Linux Mint 12: Why it's the best desktop OS

Linux Mint 12: Why it's the best desktop OS

Summary: In terms of sheer user-friendliness, Linux Mint 12 Lisa has nosed ahead of other desktop operating systems, says Jack Wallen


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  • Linux Mint 12 desktop

    Over the years, I've tried every shade of desktop — from the ridiculously complex to the overly simple, from the barely usable to the extremely useful. Recently, the push seems towards touchscreen technology, with little success. Nevertheless, some operating systems — such as Ubuntu Unity, GNOME 3 and Windows 8 — are persisting with touchscreen-friendly features. The problem is these desktops aren't particularly user friendly.

    Then along comes Linux Mint 12. In terms of user friendliness, it offers something special. Here are the reasons why I think it's the best desktop operating system available.

    1. Smart desktop
    The smart desktop is Linux Mint's strongest feature. Mint has a new desktop subsystem that lets you add or subtract features from GNOME 2 onto GNOME 3 so that you can create an incredibly user-friendly desktop. For example, you decide whether you want a Start menu or a bottom panel. The end result is that you end up with a customised desktop that suits your needs.

    Image credit: Linux Mint 

  • Software Manager

    2. Package manager
    Until now, I have argued that the Ubuntu Software Centre is the best package manager available. But Linux Mint has given Ubuntu Software Centre a makeover to produce a package manager that is at least as good as Ubuntu's. Not only does Linux Mint ship with the improved Software Centre, it also retains both GDebi and Synaptic. So you have three — four, including the command line — ways of installing software.

    Image credit:

  • Advanced settings in Linux Mint 12

    3. Advanced settings
    This feature is a repackaged Ubuntu Tweak, which offers some options not found in the standard configuration tools. In Linux Mint, one of these configurations is the enabling or disabling of the various extensions that make up the Mint GNOME Shell Extensions, or MGSE. You can also change themes and window behaviour. This settings tool is separate from the control panel settings window. Perhaps at some point it should be rolled into the settings tool to avoid confusion, but nevertheless it remains a welcome addition.

    Image credit: TechRepublic

Topic: Operating Systems

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  • Mint has understood an important lesson that many of the other haven't - the way the desktop looks and feel is a personal thing.
    Gnome3, Unity Ubuntu, Windows 8, etc all aim for a decluttered desktop and an antipersonal (non-reconfigurable) method of working.
    Who complained of a cluttered desktop?
    Who couldn't navigate the menus?
    Virtually no-one!
    What does it give these companies? Now their logo/theme is superglued to your screen, and so is their methods of working, not yours. It is change for changes sake, not progress!
    Thankfully PCLinuxOS-Gnome is still safely in Gnome2 land.
  • I like Mint 11, which is on my netbook. I can't find out if Mint 12 is friendlier than OS X (on our other machines) because one of the setup screens cannot be used on a 600px netbook screen, as the buttons are BELOW 600px AND THERE ARE NO SCROLL BARS. So much for user friendliness. This was the version on a magazine disc, so I am downloading an official version, which is taking 6 hours on broad band from the mirror.
  • Not mentioned is the Cinnamon desktop that Linux Mint is developing as a fork of Gnome 3. It is available for LM12 and will be standard for LM13. I am anticipating that other distros will pick it up as well and ditch Gnome 3.
  • Just for clarification's sake. Cinnamon is actually a fork of "gnome-shell" as well as the engine that powers it (mutter). It is definitely not a fork of Gnome 3. In fact, it requires Gnome 3 to run. The only DE offered in Linux Mint 12 that does not require Gnome 3 is the MATE desktop which is a fork of Gnome 2.32.
  • >Mint has understood an important lesson that many of the other haven't - the way the desktop >looks and feel is a personal thing.
    The last part is THE MOST important thing when trying to switch someone to Linux.
    My brother LOVES sushi, I despise it. He loves chocolate ice cream, I prefer strawberry.
    Who is right? No one. Taste and preferences are a personal thing.
    So why should the desktop be different?
    Thats why I make it a point to always show people 2-3 desktops before I switch them to Linux.
    Make is simple but CONFIGURABLE so the user is the one who decides.

    On another point, Ive been using PCLinuxOS (which was the Mint of its time) since it was #1 on Distrowatch since about 2007 when I switch people over and its been truly amazing. It uses the best parts of Mandriva (the Mandriva control panel branded as the PCLinuxOS Control Center) and does what Mint is doing now: making it easy for people to use.
    I tried Mint last year and wonder how much different the newest version is because it didnt convince me then to switch away from PCLOS.
    I would have no problems switching to Mint but havent found any good reasons to leave PCLOS, its been great for 5 years now.
    I think its great and a credit to free software that developers can take Ubuntu and Mandriva and manage to make them better. It seems the bigger the company, the less they listen to users.

    I always offer desktop choice (too many people feel offended if THEIR desktop is rejected) but at home KDE (XCFE for our old computers and E17 to play with) has been the mainstay (everyone gets to choose and theyve all tried it but went back to KDE) and have to admit that I really like their how you can switch from desktop to the netbook look (which I guess we can now call tablet) more suited for touch.
    THATS how it should be done. One click and you go from one to the other... because.... NOT EVERYONE WANTS A TOUCH INTERFACE. Its the total opposite of Canonical and Microsoft Metro which think along the lines of "my way or highway".

    Of course 'best desktop' is also a subjective term, just like ice cream or desktop.
    There is no best desktop but rather a few excellent desktops.

    I have been looking for another Gnome replacement to offer people since Ubuntu decided to go
    with ToysRUS and havent been thrilled so far, so it looks like this might work. Still not sure about Cinammon and even less Gnome 3 though.
  • Everything perfect on Linux Mint 12. Unfortunatly is far away from "retina display". Image quality on Linux is very poor, dificult to read on the Net. Fonts and images are terrible. Seems to be a very old system, compared to IOS Ipad or Windows 7 1920x1080 quality.
  • Retina display has nothing to do with the image quality of an OS. Retina display is hardware only, in this case it's the display technology that's used in iPad 3 itself. I use Linux Mint 12 and the image quality is excellent on a wide screen LCD display.

    Now, if you're talking about the quality of fonts on a LCD screen then you need to set your font display to "sub-pixel" (for LCD displays) and "Slight".