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Linux Mint 14 Review – The Best Desktop Linux

by Rob Zwetsloot

Linux Mint returns with updates all round, but has it addressed the minor issues we had with Mint 13 along the way?

Coming around much faster than 13, Mint 14 Nadia is the latest version in the popular line of Linux Mint distros, based on Ubuntu. 14 itself is based on Ubuntu 12.10, and as usual replaces the Unity desktop with their own DE offerings of Cinnamon and MATE. It also comes with the Mint developed MDM display manager, which debuted in Mint 13 as a replacement for LDM and GDM, and their own Software Manager.

Images come in two flavours, MATE and Cinnamon, both of which have 32 and 64-bit versions. Installation of the distros is about as easy as it gets, with the installer software showing its Ubuntu roots, even if it has been heavily rebranded. There’s not much control over which repos are included, and whether or not you’d want to add, say, MATE as well to the installation, however it keeps it simple for the more novice users who might find that a bit overwhelming.

Ubuntu Cinnamon MATE
Linux Mint 14 is a fantastic desktop distribution

While you cannot get an official ISO with both desktops pre-configured, MATE is easily accessible from the Mint repositories. The few extra Mint repos are included along with the standard Ubuntu repos, meaning that Linux Mint has access to the vast package selection available to Ubuntu, and even to the PPAs as well. Instead of using the Ubuntu Software Centre, Mint again uses their Software Manager, a much plainer version that’s just as easy to navigate.

Since Mint 14, the flagship desktop environment Cinnamon has come leaps and bounds. The developers themselves admit that the largest contributions have gone towards it over the past six months, and people using Linux Mint 13 will be familiar with how its changed via updates over the past few months. Workspaces have been updated, with the ability to create a persistent number of named spaces. Notifications now work similar to Android, popping up and either being dismissed or clickable for more information. Otherwise they live in a little applet you can bring up at any time. Alt Tab now has window previews, and there’s an applet that lists all windows open in all workspaces. A huge amount of work has been done to pretty much all the parts of Cinnamon, which benefits the user with a faster and more usable desktop, even in the new, low-resource Cinnamon 2D mode.

Ubuntu Cinnamon
MATE has now resolved most of its prior problems

MATE may not have had as much attention, but it’s still had a lot of updates and bug fixes, including notifications that have been finally implemented, as well as bluetooth and the mate-keyring being fixed. Aesthetically speaking, it looks and feels like any modern desktop environment, with a great theme that keeps it completely practical.

One of the issues we had with the last version of Mint was the new MDM Display Manager, which included a very basic login screen that required you to type in your username rather than choose one from the now standard userlist of other display managers. While the default version of the newer MDM carries on with that style, it now fully supports all legacy GMD 2 themes, and a handful of included themes allow you to add the user list. We’d much prefer this by default, but at least the option is much easier to obtain now.

Ubuntu Cinnamon MATE
MDM Display Manager now has access to over 6000 themes

This is without a doubt the best Linux Mint yet. The additions changes that the Mint team are making to Ubuntu each time have really matured over the past year, which has resulted in Cinnamon showing up in a lot more distributions as standard. Installation wise, it’s not as easily customisable as some of the Red Hat based operating systems, which may not make it as suitable for businesses that like to distribute new distros with little hassle. However, for day-to-day user experience, you can’t beat it.



An absolute pleasure to use thanks to its Ubuntu base and alternate desktop environments, Linux Mint is one of the great examples of how Linux can be shaped by the community for the better. Perfect for home use on a main PC, and still great in an office or development environment.

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    • Chris

      “This is without a doubt the best Linux Mint yet.”

      I agree!

    • geoff

      You can have Mint 13 LTS with the latest bells and whistles from 14 too. I can’t believe that an OS this good with tons of really excellent software, is free! Even on relatively modest hardware (P4 with 2GB) it’s fast. If you haven’t got it, get it.

    • istok

      6,000 themes?
      6,000 themes??

    • jonno

      The one thing that keeps me tied to ubuntu is the global menu. I know a lot of people hate it but I’ve come to love it! It would be awesome if the Mint team could add this as an option somehow.

    • JA Prufrock

      Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora. Different bells and whistles. I would have a hard time saying that one was better than another. I like them all. What to do.

    • Ubuntuer

      I hate Mint because of the greenish thingy and their DE. you may say whatever but I’ve never liked the Cinnamon nor the MATE and probably never will. they’re just too ugly compared to Unity or even KDE. Itried Julia, Lisa, Maya, and never get used to it. so I come back to Ubuntu. I tried Fedora 17 and love it at the first sight.

    • geoff

      Green isn’t the nicest colour and it’s the first thing I changed. However, it is Mint after all.

    • Amy

      Your experiences with the Mate iso download: did you experience any problems. When I installed it to a USB and booted into it, it would not mount any drives, even those present during boot. The Cinnamon version gave me no such problems.

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    • blank

      I care about the RAM that is wasted. I would like reviewers to load conky or somthing that tells me how much ram is wasted at idle. My Mint13Mate crashes with a longer printout and to burn a ISO I have to reboot from a USB stick of Puppy. My guess is that Mate is new enough that it has some memory leaks? I figure the 3 G of RAM I have should be more than emough, and I like to keep a minimum of windows open. I think I should be able to run linux on 512Meg.

      I tried Mint to see what the most popular distro is like. This laptop runs cooler, so the power managment must be better than in the minimalist distros. But I think I will have to upgrade to 4G ram to be stable. I might put Puppy on this except for the higher heat that comes out the fan compared to win7.

    • Bob

      This is NOT a long term support release!. So it’s hardly the best in my opinion.

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    • Albin

      Agree with Bob. These non-LTS releases with short support should be labelled “Beta” so that ordinary end users will understand that only developers and OS junkies should install. I backported Cinnamon 1.6 into Mint 13, and understand eventually it will be in the repositories. The LTS versions should be Mint’s priority for polished releases and upgrades. Nobody should be talking about interim versions with curtailed support as “finished” or “best”.

    • wally

      Agree with Albin and Bob. They ought to label these ‘experimental’ or some other word stronger than ‘beta’. I used to try each new thing and once I finally settled into a long-term release (Ubuntu) I realized that trouble free is what you should expect.

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    • WOW….now that was clean, refreshing, and absolute polished piece of software. I do believe I have been finally sold what has become an alternative to those other operating systems.
      I could keep writing but want to get back to installing some fine applications that will upgrade my secondary laptop for daily usage!!!

    • Robert

      Have been using Mint since Version 2. Have installed it on countless Win/Linux dual boot machines – I get called a lot to fix friends, friends of friends, acquaintances and family’s systems. I’m told all the time they don’t even boot into windows anymore.
      Anyway, Mint at it’s worst is better than most distros at their best.
      The developers deserve a lot of credit for their hard work in developing such a fine OS.

    • Neil

      Just installed Mate 64-bit version of Mint 14 on my linux-only macbook 2,1. Fantastic job.

    • joey

      I upgraded from 13…13 was okay…I haven’t used ms os for years now…mint 14 cinnamon is brilliant, I really like the multiple screens as well as the top left corner with a mouse to see the whole picture…it raocks… by far the best os I’ve ever used…can’t wait for the next one!!

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    • Paul

      Every now and then i try a different Distro but always end up back with Ubuntu – but this time I think I may just stick with Linux mint – really like the latest one – feels so much more responsive than ubuntu which I also like! Thanks …..

    • anonymous


      I was trying to download linux mint iso file but i could only find winrar file. In some websites i found iso file but when i download it, it is incomplete.
      I am currently using ubuntu 12.10. I want to switch over to linux mint. i really like this but still struggling to get the iso file.
      could anyone please post me the url where i can get the iso file. i even downloaded from official website but it is a windows installer.
      so, please provide me a link
      Thanks in advance

    • Jim

      @anonymous re: linux mint download, rar files, windows installer, etc.

      You’re going to the wrong sites! There are no rar files or windoes installer files on, or better yet:

      Be careful about what sites you visit and what you download, its a dangerous world out there….

    • deepak bawa

      thanks to developers from the boottom of my heart, i just wanna some more improovements i.e it should have preinstalled


      2.qbittorrent or ktorrent instead of bittorrent with all packages

      4.a dap like downloader

      6.dll file fixer

      7.any video converter like software or pitivi video editor full version will all packages

      8. virtual box with mounting usb & all other hard drives

      9.kamoso or like this web cam

      10.winUSB which support creation of win-7 as bootable usb as well as win-xp 10g
      12.atleast one mario like game

    • Jordy Verrill

      A general question. It is frequently hangs as Linux Mint 13 did it?

      I will really appreciate.

      Thanks in Advance

    • Deb

      Good to hear that problems have been resolved.

      I used mint 13 and had so many freezes and crashes – was old hardware. You say mint 14 has ironed out some of the problems.
      – If I was to download mint 13 now would that benefit from the problems being ironed out, or would it be the original version that was first released?
      – When you first do a fresh install there are a lot of updates installed afterwards.
      – Would these updates sort out the problems that 13 had or is 14 the only version where the problems have been solved?

      Always wondered about this, but I have a new system coming and could install a new version but I am very nervous about mint 13.
      Thank you for the information.

    • Prince

      I like Linux a lot, it’s no doubt the most powerful OS ever but until all those linux distros out there do something about the CPU usage and cooling, windows and mac will always dominate personal computers.

    • sonic

      Not a SINGLE version of Linux comes preoptimized for use on an SSD drive.

      It is a pain to have to edit everything to support trim, scheduling, and etc. None of them come with /tmp and such preset into a ram drive either.

      NONE of them will partition an SSD properly nor support GPT partitioning for UEFI/EFI out of the box with auto configurations and such.

      Linux developers still work with/on old technology.

      You have to start the first partition at the 1mb point (leave 1mb space before making the partition) when partitioning an ssd or the partition won’t be aligned. And the partitions should be in multiples of 4K (e.g. 4GB is a multiple of 4K)

      Battery life in Win7 for me is 3-3.5 hours. Battery life with every linux distro I used is 2-2.5 hours.

      None of them truly support 4 cores.

      I am talking about desktop computers and laptops, not servers or other exotic computers.

      Still the mindset for linux developers is for server use, not typical home users.

      I guess they follow the money I suppose.

    • sonic

      One would think that a 4 core i5 3210 with 8gb of ram on an ssd drive the computer would SCREAM.

      But it is no faster than an old AMD 64 4200 X2 with 4gb RAM (dual channel) and old seagate hard drive I have on a desktop.

      Either takes ALL NIGHT to convert a DVD.

      Linux is wasting really good resources. With 4 cores I should get the job done 4x faster, or at least in 1/2 the time.

      I went from 64bit Mint 13 kde to 32 bit mint 14 kde. Mint 13 had random freezeups. Seeing if Mint 14 does it too.

    • Martina

      I’ve been using Linux for a couple years now, and though I’ve tried a number of different distros I always come back to mint. Unlike some people who commented here I absolutely loved mint 13, but eventually suffered some system instability after “tweaking” around a lot ( translation: My noob bumbling around with settings and components in my system caused it to become unbootable) so I’m giving mint 14 a try.
      I just installed and am having some issues getting started, but it looks like it might become a favorite once I get used to all the changes. I do miss being directed to driver options and shown a list of propietary and alternative drivers for my hardware on the first boot into my new OS, thats one of the things that makes it easiest for new users to get started with Linux mint…and I miss it a lot.

      Thanks for taking the time to try this new release,( Linux mint 14) and posting your review.

      p.s. lots of operating systems and most programs dont utilize multithreading very well yet.
      Its a lot of work designing a program to manage the resources of multiple cores, and still be functional using only one.

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    • Gene

      It is still missing in 15. There is advice for how to install it in 14, but it does not work. I agree: it is a big enough reason to abandon the whole thing, even though it is the first system in more than half-year that sort of worked on my m4300.

    • Joseph Upton

      Using Mint MATE as my main distro on higher-end machines. In May I will probably switch to Cinnamon with the new LTS distro. Xubuntu or Crunchbang for my lower-end machines. And “SLiTaz” for my 300mhz dinosaur. “AntiX” is another favorite.

    • John Saheim

      Exactly and there is A add on you can get for those who use like Fedora rpm-deb to make it so that programs can run under Debian!

    • John Saheim