Impressed by the richness of its latest release, Shashank Sharma is keen to award Linux Mint the prestigious ‘Debian of the desktop distros’ award…
Features at a glance
The range of themes, desklet and applets can help you change the appearance of the distro.
Mint 18.2 will receive updates until 2021 – ideal for those not interested in hopping distros.
» The distribution has a history of producing well- rounded editions. The latest LTS release will be supported until 2021 and contains a range of tweaks and feature editions. Its parent Ubuntu is a good choice for desktop users but not nearly as level headed, judging by recent developments, as Mint. If you want a RPM package management system try Mageia.
Derivative Linux distros are often affected by the goings-on in its parent. A delay in the source distro can hamper the schedule of the offspring. Furthermore, bugs and general unhappiness with the parent distro can sometimes find its way into the downstream product. Yet despite being based on Ubuntu, which is easily one of the most polarising Linux distros, Linux Mint has managed to find its own legs, and remain unaffected by the recent upheaval in the Ubuntu camp.
When one looks at Mint, one doesn’t see an Ubuntu spin, but rather a distro with a unique identity – the hallmark of which is the project’s long history of stable and likeable releases.
Spicing things up
Dubbed Sonya, the 18.2 release builds on the feature set of the other 18.x releases. You can now revamp the look and feel of the distro by incorporating different addons such as themes, desklets and applets. Explore all of these addons from the redesigned Spices website (http://cinnamon- spices.linuxmint.com). If the idea of manually downloading the add-ons doesn’t appeal to you, use the respective installers for each of these add-ons from inside System Settings.
Like many of its peers, Mint produces spins favouring many different desktop environments. However, with a view to create a seamless experience for its users as they move between environments, the
– The distro has firmly secured its place as one of the best newbie friendly distros out there. It’s perfectly positioned to start focusing on skilled users now.
distro has been working on what it calls X-apps. These are a set of core applications that started as forks of popular Gnome apps, but are now developed to be desktop-agnostic, providing a consistent experience irrespective of the desktop you choose to run. All of the popular X-apps such as text editor (Xed), image viewer (Xviewer), media player (Xplayer) have received a number of tweaks and updates with this release. Xreader, the document viewer now supports touch devices and swipe and pinch gestures.
While the distro has long found favour with new Linux users, the latest iteration features a tool designed especially for advanced users. The mintupdate-tool will appeal to those who prefer to work the CLI to configure updates. Apart from the basic listing and installing of updates, the tool can also be used to write scripts or cron- jobs, automating the update installation process. Run the mintupdate-tool –help command to familiarise yourself with it.
Speaking of updates, Mint has a slightly different approach to it, when compared with its peers. You can choose between three update models, depending on your familiarity with Linux, and the confidence in fixing things yourself should an update break the system. New users should stick with the ‘Just keep my computer safe option’ while more advanced users can explore the other options.
The spurt in rolling-release distros in recent years have convinced this reviewer that the Linux ecosystem is surely, albeit slowly, moving away from fixed-release distros such as Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint and the rest. However, the stellar and feature rich releases such as Linux Mint 18.2 serve as a reminder of what a dedicated team of developers can achieve, given time. It’s a wonderful distro and offers a mix of usability improvements and customisation options to please both novices and experienced users alike. With not a single step out of turn, Mint 18.2 is one of the best distros of 2017.
Linux Mint 18.2 Cinnamon
Developer: Linux Mint
Ease of use 9/10
» The distro has firmly secured its place as one of the best newbie friendly distributions around.