Linux Mint

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Linux Mint
Linux Mint logo and wordmark.svg
Linux Mint 17 MATE.png Linux Mint 17 (Qiana) Cinnamon.png
Linux Mint 17 (Qiana) running MATE 1.8 (top) and Cinnamon 2.2 (bottom)
Developer Clement Lefebvre, Jamie Boo Birse, Kendall Weaver, and community[1]
OS family Unix-like
Working state Current
Source model Open source
Initial release 27 August 2006; 8 years ago (2006-08-27)
Latest release Linux Mint 17.1 ("Rebecca") (November 29, 2014; 30 days ago (2014-11-29)) [±]
Available in Multilingual[2]
Update method APT (+ mintUpdate, Synaptic)
Package manager dpkg
Platforms IA-32, x86-64
Kernel type Monolithic (Linux)
Userland GNU
Default user interface 1.0: KDE
2.0-9: GNOME 2 / LXDE (also for some versions)
12: GNOME 3 with MGSE
13-17: Cinnamon/MATE/KDE/Xfce[3]
License Mainly GPL and other free software licenses, minor additions of proprietary
Official website linuxmint.com

Linux Mint is a 32- and 64-bit Linux distribution for desktop computers, based on either Ubuntu or Debian.[4] Its stated aim is to be a "modern, elegant and comfortable operating system which is both powerful and easy to use." Mint provides full out-of-the-box multimedia support by including some proprietary software such as Adobe Flash. Mint's motto is "from freedom came elegance".[5]

New versions of the Ubuntu-based Linux Mint have been released approximately every six months. The first release, named "Ada", was released in 2006. The 17th release, "Qiana", was released on May 31, 2014. Support for older releases usually ends shortly after the next version is released, but there have been releases with long-term support, including the current release, v17.x, which will be supported for five years, until April 2019.

History[edit]

Linux Mint started in 2006 with a beta release of version 1.0, codenamed "Ada", based on Kubuntu. Following its release, version 2.0 "Barbara" was the first version to use Ubuntu as its codebase. Mint had few users from these early versions until the release of 3.0, "Cassandra."[6][7]

Version 2.0 was based on Ubuntu 6.10, using its package repositories and using it as a codebase. From there, Linux Mint followed its own codebase, building each release from its previous one, but continued to use the package repositories from the latest Ubuntu release. This resulted in making the base between the two systems almost identical, guaranteeing full compatibility between the two distributions rather than having Mint become a fork.

In 2008, Linux Mint adopted the same release cycle as Ubuntu and dropped its minor version number before releasing version 5 "Elyssa". The same year, in an effort to increase the compatibility between the two systems, Linux Mint decided to abandon its code-base and changed the way it built its releases. Starting with version 6 "Felicia" each release was now completely based on the latest Ubuntu release, built directly from it, timed for approximately one month after the corresponding Ubuntu release (i.e. usually in May and November).

In 2010 Linux Mint released Linux Mint Debian Edition. Unlike the other Ubuntu-based editions, it is a rolling release based directly on Debian and is not tied to Ubuntu packages or its release schedule.[7]

Releases[edit]

There have been two Linux Mint releases per year, generally timed one month after Ubuntu releases. Each version of Linux Mint is given an integer version number and is codenamed with a feminine first name ending in "a" and beginning with a letter of the alphabet that increases with every iteration.[7] Since the mid-2008 v5 every fourth release has been labeled a long-term support (LTS) version, indicating that it is supported (with updates) for longer, three years for v5 and v9, and five years thereafter.

Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" LTS was released on 31 May 2014, remaining current until the end of November 2014[dated info] and supported until April 2019.[7] In July 2014 it was announced that Linux Mint 17 LTS was the first release of the 17.x series, and that for two years applications would be backported to 17.x, with security updates until 2019. The next release was 17.1, Rebecca.[8]

Linux Mint does not communicate specific release dates, as new versions are published "when ready," meaning that they can be released early when the distribution is ahead of schedule or late when critical bugs are found.[9] New releases are announced, with much other material, on the Linux Mint blog.[10] The Cinnamon and MATE ISO images of v17 initially released had some problems,[11] and "v2 ISO respins", with "v2" in the filename, were released.

Version Code name Release date Support status
Old version, no longer supported: 1.0 beta Ada 2006-08-27 Obsolete since April 2008.[7] Unstable.
Old version, no longer supported: 2.0 Barbara 2006-11-13 Obsolete since April 2008.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 2.1 Bea 2006-12-20 Obsolete since April 2008.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 2.2 Bianca 2007-02-20 Obsolete since April 2008.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 3.0 Cassandra 2007-05-30 Obsolete since October 2008.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 3.1 Celena 2007-09-24[12] Obsolete since October 2008.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 4.0 Daryna 2007-10-15 Obsolete since April 2009.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 5 LTS Elyssa 2008-06-08 Long-term support release (LTS), obsolete since April 2011.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 6 Felicia 2008-12-15 Obsolete since April 2010.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 7 Gloria 2009-05-26 Obsolete since October 2010.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 8 Helena 2009-11-29 Obsolete since April 2011.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 9 LTS Isadora 2010-05-18[13] Long-term support release (LTS), obsolete since April 2013.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 10 Julia 2010-11-12[14] Obsolete since April 2012.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 11 Katya 2011-05-26[15] Obsolete since October 2012.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 12 Lisa 2011-11-26[16] Obsolete since April 2013.[7]
Older version, yet still supported: 13 LTS Maya 2012-05-23[17] Long-term support release (LTS), supported until April 2017.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 14 Nadia 2012-11-20[18] Obsolete since May 2014.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 15 Olivia 2013-05-29[19] Obsolete since January 2014.[7]
Old version, no longer supported: 16 Petra 2013-11-30[20] Obsolete since July 2014.[7]
Older version, yet still supported: 17 LTS Qiana 2014-05-31[21]

v2 "respin" 2014-06-29[11]

Long-term support release (LTS), supported until April 2019.
Current stable version: 17.1 Rebecca 2014-11-29[22] First of 17.x series of releases, Long-term support release (LTS), supported until 2019.
Legend:
Old version
Older version, still supported
Latest version
Latest preview version
Future release

Features[edit]

Linux Mint primarily utilizes free and open-source software, making exceptions for some proprietary software, such as plug-ins and codecs that provide Adobe Flash, MP3, and DVD playback.[23][24][25] Linux Mint's inclusion of proprietary software is a bit unusual; many Linux distributions do not include proprietary software by default, as a common goal for Linux distributions is to adhere to the model of free and open-source software.

Linux Mint comes with a wide range of software installed that includes LibreOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, XChat, Pidgin, Transmission, GIMP, and Cheese. Additional software that is not installed by default can be downloaded using the package manager. Linux Mint allows networking ports to be closed using its firewall, with customized port selection available. The default Linux Mint desktop environments, MATE and Cinnamon, support many languages.[26][27] Linux Mint can also run many programs designed for Microsoft Windows (such as Microsoft Office), using the Wine Windows compatibility layer software for Linux, or virtualization software, including VMware Workstation and VirtualBox. As of version 16 there is an issue with multi-monitor support and Wine.

Linux Mint is available with a number of desktop environments to choose from, including the default Cinnamon desktop, MATE, KDE, and Xfce. Other desktop environments can be installed via APT, Synaptic, or via the custom Mint Software Manager.

Linux Mint actively develops software for its operating system. Most of the development is done in Python and the source code is available on GitHub.[28]

Software developed by Linux Mint[edit]

The Linux Mint Update Manager.
The Linux Mint Software Manager allows users to view and install programs from the Software Portal directly from their desktop.
  • Cinnamon: A fork of GNOME Shell based on the innovations made in Mint Gnome Shell Extensions (MGSE). Released as an add-on for Linux Mint 12 and available as a default desktop environment since Linux Mint 13.[29]
  • MintTools
    • Software Manager (mintInstall): Runs .mint files, which are files containing instructions to install packages. From Linux Mint 6 this tool can download information on all the applications on the Mint Software Portal for offline viewing. Also enables installation of any of the programs listed directly from the desktop, instead of going to the site. The option to use the old mintInstall program is available; from the Ubuntu Repositories or the GetDeb.net website may be searched.
    • Update Manager (mintUpdate): Designed to prevent inexperienced users from installing updates that are unnecessary or require a certain level of knowledge to configure properly. It assigns updates a safety level (from 1 to 5), based on the stability and necessity of the update. Updates can be set to notify users (as is normal), be listed but not notify, or be hidden by default. In addition to including updates specifically for the Linux Mint distribution, the development team tests all package-wide updates.
    • Main Menu (mintMenu): A menu of options including filtering, installation and removal of software, system and places links, favorites, session management, editable items, custom places and many configuration options. Also ported to MATE in Linux Mint 12 (Lisa).[30]
    • Backup tool (mintBackup): Enables the user to back up and restore data. Data can be backed up before a fresh install of a newer release, then restored.
    • Upload Manager (mintUpload): Defines upload services for FTP, SFTP and SCP servers. Services are then available in the system tray and provide zones where they may be automatically uploaded to their corresponding destinations.
    • Domain Blocker (mintNanny): A basic domain blocking parental control tool introduced with v6. Enables the user to manually add domains to be blocked system-wide.
    • Desktop Settings: A tool for configuration of the desktop.
    • Welcome screen (mintWelcome): Introduced in Linux Mint 7, an application that starts on the first login of any new account. It provides links to the Linux Mint website, user guide and community website.
    • Remastering tool (mintConstructor): A tool for remastering Linux Mint. It is not installed by default in any Linux Mint edition, but is included in the repositories and used by the developers for creating ISO files. Users can use this tool to create their own distribution based on Linux Mint.
  • Mint Gnome Shell Extensions (MGSE): A desktop layer on top of GNOME 3 to make it feel like GNOME 2, still popular within the Linux community when GNOME 3 was introduced. Includes a bottom panel, an application menu, the window list, task-centric desktop (i.e. switches between windows, not applications) and system tray icons. This was included in Linux Mint in version 12 (Lisa).[31][32]

Installation[edit]

In the past, Linux Mint could be run without installation from a Live CD;.[33] As of 2014, due to a CD volume limitation, only Live DVDs are available. It can also be installed onto a computer from the DVD for a significant performance improvement, once confirmed compatible, using the provided Ubiquity installer.

Installation DVD images can be downloaded without charge, or installation DVDs purchased.[34][35] Linux Mint can be booted and run from a USB Flash drive on any PC capable of booting from a USB drive, with the option of saving settings to the flash drive. A USB creator program is available to install a Ubuntu (not LMDE) Live Linux Mint on a USB drive.

The Microsoft Windows Migration Assistant tool can be used to import bookmarks, desktop background (wallpaper), and various settings from an existing Windows installation into a new Linux Mint installation.

The Windows installer "Mint4Win" allows Linux Mint to be installed from within Microsoft Windows, much like the Wubi installer for Ubuntu. The operating system could then be removed, as with other Windows software, using the Windows Control Panel. This method requires no partitioning of the hard drive. It is only useful for Windows users, and is not meant for permanent installations because it incurs a slight performance loss. This installer was included on the Live DVD until Linux Mint 16, but removed in the Linux Mint 16 "Petra" release because the size of the Live DVD images would have exceeded what the software could reliably handle.

Installation supports a Logical Volume Manager (LVM) with automatic partitioning only, and disk encryption since Linux Mint 15.

UTF-8, the default character encoding, supports a variety of non-Roman scripts.

Upgrading[edit]

Updates to packages are frequently released. Linux Mint by default checks for updates and offers to install them.

When a complete new release of Linux Mint is issued, a user has several options:

  • Do nothing. It is suggested that a system working satisfactorily need not be upgraded.[36]
  • Back up data and installed programs using mintBackup, overwrite the existing installation with the latest Mint, restore backups. Customisation must be redone, and any software not from the repositories must be reinstalled (e.g., settings in /etc and software in /opt and /usr/local). This is said to be safe, fast, reliable, and easy. The resulting system may differ in appearance or behaviour from the earlier one. If there are new hardware incompatibility or other issues, the previous version can be reinstalled.[36]
  • Pointing the Synaptic Package Manager (APT front-end) at the repositories of the newer release and performing a full upgrade. Compared to a backup and full reinstall this is slow, less reliable (depending upon changes from original state that have been made to the installed system), and may bring package conflicts and complex dependencies that must be resolved. The process is automatic; the end result is a system that looks and behaves as it did before. While backup is not required as part of the procedure, upgrading without backing up can cause loss of data in case of problems.[36]
  • Install the latest version from the DVD into the same directory as the existing one, with some minor adjustments. Settings and standard software will be preserved; any installed PPA (Ubuntu Personal Package Archive) or other special repository software will have to be reinstalled.[37]

Editions[edit]

Linux Mint has multiple editions that are based upon Ubuntu, with various desktop environments available. Linux Mint also has an edition based upon Debian. The table below shows the default environments, not those available.

Default desktop environments of Linux Mint 17 (2014) and LMDE 201403
Cinnamon MATE KDE Xfce
32-bit 64-bit 32-bit 64-bit 32-bit 64-bit 32-bit 64-bit
Linux Mint 17 (Qiana)[7][38] Yes Yes Yes Yes
No Codecs edition[7][38] Yes Yes No No
OEM edition[7][38] No Yes No Yes No No
Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE)[39] Yes Yes No No
Windows Installer (mint4win)[7][40] No Older release No Older release No No

Ubuntu-based editions[edit]

As of Linux Mint 17 there are two main editions of Linux Mint, developed by the core development team and using Ubuntu as a base. One includes Mint's own Cinnamon as the desktop environment while the other uses MATE. Linux Mint also develops editions that feature the KDE and Xfce desktop environments by default, but these have secondary priority and are generally released somewhat later than the two main editions.[38]

Older releases, now obsolete, included editions that featured GNOME, LXDE and Fluxbox desktop environments by default.

OEM version[edit]

The distribution provides an OEM version for manufacturers to use.[41][42]

No Codecs version[edit]

The distribution provides a "No Codecs" version for magazines, companies and distributors in the USA, Japan and countries where the legislation allows patents to apply to software and distribution of restricted technologies may require the acquisition of 3rd party licenses.[7][43][44] Multimedia codecs can be installed at any time via a link on the Mint Welcome Screen or a desktop launcher available for only No Codecs version.

Linux Mint Debian Edition[edit]

Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) is based directly on Debian Testing, instead of Ubuntu, but is designed to provide the same functionality and look and feel as the Ubuntu-based edition.[45] LMDE is available with the MATE and Cinnamon desktop environments.[45]

LMDE has a semi-rolling release development model. Debian Testing is a "real" rolling release that constantly receives updates; LMDE periodically introduces “Update Packs” which are tested snapshots of Debian Testing.[45]

LMDE lists its advantages and disadvantages over the Ubuntu-based distribution:[46]

  • Installing Update Packs keeps LMDE current, without the need to reinstall the system every six months as with Ubuntu-based distros. LMDE has its own package repositories; it is also possible to track the Debian Testing (Jessie as of April 2014) or Unstable (Sid) repos directly, at user's risk.
  • LMDE is faster and more responsive than Ubuntu-based editions.[47]
  • LMDE requires a deeper knowledge and experience with Linux, dpkg and APT.
  • Debian is less user-friendly and desktop-ready than Ubuntu, with some rough edges.

System requirements[edit]

Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" and LMDE have the following system requirements:[48]

Cinnamon MATE Xfce KDE LMDE (v. 201403)
Processor (x86) 700 MHz 700 MHz 700 MHz 700 MHz 700 MHz
Memory 512 MB 512 MB 512 MB GB GB
Hard Drive (free space) 8.6 GB GB 10 GB 10 GB GB
Monitor Resolution 800×600 800×600 800×600 1024×768 800×600

32-bit Intel x86 and 64-bit AMD64 architectures are supported. A supported GPU is required for visual effects.

Development[edit]

Individual users and companies using the operating system act as donors,[49] sponsors[50] and partners[51] of the distribution. Linux Mint relies on user feedback to make decisions and orient its development. The official blog often features discussions where users are asked to voice their opinion about the latest features or decisions implemented for upcoming releases. Ideas can be submitted, commented upon and rated by users via the Linux Mint Community Website.[52]

The community of Linux Mint users use Launchpad to participate in the translation of the operating system and in reporting bugs.[53]

Most extraneous development is done in Python and organized on-line on GitHub, making it easy for developers to provide patches, to implement additional features or even to fork Linux Mint sub-projects (for example the Linux Mint menu was ported to Fedora). With each release, features are added that are developed by the community. In Linux Mint 9 for instance, the ability to edit menu items is a feature that was contributed by a Linux Mint user.[54]

The members of the development team are spread around the world and they communicate through private forums, emails and IRC.

Linux Mint reviews are tracked by the distribution and discussed by the development team and the community of users.[55]

Package classification[edit]

Linux Mint divides its software repositories into four main channels that reflect differences in their nature and in their origin.

main
Provides only software that is developed by Linux Mint.
upstream
Provides software which is present in Ubuntu but patched or modified by Linux Mint. As a result, the software provided by this channel behaves differently in each distribution. Notable examples are Grub, Plymouth, Ubiquity, Xchat, USB Creator and Yelp (the help system).
import
Provides software that is not available in Ubuntu or for which no recent versions are available in Ubuntu. Notable examples are Opera, Picasa, Skype, Songbird, the 64-bit Adobe Flash plugin and Frostwire.
romeo
Not enabled by default. Provides test packages before they are promoted to other (stable) channels. As such it represents the unstable branch of Linux Mint.

Additionally, there is a "backport" channel for ports of newer software to older releases without affecting the other channels. It is not enabled by default.

Reception[edit]

Linux Mint has been praised for focusing on desktop users.[56]

In 2012, Linux Mint surpassed Ubuntu as the most viewed distribution on DistroWatch.[57][58][59][60][61]

In a 2012 online poll at Lifehacker, Linux Mint was voted the best Linux distribution after Ubuntu, with around 16% of the votes.[62]

In Issue 162, Linux Format named Mint the best distro for 2012.

In Issue 128 (July 2013), Linux User and Developer gave Linux Mint 15 ("Olivia") a score of 5/5, stating "We haven't found a single problem with the distro… we're more than satisfied with the smooth, user-friendly experience that Linux Mint 15, and Cinnamon 1.8, provides for it to be our main distro for at least another 6 months."[63]

References[edit]

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  42. ^ Lefebvre, Clement (May 31, 2014). "Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" MATE released!". The Linux Mint Blog. Retrieved August 20, 2014. Manufacturers can pre-install Linux Mint on their computers using the OEM installation images. 
  43. ^ Lefebvre, Clement (May 31, 2014). "Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" Cinnamon released!". The Linux Mint Blog. Retrieved August 20, 2014. Distributors and magazines in Japan, USA and countries where distributing media codecs is problematic can use the “No Codecs” ISO images. 
  44. ^ Lefebvre, Clement (May 31, 2014). "Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" MATE released!". The Linux Mint Blog. Retrieved August 20, 2014. Distributors and magazines in Japan, USA and countries where distributing media codecs is problematic can use the “No Codecs” ISO images. 
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  48. ^ Linux Mint 17 “Qiana” Cinnamon released! Linux Mint 17 “Qiana” MATE released! Linux Mint 17 “Qiana” Xfce released! Linux Mint 17 “Qiana” KDE released! Linux Mint Debian 201403 released! Minimum System Requirements / Ubuntu Desktop Edition
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External links[edit]