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linux mintLinux Mint has been quite a revolutionary distribution, gaining plenty of popularity. In fact, DistroWatch statistics suggest the Linux Mint is now the second most popular distribution in the world, behind Ubuntu (upon which it’s based) and in front of Fedora Linux Just Got Better With The Fedora 16 Beta Distribution Linux Just Got Better With The Fedora 16 Beta Distribution Linux distributions have been improving by leaps and bounds, and those improvements are becoming visible in the latest beta releases. Fedora, one of the flagship distributions carrying GNOME 3, is no different and should have... Read More .

Linux Mint first began as a project to “fix” some usability issues in Ubuntu that were small but ended up being quite noticeable. Since then, Linux Mint has grown into one of the more popular distributions, and has branched out to include many other desktop environments.

They’ve even gone so far as to experiment with using Debian as a base instead of Ubuntu. Linux Mint released version 12 not long ago with plenty of improvements that aren’t found in other distributions. Let’s take a look.

Updated Software

linux mint
Linux Mint 12 includes a lot of updated software, such as Linux kernel 3.0, GNOME 3.2, and other base packages from Ubuntu 11.10. This should be quite a change from previous Linux Mint releases that were still using GNOME 2.x, as Ubuntu was still using that as well. A large amount of the changes made to Linux Mint are updated packages, so there’s plenty going on behind the scenes. The theme and wallpaper have also been updated for a nice visual refresh.

Mint Gnome Shell Extensions

linux mint 12
One of the main attractions of Linux Mint 12 is their MGSE, or Mint Gnome Shell Extensions, pack. This is a pack of extensions created by the Linux Mint developers that change some key aspects of the GNOME 3 desktop. With the pack, you’ll see a panel at the top and bottom of your screen, which is a little more like the old GNOME 2 style. The pack also includes the traditional Linux Mint “applications” menu, a window list, a task-centric desktop (where you switch between windows and not applications), and visible system tray icons.

MATE Desktop Environment

Linux Mint includes MATE, which is the new project that maintains the old GNOME 2 code. With the DVD version, you can choose to install MATE instead of GNOME 3. If you don’t use the DVD version, you can always install Linux Mint and then install MATE by running sudo apt-get install mint-meta-mate in a terminal. Please note that Linux Mint’s developers warn that the MATE desktop environment isn’t yet complete nor entirely stable, but eventually it should be identical to GNOME 2. As far as I know, Linux Mint has been the only distribution so far to think about including MATE as a possible desktop environment for those who want it.

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New Search Engine

linux mint
Another interesting decision that Linux Mint’s developers made was switching the default search engine from Google to Duck Duck Go. Duck Duck Go is known for being built upon open source software and having a firm commitment on privacy. That commitment is so strong that the service never tracks you, ever. To learn more about their privacy statement, you can click here.


Linux Mint is a great distribution, and it’s good to see the developers putting in lots of effort to make worthwhile changes and features. With the developers doing some pretty popular work, who knows how far up Linux Mint will go in the charts. For now, we can just enjoy the goodness that comes from this release.

What’s your favorite feature of Linux Mint. What about any other distribution? Let us know in the comments!

  1. Donlee
    June 11, 2012 at 7:44 am

    I'm a windows & recent Ubuntu user and I've this issue where my cdrom and touchpad doesn't work at all on ubuntu. After reading the below comments, I decided to try Linux Mint, hoping it will be more user friendly and feature rich.

  2. IanLaporte
    February 12, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Question from an ''intermidiate newby'' : does LinuxMint have the ''Synaptic package manager'' AND the ''Ubuntu Software Center''  AND ''apt-get'' ?  

    • Danny Stieben
      February 19, 2012 at 3:31 am

      Linux Mint does have Synaptic Package Manager (well it should; if not, you can install it without a problem) as well as apt-get, as it's based on Ubuntu/Debian. I believe Linux Mint prefers its own "software center"-type application, but the USC should be installable as well.

  3. Gigozap
    January 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    I currently use Ubuntu, which is alright. I sometimes have trouble working with the terminal. But Linux Mint looks great. I'd like to try it. How would I remove Ubuntu and install Mint? I don't have room on my HD to have both.

    • Actingman
      January 27, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      Linux Mint will ask you if you want to replace Ubuntu with Mint.  It will also keep your settings and installed apps, where possible.  My friend, who I wrote about below, did just that.  He said it worked really well keeping everything in place.  But the usual warning holds:  Back up first.

  4. Rick
    January 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    I ran Ubuntu for awhile on my laptop, but got tired of tearing my hair out to get video and more advanced graphics to display correctly. Linux Mint solved all of those problems and then some. It's nice to be able to take full advantage of my hardware's capabilities without a lot of extra work. 

    • Aviolano
      March 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Hi Rick, so have you solved tearing problem with mint? Which DE?

  5. Peter Climes
    January 12, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    I  recently moved from Windows XP over to Linux Mint/Mate (..the 5th of this month, to be exact)..and it's the best thing I have done on the computing front in years!  I'm sorry I didn't make the move before now!

    I have to say MATE is perhaps the best desktop environment I've ever had the pleasure to log in to..and, aside from what everyone says online, I have had no problems with it at all.  It appears to be fast and light on system demands..and there's just something about it's over-all look and feel that really works for me.  I have read elsewhere that MATE could very well fall by the way if it doesn't grow a big enough following..and I think this is really sad, as I don't think too many folks out there even know about it at this stage.

    It really is, in my own humble opion, a great DE and one that should be developed and supported by all Linux lovers..if not only to give us all yet another free choice in how we use our computers.

    Anyway, just wanted to share my experiences with MATE and encourrage others to give it a try if they can..I think they will be pleasently surprised by the experience.

    Thanks for an interesting article well worth reading.

  6. Actingman
    December 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I have been going on for awhile now about Mint with a friend who was hardcore Ubuntu...that is until he tried Mint 12 yesterday and found it installed a USB TV tuner we both have, with just the push of a button.  He could never get it to work under Ubuntu. He was also amazed with how easy it was to install it over Ubuntu and save all his settings and log ins. Now he is screaming about Mint to anyone who will listen...and to many who won' I have to go out and raise some bail money.

    • Danny Stieben
      December 30, 2011 at 11:31 pm

      Haha great story, Actingman! I actually haven't used Linux Mint as a main OS since right around LM11 came out, but I guess I'll think about it again!

      • Steve Platz
        December 31, 2011 at 4:37 pm

        I have been using Ubuntu for a long time, now using 11.10 on my lenovo notebook. Today I made a live USB stick with Linux Mint 12, which I'm testing currently - works great! I don't know whether I'm ready to install, but I don't know that I'm not ready, either.

  7. Trevor Lenten
    December 26, 2011 at 3:17 am

    Mint 12 is money. I like that mint takes gnome 3 and makes it their own, in my opinion it's the best next-gen linux UI yet.

    • Danny Stieben
      December 28, 2011 at 8:08 pm

      I do like Linux Mint's tweaks that they make for other users to enjoy, but for some reason I tend to enjoy the clean, untweaked version and do my own customizations. Then again, I haven't used Linux Mint as my main OS, so it might be a matter of getting used to it.

      • Trevor Lenten
        December 29, 2011 at 1:18 am

        Untweaked  linux mint or gnome 3? I found it very difficult and confusing to tweak gnome 3 in ubuntu 12.10

        • Danny Stieben
          January 12, 2012 at 4:40 am

          Gnome 3. As far as I know, untweaked Mint = Ubuntu. I mean Gnome 3 in general though because it's implementation in Fedora is decent.

  8. Anonymous
    December 24, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    "Linux Mint is now the second most popular distribution in the world, behind Ubuntu..."

    i guess you're stuck in 2009.

    • Edward Cunningham
      December 27, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      You took the words out of my mouth. I really like makeuseof's arcticles, but when the second sentence is completely wrong I get worried about whether the author has or not checked his facts.

    • Danny Stieben
      December 28, 2011 at 8:06 pm

      Could you two please elaborate? Last time I checked Linux Mint has caught up to and surpassed Fedora for the second spot on the charts.

      • Chubonga
        December 31, 2011 at 3:33 am

        What they meant was that Linux Mint has taken over the #1 ranking from Ubuntu.

  9. Anonymous
    December 24, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    So, is version 12 still using Debian as a base?

    • Pat
      December 24, 2011 at 8:58 pm

      Linux Mint 12 "Lisa" Main Edition is based on Ubuntu, but it doesn't look or feel much like Ubuntu at all.  They maintain a separate Debian-based distro called LMDE, which is also great.  I think LMDE comes with Gnome 2.x as the default desktop for now.

      • Danny Stieben
        December 28, 2011 at 8:09 pm

        Pat is totally correct. In fact, Nutz321, Linux Mint's main version never used Debian as its base. It's always been Ubuntu with an alternate version that was based off of Debian.

  10. Cell Travis
    December 24, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    I've been using Ubuntu for a while now and find the idea of Linux Mint worth a look into. I have a spare computer that I can hook this up on. Also, I like the fact that OS'es are starting to incorporate Duck Duck Go for search. I've been using it for the better part of this year.

    • Danny Stieben
      December 28, 2011 at 8:11 pm

      Great that you're enjoying LM and DDG!

  11. Joel Lee
    December 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I used Linux Mint back when I was in college and it was awesome. I'm glad to see that they've grown stronger than ever, even outplacing Fedora! The bit about defaulting searches to Duck Duck Go is interesting as I've never even heard of that search engine before.

    • Danny Stieben
      December 28, 2011 at 8:10 pm

      I was quite surprised to see Duck Duck Go as well. It's no doubt a fantastic search engine, but I have my doubts that I'll be jumping from Google full time, in the near future anyways.

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