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What’s Linux Mint
Linux Mint 14 is the latest version of an open source operating system. Open source basically means that the software has been made available to you free of charge. An operating system is a piece of software that runs on your computer that acts as kind of a traffic cop for the computer and the other programs running on that computer.
To make a long story short, it controls what happens on the computer. Linux Mint is based on yet another open source operating system called Ubuntu.
Why Linux Mint
Linux Mint was designed to serve as an alternative to Windows and Mac, but without the cost. If you have seen any recent distributions of Linux, you will notice that they all tend to have a modern user interface that is similar to a Windows or Mac based operating system.
As with many of the Linux distributions, one primary advantage to Linux Mint is that it is free and is constantly being improved based on feedback from the Linux community. This creates a robust operating system which tends to be very safe and reliable.
Linux Mint Origins
Linux Mint was first released in 2006, code name: “Ada”. A code name is just another way for the distribution team to identify that particular version of Linux Mint. In fact, most if not all the Linux distributions are given some type of code name.
Linux Mint Today
Mint has quickly grown into the fourth most widely used home operating system behind Windows, Mac OS, and Ubuntu.
As of date, the most current version of Linux Mint is 14, Code Name: “Nadia”. It was released on November 20, 2012. It comes in two main desktop editions Cinnamon and the other is called MATE.
I also, want to note that there are two additional editions of Linux Mint that were released later, the “KDE Plasma Desktop” and Xfce.
Listed below is a brief description of each desktop edition of Linux Mint 14:
Cinnamon – Cinnamon has a very traditional desktop layout that looks a lot like the Windows and Mac desktop layouts. This edition, is fully featured, it comes with several software applications, including: custom desktop effects and animations; as well as, Firefox browser, VLAN media player, LibreOffice office productivity suite and much more, all in very easy to use layout.
MATE – MATE is also, based on a traditional desktop layout that is also very user friendly. The biggest difference I can see, is that it uses a slightly different mix of software applications. I think picking between the two is a matter of preference. All but KDE Plasma are based off the GNOME desktop environment, which does not allow for as many settings as KDE, but is suppose to be a much more stable desktop environment, so they say.
KDE Plasma Desktop – Linux Mint KDE Plasma Desktop, which has been built off the K Desktop Environment (KDE), is similar in look and feel to Windows XP. KDE-PD offers an array of different workspaces, which have been configured to work with different computing devices. Each workspace is highly customizable with its own list of applications, including software management features. What all of this means is that KDE tends to give the user more control over the desktop by allowing for more setting changes or customization.
Xfce – The Xfce edition I am very familiar with, due to the fact that I am running this version on an old laptop. Xfce doesn’t come with many of the features the other three have, but is perfect for older computers, that do not have the computing power of newer hardware. Although I have installed and used the others, I prefer Xfce, because how well it runs on an old laptop.
The Linux development team has done a great job of building Mint into a modern and elegant Operating System with increased functional power, intuitiveness and ease of use. I also want to point out that each of these desktop editions are available in both 32 and 64 Bit versions.
Whatever edition you choose, you will notice that they all represent an operating system that has a smooth user interface, that’s very robust and works well with the other software programs that have been included in the install.
Just a quick note, if it’s one thing I do take issue with Linux Mint on and other Linux distributions in general, it’s the confusion that they cause as a result of all the different releases that are available. But hey, it’s free, so try them all. Download Linux Mint today!
Note: The next edition of Linux Mint, #15 (Code Name Olivia) is due out sometime during May 2013.
Related Reading on Linux
A Look at Alternative Operating Systems
Quick History of the UNIX Operating System
The Merits of Free Operating Systems