Linux Mint 12 review

MATE Desktop is a fork of the GNOME 2 desktop, with a file manager named Caja, not Nautilus. It is a new project, and currently, does not function as well as a GNOME 2 desktop. In other words, it is still buggy. A lot more so than the other desktop options. When you think about MATE, just imagine previous versions of Linux Mint running the GNOME 2 desktop. This screen shot shows the desktop with the Favorites view of mintMenu.
Linux Mint 12 Mate Desktop

And this is the Applications view of the same desktop. An interesting bug I observed while using the search feature of the menu, is that if the search string is “user,” the system will freeze completely. But it will come back to life if you sit back for a few minutes. I have no idea why, but that is what happens every time, whether the system is in a virtual environment or on real hardware. And it does not happen with any other 4-letter word, just “user.” Try it on your system to see if you can reproduce it.
Linux Mint 12 Mate Freezes

Another problem I encountered, was while trying to download additional backgrounds from the configured website; the website has nothing to do with MATE, the desktop environment, but with MATE, the Maryland Association of Teacher Educators. Not that it matters, but that website has not been updated since 2009.

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Linux Mint 12 Mate Background

Ubuntu Desktop: With just one minor tweak, I was able to get the Unity desktop in Linux Mint 12. The only discernible difference between it and Unity in Ubuntu, is that out of the box, the Launcher has fewer application icons. Other than that, you get the same experience that you would using an installation of Ubuntu. Shown below is a screen shot of the default desktop.
Linux Mint 12 Unity Desktop

And this is one showing entries in the user profile widget.
Unity Menu Linux Mint 12

Final Thoughts: The default configuration of Linux Mint 12 (with GNOME 3 and MGSE) is messier than a stock GNOME 3 desktop. I find the whole setup constantly in the way. It does not offer a very good user-experience. It is going to be mighty tough to recommend Linux Mint 12 to anybody. But this is a distribution, based on this latest release, that some segments of our community have managed to crown as the flagship Linux distribution, simply because it now sits atop a list on Distrowatch. If the GNOME line of desktop environments were all we have, I would have given up on Linux on the desktop this year.

But thankfully, there are other options, much better options. But that is just my opinion. Beauty, as they say, is in the eyes of the beholder.

Resources: You may download 32- and 64-bit DVD and CD installation images of Linux Mint 12 here. The DVD image comes with both free and non-free applications and codecs, while the CD image lacks non-free codecs. Support questions may be posted at the Mint forums and at Questions & Answers.

Screen Shots: View a few more screen shots from test installations of Linux Mint 12.

A view of Unity Dash.
Unity Dash Linux Mint 12

Like every Linux Mint edition that I have ever used or reviewed, a new installation of Linux Mint 12 has no games installed. But that did not stop it from having a Game category in the menu.
Games Linux Mint 12

Workspace switcher view of the Unity (Ubuntu)
Linux Mint 12 Unity Workspace

Applications view of the Linux Mint 12 Unity (Ubuntu) desktop.
Linux Mint 12 GNOME 3 Apps

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33 Comments

  1. My experience of Mint12… extremely frustrating so far. Broke the first install because the Firefox full screen add on won’t cleanly remove, leaves a crippled browser that has no address bar and will no longer work with the full screen add on anymore. The second install, I have a standard user that can’t log on to gnome3 desktop, it just goes back to the login prompt, can’t find any error messages so can’t fix it.

    I’ll probably go back to Mint11… or another distro entirely that is not lumbered with an experimental (aka broken) default desktop. As far as I am concerned, Linux is a tool to use not a toy to play with. If the primary interface is not workable, I move on rather than playing to make it work. So far, byebye unity until it works, looks like byebye gnome3 for the moment too.

  2. Fingers crossed says:

    At first when I started using Mint 12 had all kinds of problem, freezing,screen goes blank and some hardware problems with drivers. So I figure I would try backing everything up and do a complete install instead of a upgrade and now everything is working Great on my Aleinware M15 X. Been using mint 12 for around a month now and will never switch back to windows!!!

  3. I have a fully updated install of Linux Mint 12 installed in a 100 GB test partition on my hard drive running on a quad core machine with 8 GB memory and an Nvidia GT 430 video card. With the latest updates installed I find Gnome (gnome-shell + MGSE) and MATE to be remarkably stable. With MATE I’ve added the MATE ‘Tridex’ repos so I get the latest fixes as soon as they’e uploaded to the update servers. MATE was only included in Linux Mint 12 for feedback purposes in the first place and should be fully ready by Linux Mint 13. Even now though, those average users who have used previous versions of Linux Mint with Gnome 2.32 would be hard pressed to tell the difference between MATE and Gnome 2.32 after the latest round of updates.

    As far as the default ‘Gnome’ DE is concerned I rather agree that MGSE is rather an unfinished, clunky approach to making Gnome3/gnome-shell more comfortable to use than just plain vanilla gnome-shell. So it might be interesting to know that Clement Lefebvre has come to the same conclusion so he’s dropping the MGSE approach for Linux Mint 13 and is currently working on an entirely new fork of gnome-shell that he and the Mint devs are building to their own specifications. The new fork is called “Cinnamon” and is available for testing right from the Mint repos themselves so you can easily install it via Synaptic (install ‘cinnamon-session’ then logout, select ‘Cinnamon’ from the DE drop down menu and log back in again). It’s very alpha right now but what’s there is surprisingly stable as it was forked from the latest stable release of gnome-shell (3.2.1). I’m running it as my main DE at the moment and it’s looking very promising even in it’s very early state.

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