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Linux Mint 10 review

by Dmitri Popov

Hot on the heels of Ubuntu 10.10, the Linux Mint project announced the release of Mint 10 code-named Julia. Dmitri Popov takes a look at what the new version of this polished and user friendly Linux distro has to offer

This article originally appeared in issue 94 of Linux User & Developer magazine.Linux Mint 10 review Subscribe and save more than 30% and receive our exclusive money back guarantee – click here to find out more.

Linux Mint 10
Pros: Improved MintMenu launcher, beautiful new theme and icon set
Cons: Rather conservative selection of bundled software, no new features to speak of

For those who follow the news from the world of Linux distributions, Linux Mint needs no introduction. This distro started its life as a Ubuntu derivative, but over the years it became a Linux distribution in its own right. The latest release of Linux Mint, code-named Julia, continues the tradition of transforming the Ubuntu base into a visually pleasing distro full of useful tweaks and features. So what does the freshly-baked Linux Mint 10 has to offer? Let’s find out…

Linux Mint sports only a slightly modified Ubuntu installer, so installing the distro is a rather straightforward affair. We were impressed by how fast the installer did its job: on our test machine with an SSD, installing the CD version of the distro from a USB stick took about 10 minutes. Since Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, it wasn’t a big a surprise to discover that all hardware components have been detected and configured without a hitch.

Linux Mint 10 review
Thanks to its Ubuntu foundation, Linux Mint sports excellent hardware support

On the first boot, you are greeted with a Welcome screen containing a handful of shortcuts to useful resources. The new addition here is the Add Multimedia Codecs shortcut which lets you add support for DVD playback and various codecs — a boon for users who want to enable video and audio playback with a minimum of fuss. MintMenu, Linux Mint’s application launcher, also sports a couple of improvements. It now automatically highlights newly installed applications, making it easier to find them. The Search field can perform a few clever tricks, too. You can use the Search field not only to quickly find and launch installed applications, but also to search for packages in the software repositories and install them without starting the package manager.

This seemingly minor improvement is in reality a huge time saver. The Search field has yet another trick up its sleeve: you can use it to perform searches, and this feature supports several search engines, including Wikipedia, Google, local search, and dictionary lookup. MintMenu sports support for GTK bookmarks (you have to enable this feature manually) and GTK themes. The latter means that you can tweak MintMenu’s appearance to your liking. All of these tiny yet genuinely useful improvements make the already excellent MintMenu utility one of the best launchers out there.

Linux Mint 10 review
MintMenu can be used to perform searches and install packages

Continue to: Page 2 – the verdict

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    • I hear you :) Julia is definetly better than Maverick, IMO.

    • Mike

      No new features? you listed a handful in your article, like installing packages from the mint menu, a brand new theme, improved software manager and updater…I’ll admit that they are small improvements for the most part, but it’s hardly NO new features.

      Mint is great though, the only reason that I don’t use it more is that I prefer KDE, and Mint KDE is always released months behind Kubuntu, and has few improvements over Kubuntu. When I save a friends computer from Vista, it’s always mint that I install, as it’s a smooth transition.

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    • Bob C

      I don’t understand this “review.”

      Most people looking at a distro would, I thought, have wanted usability, performance, stability, hardware compatibility and certain features which will vary by user. The listed pros deal a little with usability, but then the next “pro” is about appearance-which is probably only important to absolute newbies who have to labour to change appearances.

      The cons seem totally unimportant. Is anyone really going to complain about a distro because of a conservative choice of default software, which is so easy to change? The “review” listed a few new features, but really, do we need continual change for change’s sake? Why should “new” be important in and of itself?


    • Darryl C Gardner

      Reader Bob C gave me an idea in overcoming a limit imposed on hardware compatibility.

      Linux usually discusses hardware compatibility by saying it includes coverage for lots of older hardware. And my understanding is that hardware support is built into the kernel.

      Since code for each piece of hardware must be specific, as you include more and more hardware, eventually it becomes a huge file.

      If we use a single CD/DVD as the basis of distros, hardware support is limited to those same disks, regardless of the compression scheme used. No matter how you cut it, there is a limit to the amount of hardware support that can be included.

      I don’t know that it can be done this way – and it sounds much like the way Windows (boo, hiss, grrrr!!!) is distributed – but what if minimal hardware support is included in the kernel, just enough to get running, ala like providing VGA support for video cards. Any features/functions beyond that are supplied in separate files, specific to your hardware and any anticipated hardware upgrades. All of which should be available for downloading on the same sites furnishing your distro.

      Perhaps it is already being done this way; if so, wonderful.

      My two cents worth.

    • Ralf

      Work perfect even on my 7 year old HP Pavilion Ze4355ea

      Enjoy it.

    • JJay

      Lmint 10 Is a great Distro highly recommend for a Gnome centric DE(hopefully the other editons will follow (XFCE, KDE, LXDE Fluxbox)
      And the LMDE (Debian version looks very good (again only Gnome so far)with a 64bit version coming shortly for sure.

      The only thing I noticed of hand that You got wrong… you could ingnore package in the updater starting with version 8. I remember doing it (I liked the version 7 usplash to the version 8 one) but wasn’t heavily talked about till version 9!

      Good Review

    • JJay

      And before anyone asks…

      I know you can install most DEs on other systems thru apt,synaptic,whatever but some stability/speed/enhancements under the hood are implemented on the X layer and don’t always pass thru with other DEs.

      That why Ubuntu with XFCE or LXDE (a great way to see if like) isn’t as fast as Xubuntu or Lubuntu. you should switch if going to use regularly (their still faster/stabler alternatives anyways!)

      LMint or Ubuntu target users shouldn’t be expected to deal with doing this!!
      THE multiple menu entries alone will confuse most (both may work one work, one may work and the other not depending on the DE loged in, or neither work reliably anymore)


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    • Max

      I am a sad case: every time a new major Distro is released I put it on my machine in order to erase it again after a few days. Although a Fedora person by ‘heart’ I have lots of time for Ubuntu and its founder.
      In a way I had never much interest in LinuxMint until, after reading many reviews, I gave the latest version (number 10 thus) a try.
      And I must say this: very much likely LinuxMint 19 is the most beautiful Linux Desktop I have seen on my machine, to this day. Everything seems to be well thought of and to me it is the most complete Desktop for the normal user.
      In a way thanks to Ubuntu most Distros nowadays think also about aesthetics.
      LinuxMint is the Ubuntu Ubuntu could have been. The bottom line is that I won’t be changing Distros for a long time to come. Mint is to stay!

    • Joe

      To Mike,

      You’ve been able to install packages from Mint Menu for quite some time now through the “Search” function. After you search, if it turns up there’s no package on the system, you can click to install it from the repos.

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    • Ian

      I have a couple of Medion PC’s, an all in one touch screen desktop, and a netbook, Mint 10 is the only linux ditro to fully configure both from the start, well almost the Phillips based TV tuner seems to have no Linux drivers that I can locate, otherwise Mint is best OS I use , Mac OS and Win 7 incuded.

    • Gazz

      I don’t like this review as it is from a jaded point of view. I have just downloaded and played about with this distro coming from Ubuntu 9 and have to say I LOVE this one. I have now wiped my old laptop and replaced Ubuntu and Puppy Linux with this beautiful OS. I started out with Windows 93 and have used every version of Windows since. I only started playing around with Linux last year as I had finally been pushed too far with Vista and all its problems. I even tried a RC win 7 for all of 2 days when it crashed my new laptop just to get away from Vista and was SO disappointed. I picked up Ubuntu 5 someone had given me and tried it but didn’t really like it so upgraded to Ubuntu 8 and loved it! Then 9 came out and blew it away. Then 10 which wouldn’t work on my old laptop so I searched the net and found so many distros I was like a kid in a sweet shop and tried a bit of everything! I am finally satisfied with Linux Mint 10 and it is now on to stay (until 11!).

      I am known to my friends and family as the one to fix computers so I will now be pushing this distro onto them as I hate fixing their Windows problems!

    • Great OS, just if it’s NTFS/FAT support wouldn’t suck. FAT/NTFS partitions get corrupted too often.

      Any remedy for this?