Top Linux Distros: Linux Mint
Desktop Training - Desktop Reviews

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Linux Mint is based on and for the most part compatible with The Ubuntu Linux distribution. The interface of Linux Mint is highly customized and follows a different design theme that Ubuntu. A few things that set the distro apart from Ubuntu besides the interface design are the out-of-the-box functionality Linux Mint aims to provide and also the inclusion of plugins needed to play common media content. Linux Mint also includes a free Flash Player for use in its recent releases. Linux Mint also features Mint tools which are a set of system management and administration tools that make it easier of the user. Linux Mint shares the same repositories as Ubuntu making the majority of the packages the same.

Linux Mint falls in the Debian GNU/Linux category and is based on Ubuntu Linux. Linux mint features an "unstable branch" release which includes cutting edge features which are tested by developers and community members and then back ported into the current stable release for users to enjoy. This branch is called "Romeo". Linux Mint comes in a few different versions or editions. The main edition is Gnome but also available are KDE, Fluxbox, and XFCE editions. Originally Linux Mint releases followed no schedule or road map however recently it has been decided that Linux Mint will follow the Ubuntu six month release cycle. This means that Linux Mint will have no more than one release per Ubuntu release.

Linux Mint falls into the Multimedia category mostly because of Mint including proprietary drivers needed to play the most popular media content. This for me is a what makes it a winner in the end. For a basic user who may not know how to add packages in the beginning it is important that things like DVD playback work out of the gate. Otherwise beginners may not continue to use the desktop. Linux mint also includes or offers access to great selection of multimedia applications like GIMP, Picasa, Agave, Amarok, VLC, Brasero and many more.

Desktop Screenshot
The Linux Mint desktop comes with a few different desktop environments. The most popular environment to be used with Linux Mint is Gnome but other options available are Fluxbox, KDE, and XFCE. Upon booting Linux Mint to its desktop the first time I noticed the great dark background accented with the Linux Mint logo in the center appearing crisp and clean. Icons were kept to a minimum and appeared detailed and helpful. The Gnome menu was clear and provided direct access to the system and applications.

Help Resources

Linux Mint like most successful Linux distributions has a very successful user community that can provide some great help in the Linux Mint forums among other places on the main Linux Mint website. I have not seen books in local book stores or Linux Mint specific training CDs but that will come if Linux Mint continues to grow in popularity. A few places you may find some very valuable content include forums, blog and wiki which are all available through the distributions home page at Also because of the similarities you may look into getting help through some popular Ubuntu resources including the website which features a large amount if users that have the know-how to answer even your toughest questions.

Mint Tools
On top of the award winning Ubuntu functionality Linux Mint also includes its own tools aimed at making life easier for users. MintInstall lets users run .mint files that contain instructions on how to install packages. You can view packages while offline via the Mint Software Portal as long as you had previously connected to download the info. Packages can also be added from here without going to the Linux Mint website. MintUpdate is an update software built specifically for Linux Mint. It ranks updates 1-5 safety levels based on how stable and necessary the update is. Users can adjust the style of update notification and specify which type of updates. Keep in mind if a program is installed through MintInstall it is eligible to receive updates through MintUpdate. MintDesktop lets you customize the Linux Mint desktop with ease and also completes various tasks upon login. MintAssistant appears the first time you login to your new Linux Mint system and is designed to customize Linux Mint to the level of comfort needed by asking a few Linux-related questions. MintUpload is a fast acting FTP client that uploads files to your server by right-clicking on the icons and selecting the upload option. MintSpace is the larger version of MintUpload allowing 1 GB of storage space and files stay on the server for seven days rather than the 2 days provided with MintUpload. The MintMenu allows for fully customizable text, icons, and colors of the menu. MintWiFi includes drivers for many different wlan gadgets and MintNanny is a parental control system that works by simply allowing the system wide blocking of specific domains. MintMake is a command line tool that allows you to make .mint files for programs. Now you know a little bit about the many Mint specific tools that come with the Linux distribution and make it one of the most popular. Look for these tools as you get started and you'll realize the significance these tools play in Linux Mint success.

My Feeling
As a daily Ubuntu user I was amazed the first time I used Linux Mint for the simple fact that it offers many of the assets of Ubuntu with a high level of effort put into a beautiful theme and graphical interface layout. Assets Linux Mint offers me that other distros don't starts with the multimedia content compatibility right out of the box and ends with the great selection of Mint Tools which I find extremely useful in bridging the gap for the new Linux user.