While the rest of the Linux World is wrangling over fast changing paradigms and the plethora of new Linux Distributions that are popping up everywhere, Linux Mint just keeps on plodding along. They keep change to a minimum and endeavor to maintain a consistent user experience while still improving it. The latest version, Linux Mint 18.2 “Sonya” was officially released just days before this writing and it’s very good, indeed. The best Linux Mint yet.
I didn’t choose to support Linux Mint exclusively through the EzeeLinux Project. It chooses me. So many folks have asked for help getting started with Linux Mint over the last couple of years that I finally decided to focus on it and promote it for new users. It has proven itself to be a great place for newcomers to Linux to start and it also offers the kind of stability that people who want to use a computer to get stuff done. I keep close tabs on the Mint project’s progress and I downloaded and installed the ISO for 18.2 as soon it as it was announced. I was blown away by how polished it was in this very early form and the final release is rock solid. I have already upgraded most of my personal machines and I also have helped many EzeeLinux community members to upgrade… No one has reported any major issues thus far.
WHAT’S NEW IN LINUX Mint 18.2?
Most of the changes in 18.2 are small improvements. New features in Linux Mint’s in-house developed X-Apps and an improved Update Manager are nice. It still looks and acts like Linux Mint and all the familiar tools and utilities are included. Those who will need the Brasero application to create optical media will have to install it themselves. Probably the biggest change is that Linux Mint has dumped the Mint Display Manager (MDM) in favor of LightDM. This is the part of the system that presents users with a graphical login and lets them choose different desktop environments, assuming more than one is installed. MDM has been problematic for years and I think moving to LightDM is a great improvement. Full details are available in the release notes: https://www.linuxMint.com/rel_sonya_cinnamon.php
Linux Mint offers a selection of desktop environments. You can download a Linux Mint installer for Cinnamon, MATE, KDE and Xfce. I tend to point users toward Cinnamon because it offers a nice stepping stone into Linux from the traditional Windows desktops that most folks are used to.
I decided that this would be a good time to do a video where we walk through installing and setting up Linux Mint. I have done many such videos in the past but the process evolves over time and I wanted to cut through a lot of the confusion out there and show just how easy it can be. The confusion comes from the fact that the Linux world is full of strong opinions and folks who are just learning can easily get bogged down with all the rhetoric. Making the situation worse is that the vast majority of online tutorials and documentation is woefully out of date and some of it is just plain wrong. A lot of it is needlessly over complicated as well.
SOME MORE THOUGHTS ON LINUX MINT
Hard-core, neck-bearded Linux Nerds don’t like Linux Mint much. They find it boring and often express their disdain for Mint quite loudly in podcasts and YouTube videos. I pay them no mind at all. Quite simply, Linux Mint is not designed for them. These folks want to push the system to its max, they want to install and play with bleeding edge new software and they want to customize their experience down to the finest detail. Linux Mint offers a polished computing experience out of the box and focuses on stability and reliability- perfect for anyone who just wants a secure computing environment that they can use everyday.
Is Linux Mint perfect? Of course not! No computer operating system is… Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. That being said, Linux Mint is not evil nor is it as insecure or poorly coded as some would have you believe. I feel a bit discouraged when I hear those kinds of criticisms being lobbed at Linux Mint because it has proven itself to me and my clients to be a fantastic implementation of Linux on the desktop.
The terms “good,” “bad” and “best” are very much relative to the use-case of the person using them. Unfortunately, those who are just learning about Linux don’t realize how incredibly flexible the Linux computing platform is and don’t understand all the flaming and vitriol that is flung at various projects within the commonality. They come away confused. I have heard again and again that Linux is “The Wild, Wild West” of computing, mostly from outsiders who just don’t get why there’s so much debate, discussion and finger pointing going on all the time.
The basic Linux Mint user experience has not changed much since the Cinnamon desktop was introduced in 2011 and I consider this to be a good thing. Nerds love change, they love trying new things and they are always looking for a new challenge. Most folks who use computers want the exact opposite: They want it to work and they want it to keep working the way they used to it working. Linux Mint gives them a stable environment. Linux Mint has offered users in-place upgrades that actually work well since version 17. Keeping a consistent work environment while still upgrading is a big selling point for lots of folks looking at Linux because they’ve been burnt one too many times by proprietary systems that forced upgrades on them.
Linux Mint is the “best” distribution for folks to start with, especially Windows refugees. That’s not just my opinion but also my experience with hundreds of people all around the world. Some of the folks I’ve worked with have now moved on to other distributions of Linux. That’s cool with me. Many others have stayed with Mint and use it every day. That’s cool too. The point is to get them started and help them make the transition to Linux and Mint does that very well, indeed. With Linux Mint 18.2, it will be even smoother than before.
Give Linux Mint some love.