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Linux Mint 12 Revives Classic GNOME Desktop

  • November 30, 2011
  • By Sean Kerner

The week of Thanksgiving in the United States was a shorter week for some, but that didn't slow the progress of Linux. This past week, Linux Mint 12 was officially released, providing those that don't want GNOME Shell or Ubuntu Unity with an alternative take on a modern GNOME Linux desktop. As Mint freshened the Linux desktop, developers continued to push forward on KDE and the Linux kernel.

1. Linux Mint 12

Thanks to Ubuntu's controversial Unity interface, Linux Mint has been rising in popularity. This past week, Linux Mint 12 was officially released with a mix of both old and new technologies.

Among the reasons for the popularity of Linux Mint is that it offers users a classic GNOME 2.x experience on top of a modern GNOME 3 style infrastructure.

"MGSE (Mint Gnome Shell Extensions) is a desktop layer on top of Gnome 3 that makes it possible for you to use Gnome 3 in a traditional way," the Linux Mint 12 'What's New' page states. "You can disable all components within MGSE to get a pure Gnome 3 experience, or you can enable all of them to get a Gnome 3 desktop that is similar to what you've been using before."

For those who want even less to do with GNOME 3, Linux Mint 12 includes MATE, the GNOME 2.x fork. In either case, Linux Mint is doing what Ubuntu, Fedora and openSUSE are not, namely giving users the choice to have a traditional, albeit updated, GNOME desktop.

The other big change in Linux Mint 12 is something no other Linux desktop does; Linux Mint uses the DuckDuckGo search engine by default.

"Similar to Linux, it comes with a learning curve," Linux Mint founder Clement Lefebvre wrote in a blog post about DuckDuckGo. "You can use it easily, but you'll need to go through a bit of reading to understand its power and how to make the most of it. Of course, if you'd rather use what you're familiar with, we made it easy for you to switch away and add other search engines in Linux Mint."

The choice to go with DuckDuckGo also brings a new revenue source to Linux Mint. Income generated by Linux Mint users will be shared with the Linux Mint project. The model of having a search engine helping to fund an open source effort is not a new one; Mozilla's Firefox generates the bulk of its revenues from a search partnership with Google.

2. KDE 4.8 Hits Beta 1

While GNOME users continue to agonize over changes to GNOME 3, KDE is moving forward on its own next-generation desktop.

KDE 4.8 beta 1 was released last week, providing incremental improvements to the KDE desktop. Among the big changes in KDE 4.8 is the Dolphin 2.0 file manager, which is getting performance and feature enhancements.

3. Linux Kernel 3.2 Development Continues

Thanksgiving didn't slow down development of the new Linux 3.2 kernel. Just ahead of the holiday, Linus Torvalds unveiled the third release candidate for Linux 3.2 providing driver and architecture updates.

4. Stable Kernel Updates

While Linus Torvalds pushes forward the bleeding edge of Linux development, kernel developers also pushed out new stable Linux kernels this past week.

On the 2.6.x kernel, Greg Kroah-Hartman released the Linux 2.6.32.49 update. The 2.6.32 kernel was first released in December 2009.

On the 3.x side, the 3.0.12 kernels as well as the 3.1.4 kernels have been released by Kroah-Hartman, providing stability and bug fixes.

5. Android's Security Charlatan

There seems to be no shortage of researchers and security vendors claiming Android malware and insecurity is on the rise. Should you be worried?

Earlier this month, Google's Open Source Chief, Chris DiBona lashed out at critics of Android's security issues.

"No Linux desktop has a real virus problem," DiBona wrote in a Google+ posting. "Yes, virus companies are playing on your fears to try to sell you bs protection software for Android, RIM and IOS. They are charlatans and scammers. If you work for a company selling virus protection for android, rim or IOS you should be ashamed of yourself."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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