This review is a little belated and will become obsolete within a month or so as Linux Mint 17 is on the way and Linux Mint 17 will be the LTS release.
So why bother reviewing it? I have been meaning to review Linux Mint 16 for quite some time but haven’t quite had the time. It is also the case that Mint doesn’t change so much between each release that it necessarily requires a new review every time.
This review is aimed at people who have heard of Linux Mint but who haven’t yet given it a go.
If you are a Windows user and you are indecisive about whether Linux is really for you then this review might help you in your decision making process.
I am not advocating that you replace Windows right now with Linux Mint 16 as you would be better off waiting for Linux Mint 17 whereby you would have a supported operating system for years to come.
You might like to try Linux Mint 16 in a virtual machine however or try it out as a Live USB. Give it a spin and see if it fits your needs.
For those of you wondering how difficult it is to install a new Linux based operating system I would just like to say that I didn’t install Linux Mint 16 on this computer.
Instead, I gave my 12 year old son the instructions and left him to it. Within 20 minutes my son had successfully installed Linux Mint 16 and was connected to the internet.
He found navigating around Linux Mint a breeze and is planning to install it in place of Windows 7 on his own laptop when the new version arrives.
Look and Feel
The version of Linux Mint that I am reviewing is the lighter MATE desktop as opposed to Cinnamon.
If you have a newer computer and want the whizzbang graphics then you will probably prefer the Cinnamon desktop.
If you have an older computer or just prefer a lighter, less resource intensive experience then the MATE desktop is great.
If you are a Windows user (pre-Windows 8) then you will find the layout fairly familiar regardless as to whether you choose Cinnamon, MATE, KDE or XFCE as the desktop environment.
You will be greeted initially by a welcome screen with links to useful resources. You can visit these resources or if you prefer you can uncheck the “Show this dialogue at startup” box so that this window no longer appears.
In the top left corner you have icons for accessing your computer’s folders and your home folder which is where you will store documents, photos, music etc.
The bottom of the screen includes a panel much like all versions of Windows with a menu icon in the bottom left and a system tray in the bottom right.
The system tray includes icons for notifications, audio settings, network settings, power settings and a clock.
The menu system in Linux Mint MATE is more intuitive than the old Windows menus.
The left pane includes access to your computer, home folder, network folder, desktop and trash folder. There are also links to the software manager, package manager and terminal.
The right pane has two main views.
The view shown above has a list of categories and if you click on a category the applications for that category are displayed.
The other menu view shows your favourite applications and is a list of icons to the most useful applications such as browser, mail client, media player etc.
Notice that there is a search box. If you can’t find the application you are looking for type the name or some keywords and a list of possible programs will be displayed.
Connecting to the internet
Connecting to the internet is as easy as clicking on the network icon in the system tray and choosing the required network.
If you are on a wireless network you will be asked for the security key unless it is an open network.
Your network connections are remembered, so the next time you boot up you will be automatically connected.
The web browser for Linux Mint is Firefox which is probably the best web browser available at the moment.
Flash and MP3s
There are a number of things that make Linux Mint the most complete and easy to use operating system. One of those things is the inclusion of all codecs and drivers required to play music, watch videos and play online games.
We all have software requirements that are important for our needs (for instance I like retrogaming so emulation is important)
but there are applications that are common to all of us such as
browsers, office software, graphics applications, audio applications and
Linux Mint includes by default all the software most people would use on a daily basis.
- Firefox – Web browsing
- Thunderbird – Email client
- Pidgin – Chat client
- Banshee – Media Player
- VLC – Video Player
- LibreOffice – Office Suite
- GIMP – Graphics Package
- Brasero – DVD burner
Pidgin is an instant messenging application which can connect to services such as AIM, ICQ, Yahoo and Google Talk.
If you have been reading my series about the KDE applications then Pidgin is similar to Kopete.
Linux Mint also includes XChat which is an IRC client. Again if you have been reading my series about KDE applications then it is fair to say that XChat is similar to Konversation.
The Control Center