We tested the new Linux Mint version 9 codenamed Isadora based on the Ubuntu Linux distribution. Mint is a user friendly, easy to use OS which focuses more on first time users. During the installation process Mint and Ubuntu basically feel and operate the same way with the only seeming difference being the background image. Installation took barely 15 minutes, all the instructions were simple and easy to follow. However there is no prompt about boot selection and the installation straight away leads to the Live CD option giving the user a chance to experience the OS before full installation which is actually a good feature if you are looking to replace your current OS and want to test the new one without risking data deletion. There was no option for custom installation or boot option either. Moving on standard system setting options such as language, time & date and keyboard layout are the first settings to show up during the installation phase and are pretty much the same Linux style which scores decently in terms of presentation style and ease of use. Upon checking the advance option in 'preparing installation' step option of manual partitioning pops up with both ext and swap option available for the user to set according to preference. On ease of installation test Mint 9 does an okay job as the GUI remains plain old boring.
At this stage the window shows copying files progress bar and general information about the OS, its developers, updates, community shows up which is a handy feature for first time user as it provides all the basic know how about Linux systems. Once the process gets complete and after restarting the system, we logged on to the home screen on this page custom setting such as language and keyboard layout appears at the bottom of the screen for another time giving the user another shot at it in case these settings were missed earlier. A simple menu interface with the taskbar at the bottom is visible unlike Ubuntu, Mint does not have the virtual desktop option.
The screen interface is very typical and has nothing new or better to be talked about. Other setting which can be made from the desktop itself include the date and time option where the clock can be set at 2400 hrs and other options like weather and temp can also be customized. The start menu is quite huge in terms of size and almost covers up the entire screen when clicked on. As far as the basic layout of the menus is concerned the functionality is smooth, the start menu is divided into three parts- Places and System on the extreme left side (screen shot), applications is the second one and the third one is extension of the options in the application menu where the favorites option can be configured.
Moving on the packages installed on the Mint gives the user a fair amount of choice for each of the application some of the major ones are:
Entertainmnet and Multimedia : Gnome Mplayer, Movie player, Rhythmbox, Brasero for CD/DVD burning
Office : Open office Presentation, Spreadsheet and Word Processor
Internet : Firefox, Pidgin, Thunderbird, Gwibber
Graphics: Open Office drawing, Gimp
There are no pre-installed games on the Mint but a custom made package for almost everything which runs on PC can be downloaded from the software manager. While testing the Office applications we gave the print command in the word processor if the system does not detect any printer connected an option of creating the document into PDF shows up which is an inbuilt feature in the OS. The installed package manager
is Synaptic which lets the user choose between installed, not installed and manual and upgradeable programs basically its a one stop for all the installation needs. One feature which we did not like is the absence of apply button in the settings menu like desktop or mouse pointers there is no apply or default button present making the choices final so changes once made cannot be reverted back.
Overall, Mint is an easy-to-use OS with user friendly interface and with a strong community support problems and general information can be posted on the Mint forums with help and assistance being provided by other Linux users and administrators in no time.