Linux Mint 14 Nadia: So what's new and noteworthy?

Linux Mint 14 Nadia: So what's new and noteworthy?

Summary: The much-anticipated release of Linux Mint 14 is here — and the next release of openSuSE is on the way. Here's my take on Linux Mint 14 and openSUSE 12.3 Milestone 1.

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The keenly awaited release of Linux Mint 14, derived from the recently released Ubuntu 12.10, has arrived. As is now the norm, it is available with either the Cinnamon or MATE desktop.

The official announcement gives a general overview of this release, and the release notes contain a lot more detail. Of particular importance in the release notes is the information concerning Intel graphics adapters. If your CPU load seems unusually high — often indicated by the CPU fan running much more than usual — or graphic performance seems very poor, you might be suffering from this problem, so check it out.

Linux Mint14 (Nadia)
Here's the Cinnamon desktop on Linux Mint 14 Nadia.

The Mint distribution ISO downloads are available in at least four versions — with either the Cinnamon or MATE desktop, and either with or without codecs included. Linux Mint changed to hybrid ISO format a year or so ago, so experienced users who already have a running Linux system available can simply dd the ISO image to a USB flash drive, and it's ready to boot and install.

A more complete explanation of the various USB creation options can be found in How to install Linux Mint via USB in the Linux Mint blog. It is also worth noting that all the ISO images are too large to fit on a CD, so if you still prefer to burn optical media for installation, you will have to use a DVD.

It is important to remember to pick up the latest updates when the basic installation is finished. A number of packages have been updated while the Mint distribution was being finalised. One good example is Firefox, which installs with version 16.0.1 and needs to be updated to get to 16.0.2. There are numerous other examples, so be sure to do the update right away.

What's new and noteworthy in this release? First, of course, is an updated Linux kernel, 3.5.0. The desktop has also been updated, to Cinnamon 1.6 or MATE 1.4. I generally use Cinnamon, and I am impressed with the way it continues to improve.

Those who have been using Cinnamon 1.4 in previous Mint releases are likely to be pleasantly surprised by the improvements in features, flexibility and stability in this version. Most — probably all — the application packages have also been updated, such as LibreOffice 3.6.2.2, GIMP 2.8.2, VLC 2.0.4, Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird 16.0.x.

I ran into one significant problem with this release, on two of my systems which have AMD ATI Radeon graphics controllers. There seems to be some sort of timing issue, or initialisation problem, which causes it to occasionally boot to a black screen. I can get around this issue by disabling kernel graphics mode setting — add nomodeset to the boot command — but then it disables the GPU entirely and does software graphics rendering, and believe me, that is not a good thing.

So for the time being I am just living with it, and rebooting when necessary. I don't know if this is a kernel bug or an X.org bug, but I'm confident it will be fixed soon.

openSUSE 12.3 Milestone 1

The other recent release with which I've been experimenting is openSUSE 12.3 Milestone 1. This release is still very early in the development cycle, but it is looking quite good so far.

The ISO images are available from the openSUSE download page and as usual are available as a full-blown DVD installer, including all available desktops and software, as Live images for either Gnome or KDE, or as a network install image that boots a minimal system and then downloads everything else from the network. These are also hybrid ISO images, so they can be converted to a bootable USB drive in the same way as mentioned for Mint.

Because openSUSE 12.3 Milestone 1 is very early pre-release software, it is not fit for production use or critical installation. It is a good way to see what the openSUSE developers are working on the for the next release, and it is a convenient way to get a look at the latest versions of the Linux kernel, currently 3.6.3, and the KDE desktop 4.9.3.

SUSE
The default desktop on openSUSE 12.3 Milestone 1.

Of course, I can't talk about openSUSE KDE without mentioning what I consider to still be the best netbook desktop available today, KDE Netbook:

SuSENB
Here's the KDE Netbook Desktop on openSUSE 12.3 Milestone 1.

I have loaded both these distributions on a variety of notebooks and netbooks. If you are looking for the latest stable Linux distribution, Linux Mint is just the ticket. It started out as Ubuntu with all the additional good stuff already installed, but has moved far beyond that now.

Just having Cinnamon or MATE instead of Unity makes it worthwhile to me. If you are looking for the latest cutting-edge development system, openSUSE 12.3 Milestone 1 is probably what you are looking for. Enjoy.

Topics: Open Source, Linux, Operating Systems

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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8 comments
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  • Mint 14

    Sounds like M. Lefebvre is up to his usual: high quality, hard work. I'm certain this/these minor bug(s) will be fixed post-haste, as I get the impression that he--like many of us--take your reviews very seriously.
    I'm personally waiting on KDE, which I understand will be out by year's end, and hope to see your take on that one.

    Your information-packed, well-done writing which--occurred much more frequently before ZDNet's "improvements"--is sorely missed. My response to the "improvements"? I don't read ZDNet any more, except to check for the--now--occasional article of yours.

    Hope ZDNet's management, and PARTICULARLY its advertisers, are listening.

    As always, thanks for the hard work, insight, information, and objectivity.
    Keep up the good work, wherever you are.

    Warmest regards...
    sammcgee
  • "Firefox, which ... needs to be updated to get 16.0.1

    Actually, Firefox (and Thunderbird) were updated to version 17 on around November 20, 2012. And a whole host of serious vulnerabilities were fixed.

    As Firefox does not ship with the default AppArmor profile enabled, best to get this patched ASAP. Ubuntu issued updates for bot Firefox and Thunderbird on November 21 for Ubuntu 12.10, 12,04 LTS, 11.10 and 10.04 LTS. Don't know about Linux Mint ...

    P.S. ZDNet also missed reporting on this update under 'topic-security' and 'topic-browser'
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • RE: "As Firefox does not ship with the default AppArmor profile enabled

      Meant as Ubuntu and Linux Mint do not ship with the default AppArmor profile enabled
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • read title, skip article

    every so often zdnet publishes an article that leaves me wondering why it was even written. not much real information (mentioning version numbers is more or less useless except for the kernel iteration) and ofcourse lots of filler like "kde is good on a netbook" really? what a waste of data this article was.
    lukaslikeswindows
  • I wasn't terribly impressed with Mint...

    ...especially considering the rather strange bugs I encountered when using a Windows/Ubuntu/Mint triple-boot. /boot/grub/grub.cfg was never created (but /boot/grub/grub.cfg.new was), so if it weren't for me knowing my way around GRUB2, that would have been a major obstacle. Software Manager got inexplicably stuck while installing a few programs at once, and Update Manager didn't update everything (apt-get upgrade ended up getting a couple kernel-related packages that weren't upgraded). Cinnamon's customization ability is lacking (no options to change away from all the doggone green even when it clashes with the rest of the theming I've set; it's neither better nor worse than Unity in that regard).

    I'll continue to work through my Mint installation, but unless there are things that make up for the bad first impressions, I'll very likely use that partition for something else...
    northrup
    • ...and boy has my opinion changed.

      The /boot/grub.cfg issue I commented on earlier is still a major stickler (and would dissuade me from recommending Mint to a novice user, though it could just be the oddity of my triple-boot scenario), but I got around to trying MATE.

      Hilariously, you have to manually add the MATE repositories in order to install it on a Cinnamon-based Mint install (which is surprising when there's a whole version of Mint dedicated to Mint), but once that was done and it was installed, MATE has proven to be an excellent DE, and I'm suddenly liking Mint a lot better than Ubuntu in terms of speed and customization (though not as fast as some of my other favorites, like Slackware).

      To summarize, Mint needs quite a bit of work before I'd recommend it to, say, my grandpa, but for someone with a bit of technical know-how, it seems to be a good choice.
      northrup
      • Oops.

        "whole version of Mint dedicated to Mint" -> "whole version of Mint dedicated to MATE".
        northrup
  • Mint and Solus OS

    I loved Ubuntu 10.04. Then I used another computer for a
    while and then decided to reinstall the OS. I installed Ubuntu 11.10. The UI
    immediately pissed me off. It was also incredibly slow for some reason. I am
    now using Linux Mint, and i am in love love with it

    You can read article on SolusOS

    Solus OS
    papa blogger