Tag Archives: mint

Cinnamon 2


Soon LinuxMint will release version 16 “Petra” including Cinnamon 2.0, which, unlike Cinnamon 1.x, doesn’t have any dependencies to Gnome. So the Mint- Team finally can stop caring whether a given Gnome version goes into the next Ubuntu release or not, or if there’s a different Gnome version in Debian.

For Arch and Manjaro users, the new Cinnamon has been available for a couple of weeks already, about time to try it out. Installation is simple, the “cinnamon” package from the Arch repos will install everything you need.

I created a new user profile for testing Cinnamon, so it would be easier to roll back to XFCE afterwards, but this shouldn’t be necessary. After the installation Cinnamon started without problems, the standard settings (Gnome icons and wallpaper) can be changed in the Settings Center, where you also can download new themes directly inside the widgets, same as in KDE (the screenshot shows the “dk-cinnamon” theme). Wallpapers, icons and GTK themes can be changed individually. When using the settings manager, you should definitely switch to “Advanced Mode”, simple mode hides a lot of useful settings like e.g. keyboard shortcuts.

Talking about keyboard shortcuts, Cinnamon shares the Gnome “Feature” of ignoring your .Xmodmap configuration, an absolute no go for owners of Lenovo laptops with their messed up keyboard layouts. Fortunately this can be fixed by a simple workaround, you only have to add a manual entry to the Session Startup:

sh -c "sleep 10;xmodmap ~/.Xmodmap"

All other configuration works as expected, moving panel widgets can be a bit tricky at times, but that’s something you usually do only once anyway. Compared to XFCE, Cinnamon offers more visual effects and configuration options (z.g. Alt+Tab or switching between virtual desktops), and a more modern start menu widget, that can even be opened by keyboard shortcut (on the other hand I prefer Whisker’s approach to favorites …). The Cinnamon lock screen looks much better than XFCE’s Xscreensaver, too, even if it doesn’t support classical screensaver animations, and Cinnamon power settings are a good replacement for  XFCE Power Manager. The “Nemo” file manager is not really my cup of tea (same as  Nautilus or Thunar), of course I know how to use them if I have to, but none of them will replace Double Commander as my default file manager any time soon. Panel applets can be downloaded directly, too. I didn’t try  Desklets but if you like a big analog clock and weather data on your desktop here’s your chance to achieve this without installing KDE.

Not that there was anything wrong with my XFCE setup, but overall Cinnamon 2 is really damn compelling. It has more eye candy and runs as fast and stable as XFCE  – so I think I’ll be staying in that new Cinnamon home directory for a little longer 😉


Mint 13 XFCE

To get this straight, there was absolutely nothing wrong with my Crunchbang Waldorf setup, but as often, when I read about Mint 13 XFCE, curiosity got the better of me and I had to try it out.

So far I have to say this is the best XFCE- based distribution out there today. Like always with Mint, installing it is a breeze. XFCE 4.10 is already included, and all the software I’m using already installed (Firefox, Flash, VLC, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, Xchat, Gimp, …) plus Multimedia codecs. You can even use MintMenu (or any other Mate applet) through the XfApplet plugin. Sure it doesn’t fit on a CD anymore, but on any 3€ USB stick.

Driver support for my Asus 1215N is complete (including Bublebee Nvidia optimus drivers from a PPA) and with 100% compatibility to Ubuntu 12.04 LTS the 3rd party software support is very good, too. Like all other Mint 13 versions, Mint 13 XFCE is also an LTS release, which will be supported until 2017, making it the ideal candidate to install on your mom’s old PC or anywhere else, where you don’t want to reinstall every 6 months.

So if you want a no bullshit Linux distro that is easy to use and “just works” and will be supported for a while, Mint 13 XFCE is definitely your choice.

Mint 13 “Maya”

Close on the heels of Ubuntu 12.04, Clem has released Mint 13 “Maya”. Maya is the first Mint release to officially feature their Cinnamon desktop, which is based on Gnome 3 technology but has  a more conservative, task- oriented concept (with a taskpane, start menu and desktop icons).

The included 1.4 version of Cinnamon feels very polished and stable, and can be customized with a lot of themes, applets and extensions. If you don’t feel like giving up your beloved Gnome2 desktop yet, there is also a Mate DVD, that will look and feel exactly like the classic Gnome2 desktop of Mint 11.

The software selection includes everything you need, Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin, LibreOffice, the Gimp and a collection of Multimedia tools (VLC, gmplayer, banshee, ….) that can play ANYTHING because Mint includes Flash and proprietary codecs out of the box. Instead of the Ubuntu Appstore Mint users have the choice between Mint Software center or Synaptic for package management, updates are pulled automatically by the Mint update manager.

Mint 13 inherits a lot of Ubuntu goodness like an easy installer, superior hardware support and a huge selection of available packages from Ubuntu repositories and PPAs, and avoids most Ubuntu annoyances (like Unity and the Appstore). Like Ubuntu 12.04, Mint 13 is a “LTS” release, which means it will be supported and updated for the next 5 years. This, together with the easy installation and the very complete, polished, modern desktop, makes Mint 13 the perfect distro to recommend to friends and even to install on friends and family PCs, where you don’t want to do a major upgrade every half year.

Linux Mint 12 with Gnome 3: The better Ubuntu

LinuxMint has a reputation as easy and beginner- friendly Linux distribution, and I have sucessfully recommended it to work co- workers and relatives. Now version 12 “Lisa” has even replaced Ubuntu as no. 1on Distrowatch. It remains yet to be seen if this will be as significant as the last change in 2005(!), when Ubuntu followed Mandrake, but Mint is definitely the distribution of the hour. Reason enough to give it a thorough test drive as my main OS on the Asus 1215N.

Technically Mint 12 is just Ubuntu 11.10 with extras (some tools, themes and Gnome extensions) and Gnome Shell instead of Unity. This has the welcome side effect that all Ubuntu packages, PPAs and tools work out of the box.

Even if Gnome 3 my look similar to Unity at first glance, it is not. No global menu, no “dash”, no auto hide, no embedded file management, no ‘leftist’ window buttons – Gnome 3 has all the looks but none of the annoyances of Unity. My only criticism right now is the lack of easy customizing options. With Gnome Tweak Tool (“Advanced Settings”) and Gnome Extensions you can work around the most severe pain points (read thisForum Thread for a comprehensive list tweaks), but there should be an easier (and more secure) way to hide the Bluetooth icon than to install an extension attached to some forum thread … Still, after a little tweaking Gnome 3 is a very pleasant desktop environment and compared to let’s say KDE4 at a similar point in life, it is very stable and feature complete.

The extensions included with Mint allow users to get used to know Gnome Shell without having to abandon desktop icons, taskpane and start menu right away. For me this has worked really well, after 2 weeks I have turned off the desktop and the bottom panel / menu, but I’m still using the Window List extension that shows all tasks in the top panel instead of only the current activity. Other than that I’m happily using Gnome Shell’s “Activities Overwiew” for all my app launching, searching and switching needs.

I only had a very short look at the Mate and “Fallback” options, both seem to work ok but especially Mate looks really dated compared to the other two. Still it’s nice to have the option around for all the die hard Gnome 2 fans out there – Linux is about choice after all.

For now I’m going to stay with Mint, i.e. will keep my install on the Eee and will replace the dated (still Ubuntu- based) Crunchbang Install on my old laptop, that now serves as kids / guest / backup PC. If you want a Linux distribution that “just works”, Mint is more than ever my number one recommendation. It is easy to install, easy to use and offers a non disruptive way to try out Gnome 3, the most interesting desktop environment of our time – give it a chance, you might be surprised !!