The “Linux release season” is starting to come to an end as the last few major distributions are coming out with their latest release, most notably Linux Mint. This time around the Linux Mint developers have released version 13, codenamed “Maya”. As far as major releases go, Linux Mint 13 doesn’t have a whole lot to offer as far as changes are concerned, but it is still a very solid update that rides on Ubuntu 12.04’s LTS (long-term support) status. Therefore, Linux Mint 13 will be supported through April 2017 as it is based on Ubuntu and its packages. However, don’t confuse it as another Ubuntu, as it does include big differences.
The “original” Linux Mint (not including KDE or Xfce variants) comes in two different desktop environments. The first one, called MATE, is simply the continuation of Gnome 2 in a separate project as upstream Gnome 2 has been abandoned. Linux Mint 13 includes MATE 1.2, which includes a handful of incremental updates since MATE was born and Gnome 2 had its final release. The MATE experience picks up exactly where Gnome 2 left off, so if you’ve been a fan of Gnome 2 and want to go back to using it, MATE is your answer.
The other desktop environment you can choose is Cinnamon. This desktop environment is based off of Gnome 3’s packages, and essentially uses everything that is Gnome 3 except for Gnome Shell. Instead, Cinnamon offers a more Gnome 2-like desktop experience. Therefore, Cinnamon doesn’t have a learning curve that hinders its use as it’s as easy as MATE. Even Windows users trying Linux Mint for the first time won’t have any problem from the get-go. Linux Mint 13 includes Cinnamon 1.4, which offers an “Expo” view of your open applications, new panel settings, and plenty more which you can read about in the release notes here.
Say Hello To MDM
Linux Mint 13 also replaces the Gnome Display Manager (GDM) with the MDM Display Manager (MDM). MDM is based off of GDM 2.20, which was among the last GDM releases that accompanied Gnome 2. People have always missed the old GDM because of all the things that could be easily configured, such as themes, scripts, and more. Linux Mint says “it provides graphical configuration tools, theme customizations, remote, automatic and timed login, event scripting, language selection and it comes with more features than any other Display Manager currently available.”
Last but not least, Linux Mint 13 includes a few other subtle changes to round out the release. GTK3 support has been improved and the distribution’s Mint-X and Mint-Z themes have been updated. Of course, the choice of default wallpapers has also been refreshed with new choices. The developers have also replaced Duck Duck Go! with Yahoo! as the default search engine. This move was made because the developers had reached a deal with Yahoo!, and are now receiving shared revenue with the search engine. Linux Mint also uses Ubuntu’s Linux 3.2 kernels for this release cycle.
Overall, is Linux Mint 13 a worthy upgrade? Absolutely! Despite the relatively subtle changes, a lot of software has been updated, the desktop environments (especially Cinnamon) have been refined, and it is running very stable. Not to mention that this release has support for 5 years, it’s more of a question why you wouldn’t want to upgrade. And if you aren’t a Linux Mint user, now is a good time to try it out if you’ve been considering doing so.
What’s your favorite Linux Mint feature? Will Ubuntu or Linux Mint be more popular than the other in a few years? Let us know in the comments!