Linux Mint 13 MATE and Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon are the latest releases of the main line distribution of Linux Mint, the desktop-centric distribution based on Ubuntu Desktop. MATE is a desktop environment forked from GNOME 2, while Cinnamon is a fork of GNOME (3) Shell.
Both desktop environments aim to satisfy users who refuse to let go of old technology and those who demand new technology, but packaged in a familiar format. And Linux Mint is the first project to make both available to users in separate ISO installation images for 32- and 64-bit architectures.
This article is a review of both editions. If you are familiar with the way distributions are packaged, you should know that aside from the desktop environments, Linux Mint 13 MATE and Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon share almost every other thing in common – same kernel, of course, and the same installer.
While the graphical desktop of Linux Mint gets all the developer-attention with each release, the installer gets nothing. So we are stuck with an installer and an installation process that while simple and easy to use, offers very little in terms of what some consider advanced features.
Those so-called advanced features are RAID, LVM, the Linux Logical Volume Manager, and disk encryption. Though full disk or partition-level disk encryption is not supported, there is an option to enable encryption of the home directory during the user account configuration step. The question that we should be asking about this installer is, when is it going to see any significant feature upgrade? Or will it ever?
This screen shot shows the Advanced Partitioning Tool window. This is the tool you will be using if you ever intend to install Linux Mint 13 on a custom partitioning scheme, like the one used in this tutorial.
And this, is the user account configuration step. Encryption of the home folder is disabled by default.
Aside from the kernel and other core aspects of the distribution, one other aspect that the MATE and Cinnamon editions of Linux Mint 13 have in common, is the display manager. The old one – GDM, the GNOME Display Manager, has been replaced with MDM Display Manager (MDM). So, the new login screen looks like the one in the image below. The default theme looks good, but not as pretty as that of ROSA Marathon/Desktop.
According to the Release Notes, MDM is said to offer “more features than any other Display Manager currently available.” That is one statement that I do not necessarily think is true, because I can see all the features configurable from MDM’s graphical management interface in KDM, the KDE display Manager. Plus, KDM has more and better themes than MDM.
MATE Desktop – The MATE desktop is GNOME 2 reborn, so what you get is a familiar look and feel of a GNOME 2 desktop. If you have used previous editions of Linux Mint or any other distribution that used the GNOME 2 desktop environment, there is very little that is new on the MATE edition of Linux Mint 13, other than insignificant changes in the names of a few applications. Out of the box, the desktop still features a bottom panel and mintMenu. Shown below is an image of the desktop with the menu showing the Favorites column.
MATE is one desktop environment that I do not see a for. What is the point anyway? I know that it was started before Cinnamon, but given that Cinnamon is better is almost all respects, I think the time has come to let go the way of GNOME 2. But that is not likely to happen, as some users will still insist on using it, even as a friend of mine still refuses to let go of her Mac computer running Mac OS 8. Choice!