available application.
MintMenu is totally customizable to add additional items to make it work like you want. Adding applications to the "Favorites" menu can be done using a drag and drop action or when viewing "All applications" with a right click and selecting "Show in my favorites." One thing missing in the base install of this release is GNOME Do. However, you can install it using the Package Manager. If you want a list of recently opened documents (or images), you'll need to activate the "Recent" plug-in. All you have to do is open the mintMenu preferences and select "Show Recent Documents". You can also revert to the standard Gnome menu instead of mintMenu should you desire. You'll have to go through several steps to remove the mintMenu from the main panel and then add in the Gnome menu.
The Linux Mint website has all kinds of user-contributed content in both a forum question and answer format and wiki. There's even an IRC channel dedicated solely to helping you get your question answered. One quick glance at the forums shows a pretty high volume of traffic in terms of topics and numbers of posts. The wiki has a well laid out front page with links to general information, FAQs, HOWTOs and other useful information.