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Linux 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 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.
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
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.
New Search Engine
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!