Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why Mint with Cinnamon is the Best GNU/Linux Distribution

Guest Post by Brendan Kidwell

Note this is part of a series of posts debating which is the best GNU/Linux distributions for desktop users

Linux Mint is a soft fork of Ubuntu.  Each time a new version of Ubuntu is released, the Mint team integrates the Mint packages into the new Ubuntu release and releases the result as "Linux Mint."

Mint is free to download, use, and share (as are other GNU/Linux distributions).  Almost, but unlike Trisquel, not all of the software that comes with Mint is open source.

Mint works on Intel x86 and AMD64 architectures only.  It is desktop oriented, but can also run as a server OS.

Mint Screenshot

Mint Linux Screenshot

What's in Mint but not Ubuntu?

  • Software Manager
    • Similar to its counterpart in Ubuntu
  • Update Manager
    • Update stream from Ubuntu is edited by Linux Mint team
    • Potentially dangerous or unnecessary updates are hidden from Mint users
  • Upload Manager
    • Drag and drop upload to predetermined targets
  • Domain Blocker
    • e.g. prevent yourself from browsing Facebook during political campaign season

Cinnamon Desktop History

The Cinnamon desktop (Window Manager) was created by the Linux Mint team.  They considered that the GNOME 3 and Ubuntu Unity window managers unacceptable desktop UIs, and they wanted to provide a viable alternative that would continue to be supported after the GNOME project stopped development on GNOME 2 and moved onto GNOME 3 in 2011.

Cinnamon was initially released as a set of extensions – “MGSE” for GNOME Shell.  Cinnamon transitioned into a full fork of GNOME Shell in 2012 and uses GNOME 3 core libraries.

Cinnamon Desktop Features

  • Back to basics traditional “desktop”
    • Like Windows 95, GNOME 2, KDE 3, and XFCE
  • Panel providing a “taskbar” functions
    • Start menu
    • Task list
    • System Tray
      • Doesn't ban old system tray apps like Ubuntu Unity
    • Additional “applets” available
  • Themes and extensions available
  • Not extremely configurable
    • But it just works out of the box and I haven't needed to fiddle with it!
  • Searchable Start menu

Why Not Choose a More Popular Desktop Window Manager?

  • Ubuntu Unity and GNOME 3 Shell have confusing user interfaces.
  • The KDE Plasma Desktop is too slow and bloated, and the themes are unattractive.  Further, GTK apps don't look like Qt apps and therefore don't fit in well with the KDE interface.
  • The XFCE Desktop still doesn't come with a searchable start menu.

Why Choose Linux Mint with Cinnamon?

Linux Mint with Cinnamon includes all the features from Ubuntu that I want:
  • Lively package ecosystem
  • Easy configuration
  • Lots of documentation
And it skips features from Ubuntu I don't want:
  • Ubuntu Unity Desktop 
  • search integration, which is enabled by default!

What's not good about Linux Mint?

  • Amateurish web sites for Linux Mint and Cinnamon
    • Cinnamon doesn't have an “About” page
  • Uninviting “Community” forum for support
  • Too many software source layers
    • Mint depends on Ubuntu
      • Which depends on Debian
        • Which collects and builds packages from app developers
  • Cinnamon Desktop requires X server and driver combination where "compositing" window managers work
    • Currently no “2D” fallback for Cinnamon
    • But MATE, Plasma and XFCE are fully supported alternative window managers in Mint

Where to get Linx Mint support?

Use Ubuntu support channels for almost any issue

Where to get Linx Mint?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Another "What's not good about Linux Mint?"
    Cinnamon window manager is not very stable and it is even less stable with fedora. After a while it becomes slow and unresponsive and has to be restarted.

    Another "Why Choose Linux Mint with Cinnamon?"
    The expo function to select workspaces is phenomenal. I have put it under my extra mouse button and that works so beautiful.

    For the Rest: I love it to bits!


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