Reviewed: Linux Mint 8

Distros

Bored with brown? Looking for more oomph in your Ubuntu installation? We test the latest release of Linux Mint, the shiny green distro that stands on the shoulders of giants and offers its own unique tools. Read on to find out whether Mint is actually a better Ubuntu than Ubuntu...

Linux Mint has quite a following. It has a community that has pushed the distribution into third place on the influential DistroWatch site. That's one place higher than OpenSUSE, which isn't bad for a distribution based on Ubuntu. And we were seriously impressed with the previous version. Its budding green theming and condensation soaked wallpaper was like annual rainfall on the brown desert palette of a standard Ubuntu installation. Clever additions like a new menu system and the inclusion of a few custom applications made the whole distribution feel more cared for than the average respin. But there's no escaping the fact that Mint is built on the world's most popular distribution, and as a result, needs to be judged on what it does differently and why.

As you might expect, the new version is built on top of Ubuntu's 9.10 release from October last year, and as a result, Mint contains almost exactly the same group of packages. You get the same version of Gnome, the same version of OpenOffice.org and the same installation mechanism, albeit painted green and a 1GB pool of on-disc packages. You also get the same unfettered access to proprietary drivers and encumbered codecs. But things start to look different after the painless installation and when you get to your desktop.

Linux Mint 8: We find the new colours in the backdrop to be a little too washed out for our taste. But beauty is only skin deep.

We find the new colours in the backdrop to be a little too washed out for our taste. But beauty is only skin deep.

The default theme for Mint is green and gun metal grey. This new release changes the background, but the subtle transparency of the window borders and panels remains the same. Visuals are subjective and easily changed, but we preferred the default wallpaper in the previous release, as well as the cross-hatchet theme that runs through the login manager and some of the other panels. It's a pity that when a distribution differentiates itself with visuals, there's seems to be a need to update these with each release, regardless of how successful the previous set-up might have been.

If you're used to Ubuntu, then the Mint desktop is going to be a bit of a shock. Gone is the top bar and its various menus and applets. Instead, the lower panel carries the burden of being both the launch tool, applet host and application manager, much more like KDE or Windows 7. It's also much smaller, defaulting to 24 pixels high. Mint uses its own launch menu, a tool called 'mintMenu', which we prefer to the plain point and click of the standard Gnome menu. It allows you to search for applications and quickly navigate to the sub-sections. This new version adds the ability for you to select which places are listed, as well as add your own, making it a complete replacement for the original Places menu on the Ubuntu desktop.

Everything's gone green

Another custom built application is the Update Manager. This includes the option to display a priority level for each package, and version 8 adds the ability to customise this view. There's also a brand new upload manager but we didn't feel this added much to what Gnome does already. But the Mint application showing the most promise, at least in the face of Ubuntu's Software Store, is the Software Manager.

This is a package manager that includes screenshots and community reviews for packages. It's a little sparse on the community spirit, but we can see a lot of potential in a system like this for all Linux desktops, and Mint's version works well. A small point is that both the 'Software Manager' and the Synaptic Package Manager have prominent positions next to each other in the launch menu. We feel this is likely to confuse newcomers who are still struggling with the idea that they can't simply download and run an executable.

The bottom line is that Mint is willing to take more risks than Ubuntu. Ctrl+Alt+backspace still works for killing X, for example, and it doesn't shy away from improving what it sees as deficiencies. Mint should perhaps be more ambitious, running Gnome Do by default and replacing the desktop panel with Docky, for instance. But there isn't anything here that makes Mint worse than Ubuntu, which in the end, makes it better.

Our verdict: One of the best examples of what can be done standing on the shoulders of giants. 9/10

Features at a glance

Linux Mint Update Manager

Update Manager Rather than bland list of packages, Mint lists updates by severity which is much more exciting.

Linux Mint Software Manager

Software Manager Another packages manager with screenshots and community reviews. Only this one works.

Brought to you by the nice folks at Linux Format

Brought to you by the nice folks at Linux Format magazine

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Your comments

It is veeery pretty,

It is veeery pretty, although I agree that last one was perhaps slightly nicer. I actually dislike the menu, I find it a bit messy and cluttered, I like the simplicity of the standard GNOME business.
Also: "It's also much smaller, defaulting to 24 pixels high." I think the bar in KDE is bigger, but my default Ubuntu bar is 24 pixels high, which is what I assumed you meant it was smaller than...

They could have simply fixed

They could have simply fixed the Jaunty/Mint 7 Freeze bug that everyone was having problems with and not done any other updates or changes, and Mint 8 would still be the best available Distro on the planet bar none.

Mint 8

I installed Mint 8 in October, used it since. Completely stable, does most things well. I've tried latest from Fedora, Mandriva, SuSe and Zenwalk and others, and some have some bits that are better than Mint. None has the same stability, flexibility etc over the whole package as Mint has, and since I want a straightforward, reliable workhorse Mint 8 does it for me.

Don't forget BoBTFish, you can play around and increase the size of the bar, and most other things too.

It's fun trying the other distros, though - part of the fun of Linux!

Very Impressed

I also installed Mint 8 when it was released and have been running it since. It is FANTASTIC!

The fact that everything just works out of the box is the biggest plus point. Don't get me wrong, Ubuntu is just as great, but you have to install all plugins and codecs manually and sometimes they just don't wanna play along as good.

With Mint everything just works which saves me time. I agree with BoBTFish though about the menu, I changed mine back to the default Gnome menu which is much simpler.

Happy Minting :)

Bloat

Mint is too bloated, too much stuff nobud needs, i mean, who needs 3 media players? And other such, this control center and update manager are bleh.

Great OS

My first Linux distribution was the XUbuntu, then followed Ubuntu 8.04, Linux Mint 7 and now 8. All I can say is that I love Linux Mint. It's very stable, very userfriendly, very flexible. It works better than Ubuntu and it has very good community support and it looks very nice too.
Linux MINT is the BEST! :))

Linux Mint 8 Reviews

Why do most linux reviews focus on a distro's looks and not funtionality. People who are new to linux need to know the benefits to using the os.

Linux Mint is great

I love linux mint and hate ubuntu. I may hate green as a colour, but my hatred for green dissapears when I use mint. It is my favourite distro. 'From freedom came elegance' :)

I like Mint

There are plenty of different live distros and I like several but the one that works better than most is Mint. This it the one that floats to the top.

Successfull upgrade from Felicia

Two factors pushed me for a live upgrade from Felicia to Gloria instead of a fresh new installation:
1. Felicia was my main system - handsome theme and very stable system - so a new installation and configuration would take more time.
2. Grub 2. Already Grub 1 messed up in previous Felicia installation, but it was easy to configure Grub 1. I did not want to take this challenge to configure manually Grub 2.

I have abandoned more preferable 64-bit version and easily upgraded to Gloria. It's all right but I just do not have now the same feeling of flawlessness. Up till now I have only this problem - my favorite player "listen" is eating CPU. 0.6.2 and 0.6.3 as well.

Anyway I am very pleased that an upgrade went very well.

Regarding the future I only wonder how Mint team will integrate perfect Mint menu with an upcoming Gnome. Because the Mint menu is the main edge which distinguish Mint from other distros. Theme, software manager, codecs are nice goodies but they are not in a range of main advantages.

THX & GL

Piere DuMonde

correction - 8 is Helena

The above mentioned upgade was actually from Gloria to Helena. Goood girls :)))

Good Show

I say, Good show Mint team! Coming from windows to Linux was a terrible thought. I mean all that terminal typing just to browse the web. But after a look at some distros, Ubuntu, openSUSE, Redhat, I found that Linux isn't so bad now. Downloaded Ubuntu 9.04 and ran the live cd for a week just to make sure it was for me and I liked it. I then installed it and then later upgraded to Ubuntu 9.10 and liked it too, except for the popping sound. Then I found Linux Mint 7. WOW! I like it. Now it's all I use. Also, upgraded to Mint 8 and have never looked back. So all I really have to say now is Go Green.

I tried the others Linux

I tried the others Linux distros like Opensuse, Fedora, and Mandriva but they don't compare to Linux Mint. I like how all the codecs, Flash are already installed so I can get to work right away. Its even easier to set up than Windows. It feels snappy. Thanks Clem for a great distro.

It's not good for me

Linux Mint 8 Helena keep's on crashing on my system while browsing or installing software with the software manager. I thought it was the filling system, i change from ext4 to ext3 is still the same but the ext3 is a little bit resistant than the ext4.

Any solution on solving the problem will help.

Be Specific

The review says: "as a result, Mint contains almost exactly the same group of packages. You get the same version of Gnome, the same version of OpenOffice.org and the same installation mechanism, albeit painted green and a 1GB pool of on-disc packages. You also get the same unfettered access to proprietary drivers and encumbered codecs."

This assumes the reader knows all about Ubuntu and the same this and same that. The reviewer should have been more informative or else not have bothered at all. Would it have been too much trouble to list the version of OpenOffice, name the installation mechanism and so on?

LINUX MINT IN MY OPINION IS WAY BETTER THAN UBUNTU, PERIOD...

LINUX MINT IS THE LINUX OS I HAVE ALWAYS DREAM OF, BECAUSE:

1.IT COMES WITH ALL THE SOFTWARE REPOSITORIES THAT I USED TO HAVE IN UBUNTU WITHOUT HAVING TO DOWNLOAD ANYTHING.

2.THE PROGRAMS SEEMS TO WORK BETTER IN LINUX MINT THAN IN UBUNTU, EJ: LIKE RHYTHMBOX MUSIC PLAYER, MOVIE PLAYER...ECT.

3.THE LAYOUT OF THE GUI AND MENUS, IN MY OPINION LOOKS BETTER IN LINUX MINT THAN IN UBUNTU.

4.HAVE TRIED MANY LINUX DISTROS LIKE FEDORA, PCLINUXOS, SOLARIS, DEBIAN 5.0, MANDRIVA, UBUNTU AND NONE OF THESE DISTROS HAVE MADE ME FEEL COMPLETELY SATISFIED LIKE LINUX MINT.

5.IS THE BEST LINUX DISTRO I HAVE USED SO FAR...PERIOD.

6.IF YOU ARE A ROOKIE IN THE LINUX WORLD THEN LINUX MINT IS FOR YOU, JUST HAVE TO LEARN A LITTLE HOW TO USE IT LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN THIS LIFE.

Caps

Lock

The most promising Linux so far

O.k., I have to be careful about actually commenting on Mint since I am not a user (yet!). I have been thinking about literally throwing my Windows PC out of the window for a while now. It just gets slower and slower and slower... even though I do all the system cleaning you're "supposed to do" with Windows. I have tried live CDs of Ubuntu and also Suse for a while and liked Ubuntu most when I just recently stumbled across Mint. The fact that it has many codecs already installed makes it the most attractive Linux for a Linux newbie like me. And I REALLY like the look of Mint! I would go for Mint immediately if I knew that libdvdcss and libdvdcss2 were included in the codecs that Mint comes with. I am pretty sure you know why... We do want k9copy to work properly, don't we? I would also like to know if DVD Shrink 3.2.0.15 works with Wine in Mint because Shrink still is my favourite software. Now, if this is the case I can see no reason to stick with Windows any longer. I hope I am not missusing the comments area here. As I have already stated, Mint to me is the most promising Linux distro so far and if it meets my needs (as mentioned above) it will be my next OS in the very near future. Thank you to anyone taking the time in responding to my post!

The most promising Linux so far

WINE + DVD Shrink works perfectly with Linux Mint, Try it and you will see!

The most promising Linux so far

Hey there, thank you! Exactly what I was hoping for!

I also found a tutorial on how to use DVDShrink with Wine.

Well, I have just ordered my Linux Mint 8 CD and look forward to a hopefully (dare I say probably) better OS! If it works as flawlessly as I read everywhere I will get rid of Windows for good.

And in case I have any problems, there is always the Mint community and the forums! By the way, good to see that users really try to help other users. Leaves you with a feeling that no matter what, you will always find answers and help. So that a newbie is not left alone on her/his own... ;o)

Gosh, I look forward to Mint!!!

Wine + DVD Shrink

After you have installed LM run an update, then download Wine 1.0.1-0ubuntu8(Binary Emulator and Lybrary) from Package Manager then install DVD Shrink and restart LM, when PC reboot, you'll see in the Menu the Wine and DVD Shrink option.

The most promising Linux so far

"The most promising Linux so far", indeed. I'm not that virgin regarding Linux, still, I'm using Windows because of few things I'm yet to see in Linux world.
Generally, I'm very impressed with the progress Linux has made recently, and LM contributes a lot in this regard.
Drivers and the like annoyances seem to soar away more rapidly than I'd expect. In fact, very short affair with Win7 made me decide to stay with Vista as most probably the very last Win incarnation. Glad to finally have the real choice.

Minty Fresh

Mint is closer to a store bought pc's functionality level.

- DVD playback
- Flash pre-installed
- Word Processor

Make your own list.

The Linux of the Future

I have been using linux for 6 months now (exclusively), and after some trials with debian and ubuntu, have got with mint 7 and now 8 which is better than 7. By what I have seen, soon Mint might become THE linux desktop, mainly because the very tight integration between community and maintainers on the recently created community site (which itself is evolving very fast).

i cant use mint on my

i cant use mint on my machines mint 7 i insatlled on my laptop ran for a day then grub said it couldnt find the device and for 3 months on my desktop till the same error
im cursed i tell yo cursed :(

Sounds like it tastes cool, green & shady!

As a VX37.285Gamma Penguin from Mars, I've had loads of problems with Ubuntu, especially with installing hardware & fonts & not being able to open some of my MSWord docs with Open Office (which works better in XP).

This sort of thing makes me a very snappy, & I start throwing fish at my poor laptop, which is already suffering not only the ignonimy of currently running XP, but is also facing the threat of Multiple Boot Disorder, which will only happen if I follow forum advice to do parallel/partitioned installation.

I shall taste & see.

my experiance

Ive used mint a lot. Its my choice for new linux users. I'm a professional, working with windows and linux every day. I use an eeepc 901 netbook with Mint as my everyday machine ( + 22" monitor and wireless mouse+keyboard ). Mint does not restrict me, i use tsc to log into our windows servers and a good old terminal+screen to use our debian servers. Its very, very stable.. no crashes or distractions. All music, web sites, video's work without a problem. It has a great selection of development tools ( and software in general ) available. My only gripe is that i would like to see mint-installer support lvm and raid. Linux Mint rocks!

Great, awesome, amazing... but

It is a great, and my favourite distro of choice, but it does have it's problems. E.g The cursor dissapeared. You could guess where it was, as things looked like that would when the cursor is over it, but turned invisible. Also, whenever I customize mint's appearences with there own supplied stuff, the instalatuon somehow breaks and I lose everything. I messed up my laptops hard drive as it broke so much, so now I can't install anything on it (unless I format it) ad the installers think the HD is empty, but several live CDs have said otherwise.

My Other Experience

I came to Linux some 12 years ago for one simple reason: the philosophy of free software. The community which developed Linux was a true community, swapping information, help, and code. The distributions didn't have anything but free software (as in freedom). Today, most new users of Linux want a version of Windows that runs most things Windows, and is even prepared to countenance proprietary software.

This, to me, is what Linux Mint represents, and I don't like it. If Linux Mint is the future of Linux, I'm moving to BSD: it totally undermines the philosophy behind free software, the philosophy of how our digital lives could be made more democratic and free.

I *have* tried Linux Mint 7 on my laptop as a live distribution, and I found the way it had messed about with the Gnome menus unnecessary and messy. Linux Mint has a certain identifiable "look" that appears to mimic the Windows experience: if you want that look, go to Windows. That way brings complete reliance on a system which erodes personal freedom and doesn't enhance it.

Linux Mint is *not* for me and I can't see why so many people are flocking to embrace it.

Linux Mint is a great distro

To Sweeney:

Uh, why does Mint threaten free software? It is a community-based distro. All the Gnome menu is a custom menu; you can revert to the original Gnome easy. As for mimic Windows? It could be argue that PCLinuxOS does that more so than Mint. The same thing could be said about the looks of any Linux disro - don't like it, change the theme, colours, tc. I cannot see how you think that Mint undermines freedom - I think it very much enhances it; but then that's what freedom is about: if you don't like it, don't install it.

That said, I am currently running Mint 8 Helena KDE x64, and it is a pretty impressive distro. I very much feel that it is how Ubuntu and Kubuntu should be. It is the second major disro that I have installed after testing out OpenSUSE 11.2 (which had issues with my PC).

I just started using Linux for the first time of mylife after 14 years of Windows (I started in 1995 with Windows 95), and I must say, Linux is a very compelling alternative.

Easy Mint

I found the combination of Unetbootin, Plop, Mint 8 iso and a pendrive very useful for installation on a workstation without BIOS support for USB booting. No burning of CD/DVD required. And quick to install. Lots less work to get extras such as Skype, dvb-t functional with Repos already in position. A convenience maybe over other distributions, but why invent the wheel again? I still find home networks a bit of a challenge using ADSL router as DHCP server and dnsmasq as nameserver. That's where I will be looking for added support (GUI) for net to be brought together for mixed Unix/Linux/Windows/MAC hosts/clients. It's all a bit messy at the moment. Network Manager does not go far enough and does not mix well with traditional command line methods. I don't think that is the intention? I rate Mint 8 as more convenient then the current 9.10 Ubuntus. Maybe not for the purist, but for the pragmatist.

Mint doesn't suck!

I tried many distributions in the last 12 years or so. Mint is my choice but will not install in any machine. I have beet using it since version 6 and it's the fastest, more stable and more elegant distro period. Because it will not install in any machine I still use Ubuntu but I prefer Mint by far. Too bad it will not install correctly in my small netbook and because of this I will not call it perfect but I keep hoping that a portable version will be out one day.

Why I Love Linux Mint

I've been using Linux off and on for the past few years. I love Linux a lot, especially as a server, but for various reasons, the desktop experience would just be SO frustrating. Sound that doesn't work, missing drivers (video and wireless), missing codecs, missing flash (or it won't work even after you get it, aka after getting flash for Ubuntu, first flash video would work, then all others would be blank white boxes). I just don't have the hours and hours anymore to go look up and fix all that stuff up. I want a Linux distro that works out of the box.

Then came Linux Mint. By far and away the BEST Linux distro I've EVER used. Why? Cause everything just works. It's very stable and haven't run to any issues. I like the new menu, makes it very easy to find or search for programs. And thank you for giving me a color other than that dull brown! Thank you for an amazing distro!

I'm stranded

I have used linux mint Gloria and windows xp for 4 months on atoshiba tecra laptop and tried to upgrade to Helena.During the installation some changes could not take place in the package manager.On restarting the computer the cursor doesn't work with the laptop mouse though it works well in windows xp.On connecting an external mouse it worked well.what can i do?

My other machine is a Haiku R1/Alpha!

Time for me to cast off the pantomine penguin costume.

Linux Mint 8 is nothing but (doo-doo-coloured) Ubuntu with green slime spewed all over it, & like Ubuntu, it means that I'd NOT have a printer (CUPS won't install), NOT be able to install executable (exe) programmes, NOT be able to use my 2000ish True Type Fonts, NOT be able to open many documents, NOT be able to record MP3s at 320KBps, & NOT be able to do anything without constant passwords: ON MY OWN COMPUTER! I'd also have to reinstall my mobile broadband dongle EVERY time I switch on! And I'd be internet-dependent for ANY software. (At least Mint 8 recognised the dongle, unlike 'stable release, up-to-date' Pardus 2009.1, PC-BSD 8.0, & OpenSolaris 2009-06). Furthermore, the 'user's guide' is useless: most of it seems to be an exercise in self-aggrandisement, & it's also badly formatted.

If Ubuntu-Mint is the answer, then why do the forum nerds recommend dual-boot or emulators/virtual machines? Why the need for Wine? And why the dropping of support for the previous version with every new 'stable' release?

I've solved the 'problem': I hacked my XP, & I now have a very fast, very clean, lean machine, that does WHAT I want, WHEN I want, WITHOUT a single password asked of me.

'Standing on the shoulders of giants?' Surely you mean a gnome (perhaps the ghastliest file system in the universe)!

There seems to be a lot of slaves living under a delusion of freedom!

Towards humanity? Prove it!

My verdict? Just another Ubuntu! FAILED!

NEXT!

Mint 8 on acer revo R3600.

Mint 8 is the ONLY distribution in the last eight years that I have tried on which EVERTHING worked first time out of the box. The hardware is a humble acer revo R3600 for which I paid £129.92 from ebuyer.com (now £149.99). Even the 3D nvidia card works with TORCS giving 50+ FPS at 1280x1024 using the repo hardware driver. The repos included all the software that I commonly use: SKYPE, OPERA, GXINE (dvb-t). The NEC2 antenna modelling software with OpenGL grahics, proved useful in designing a TV yagi for fringe area reception. The development environment was quite capable even on such hardware, useable, but naturally somewhat tardy. I don't know what the future of Mint 8 will be if and when I come to upgrade. I use the Ubuntu menu preferentially rather than the Mint menu. Although I keep both on the panel, the Mint menu is less useful in how I operate, but the choice is there.

nicw stuff just works

3 months in buntu linux world and this is the best thing so far!

I loved to install it, took less time then enything else i tried.

On my old 1,6 ghz laptops evrything is working. One of them is does have sound issue, that seems to originate from some physical mishap.

All and all - This Is Great Distro!!!

My wife looked it and in 5 mins and she was familiar with it. And this compared to 6 months of using buntus where some things are still ... duntkonw where.. have to look.. Ended up installing it on 3rd Pc, within 60 mins. And I Am Complete Noob in buntus.

Thank You Dev Team!

An other experience

In response to sweeney276, about Mint containing proprietary software, which goes against the linux philosophy.

It's a very good point.
In part I agree with you and think that Mint shouldn't have flash player, mp3 and some other codecs and that having it all pre-installed is like saying "We give up on that whole open source thing". It's not by making closed source software function on Linux that it became the powerful system it is today. When Linux needed a word processor, the developers didn't go "So, where is that Microsoft Word CD?". No, they wrote they're own and released the source. Same goes for every part of the OS.
But then I also disagree because for some things you still do need some proprietary software. My walkman ony plays MP3s files, my application form is a .doc file, to hear this song I need flash player and the lyrics are in a .pdf (ok, this is a bit far fetched). Then I'm happy to have it all ready to go.
I sincerely hope that html 5 will render flash useless, that ogg vorbis becomes a standard for every music player makers and that every line of my system can finally be free, and I'm pretty sure we'll get there eventually.

In the meantime, it's mint time *ta-pom-tchhh*

Very, very stable.

I've been running Debian, and it's variants, for a long time. I was running Storm when Ian was still building Prodigy.
I've tried them all.
I was a beta tester for Xandros when it came out and X2 was a rock. This thing is a boulder.
The new mint is the tightest, most stable, Deb based distro I have ever had the pleasure of running.

Just a green ubuntu

as in the tilte

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