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Linux Mint 15 review

Verdict

A very usable Linux distribution, offering a traditional desktop and all the add-ons you need to hit the ground running

Review Date: 30 May 2013

Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith

Price when reviewed: Free

Overall Rating
6 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
6 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
6 stars out of 6

PCPRO Recommended

Linux Mint’s comparatively short development cycle means new releases tend to bring evolutionary improvements. New features in Version 15 include flexible, themable login screens; a new software management tool called Software Sources; a driver management tool; and a unified System Settings view – an improvement over previous versions that split settings icons across two different windows. The latest version of Cinnamon also brings support for what Mint calls “Desklets” – also known as desktop widgets, or “Gadgets” in Windows 7 and Vista.

Cinnamon Desklets float on your desktop, providing at-a-glance information

Overall, Mint is very slick: the technical challenges and inconsistent interface elements that were once part and parcel of Linux are nowhere to be seen. It’s no surprise that it’s gaining popularity: the Linux-specific DistroWatch website (www.distrowatch.com) reports more visitors seeking information about Mint than any other distribution, including Ubuntu.

If you’re thinking of hopping on the Mint train, however, be warned that there’s currently no officially supported way to upgrade from one version to the next. Unlike Ubuntu, which offers in-place upgrades via the Software Updater tool, Mint emphasises stability, and discourages users from upgrading as a matter of course. If you insist on doing so, you’ll have to back up your data and perform a fresh installation.

Alternatively, you could go for the Linux Mint Debian Edition, which is a continuously updated “rolling release” – but this isn’t compatible with Ubuntu. As the name indicates, it’s based on the unmodified Debian distribution, and calls for, in the developers’ words, “a deeper knowledge and experience with Linux, dpkg and APT”.

Still, no operating system is perfect, and Mint is overall a slick and businesslike Linux that reaches out persuasively to Windows users – and to anyone who isn’t bowled over by Ubuntu’s Unity interface. It isn’t your only option: Kubuntu, for example, is an Ubuntu variant that offers a taskbar-based interface not dissimilar to Cinnamon, while derivatives of Mint are freely available with KDE, Xfce and GNOME-based front-ends. But if you’re mulling over which distribution to test-drive, Linux Mint is an appealingly capable and fuss-free place to start.

Author: Darien Graham-Smith

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User comments

Mint v Zorin

Have you tried Zorin, and if so do you have a preference?

By henryg_1 on 30 May 2013

Linux Mint Debian Edition

"Alternatively, you could go for the Linux Mint Debian Edition, which is a continuously updated “rolling release”"

LMDE is not continuously update. It's updated through Update Packs (UP's) that come out once in a few months. Thus this makes LMDE a "semi-" or a so called "cyclic-rolling release". Also LMDE won't recieve any UP's once Debian Testing is in freeze while Debian is preparing for the stable release itself. This takes up months.

By Maik_Adamietz on 31 May 2013

Live boot

> "Getting started with Mint is simplicity itself. The installer ..."

That's not simplicity itself. To get started without worrying about partitioning or any nitty-gritty details, you use the live boot feature - now that's simplicity itself.

By jwright on 1 Jun 2013

Has anything changed for updates yet?

Last time I tried Mint, I found that an 'update' to a new version number required a complete reinstallation from scratch. Has anything changed in Mint 15?

By JohnGray7581 on 1 Jun 2013

Has anything changed for updates yet?

Last time I tried Mint, I found that an 'update' to a new version number required a complete reinstallation from scratch. Has anything changed in Mint 15?

By JohnGray7581 on 1 Jun 2013

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