Hands on with Mint 7

Distros

Now in its seventh iteration, codenamed Gloria, Linux Mint aims to bring easy-to-use Linux to the masses. It's based upon the ubiquitious Ubuntu, and as such it shares many of the same features; the installation routine, for example, is virtually identical and takes under 30 minutes to complete. However, there is far more to Mint than just Ubuntu minus the brown colour scheme.

If you read our guide to choosing the best Linux distro for you and want to know why this new release of Linux Mint is worth trying, read on to find out why we gave it a 9/10 rating...

While Mint, like many other distros, follows a six-month development and release cycle, the developers pride themselves on the community aspect. The net result is that a feature suggested on a forum today could find its way into the codebase in a matter of weeks rather than months, so it feels as if the OS is more organic than most, with updates appearing frequently.

Thanks to its Debian heritage, software installation is usually pretty simple, especially when using the standard Synaptic package manager. Mint sensibly places the task bar at the bottom of the screen, and calls the equivalent to the Start button the Menu button. As an added touch, this menu is laid out in a very Windows-esque way, making life much easier for refugees from Microsoft Windows.

Although originally intended as Ubuntu with built-in media codecs, Mint has mutated into a rather different beast. Those media codecs are still part of the overall package, but the main focus is now on making the OS as user-friendly as possible. This means that most of your hardware, including Wi-Fi adaptors, should work out of the box. Our install did choke when presented with a video capture card, but considering its exotic nature, that's hardly a surprise.

Linux Mint comes with non-free codecs installed for you, so you can waste even more of your time on YouTube and listening to MP3s.

Linux Mint comes with non-free codecs installed for you, so you can waste even more of your time on YouTube and listening to MP3s.

Additional desktops

If you're not a fan of Gnome, you can download a community edition tailored to the KDE, Xfce or Fluxbox desktops. However, these are one version behind the main release.

Another thoughtful feature is the Welcome To Linux Mint screen that appears after the first login. As well as browsing the list of new features and reading the release notes, new users can download a PDF user guide. Linux, with instructions? Whatever next?

The manual includes some useful tips, such as how to launch apps automatically, installing and removing software, and how to use the Mint Menu. It may not be everything you ever wanted to know about starting in Linux, but it's enough to get brand-new users on their feet, and is a welcome addition.

It's easy to see why Mint is so popular. The logical layout and the effort that has been made to make the OS as easy to use as possible really sets a standard in usability. If you're looking to make the switch from Windows, and want the transition to be as easy as possible, Mint really hits the spot.

Our verdict: A blessed relief from Ubuntu brown plus the hardware support and ease of use, make this a real winner. 9/10.

First published in Linux Format

First published in Linux Format magazine

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Your comments

Like it

Am running it on my Dell Mini 9 like it a lot but would better with standard gnome interface rather then the slab menu system. It's whole lot more stable then Ubuntu 9.04 UNR.

Almost perfect, I guess

I really liked the idea behind this..including preinstalled media codecs and especially the skin, wallpaper and interface which really enhance Ubuntu.

I had been using Mint for 5 months or so until I decided to switch to Fedora.

I hadn't been overly impressed with the 6th released, codenamed Felicia. I had just been Elyssa with a few mocks with added rubbish, unessential features..So I complained at the forums.

After several months, without even checking the replies or responses of my post, I noticed they had listened my suggestions and made some great improvements on it, including new wallpaper every release.

Well, after using the 7th release for nearly a month, I still am not impressed. The main reason is because the tools which they provided, eg mintNanny, mintInstall are really unprofessional. They hadn't put any effort in developing these potential tools into something more professional. And there are lots of software like this. Another problem is that most of the tools they provided aren't for average users. They are not needed for most users.

Really?

Is this really needed? 10 minutes with a fresh Ubuntu install and you can get all codecs and a nice green / black theme running.

I appreciate it takes the hard work out but isn't this just promoting lazyness?

(Take my comments light heartedly, I'm just playing Devil's Advocate ;) )

Desktop Sorted: :)

Have added a new panel and custom menu(this gives Apps - Places & System) and removed the slab menu. As happy as pig in muck now :D

@Anon Penguin: "10 minutes

@Anon Penguin: "10 minutes with a fresh Ubuntu install and you can get all codecs and a nice green / black theme running."

10 minutes for you potentially means hours for "average" users...

How difficult is it to add

How difficult is it to add Shiki-colors (google it) repo (the wize one is the theme of mint) and install ubuntu-restricted-extras?
The things that keeps me away from mint is that most updates of ubuntu are taged "should be safe" meaning that they are likely not break your system. This is crusial to exchange for a half hour(for newbies, if you learn how its 5-10 minutes and no commandline) of work once every six months. If you are newbie find a guide and learn something. Its not a kernel compile or a grub update.

Guides shouldn't be required reading

One could say the same of Apache. "Just get a guide and read it. Apache configuration is eeeassy!"

Part of the problem with new Linux users is that **they don't know what they don't know**. They've never heard of codecs OR repositories.

You want new users? Make switching as easy as possible. Switching to Linux as a power user in Windows was a huge time commitment for me. And I did read guides, thank you very much.

Anything that can make it easier for new users.

How long is a piece of string?

"How difficult is it to add Shiki-colors (google it) repo (the wize one is the theme of mint) and install ubuntu-restricted-extras?"

Not very - for me or you or most people who visit this site. As G2D2 accurately puts it, you need to be sympathetic to the technical ability of "average" users. I apologise to everyone for using a tired, old (and appropriate) argument but why the heck should my parents have to learn about repos to listen to their favourite music or be expected to research themes so their desktop doesn't look like muddy water? Telling new users of all ages and experience to "find a guide" to achieve such a simple aim is just not realistic or - in my oppinion - fair.

I appreciate your concern about this engendering laziness in people. Yes, we should be aiming to create a technically-literate society but there are limits to what we should expect from people who use computers purely as an means to an end. Canonical does not withold codecs from an Ubuntu install because they think it's a no-brainer to get them (though, thankfully, they're attempting to make it so) or even to appease FLOSS advocates. It's purely for legal reasons. They've even recommended that companies selling Linux netbooks have the codecs pre-installed. If Mint simplifies things for some people then that's great.

Since I don't use either as my main distro, I haven't noticed any breakage resulting from the difference you mentioned in the Mint/Ubuntu update process but if it does represent a signifcant problem it should, of course, be fixed. However, just because timesavers/helpful features such as pre-installed codecs or a more appealing default appearance doesn't benefit you doesn't mean they should be omitted. It's a bit like telling people they can't use squeezy-bottle Tomato Sauce because you were perfectly happy with the old screw-top glass bottles. :D

Not difficult all....

However with my Dell Mini 9, UNR is very unstallable, wouldn't switch to classic desktop without breaking the panels.. It was ok with the beta but not the RC... I have also tried the full desktop version but flash and a few other things do not work properly. I could have gone back to Dells 8.04 factory version but did not wont to.

I tried PCLinuxOS but sound failed to work, thought I'd give Mint 7 a try before trying to solve the sound problem. Mint just worked, menu now customised as I like it.... So Ubuntu in green with a few additional apps working as I want it.

You've got it all wrong...

Everyone is a critic..

"10 minutes with a new install, and you can get all the codecs.."

Maybe you're not quite as familiar with the reasons why Apple is so successful at selling overpriced computers or why Microsoft has such a large market share in the desktop OS realm.

The whole point is to make it work out of the box for convenience purposes. The average PC user does not have any idea how to download (much less install) codecs on Windows, let alone on Linux. So if anyone can provide a package that works right after install and already has everything one should need to get on the web and play all of their digital media, they're on the right track.

um yawn

Fedora 10 with easylife is way better, everything runs and my computing life is good again...

Re: Really

To the Anonymous Coward who wrote that Mint promotes laziness.....you're using Ubuntu for $%#**$ sake!.
You're already at lazy. Mint just makes it look better and perform better.
Complaining about laziness and then stating "no command line" just goes to show what a total knob you are.
It's retards like you that gives Linux a bad name.

My pants got tight.... Ill

My pants got tight....

Ill keep running Windows 7 and OooBanTu

Not that special in my opinion.

As the article suggests but

As the article suggests but doesn't really go in depth on... Mint has its own custom start menu styled as a hybrid between the Windows start menu and the best gnome menus have to offer. Even if you could spend 10 minutes installing all the codecs and bits and bobs Mint ships with you still wouldn't get this menu.

There are other things you can't get in Ubuntu too as well, like the different way it handles software updates.

More than cosmetic changes

I have used Mint 5 & 6, and I have tried Gloria. Although the previous two were good, this edition has been spectacular - a major step towards increased take-up of Linux as an everyday OS. There is MintNanny, MintUpdate, MintDesktop etc., and a safer upgrade system.

l.o.l.

Your entire argument is centered around the basis that Mint looks better and has good support. So does Ubuntu. If you didn't like BROWN, you could easily change it with a few clicks. How lazy has our world become?

"Linux Mint comes with non-free codecs installed for you, so you can waste even more of your time on YouTube and listening to MP3s."

LOL. Flash takes SECONDS to install on Ubuntu-- or any distro/OS for that matter.

This is pure laziness at it's finest.

I've tested it 2 weeks and found it fine

I like Mint Gloria. Easy to install, easy to use. No problems with video, sounds, youtube and other flash-pages. Nice desktop and i'm not missing upper panel. However i hardly never use Menu, instead i put mainmenu icon to lower panel coz i got used with Ubuntu Gnome.

I agree than Mint is propably the best choice for those who first time try Linux-distro.

Critics are missing the point

I am a Linux user....for many years. I started compiling red hat kernels back in 94.

I have tried very nearly EVERY install out there and continue to do so.

I work in Radio so I have been looking for a stable broadcast automation system on Linux.

I have tried (installed and attempted to work in)
Open Suse from 10 to current,
Fedora (from 4 to current)
Demudi (audio production)
Ubuntu and Ubuntu Studio (6 to 9.04)
64 Studio
Slackware
Debian
Mandrake
and finally Mint

While I still have not found a good working broadcast automation system, I did find what I think is the nicest (prettiest and easiest to manage) and that is Mint.

I do audio production (recording voice overs), web design, graphic design and layout and other simple computer tasks.

Mint is hands down the most stable, multimedia ready, easy to use Linux release I have seen. There are problems with Mint just like any other distro, but in my opinion, it is the farthest down the road in terms of getting Windows folks to jump ship.

codecs, repositories?

I've been wanting to dump windows for years and have heard of Linux for years. But am I ready for codecs etc? If I switch to Linux am I going to be able to use my regular programs like Quicken? I would love to use Linux but don't know enough to even ask the right questions. So that's why I'm stuck with windows.

Linux for unexperienced users

I'm an ArchLinux user (have been for many years) but Arch is not the type of distribution I would install for newcomers to Linux. Recently two people in my office asked me to install Linux in their laptops. One is a young +/- 20 years old female student and the other the office secretary.
I installed LinuxMint 7 on both of their laptops and I must say they cannot be happier. The office secretary, being a bit more of a mature lady, and a long time windows user seems to be a bit more "confused"? by the new look of the OS but by no means unable to use it.
The student just loved it!
LinuxMint is the right choice for new Linux users, it's light, fast, "good looking" and very responsive and requires very little from the end user. To me it is the equivalent of ArchLinux for the uninitiated.

ParanoidAndriod is why windows users stay using windows

ParanoidAndriod ...your a dick......

ease of use the deciding factor

To all the linux experts...as Linux gets more attention in mainstream, people will get curious and want to try different flavours. People will hear all the benefits of faster running systems and no background apps like virus protector this and spyware protector that.Safer surfing, removing the big condom off the computer will feel real nice. But I agree with people like Shifty, it has got to work out of the box....PERIOD!!!!!
Most people will try a live cd or dvd and marvel at the technology but if it doesnt work for them or if they get annoyed they will frisbee the &*^%$&*% cd or turn it into a coffee cup coaster and return to windows saying linux ain't ready, I'll check in a few years.I think distros like mint are on the right track for newbies, people like ParanoidAndriod can keep using his disto of choice if he likes to work at getting it to his liking and feeling all superior and techy like and people like his mother can work with a distro out out of the box and change the backgound image or color scheme. I curently use ubuntu but I duel boot into windows for gaming, yea yea I've tried wine, but 4-5 fps isn't my cup of tea. Also I have tax software that absolutely doesnt work in linux, wine, and so I'm still bound to windows.........

Re: ParanoidAndriod

@Linux noob:

Actually, it is people like you who keep Windows users away from Linux. There is NO NEED for name calling.

Re ParanoidAndroid

Re: Really

ParanoidAndriod (not verified) - July 11, 2009 @ 7:49am

To the Anonymous Coward who wrote that Mint promotes laziness.....you're using Ubuntu for $%#**$ sake!.
You're already at lazy. Mint just makes it look better and perform better.
Complaining about laziness and then stating "no command line" just goes to show what a total knob you are.
It's retards like you that gives Linux a bad name.

So....Knob is not name calling?.......you dick

name calling

@ ParanoidAndroid
you used the words "retard" and "knob"
apparently name calling is what you do....

@ linuxNoob
It's best not to respond to trolls and name calling someone dick but I did chuckle

Re: Ease of use the deciding factor

Kevin and others:

I have been using Linux for over 12 years now and I don't need Linux to run out of the box. But you are right and I absolutely agree with you about making Linux work out of the box. Seeing the progress and advances Linux made over the years, ease of installation, user friendliness and seamless use is happening already and faster than ever. LinuxMint is one evidence.

By the way, try VirtualBox for running your Windows apps. It sure beats dual boot even for games now with 3D support is in VBox 3.0.

ease of use

@ Abe
Thanks for the tip Abe, I've tried Virtualbox for games but i need more cpu and ram and thus a better system but it is definetly on my mind, I just dont see buying a new comp in the near future.
Yes linux is progressing fast and getting better all the time, very exciting times.

Fear

The biggest problem we have right now is the fear of being too easy. It's just silly.

The problem lies with smart developers that are so far removed from a new user, they have lost all perspective.

You Can't be too easy (time savings). The myth, is that "easy" will hinder the super, tweaker-geek or in some mysterious manner, take away their choice. Why? There's no reason.

If you do not believe popular adoption of open systems really matters, and will make the most difference, you are delusional.

The Ideal

Well, since everyon on here is a critic, let me give you some background.

I have been dabbling in linux for the past 2 1/2 years. I ran a box with Fedora 8, then went back to Windows because it seemed pretty primitive. I tried Ubuntu 8.04 and 8.10, and for some reason, my sound and NIC card would not work. Then I found Mint.

I started with Mint 4, still having issues with the NIC card. It recognized it with no issue. I was still a Windows user until Vista destroyed my file table, and hence crashed my drive for the 2nd time in 6 months.

I installed Mint 6, and have never looked back. I now have Mint 7, and it is a dream to work with. Yes, I may be a "n00b" compared to the rest of you, but Mint just works. This is what Windows and Mac are supposed to do, but with a Linux underpinning. That is a sure sign of success, and I will continue to be a Mint user as they improve.

For all of the people who seem to hate Ubuntu or Mint for some pathological reason, remember that both have drawn many users away from Windows, and that can only be a good thing.

Re: Fear

@Anonymous Penguin:

"The problem lies with smart developers that are so far removed from a new user, they have lost all perspective."

If you mean developers who code and create applications, I am sorry, I don't agree with your sentiment at all.

Smart developers have bigger fish to fry, they are busy developing new application, improving and enhancing existing ones, and innovating new technologies. They try whatever they can to fix things and incorporate new ideas from user feedbacks, but they don't have much time left to worry about user friendliness after having to work for a living and take care of their lives. The are mostly volunteers, you know!

If you want to blame someone, you could blame the distributors; they are the ones who should be making things more user friendly. That is why some users prefer one distro over others. eg. LinuxMint over Ubuntu and vice versa. PCLinuxOS over Suse. etc...

If you are talking about application interface, I don't find Linux apps less user friendly than Windows based ones. They both are point and click. There are still some though, and those will also be as user friendly eventually.

Mint 7 FTW

From our firm we have installed linux mint on more then a few hundred home end users Computers. The simplicity that mint has added to linux is absolutely. Genius!!!

Codecs Preinstalled = Majorly easy to leave a iso disc for
them to restore from as well as making our job very fast
to install for them.

The info at the beginning helps users get to learning Linux.
Very Intuitive

The Update manager added to linux. Excellent and Very Professional

I would Rate Linux Mint Top Distro for our Needs (bringing new custoemrs to Linux) and closing in a thousand computers we have switch to Linux the best distro we have
found for our needs I would like to think Linux Mint.

yes adding codecs are Very Important. If you find it so easy to do yourself. I would subjest you complain not about mint and stick to Other distros that will meet YOUR needs.

As far as the mint update. I find it very professional.

Best Regards

The article forgets to mention

that LinuxMint is all Win.

xfce4 or openbox?
.
.
.
.
.
It's all good

for those of you complaining...

don't be obnoxious. all of this talk about it being too easy and too much abstraction from the user is ridiculous. directly from their about page:

"Linux Mint's purpose is to produce an elegant, up to date and comfortable GNU/Linux desktop distribution."

they're producing a linux distro with everything ready to go. this is linux for those who like it that way. if you don't want the flash plugin installed, go back to ubuntu. the idea is to find a distro that fits you and how you want it too be.

linux mint, its nice, its easy. the dev team should be commended for their work. not whined at because you can watch a youtube video on a fresh install. seriously, get off their forums.

if you want something more customizable to your needs, choose a distro like arch or gentoo, move on, and respect mint in its in own right.

Best Feature

Someone installed this as a dual boot at work. After playing around for a while I discovered that a usb drive appears on the desktop just like a Mac.

Re: ParanoidAndriod is why windows users stay using windows

Hi Linux noob....

It's ......you're a dick..... not .. your a dick.

Cheers!

PS Try Fedora, Mandriva, anything...don't be a simple Ubuntu lemming. Or get a Mac!

"Hi Linux noob.... It's

"Hi Linux noob....

It's ......you're a dick..... not .. your a dick.

Cheers!

PS Try Fedora, Mandriva, anything...don't be a simple Ubuntu lemming. Or get a Mac!"

Serious grow up, you sound like a 10 year old with a pole up your arse.

I've used Ubuntu 8.10, OpenSuse, Fedora, Debian, OpenSolaris, FreeBSD, PCLinuxOS, MAX OS X, Slax, Mandriva, Damn Small Linux and Puppy Linux also naturally including windows and all this arguing over what is better and such is just annoying and puerile.

Yes Linux is more secure, Yes Linux Works better than Windows and the latest Apple release, but the biggest down side is that it has been pretty much unusable to new users without a tonne of pain. So it's a good thing to see Distro's like Mint trying to make a more user Friendly environment for people so that now people who know only the basics and that's all they want to know can actually use Linux, which is never a bad thing and means we can all share in the fun =D

jeez

I like this much more than ubuntu for a few reasons. First off, they aren't going to bombard you with updates. Especially, a MANDATORY six month distro release. Secondly, pre-installed codecs etc are a GREAT addition for users of ubuntu.

Why do you guys feel special typing "sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras"?

shifty has it right. If you want to switch lazy bastards to linux, you have to install the codecs for them, period.

And, to the "average" user, typing "apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras" does make you look like a genius...

Mint on Mini 9

Another user using Mint 7 on a Dell Mini 9, came with XP (what a mistake that was) tried other distros before Mint 6, everything worked...great...updated to 7 not too long ago, everything STILL works...it's been a great experience. I would switch on desktop too, but netflix on demand keeps me in windows there...My brother, also a Mint user recommended...

Keep up the good work.

Mint on MBP

I love Mint... I started with it and have now gone back to it. It's an excellent distro and quite user friendly and low-maitenance, which makes it ideal for me and for getting others to try Linux!

Naysayers, go compile yourself a kernel or something :D

@Mint 7 FTW: I'm interested

@Mint 7 FTW: I'm interested in what kinda computers you sell with Mint?

@ubuntuiskindagay: you sound as if you haven't actually *used* Ubuntu. At least, not extensively. What do you mean, apt-get? There's add/remove programs right there in the main menu! And no, you won't find a bunch of non-free stuff in there without having to open "Software Sources" first, but that's just their policy, just as Mint's is to easily allow/accept any kind of non-free content if it makes the user experience better.

Granted, Mint *is* a bit better for the, uh, simple user, and I hope more distros do this kind of thing. But Ubuntu is one major contributor to what Mint is now and how Linux is viewed, so don't be dissin' them over small details.

Finally got there

I have been using Linux since the mid 90's starting with Red Hat, Suse, Ubuntu and several others. For me it was an interesting road however trying to get something together for friends and family who relied on me to support Wind*&** systems was a bit of a nightmare. Internet, email, web browsing stabilised and along comes Mint 6. My first converts have been running very happily and are very much easier to support. Well done the Mint team - ease of use, simplicity and I can have a lazier life - Oh come on I am 60 now !!
Testing Mint 7 and so far GREAT.

64 bit compatibility

Just wanted to add my $0.02 here. I am a Linux n00b. I first tried Ubuntu but ran into a problem running my favorite game on the 64 bit version. I did some searching on how to install all the necessary packages to make it compatible with 32 bit software, but it was all just a little too complicated for me to follow. I could have just gone with the 32 bit version of Ubuntu, but that would mean losing the use of some of my RAM, and I didn't want to do that. I started looking for other distributions that might have everything pre-installed for me. I tried Mint and my game worked the first time, without any extra effort on my part. I'm sure some of you bleeding edge ubergeeks will laugh at my inability to do what comes naturally to you. That's fine. You don't have to use Mint. But for all of us ordinary morons, Mint is the obvious choice.

Wow

My comments about promoting laziness were lighthearted and intended as a bit of fun, there was no need for the name calling in there.

Thanks to those guys who stood up and said name calling is wrong.

It's the name callers that stop people coming over to Linux. Elitism = fail.

Also, if people are going to quote other posts and then tear them apart, at least quote / paraphrase correctly!

Linux for my mom.

I'm downloading this for my mom at the moment. I have successfully converted her to Linux with Kubuntu but im thinking this will provide a bit more of an easy into things with the menu formatted basically the same as XP and all. this distro also looks very well thought out in terms of user "easy-ness" which is great. Keep up the good work guys!!

I JUST INSTALLED IT aND

I JUST INSTALLED IT aND LOOKS GREAT. NOW TRYING TO GET TV OUT OF MY MATROX G45. OR NVIDIA TI4200 OR A VOODOO 3500 WITH TUNNER AND A/V IO BUT NO CAKE YET. ANY IDEAS

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