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Linux Mint 7 "Gloria"

June 10, 2009

This article was contributed by Ivan Jelic

Linux Mint subscribes to Debian's "release when ready" philosophy. The Linux Mint team finished the development cycle of Mint 7 and released it at the end of May. According to statistics from the distribution's blog, Gloria reached new limits of popularity. It attracted enough DistroWatch surfers to put it in a leading position on the DistroWatch seven day list.

The most important underlying change in version 7 is the Ubuntu 9.04 codebase, from which the new Mint is built. Therefore Gloria inherits all the new features of Ubuntu Jaunty, with slightly improved system tools and characteristic applications on top of that.

Installing Linux Mint 7 is absolutely the same as an Ubuntu installation. The live installer is used in the same manner, with Windows installation functionality provided by Wubi, which has been rebranded to mint4win.

Mint 7 welcome

The Mint desktop has been refreshed with a new theme. The very popular Shiki-Colors GNOME theme in a green variant is used by default, introducing the darker tones to the user interface, but remaining suitable for users who don't feel comfortable in classic dark themes. The new features and improvements are demonstrated from the first load. Mint now shows a welcome screen with initial pointers for new users, including an introduction to Mint, finding help and making contributions. The assumption that this innovation will actually help a new user wasn't tested due the lack of adequate number of newbies, but it seems reasonable, though.

Beside the new theme, the Mint desktop looks very much the same as it did in the past - a one bottom panel setup, with a pretty elementary choice of applets. Simplicity is usually a good thing, but the lack of a Workspace Switcher leaves only a keyboard shortcut, which new users are unlikely to know about. MintMenu has a filtering feature to make it easier to find what you are looking for. Mint 7 extends this feature by adding a suggestion capability. If the filter does not produce any result the user will be prompted to search for a package on the Mint software portal or in the package repositories. The user may then show properties or install the package suggested.

Software management is covered with custom Mint tools, which have been slightly improved. MintInstall is a package manager similar to Ubuntu's Add/Remove Applications GUI. It now has a 'More info' button which loads a popup window giving more information about the package. There is also a 'Featured applications' window which uses popcon (popularity contest) results to show the most popular packages. MintUpdate gives more information about the packages now, and follows Gnome usability guidelines in the system tray.

Mint 7 menu

Mint continues to deliver proprietary multimedia codecs out of the box, providing playback for most current media formats, so it is not a distribution for free software purists. Firefox is loaded with plugins which make it able to stream and play basically everything on the web, with the exception of Microsoft Silverlight 2 powered content. The Moonlight plugin plays only version 1 content. Thunderbird is shipped by default instead of Evolution, which may be the biggest difference among mainstream GNOME distributions. GNOME Do, Mplayer and GNOME Mplayer are also in the menus together with the more or less usual programs like the OpenOffice.org suite and GIMP. Inkscape is not there by default, though. Program versions are analogous to the ones in Ubuntu 9.04.

Several smaller updates like SCP/SFTP support for mintUploader and simplification of the mintDesktop configuration tool close Gloria's new features showcase. Mint is encouraging the use of "RTFM", making it executable. The man command now has a link called rtfm. According to an explanation on Mint's site, "RTFM is not an insult anymore, it's now a command".

Linux Mint 7 performed very well during the our tests. Hardware on the test machine was mostly found and configured automatically. The only exception was the Nvidia graphics card, for which setup was offered through the Jockey GUI.

It is pure coincidence that Mint 7 was released in the midst of the Windows 7 marketing hype. It wouldn't be surprising to see Mint 8 before Windows 7 is finished.

Mint continues to gain popularity and Gloria is improving Mint's progress, showing some real demand for GNU/Linux on the desktop.

Comments (16 posted)

New Releases

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Gentoo Linux

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SUSE Linux and openSUSE

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Ubuntu family

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Distribution Newsletters

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Distribution reviews

Red Hat goes one louder with Fedora 11 (ChannelRegister)

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