Linux Mint 18, Sarah, is now available for download. Still the best alternative to Ubuntu?
Although Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distro, that does not mean that it has no competition; Ironically, its toughest rivals come from within, from distros that are based on the same code but have a different user experience.
Of all of them, Linux Mint is undoubtedly the most popular, and according to specialized pages such as DistroWatch, it has become more popular than Ubuntu itself on many occasions, such as the launch of a new version like the one we are dealing with today.
Linux Mint, more than just a distro to get cdecs
Initially Linux Mint was popular because it included video codecs and non-free code drivers that Ubuntu didn’t default to, but by now that doesn’t matter at all; installing cdecs and drivers is already very easy And Ubuntu itself allows you to do it while the system is installed, so there is no excuse.
So last month the decision was made that Linux Mint will stop bringing default closed codecs and drivers. From now on, when we install Linux Mint we will have to check an additional box for the installer to download those files and install them along with the rest of the system.
It’s not a big change, but thanks to thatnow the distro can be distributed worldwide without legal problems; It also saves the community work, as they had to create two versions before, one without the codecs, to avoid complaints if a manufacturer pre-installed Linux Mint on their computers.
That the community made that decision is a demonstration that Linux Mint has matured so much that no longer needs such banal appeal as pre-installed video codecs to get attention.
Today Linux Mint is a project that develops its own desktop environments, its own programs, and that little by little becomes independent from Ubuntu, demonstrating that things can be done differently.
All the news from Linux Mint 18
Linux Mint 18 is the consequence of this philosophy. As usual, it is initially available in two versions, one with the Cinnamon desktop (modern but no frills) and MATE (in the old Gnome style). The versions with KDE and Xfce will be available throughout the month of July.
If you have a computer with several years on it, the version with MATE is recommended, but if you can do it, try the Cinnamon desktop, which has reached version 3.0 with evident improvements in tiling, the possibility of dividing the screen between the various open applications as we want.
Animations are now enabled by default on dialog screens and menus, and touchpad support has been improved. Cinnamon 3.0 is a good evolution, but version 3.2 to be released in the next version is expected to include a new position for the menu.
Regardless of the desktop we choose, the biggest news in Linux Mint 18 is the X-Apps. For the first time Linux Mint brings its own applications, which we cannot find in any other distro. These are generic applications, the kind that come in all distros like the document viewer or the text editor, but the X-Apps are specially designed for Linux Mint.
These apps are like Mint, in the sense that they bring together the new with the old. They use the latest technologies like GTK3 and include support for high-resolution displays, but their looks and interface look like they came out of distros from ten years ago.
That is the objective; while the Gnome and Ubuntu apps experiment with new styles and features such as removing the title bar, new dropdown menus and menus in the system bar, X-Apps look the same and work the same as ever, even if your code is new.
Most of these new apps are based on others; for example, Xed, which is the text editor, is based on Pen, and Xviewer, the image viewer, is based on Eye of Gnome. We also have Xreader, a document reader, Xplayer, a multimedia player, and Pix to organize our photos.
Mint-Y is the new theme included in Linux Mint, the successor to Mint-X and its old-fashioned metallic style. By cons, Mint-Y offers a modern style, with flat colors and simple and clean shapes. It is not what we could call minimalist, but it is close to it. It is available in light, dark, and a mixture of both. Mint-X is still the default style, but we can easily switch to Mint-Y.
The update manager also receives a facelift, with new animations, but above all the novelty is that now we can manage the kernel updates from here, as if it were from any other program.
Of course, there are also minor changes and performance improvements.
With version 18, Linux Mint shows that it is more than just a distro that takes Ubuntu and puts video codecs in it. It is a full-fledged project, and a great alternative if you want to get started in Linux.
Download Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon and MATE