Linux Mint 15 Xfce released

Linux Mint 15 Xfce released

Summary: Could this lightweight desktop for one of the most popular Linux distributions be your next software must-have?


As I've said that many times before, Linux is all about choice: first, and most obviously, choice in operating systems for your computer. If you don't like the desktop or user interface of Windows 8 (I personally don't know even one sane person that does), or if you just don't like paying Microsoft over and over and over again, Linux gives you another choice.  But even within the Linux world, choice is an important advantage — choice of distributions, and within many distributions, choice of desktops.

One of the most popular distributions is Linux Mint, which offers a 'standard' distribution with either the Cinnamon or MATE desktop. The latest release of this distribution was made about a month ago and now, after what seems like a somewhat longer than usual delay, the Xfce desktop distribution is available. 

The delay in these distributions is in large part attributable to the fact that although they are derived from Ubuntu (as is the main Mint distribution, of course), they are not derived from the Xubuntu (Xfce) or Kubuntu (KDE) distributions. These distributions are created by the developers at Linux Mint, based on the latest Mint release.

There is a bit of bad news about the Linux Mint Xfce distribution at the very beginning — the Live/Installer image does not seem to be UEFI Boot compatible. On both of my UEFI BIOS systems, I had to enable Legacy Boot support to get the Live USB image to work. That's a bit unfortunate, and it seems odd to me since the relase notes specifically mention EFI support, but only say "if your system is using Secure Boot, turn it off".

I keep thinking that I must have done something wrong, but I can't see it. Anyway, I'm sure that UEFI boot support could be added after installation, by installing and configuring the grub2-efi package, but I suspect that is more trouble than most people would want to go to.

Personally, I just enabled Legacy Boot long enough to boot and install Mint Xfce, then added it to the existing UEFI grub configuration for openSuSE 12.3, which is my primary boot setup on both UEFI systems. That works just fine, so I could then turn off Legacy Boot.

Linux Mint 15 Xfce desktop, shown below, is based on Xfce version 4.10 with Graeme Gott's excellent Whisker Menu application launcher.

I really like this menu package — I find the design and layout both cosmetically and functionally excellent, with things like having the shutdown, reboot and lock controls integrated in the top of the menu window, for example.

Users coming over from Windows are also likely to find Whisker Menu easy to learn and use — I am going to be giving this serious consideration when setting up systems for friends and family in the future.

Mint 15 Xfce
Linux Mint 15 (Olivia) Xfce

Xfce is generally known as a fast and lightweight desktop, but the Linux Mint version is a bit of a special case.

Many (perhaps most) Xfce distributions include small and lightweight versions of things like Office applications, graphic and photo processing packages, and multimedia applications. However, Mint Xfce stays much closer to its own heritage, thus including more and larger packages. Here are a few examples:

  • Firefox (web browser)
  • Thunderbird (mail and news feed reader)
  • Libre Office (office suite)
  • GIMP (graphic image editor)
  • Banshee (audio player)
  • Simple Scan (scanner)
  • VLC (multimedia player)
  • Totem Video Player (video player)
  • Pidgin (chat client)
  • eVince (document viewer)
  • Ristretto (image viewer)
  • openJDK and icedTea (Java)

In fact, I have been looking through the menus of a Mint 15 Cinnamon system and a Mint 15 Xfce system side-by-side, and I don't see any major differences in content between them.

Installation on the three or four systems I have done so far was no problem, other than the UEFI issue mentioned above. 

As it's based on the same kernel, drivers and utilities as the other Mint distributions, there were no surprises in system or device support, everything just came up and worked as expected.

It seems to me that it is noticeably faster in daily use than the Mint Cinnamon version, but that is a subjective opinion, and the difference is not large in any case.

In summary, I would say that Mint 15 Xfce is an excellent addition to the Mint distribution family.  It would certainly make an excellent transition system for users changing from Windows to Linux.  It also provides dedicated Xfce users with a fully-loaded alternative to the many 'stripped-down' Xfce distributions. But in addition to those, I think it is an excellent option for those who are still unhappy with Gnome 3 and the alternatives associated with it — Gnome Classic, Cinnamon and MATE.

Topics: Linux, Open Source, 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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  • Just two gripes

    Fine stuff, but two gripes:

    1. Adobe Flash Player is outdated and insecure(!!), so this is necessary:

    2. It'll last only six months (EOL in January 2014). So I'll stick with Mint 13 Xfce, which is LTS and will live until April, 2017.

    That said, it's a cool OS. Ik quite like the new Whisker menu. :)
  • I've been using the RC

    version for a few weeks, and recommend it. Faster and to my mind cleaner interface than Cinnamon or Mate. Usual small headscratchers, like why not install NTP for internet time and current Flash? Mint for me offers the best choices of preinstalled software, saving a lot of uninstall / install my choice. Because of the version short support cycles, I don't install Linux to HDD, but run it from thumb drives - XFCE works very well that way.
  • Too much Choice represents a Challenge to the Average Consumer

    As I have often said regarding Linux their is a lack of clarity for the Average Consumer with so many Desktop Environments. GNOME, Cinnamon, KDE, xfce to name but a few.

    Choice is good but not at the expence of focus and clarity.
    • Too much choice...

      Yeah, I have the same problem when I am shopping for breakfast cereal... or a new car... or tennis shoes... all that choice, it's just awful!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • Thanks -- you being a wiseacre...

        ...makes staying away from Linux that much easier.
    • 5735guy....If you say

      "Choice is good but not at the expense of focus and clarity"......than how do you classify the auto industry or who to use for Internet or what type of cable company or what real estate co. to use or what resturant to go to or what anything to select.

      Life is about choice and if Linux were given a chance like everything else, any one of the UI would do fine............ The problem is we have been living in a Windows locked in world. End of story.......Linux works well for those who found it
      Over and Out
      • Re: Linux works well for those who found it...

        Indeed that may well be the case. But it would no doubt work well for many more if there was clarity in the production of distros.
        Its not just about the UI. More important things are to be considered such as basic Hardware Support (for example full Broadcom Wireless Support).
        • Do you understand the differences between Linux Distributions?

          Depending on the different philosophies of the many Distributions out there they will or will not install all the propriety drivers up front. All use drivers created for Linux by Linux developers. All Distributions have Propriety drivers, etc in there repositories except for Fedora/Redhat and some very technical distributions that aren't geared for the over the counter Windows?Apple user anyway. Synaptic or any of the fine package managers will totally anything once its been selected. .

          Please don't bring up the subject of having to find drivers or film ware upgrades for yourself unless you want to talk about Vista or ME ad so called third party support.

          You find faults about Linux and it appears you prefer to only use Apple with its form of proprietary lock In's, which is fine if like being dictated too. You choose to overpay for there products that aren't always so wonderful, software & fancy hardware that aren't very fast by nature, etc

          Its easy to find plenty of faults with any Distributions when using only ones perspective.
          Over and Out
          • Do you understand the differences between Linux Distributions?

            No he doesn't, just like most windows fanboys.
        • you do realize that is the manufacturers' faults, right?

          or do you actually think microsoft writes broadcom drivers?

          the Linux community does a good job supporting lots of hardware and any shortcomings are the fault of manufacturers.

          don't get me wrong, there are plenty of proprietary drivers, and they are getting better and more abundant as time goes on. also, you could do what I do and buy/build computers that have Linux supported hardware.
        • Keep ye digging lad

          Soon ye'll reach China. Linux has plenty of "clarity" although I'm not sure you know what you mean by that term.
    • The Linux Jungle

      I used to be an average user but then decided to change. I read reviews like this one, found out about websites like distrowatch, started following installation manuals, asking questions in forums and now I think I know what I like and could tell you what to choose, if you are interested. You make it sound like it's a wild forest, full of strange creatures and you may get eaten if you click on the wrong button. It's different because it is mostly non-profit and so, there are no statistics of what company sold more. Since there is great respect for privacy, distros can't tell how many users they have. If you ever decide to go this way, I'm sure you will find helping hands all along the way. I have.
    • 5735guy

      "Too much Choice represents a Challenge to the Average Consumer"

      I agree, just look at all the problems people experience when they go shopping, there is just too much choice out there, the human brain can't deal with choice, if there was no such thing as choice the world would be a much better place.

      Don't you agree?
      • Re: "Too much Choice represents a Challenge to the Average Consumer"

        "Average" consumer? really?

        Well, these poor people can't cope with their own grocery shopping, either; I can just see one of these poor "average" consumers, in my mind's eye, now, paralysed by indecision and having a nervous breakdown in the breakfast cereal isle.

        How are these poor creatures going to choose a computer, even if they "play it safe" by sticking with Windows? They are still going to have to decide between Dell, Asus, Acer, eMachine, Compaq, HP, Sony, MSI, Certified Data, Toshiba, Panasonic, Lenovo, Samsung...

        Hmmm... suddenly I'm beginning to understand Apple users...
        (Just kidding... ;-) ... mostly)
  • I hate the Short support of Linux OS's.

    Honestly its very annoying to have to upgrade all the time or you are left behind. Maybe you dont want to reconfigure everything that you have all the time. Even if its LTS alot of the time the newer stuff doesnt come to the LTS they just release patches and other security stuff for it over the years. meaning that if you want to have the newest stuff you have to run the newest OS all the time...
    • I hated being FORCED to upgrade Windows

      Forced upgrading from XP to Vista - at least until Microsoft realized that Vista was so broken and useless that no one wanted it, and then suddenly XP became available again, and the word Vista will never again cross the lips of any Microsoft employee... then being forced to upgrade from Vista to Windows 7, and then from Windows 7 to Windows 8. Yes indeed, this whole upgrade scene is nasty business. If everyone in the world would just develop every new piece of hardware and software so that it would work on 6th Edition Unix, I would be a happy man!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • Re: I hated being FORCED to upgrade Windows

        Upgrades are seldom forced. Many will still work with XP long after support ends. For example I am thoroughly satisfied with OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion on my MA and will not be upgrading to OS X 10.9 Mavericks.

        However I will be upgrading to iOS 7 on my iPad and iPhone.

        Across all platforms upgrading is not forced but on occasion advisable such as Windows 8 to Windows 8.1
        • Linux upgrades aren't forced either.

          Where do you get your info? It sure doesn't match what the rest of know.

          If you like a certain distro and version, use it as long as you want. I can guarantee nobody will ever 'force' you to upgrade. Unlike things like DirectX versions that will never be available for XP, open source software is always available in a form you can use on your system.

          I personally use even numbered Fedora releases: A 2 hour update/system once a year is fine by me. I have 3 systems that I installed with Fedora Core 6 in 2006, and haven't re-installed Fedora since then. Of course, all the hardware on all 3 systems has been replaced more than once, but no re-installs required.
          No such thing in the Windows and Apple worlds.
  • Centos 6 Minimal

    I use the Centos 6 minimal version with just Fluxbox, Thunar (borrowed from xfce) and Rxvt terminal emulator.
    Its the enterprise class clone of RHEL and lightening fast. Check out installing it at
  • Decisions...Decisions...

    In regards to there being too many distros of Linux for it to be viable in the "real world" I disagree, the whole poijt of life,..the very mantra of it is: "variety is the spice of life" that being said. I would have to agree with the comment by J.A. Watson - the choices we have in regards to food, entertainment, vehicles to drives. fashiosn to wear is downright unfathomable. not to mention the cable TV industry alone...(I mean really...Verizon....1500 CHANNELS!?....) The fact of the matter is you even have a "choice" when it comes to your OS - you can stay in your waleed garden playing with MS apps and licenses and keys, and what have you...or you can "escape" from it and experience what real choice means! And as far as the upgrades go in regards to Linux ther are some distros that have a "rolling release" only upgrade when its necessary, and if you want the "latest & greatest" cutting edge in software...if not you can ignore the upgrades when you're notified of them unless they're securiy related.