I had Linux Mint 12 installed on my laptop for quite a while but I was never settled with it. The reason for this was the choice of desktop.
The Samsung R20 laptop does not seem to handle the Cinnamon desktop at all well and the Gnome classic desktop was just a bit rigid.
I therefore had wanted to use the Mate desktop. The trouble was that panels kept disappearing and once they had disappeared it was a real hassle to get them to come back again.
I ended up removing Linux Mint 12 and installing Zorin. Zorin worked really well and looked more polished.
It has bothered me for some time why Linux Mint was so high in the distrowatch rankings yet it really wasn’t for working for me all that well.
Now Linux Mint 13 has been released I have decided to give it another go especially as I have been informed the missing panels on the Mate desktop is now history.
The installation was a breeze. A point and click exercise in the same way Ubuntu is.
The boot time for Linux Mint 13 is fairly impressive, about 45 seconds on the Samsung R20 laptop.The screen goes black before Mint boots which is a bit disconcerting.
Depending on the installation instructions the first screen you will see
is either the login screen or if you have chosen to automatically log
in then you will see the Linux Mint desktop as shown above.
Personally I find the default desktop a bit dull so I looked at the stock backgrounds available and changed the background to the following image.
A dialogue window appears the first time you run Mint with links to documentation, support, details about the project and the community.
For most computer users the Mate desktop is fairly familar in that there is a task bar at the bottom with a menu button on one side and a series of icons to the right. Any tasks you run get displayed along the taskbar.
The problems I had in version 12 with the panels were that they would disappear if you tried to do too much with them (such as change the background colour).
I can happily say that the panels are fixed and you can change the background colour without fear of losing the task bar altogether.
You can choose to change the panel background to a solid colour or a background image. You can also change the opacity to make the bar more or less visible against the desktop background.
There are a few more tricks you can do with the panel such as remove the space and hide it so that it is just an arrow button on the bottom left hand corner which expands as you click it. You can also choose to hide the bar until you hover over it.
The Mate panels enable you to add various widgets. There are loads of widgets available from application launchers to a swimming goldfish. I find the most useful are the connect to server, force quit, workspace switcher and shutdown widgets.
You can have multiple panels and they can be added by right clicking a panel and choosing new panel.
The menu button opens up to reveal a large menu which takes up quite a bit of space.
The menu is split into the following sections:
- Places – Includes menu items for computer, home folder, network, desktop and rubbish bin.
- System – Includes Software Manager and Package Manager, Control Centre, Terminal, Lock screen, Logout and Quit
- Favourites – A list of favourite applications
- Search bar
There is a link in the top right hand corner to see all applications which changes the favourites section into a list of all the applications that have been installed.
The Applications section is split into different groups:
- Sound and Video
- System Tools
If you click on any group the list of applications changes to the applications that belong in that group.
The search feature works very well. If you start typing the name of the application or a description of the program a list of suggested applications appears.
The applications in Mint 13 are fairly standard. Firefox is the default browser and the office suite is Libreoffice. Banshee is available for music and VLC player is available for watching videos. Thunderbird is the default email client and Pidgin is installed for instant messaging. Gimp is available for image editing and Brasero is available for burning CDs and DVDs.
I loaded MP3s from a USB drive into Banshee and they played without requiring further installs of codecs.
Now the first thing I do when I install a new system is to try the internet because if there are issues then at least you have a way of troubleshooting the problem.
Linux Mint 13 makes it easy to connect to the internet.
My second port of call is usually to Youtube to see if I can view videos.
Mint has no issues playing Youtube videos as Flash is incorporated as standard.
For everyday use Linux Mint has a good set of applications already on offer, however should you need to install software you can pull up the software manager from the menu.
Either choose the category or start searching by enter a phrase in the search box.
Each application displayed has reviews and ratings alongside them.
If you prefer to use Synaptic to search for files then this is available as Package Manager on the menu.
So what do I think of Linux Mint 13? It works very well.
The plus points are the ease of installation, ease of use, ease of navigation and ease of connecting to the internet. Everything is installed for you so that you do not need to install extra codecs or Flash.
The panels work well now and the panels make Mint very versatile.
The menu system divides opinion because it is very full on but I quite like it and you get used to it. It is also possible to customise the menu to make it work for you the way you want it to.
There are a lot of distributions now which fall into the category of easy to use and to be honest it is hard to recommend any one distribution over another. Ubuntu, Mint and Zorin. They are all very good.
Thankyou for reading
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