Linux Mint 10
Pros: Improved MintMenu launcher, beautiful new theme and icon set
Cons: Rather conservative selection of bundled software, no new features to speak of
For those who follow the news from the world of Linux distributions, Linux Mint needs no introduction. This distro started its life as a Ubuntu derivative, but over the years it became a Linux distribution in its own right. The latest release of Linux Mint, code-named Julia, continues the tradition of transforming the Ubuntu base into a visually pleasing distro full of useful tweaks and features. So what does the freshly-baked Linux Mint 10 has to offer? Let’s find out…
Linux Mint sports only a slightly modified Ubuntu installer, so installing the distro is a rather straightforward affair. We were impressed by how fast the installer did its job: on our test machine with an SSD, installing the CD version of the distro from a USB stick took about 10 minutes. Since Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, it wasn’t a big a surprise to discover that all hardware components have been detected and configured without a hitch.
On the first boot, you are greeted with a Welcome screen containing a handful of shortcuts to useful resources. The new addition here is the Add Multimedia Codecs shortcut which lets you add support for DVD playback and various codecs — a boon for users who want to enable video and audio playback with a minimum of fuss. MintMenu, Linux Mint’s application launcher, also sports a couple of improvements. It now automatically highlights newly installed applications, making it easier to find them. The Search field can perform a few clever tricks, too. You can use the Search field not only to quickly find and launch installed applications, but also to search for packages in the software repositories and install them without starting the package manager.
This seemingly minor improvement is in reality a huge time saver. The Search field has yet another trick up its sleeve: you can use it to perform searches, and this feature supports several search engines, including Wikipedia, Google, local search, and dictionary lookup. MintMenu sports support for GTK bookmarks (you have to enable this feature manually) and GTK themes. The latter means that you can tweak MintMenu’s appearance to your liking. All of these tiny yet genuinely useful improvements make the already excellent MintMenu utility one of the best launchers out there.
Continue to: Page 2 – the verdict