Setting up Mint 13: 2012's Best Linux desktop

Setting up Mint 13: 2012's Best Linux desktop

Summary: Mint 13 with Cinnamon may well be the best Linux desktop of all for expert users.


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  • The initial Mint display is, well, dull. Fortunately, it's easy to liven it up.

  • A right click on the background will let you pick a more attractive background image.

  • After some adjustments, I now have a more more interesting and useful desktop. If I want to bring one of those applications from the menu button to the main desktop, I right click on the app's icon and choose to place it on my desktop. Once there, I can move them to where I like.

Topic: Linux

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  • Tinny

    I remember it was much more 'fancy', even the wallpaper isn't so good, but it would still be the only distro I'd choose switching to Linux
  • Can't wait . . .

    to read the article and see what makes this "2012's Best Linux Desktop". I have given up on anything GNOME-based at this point. The disparate notification systems are awful. The myriad configuration mechanisms are downright confusing. After years of "getting by" with GNOME, I spent a week on Fedora 16 KDE and will never look back.
  • Maya

    The only complaint I have with ANY Linux distro is WIFI connection on desktops. My laptops connect with no problem, but I have yet to get any distro to connect to my wireless router. This is after trying ALL suggestions on Mint forums, Ubuntu forums, and general foruns. Being a user for 11 years, it should not be this difficult to get WIFI working. I am currently running Mint 12, 13, Peppermint 2, and Mageia 2, on various desktops, and laptops.
    • wifi

      wifi can in fact be a pain, least in my limited experience. for me i had to use NDIS wrapper to install xp drivers for my wireless dongle(but not the ones from the developer themselves some OTHER xp drivers from a site in china.)
      a lot of it comes down to the maker of the wireless device. they make drivers for windows, but not for linux leaving linux users to make it themselves or wrap windows drivers.

      that being said have you tried the newest stable linux kernel (3.3.x) there are a great number of new device drivers there may be one for your wireless device.
    • 13 is pretty impressive.

      Gnome works well in 13. I have Mint 13 Gnome and Mint 12 KDE set up as a dual boot. Both are fast, stable and boot up quickly. My family prefers Gnome but they call up KDE sometimes and work on it with no problems or training.
    • I just connected a Dell with a $13. "N" USN adapter.

      Reply to ator1940.

      I de-Windowized an older Dell for my neighbor's kids. I had purchased the adapter some time ago, online for around $13. from It has a larger than normal antenna, so I bought a USB extension cable at the local dollar store and attached the adapter and antenna (about 10" long) to the side of the computer with multiple layers of double stick foam adhesive tape with the extension cable plugged into a back USB jack.

      Previously, I used a PCI D-Link (much older) on a 10 year old Sony Vaio which worked fine with my 3 routers and wireless access point.

      If you can connect OK on laptops with Mint XX and it won't connect on a Desktop with a USB or PCI adapter, it's got to be the hardware. Possibly a compatibility issue between the adapter and router is causing the difficulty. The only way to diagnose it is to swap hardware and / or try a different. Also, if you have a type "N" router and a type "N" adapter, and someone connects to the router with an adapter that only handles up to type "G", the router will only achieve a type "G" connection with the type "N" adapter notebook or desktop.

      I never had problems with the default Mint drivers.
    • Could it just be the tools for the GUI?

      @ator1940, I have the same problem when I choose any windowing environment except KDE, which has its own set of configuration tools. Is it because KDE is superior? Of course not. Is KDE's standard network configuration tool better in some way? I dunno, maybe it is. Most likely it's just that it works the way I expect it to; it is more 'intuitive' for me than Gnome, Cinnamon, Unity, LXDE or whatever, so I'm able to figure out how to use it. All I know is, It works well for me -- but I would love to spend more time trying those other GUIs too.
  • mint 12 KDE is thh best distro so far this year

    mint 13 Gnome is not an improvement
    • It really comes down to preferences, I use both.

      I think 13 Gnome is a simpler design suitable for new users whereas 12 KDE appeals to more advanced Windows users. I set up 7-16 desktops, so if someone jumps in to do some work, I just switch to a different desktop for them and there is no danger of losing work or having to re-initialize multiple windows.
  • not here

    I couldn't get any display up. The bottom task bar the menu button, that's it. When I clicked on an app some thing would come up but it was just a black boundary box empty inside. I will go back to 12. I've found ubuntu based distro's the only ones that work flawlessly (this time excluded) with my home network. Otherwise I might have switched to Fedora.
  • Reply to Spin498. Suggestions.

    I've been using Linux for a long time and have some suggestions that may help.

    These apply to both Windows and Linux.

    [b]Linux .iso download may be corrupted.[/b] You can compare the MD5 checksum of the file to the published MD5 value on the Mint Website. If they match, your file is not corrupted. If they are different, you may want to use a better connection like fiber-optic or a broadband connection instead of DSL. My FIOS connection can download an 1.3 GB iso file from Lithuania in about 4 minutes. If your downloading is taking 2-2 1/2 hours, your file will probably be corrupted. Generally, you don't want to download these at work. Companies have broadband, but typically they don't perform well or arbitrarily disconnect and reconnect.

    [b]How old is your equipment?.[/b] People usually assume their 4-10 year old equipment is working. However, dust, wear or surges could cause issues that hamper a new installation while allowing the existing (Windows) to appear to perform adequately.

    [b]Hard drive[/b] - The hard drive may be corrupted or worn, causing the new install to be corrupted also. If you see pages of numbers with errors while installing, this is probably the case. The install should go smoothly without errors. If you proceed with the install, with these errors, it may take much longer and problems similar to yours may be the result. If an OS is already present, it may still appear to operate properly even with a defective hard drive, allowing you to think the computer is operating properly. But, these original files and OS were installed when the drive was new.

    [b]Optical Drive[/b] - The optical drive may also be worn or the lens and laser LED may be covered with dust or contaminants. Try a commercial cleaner or, if you are familiar with repairs, remove or disassemble the drive to clean it.

    [b]Dust[/b] - Dust can completely cover the power supply heat sinks and CPU heat sink causing excessive heat build up and erratic operation. Dust build up in the power supply or defective cooling fans causing heat build up can cause component tolerances to fail allowing over-voltage conditions. This higher than normal voltage can burn out your CPU, motherboard and other components. Remove dust with a vacuum or compressed air as much as possible and refer power supply servicing to a professional repair shop for cleaning due to residual high voltages that may be present inside the metal case.

    I have to disassemble and blow out my desktop every 6-9 months. I have a 30 Gallon vertical air tank and oil less compressor set at about 125 lbs with a blow gun from Harbor Freight. If you use compressed air you have to be careful not to overspeed the cooling fans, you will burn out the bearings and the air will break the fan blades off.

    The computer is in the bottom of a corner hutch and attracts dust like crazy. I've actually had to unsnap my CPU fan to get at the dust completely covering the CPU heat sink along with the power supply heat sink being completely covered with dust. Sometimes, I get erratic operation while the computer is running (because of overheating) that clues me in it's time for a cleaning if I forget. But that's not good and could be the reason my on-board graphics died.

    [b]Memory modules[/b] - Memory may be bad. Linux has a memory test function using the restore option when booting up.

    If you are using a new computer, you rule out a lot of these maintenance and wear issues. The easiest way to diagnose hardware is to swap it out with compatible hardware known to be good. So, if I am getting formatting errors while installing, I would replace the hard drive with a spare one and re-try the installation. If it installed without errors, you can assume the original drive is worn or corrupted.

    Also, make sure you are using a surge suppressor and your power coming to the computer is not intermittent with loose wires or screws.

    Obviously, if you can purchase a new computer, you would have the best chance of success. i purchased a de-branded (no OS) HP dual core 2.5 GHz desktop with mouse and keyboard for $239.00. I've been using it for 3 years without any problems. It has a 300 GB SATA drive, Multi Optical DVD drive.
    The on board graphics stopped working, so I just purchased an ATI dual-head PCI 16X 2GB card to replace it.

    Here's additional in-depth information on Computer maintenance and repair if you would like to go further.
    • Not a Linux user but

      ...the information you provided is definitely good stuff, no matter which platform you are using.
    • INCREDIBLY unlikely causes

      I've been working with computers since 1981 and worked as an electronic tech for 10 years. Pretty much [b][i]every[/i][/b] one of these "problems" is [b][i]incredibly[/i][/b] unlikely to be the cause of a new install failing. Yes, they are all [b][i]possible[/i][/b], but each one is basically a "worst-case scenario". Any computer with any of those conditions will be displaying lots of problems [b][i]before[/i][/b] a new install.
  • "2012 Best Linux Desktop" is a lofty claim

    Can't wait to hear what SJVN thinks makes it "best" ... whenever I try it it seems very much like Xubuntu to me (only not as light on resources). Best for Windows immigrants? Maybe ...
  • Reallyyy...???

    I've been a fan of freeware for the last 10-15 years.
    Linux was always on offer, but always lagging..(as a convert from Mac to PC ~95' and just because i HAD to, not because I WANTED to).

    With the involvement of canonical, the user experience grew closer to what I needed my day-to-day operations and experience to be, in order to switch to linux and say my goodbyes to Microsoft.

    Since 2010 I've been testing Mint vs. Fedora. Both lacked what I wanted, in terms of user-friendliness and simplicity. They were "just" but not really there..
    This experience even extended to Ubuntu 11.04.

    Since Ubuntu 11.10, and not the 12.04, this experience has just been awesome (admittedly, I learnt Linux 101 & 102, and am now LPIC 101 certified - planning on 102 soon).
    The unity solutions de-clutters the screen, the SMART indication and easy access to everything, makes it not only easy to use, but also enjoyable!

    I no longer use a "start" menu to find my apps, I just start typing and they appear. Also, documents, and whatnot.

    Fact is, it took me a while to wrap my head around this idea, but as soon as I did, it was much more intuitive than, for instance, the "intuitive" approach to MSO 2007 and higher.

    Sorry guys, but I've even started looking at what canonical has to offer as an alternative to the Andriod OS for my smartphone, just for these reasons..
  • Mints partitioning manager is a little unfriendly still

    if you want a non-standard install. If all you are doing is putting it alongside Windows or deleting your entire drive to replace whatever is on it, fine.
    Its a bit like Suse, messing with separate /home partitions and the like can leave you with annoying problems later.

    I absolutely detest the new Ubuntu interface, but the rest of their install is smooth and painless regarding your partitioning, it just makes more sense.

    Cinnamon is however very nice indeed...