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Linux Mint Raises the User-Friendliness Bar - page 2

Friendly Firewall, Backup, Networking, Customization

  • December 22, 2008
  • By Paul Ferrill

One of the things the Mint distribution does really well is deliver a number of applications focused specifically on productivity. GNOME Do is an attempt to bring the wildly popular Mac OS X application Quicksilver to the Linux platform. While it doesn't have near the functionality of Quicksilver, it does provide the core feature of quick keyboard access to applications. If you use a Windows keyboard with the "Windows" key you'll find a good use for it with GNOME Do.

Pressing the "Windows" key and the space bar at the same time brings up a launcher box in the middle of your screen awaiting your input. When you start typing, GNOME Do changes the icon to try and match what you're looking for. Some commands can also be directly interpreted such as "bach play" which will launch the default music player to play Bach.

GNOME Do also supports the concept of plugins and comes with a number already defined. To activate a plugin you must enable it from the preferences screen. Some of the handy options include a Google Calendar feature allowing you to quickly create, search and browse events. A GMail Contacts plugin will index your GMail contacts list for quick lookup. There's even a Twitter tool.

The Tomboy note taking tool is another productivity installed in the base Linux Mint distribution. It sits in the bottom left corner of the screen and activates with a single click. The popup menu lets you create a new note, search for an existing note or open a specific notebook. Tomboy also integrates with GNOME Do through a plugin to further automate the process of writing and searching for notes.

You'll find the latest versions of Open Office (2.4), GIMP (2.6.1 with a custom splash screen), Mozilla Thunderbird for Mail, Pidgin for instant messaging and Firefox 3.0.5. One way to archive things like emails or web pages is to print them. Linux Mint includes a default PDF printer object allowing you to send anything you can print to a PDF file.

Bottom Line

This is a really pleasant distribution to install and use. It has everything you'd need in a typical desktop configuration plus a few handy productivity applications. Since it's based on Ubuntu you'll get good support for critical security updates and the mainstream applications. Overall, Linux Mint is a good choice if you're looking at upgrading to a new desktop OS. The only thing missing is the chocolate.

 

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