Sunday, 15 March 2015

Thoughts on using Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition 17.1

Posted by Gary Newell  |  at  22:09 3 comments

Thoughts on using Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition 17.1

I had long been attracted to the idea of using Linux. When Microsoft ceased to provide security patches for XP I got an excellent independent computer shop to install Lubuntu on my netbook for me. This allowed me to get used to the ways of Linux, and experiment with different programs. Any fears I may have had regarding ease of use were soon forgotten, and despite my experimentation, installing and uninstalling lots of programs, the system remained far more responsive than XP.

My wife is a keen photographer and uses our Windows 7 desktop far more than she used to, so my mind turned to a new laptop, and Linux. After a lot of deliberation I settled on Linux Mint Cinnamon 17.1, and had the same local computer shop install it on a new laptop for me.

As well the many testimonials to Mint's ease of use for beginners, I was also drawn to its clean good looks. The expression eye-candy is often used to describe the graphical appearance of operating systems. I would describe Mint as attractive, clean, easy on the eye. Eye-candy feels superficial to me. To use a Hi-Fi metaphor, many people are attracted to Hi-Fi when they hear it in the dealers showroom because of false emphasis, a little unnatural excitement imparted to the treble and bass. When they have lived with such systems they find them tiring over extended listening. Such it is, in my experience, with eye-candy. No such problem with Mint, its clean, understated good looks, and remarkable consistency of appearance have remained a pleasure to use.

I suppose I should come up with some criticisms, nothing can be perfect can it, but after using Windows for so many years, and never being satisfied with it, Mint feels like a dream to me. Far from Linux being difficult, in the form of Mint it is a pleasure to use, and I found myself wondering why Windows has become so awkward.

As has been remarked in many reviews, Mint comes with pretty much everything you need already installed. I have used Libre Office for ages, and like it, so that was not a new experience for me.

If there was one thing I find useful that was not installed, it was a Font Manager. After Installing a few extra fonts I wanted I seemed to have far too many, especially a lot of rather similar sans serif ones. When I had experimented with Lubuntu I (mistakenly as it turned out) installed the Edubuntu fonts, most of which seemed neither useful or attractive to me. Uninstalling them had not worked, so I was left with a lot of unwanted fonts. I tried Fonty Python, which I had problems with, and eventually settled on Fontmatrix, which solved the problem for me. This time I tried Font Manager, which suits me even more for its simplicity of use, and it seems to me that it ties in nicely with the Mint look and feel.

I am a writer, so a good dictionary and thesaurus is essential. On Windows the excellent Oxford Concise was my choice, but as far as I can see is not available under Linux. I didn't want one that is tied to an internet connection, and after a lot of looking found Artha, which uses the Princeton University word net project for its definitions, and although it describes itself as a thesaurus, actually provides good definitions as well. In fact, the method of displaying both definitions, synonyms, antonyms and much more, in one place, beats the Oxford Dictionaries method hands down. I thoroughly recommend it if you haven't come across it before. And yes, it recognises English spellings as well as American ones.

At the same time as the laptop I purchased a new printer. After working out that I needed to turn off the Firewall (yes, old habits are difficult to cast aside, and I installed a firewall and the ClamTk virus checker, but I will occasionally exchange files with our Windows PC, so I am being extra cautious) it was incredibly easy to connect to the printer wirelessly, and as I found afterwards, just as easy to select a rule for the firewall to allow the printer through. What was it people say about Linux being difficult to use? Rubbish, it's easy.

The only thing that did make me scratch my head was how to create more than one workspace. Not that I use this facility, but I like to have as full an understanding of the operating system I use as possible. In case you are new to Mint 17.1, and haven't figured it out yet, just try pressing ctrl+alt+the up key, and you should be presented with two available workspaces. The second one only becomes available to the little icon in the bottom right hand corner of the system tray, that usually says workspace 1 and shows the programs you are using, when you actually open a program in the second workspace. There is also a large plus sign that allows you to create more workspaces.

So, as a newbie I can only say that I am deeply impressed with the ease of use of Linux, and Mint Cinnamon edition 17.1 in particular. Like new believers often are, I am in serious danger of becoming evangelical about it. Next time I think I will have plucked up courage to do the install for myself.

Paul Surman is a poet living in Oxford. He says he regards his computer as a useful tool, but without being obsessed he tries to understand how they work as best he can

Thank you for the article Paul.

If you would like to contribute to Everyday Linux User send me an email and if the content is good then I will be happy to publish it.

What are your thoughts about Linux Mint? Why not leave a message on the new Everyday Linux User Forum telling everyone about your experiences.

About the Author

Gary Newell started the Everyday Linux User blog in 2010 and has written reviews on dozens of different Linux based operating systems. He has also written a number of tutorials.

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  1. Question for Paul: what's wrong with the Mint Font Viewer (found in the Accessories menu folder)? Tis what I use for font management and it works OK for me. In fact, I prefer it over the Windoze system. Tis a doddle to install and delete all kinds of fonts.

    1. I am an unashamed Linux newbie, so perhaps I am missing something, but I couldn't find a way in Mint Font Viewer to disable fonts I don't want, or bring them easily back again if needed. If you know how to do it I would be interested.

  2. Cherishing it, yet I am missing programming sources since overhaul. I looked in the product supervisor and I see mintsources, which I expect is the right bundle to have programming sources in my menu, yet it says in the event that I introduce it will expel programming properties-basic. Not certain if programming sources was evacuated or not, I can't envision that it would be as it was composed by the mint group and don't see anyplace that it was to be expelled.
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