From freedom came elegance.

Linux Mint 12 “Lisa” has just been released, and it is quite possibly the release that puts the number of Linux Mint users over the number of Ubuntu users.  Linux Mint’s slogan is from freedom came elegance and Lisa really gives a nod to the elegance aspect.

Lisa comes standard with a customized Gnome 3 desktop, and sports some pretty nifty Mint Gnome Shell Extensions.  The various Mint Gnome Shell Extensions add such things as a top panel indicator area, a bottom panel, a window list, Linux Mint’s signature Mint Menu (Gnome 3 style), a task-centric alt-tab switcher, a media player menu extension, a “smart” overview, and a reworked shutdown menu, just to name a few.

Indicator Area

Mint Menu, Window List and Bottom Panel (Update: The Mint Menu and Bottom Panel have been updated. See below.)

The Mint Menu, Window List and Bottom Panel (11/16/2011)

UPDATE (11/22/2011): The Mint-Z-Dark theme was just released a few days ago, which gave the bottom panel and mint menu a look more akin to the original dark theme.

The Mint-Z-Dark theme (11/22/2011)

The Task-centric Alt-Tab Switcher

Linux Mint 12 comes with a brand new theme: Mint-Z, which combines elements from Zukitwo and Mint-X.

The Mint-Z Theme

Among Lisa’s default applications are Gnome Tweak Tool, Banshee media player, Firefox web browser, GIMP, gThumb, the Libreoffice Suite, Linux Mint’s APTonCD, Backup Tool and Software Manager applications, and Synaptic package manager.  Synaptic in particular will be welcomed by power users dissatisfied with the Ubuntu Software Center.  There are some slightly redundant applications, such as VLC, Totem, and Gnome Mplayer all being included by default, but it’s no big deal.  Among the differing points from Ubuntu are the lack of overlay scrollbars (users wishing to install overlay scrollbars can install the “overlay-scrollbar” and “liboverlay-scrollbar-0.1-0” packages from Synaptic and then restarting their computer., and obviously the lack of Unity (users wishing to keep Unity around can easily install it from synaptic).  Also new with Linux Mint 12 is the inclusion of a new default search engine: Duck Duck Go.  Duck Duck Go is an open source search engine, with features that set it apart from Google, Bing, and Yahoo.  Most notably, Duck Duck Go does not store cookies on your computer, does not use tracking or bubbling, and features a rather ingenious “!Bang” feature.  To use the !Bang feature, simply place an exclamation mark before a keyword followed by your search term.  For example, to search Amazon for a Halo Reach, I could use this: !amazon Halo Reach. For a full list of Duck Duck Go features, go to duckduckgo.com .

The experience so far has been wonderful.  The ease with which one can customize their personal experience is excellent.  As noted above, Gnome Tweak comes pre-installed by default, and it’s very user-friendly.  The Mint team has made it very easy to go from a custom Mint 12 Gnome Shell experience to a vanilla Gnome Shell interface, or somewhere in between within a matter of seconds.  It’s great being able to customize the way one interacts with the Shell and this brings up a whole plethora of possibilities (customizing the interface for multitasking? focusing on a single project? a bit of both?).

MATE

Also available to install and coming on the DVD version of Linux Mint is the Gnome 2 fork, MATE.  MATE is a revived version of Gnome 2, but unlike Gnome 2, can be installed side-by-side with Gnome 3.  Users averse to the many desktop environment changes (e.g. Gnome 3, Unity) will find this a welcoming sight.  MATE still has a few bugs, but given a bit more time, it should be just as powerful and customizable as the original Gnome 2 desktop.

The MATE Desktop Environment

Final Thoughts

As Linux Mint Lisa is still in RC status, this review is by no means complete and I will be updating it through the official release.  However, despite the RC status, Linux Mint 12 is already very stable and is (as always) my default install.  For the past four days that I’ve been using it, I have had no major issues.

My personal Linux Mint 12 Lisa desktop

UPDATE (11.22.2011): After realizing that window list now works in the top panel, here is my current desktop:

My personal Linux Mint 12 Lisa desktop (11.22.11)

Linux Mint 12 was released on November 26, 2011. All hail Linux Mint 12!

Download Linux Mint 12 Lisa: Release Candidate

All links go to official Linux Mint website.  Download options include direct download from official mirrors and official torrents.

Sources:

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About Paco

#RomanCatholic | #ProLife | #Homeschooler | #EagleScout | #Arrowman | Life philosophy: Adventure!; +AMDG+; Ad Jesum Per Mariam

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