The main editions of Linux Mint now feature the MATE and GNOME 3/Cinnamon desktop. I’ve checked out Cinnamon from time to time and have found it to be too unstable for my use, at least in a live USB session; plus, some extensions like the Auto-Move-Windows extension don’t work as they should. That leaves MATE, which Itried over a month ago. I wasn’t especially happy with it because of the issues with Compiz trying to work with MATE, and this surprised me considering that MATE should have replicated the GNOME 2 experience. That left me waiting for the KDE edition. Then I found out that Xfce would make an official return to Ubuntu-based Linux Mint, which was surprising given past statements by the developers that the Xfce edition would be exclusively offered with the Debian base. Now that this has happened, I want to see if Ubuntu-based Linux Mint with Xfce can effectively replicate and replace my current and ideal GNOME 2 setup on Linux Mint 9 LTS “Isadora”.
After the boot menu, I was greeted by a blank screen for the boot splash, as has become typical of Linux Mint. A short time after that, I came to the desktop. Weirdly, the first thing that started was the screensaver, but moving the mouse made that go away (and the issue never recurred when I subsequently logged out and logged back in).
|Mozilla Firefox + LibreOffice Writer|
The desktop is fairly standard for Linux Mint with Xfce. There is a panel on the bottom that oddly seems to be a little thicker than I am used to seeing; indeed, the panel thickness is 25 pixels which is more than the 24 pixels I am used to seeing in GNOME 2 and MATE, and the difference is actually noticeable. Desktop icons for mounted and removable volumes as well as the home folder are present, and the nice thing is that there is no background color for the text labels under the icons; it’s one of the things that makes standard Xfce still feel a little dated, and I’m glad Linux Mint does away with that. That said, unlike in GNOME 2 and MATE, the label text color is black rather than white, and there is no subtle shadow surrounding the text, so unless the user modifies the text color in a particular configuration file, trying to read the labels while using a dark background is an exercise in futility. The panel on the bottom has, from left to right, an Xfce menu, a button to show the desktop and hide windows, a shortcut to some places in Thunar, a window switcher, a notification area, and a clock. The GTK+, Xfwm4, and icon themes as well as the default wallpaper are identical to those from the MATE edition, and this helps keep a unified look for Linux Mint. Although the notification area icons are not the sliding ones from GNOME 2 in Ubuntu/Linux Mint, they work quite well. Better yet, the notifications are the pretty Notify-OSD style notifications rather than the standard ugly notifications in Xfce or MATE; that said, although they can be clicked through, they seem to linger on the screen for longer than usual. One visible issue from the RC of there being too much space between the borders of maximized windows and the edges of the desktop has been fixed in the final release, which is good. Overall, the desktop works quite well, which is to be expected of Linux Mint.
Mozilla Firefox is the default browser, and as this edition (as well as the MATE, Cinnamon, and KDE editions) of Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, it now gets updates at most a few days after a new version of Mozilla Firefox is released. Most multimedia codecs are included, and my laptop‘s volume keyboard shortcuts worked, as have become standard practices for Linux Mint.
LibreOffice is the default productivity suite, even though this is the Xfce edition, and this follows with the idea that for a while now, Linux Mint has been shipping Xfce as a fully-featured desktop to be reckoned with rather than as a stripped-down alternative DE. LibreOffice, like Mozilla Firefox, gets updated through the Ubuntu repositories as frequently as the upstream developers release updates.
The other installed applications are fairly standard for either Linux Mint (e.g. VLC) or Xfce (e.g. Thunar). That said, I do feel the need to question some application choices. While I feel most comfortable using GNOME Terminal, was there really an issue shipping the more lightweight Xfce Terminal instead? Plus, it has GTK3 dependencies; then again, so do a number of other applications included. Along the same lines, why is Eye Of GNOME the default image viewer? (That said, despite the fact that on my main installation I usually use Gloobus-Preview to preview images and Viewnior for more options in viewing, in this live session, Eye Of GNOME does load faster than I remember, and it even loads faster than Eye Of MATE.) Moreover, why is Gthumb also included if it is never the default application for anything? Would users really have felt shafted if a more lightweight alternative like Mirage, Ristretto, or Viewnior (the last of which incidentally does not have official packages for Ubuntu) were used instead, given that all of those fulfill the basic needs of browsing images and making basic edits like cropping and rotating? And for music collection applications, why is Linux Mint sticking with the bloated beast that is Banshee instead of going back to Rhythmbox like Ubuntu?
Because this is a serious contender for a place on my desktop, I tested the full range of other applications too.
|Linux Mint Menu + Gedit + Window Preview|
Skype is included in the repositories. It is at version 2.2 while the latest version is 4.0, but that’s OK because I feel that Skype 2.X for Linux is more stable anyway, and I’m not missing any features from version 4.0. It installed and worked just fine.
I was able to download and install the DEB file for Google Talk. That worked fine too.
I only needed to install one other dependency to be able to unpack and install the TAR file for Mupen64Plus 1.5. After that, I was able to use and configure the GUI for it just fine, and I was able to play all my games fine. Even better, the menu updated itself to reflect the installation of Mupen64Plus faster than I have seen anywhere else.
Redshift is also available in the repositories. It installed and worked fine too.
Finally, I tried to use SSH to login to the computing cluster that I use for my UROP. Although this did not work in the RC and did not work in a few other distributions like Sabayon 9 KDE (which is the only thing holding me back from am using the latter), it worked fine here, which is great.
Read Full Review at Source Web Site: dasublogbyprashanth.blogspot.ca