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Reviewed: Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon

Dreyer Smit
By day he seems like a normal everyday person, going about his chores working like a good little bee. But at night he changes into the Tech... More

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Recently I’ve reviewed the latest ‘consumer’ version of Ubuntu, namely 12.04, and found that it was pretty far away from being perfectly consumer friendly. The entire UI was scattered and disorganized, you were met with hundreds of updates and it wasn’t very easy to install anything. Then one of our readers suggested I review Mint 13 Cinnamon.

I installed this version via USB as well as it is the easiest way to run and test Linux, sometimes it may be slow especially when installing certain apps, but it runs smoothly. After the initial boot up which was way more pleasing to the eye than the Ubuntu one (no DOS like the reviewer from eTV said). It took longer to boot than Ubuntu, but it’s hardly noticeable.

The desktop interface was a breath of fresh air. Everything seemed to be in its right place and if you were to switch from Windows XP to Cinnamon you wouldn’t have any trouble. There is a taskbar at the bottom á la XP and your icons are nicely arranged.

The UI is clean and although it offers you a bunch of options under one of the few system preferences menus I would suggest you stick to the standard version. I’ve never been a great supporter of user customization options. If I were in charge the only thing you could change would be your background.

The ‘menu’ or ‘start screen’ is just like you’re used to. This makes me feel like I’m back on Windows XP but with a nice theme installed. A nice array of apps come pre-installed like Libre Office, VLC Player (never been a fan) and more. However they over did the pre-installed apps a tiny bit by including way too many options for music and video. VLC should be sufficient but they went ahead and included 5. Overkill much? Luckily MP3’s just worked and I didn’t need to download (and fail at that) more codecs. Do you hear that Mark?

The software center is again totally different from the one you’d find on Ubuntu. This version likes to call it ‘software manager’ which I initially thought it would be a place where I could uninstall and manage my programs on the PC. But I was wrong.

The App Store, or whatever they prefer to call it, had 59k apps available. For a Linux store I’m quite impressed and seems like there are great interest in developing for this platform.

What I was pleased at was the ‘hot corners’ on this version. In Ubuntu it was a button on the dock to the left which you pressed and 4 desktops would show up. Here you hover to the top left corner and you will be met with 2 desktops and an option to add more. I don’t really see the benefit of multiple desktops, but then again I use Windows 8.

As a test I installed Minecraft on Ubuntu, and found it to be insanely difficult and time consuming. So I did the same with Mint. Luckily I didn’t have to download even more stuff this time round, but it still kept opening it in the archive manager unless you chose Java Runtime. And lets not forget giving it permission to run via settings. I would much prefer them to give you an option when you double click an app to give it permissions right there instead of confusing everyone.

But the whole experience was pleasantly improved on Mint. Firefox still seems to break certain sites like mobile browsers do. Although Firefox on Windows work perfectly fine. Ubuntu had the same issue and I find it weird.

Security options surprised me here: the Firewall was turned off by default (think XP when it was released, what a nightmare). I turned that on but it should be an oxymoron.

The amount of different places you need to go to change system settings is still a problem: I counted 3 different places where you could change simple things like background, theme, and others. For some reason these have to be separate and I find it silly.

Linux Mint 13 Cinnamon is amazing, It’s fast, it’s simple to a degree and the UI is really beautiful. However, it still can’t take on Windows. There are still way too many loopholes to go through to make things work. If you need a basic OS to give to your grandmother who isn’t insisting on Windows then go for it. Just make sure everything is easily found because they will get lost in between all those different app pages. I wouldn’t hesitate one second to give my sister or mother Linux Mint if they didn’t use Office day in and day out.

Another problem with Linux is that there are way too many things to press, and we all know how the average person on the street loves to click everything while ‘exploring’.

With Mint being pushed via the ‘Mint Box’ hopefully this version won’t fade into the background like all the rest. This Linux is not unified and it’s a constant fight between UI designers who would be better. Mint is an improvement and I love this but really guys, like I said, work together.

I would say Mint is my favorite Linux Distro yet. I feel almost attached to this version as it kind of pulled me now. But some glaring ommissions prevent me from switching. Seems like it’s Windows 8 for now, unless Microsoft and the FOSS community bring Office (and proper Office not open source crap) to Linux. Only then I would have a reason to switch.


  • Bamm Gabriana

    Please try the Mate edition of Mint 13. I prefer that because all the prefs are in one place, and in general is simpler than the Cinnamon edition. And also try installing MS Office using Wine. It works for me.

  • vicrider

    I found it interesting that you refer to window XP in all of your comparisons I wondered if you were a fan of Win 8. I believe that you refereed to it as the latest version of the iconic OS. Interesting? You then attacked Open source office solutions. a lot of folks are laughing at you iWork fans etc.. I thought that a review was just that not a list of your personal favourites. I guess that you will grow into a writer if you keep working at it but for now I will stick to Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott they understand Windows. Ending an article with faint praise is not cool.
    I am writing this since I am tired of having my time wasted by writers that do not give info just opinions but call the article a review if you would have titled it my opinion of Mint 13 well that I would have passed on I hope you read this so that I might steal time from you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dreyer.smit Dreyer Smit

    I compared to Windows XP as it felt to me as the most relevant comparison. Comparing Mint to Windows 8 or even 7 would be a silly idea since most of the features that make those two operating systems different are not even remotely available on Mint or Ubuntu.
    The thing is, I like Mint and this was an addition to the Ubuntu 12.04 article I wrote earlier. If you read that you would probably understand most of my frustrations. I looked at the operating system from a layman point of view.
    Regarding open source Office solutions, Office will remain the benchmark in this field. iWork is great, but it’s not Office. And since it only works on Apple hardware this does not even count. Libre Office, Open Office and others are okay-ish (I’ve used Open Office for a while) but I always crawled back to Office.
    I write these articles as my opinion. And the article above is a review, of Mint from a perspective a normal person can understand. Is it good or is it bad.
    Ubuntu was terrible, Mint is better. And that is why I gave it the ‘faint praise’

  • C M

    “With Mint being pushed via the ‘Mint Box’ I can see this version of
    Linux growing well into the consumer market. This version will fade into
    the background along with all the rest.” – Do you have a difficult time putting coherent thoughts together? /// /// /// That is not the only part that simply makes no sense at all, I guess this is just an amateur post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dreyer.smit Dreyer Smit

    The sentence was corrected. Thanks for the heads up. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/dreyer.smit Dreyer Smit

    I will have a look. However I try not to us Wine. If you have to emulate software you’re doing it wrong in my opinion.

  • Marc

    Dryer,
    I’d like to advise you that Wine is not an emulator. The name Wine is actually a recursive backronym standing for Wine Is Not an Emulator. Wine is actually a compatibility layer, which duplicates functions of a Windows computer by providing alternative implementations of the DLLs that Windows programs call, and a process to substitute for the Windows NT kernel as Wine does not run in a virtual machine as that would be considered emulation.

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  • Buntunub

    Oh that’s awesome. Yet another self styled “linux reviewer”. Your blog reeks of ignorance and a complete lack of Linux knowledge. You really should preface your blog with, “Disclaimer: I know nothing about Linux but these are my opinions about some distro I tried out in a virtual machine on top of my beloved Windows!”

  • 5150

    snap!

  • http://profiles.google.com/mikefreeman1972 Michael Freeman

    Funny that you “crawled back to Office”. I did exactly the opposite. In fact, I went running and screaming from Office to OpenOffice (then later to LibreOffice) several years ago, because I absolutely hated some of Office’s “features”, that I couldn’t figure out how to get turned off.

    Anyway, all-in-all, I think you did a fair job of reviewing Mint 13 Cinnamon. Much of the Linux world is sort of in a crappy place right now, thanks in part to what Gnome’s done recently. They had a beautiful, mostly well-polished desktop (Gnome 2), then dumped the whole thing and started over to make Gnome 3 rather than make a more sensible, gradual evolution from one to the other. They released it into the wild before all their ducks were in a row, and it was scooped up by all the Linux distros. That’s why all of the settings are spread out all over the place – the pieces aren’t gelled yet into a sane environment. It’s a disorganized mess right now. It’s what also prompted Ubuntu to invent their Unity desktop and Mint to invent Cinnamon, making things even more spread out and convoluted.

    If you’d like to see what Linux Mint looked like before the mess, try either an older version (up to Mint 11 – Mint 10’s my personal favorite), or get Mint 13 Mate. Mate is a fork of the old Gnome 2. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s much more tightly pulled together than the newer desktops. I’m using that until Gnome 3 and Cinnamon settings get unified (or Cinnamon completely replaces Gnome 3’s settings) and Cinnamon works better with my hardware (doesn’t play well with ATI graphics).

  • http://profiles.google.com/mikefreeman1972 Michael Freeman

    Well, think about it this way: If you are moving from Mac to Windows, but really love this one Mac-only program, you have to turn to some sort of emulation or MacOS-compatible VM in the hopes that it runs, or be satisfied with what the Windows world offers in its place. It’s exactly the same going from Windows to Linux. Want to run a Windows-only program on a non-Windows OS? What else are you going to do but run an emulator, VM, or Windows-compatible layer (which is what Wine is, although it does sometimes feel emulator-ish). Whether that’s doing it wrong or not is your own opinion, but it works.

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  • thetall82

    “proper office” sucks so much

  • http://www.facebook.com/horrace.foster Horrace L Foster

    Okay folks, I am a newbie I am trying to move to Linux, but when I read the reviews and try to get the facts I need, I seem to keep coming across what I deem to be in-fighting. I just need to know what works and what doesn’t, If it is for a newbie, what the system requirements are. Not the squabbling because you think the reviewer is dissing your favorite distro. Dont turn us away but help fall in love with Linux, cause I can tell you I am sick of the whole windows mess! To the guy who suggested Mate, thank you because I have had a lot of problems finding a distro that worked well on my netbook, and Mint does but Cinnamon is confusing, Mate sounds like the ticket!

  • Anonymous

    I have to agree that Linux is in a pretty messy state at the moment and that consolidation amongst developers would be a great thing but in reality will never happen.
    However I do believe that LibreOffice is in a better place than you would lead people to think.
    Mate and Cinnamon are talked about so often alongside Mint but I’m not convinced that it’s enough to use as a selling point for a distro. Mint’s hotspots are implemented quite well but when I last tried Mint (version 12) there were still some stability and bug issues.
    I’ve got new favorites now which I won’t mention here but there can be no doubt that Mint has done good things for the Linux community (just look at their page rank on Distrowatch).

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  • watcheroftheskies

    Horace, I totally agree. way too many flame-wars going on. Just think of Windows vs Linux as the Catholic vs Protestant; a lot of disputes and sectarism in the latter, but at least trying to think for themselves.
    But if youŕe looking for some stability KDE might be an option for you; maybe give OpenSuse (KDE version) a try. Really, the fun and trouble of Linux…so much choice! :)

  • azvicrider

    Well the easiest way to test Linux on your hardware is to run it on a live CD or DVD and test all thing out. Next it gives you the chance to see if you like the distro, they are all not the same. I would if you are new, suggest that you try Mint Mate or cinnamon, Ubuntu, Fedora Just to name a few. I think that on Distro Watch there is an article, top 10, look there to see the top 10 distros out there, some of them aim to make transition easy. Have a good time finding the right OS for you!

  • Ryan Epod

    Keep in mind Linux isn’t Windows and it’s not trying to be Windows. You clearly lack knowledge of Linux and you’re review sounds like maybe a friend or someone gave you a LiveUSB and you decided to write a review on it with no prior knowledge of how to use Linux or why Linux even exist. For example you say there’s to many loopholes in Linux Mint 13 what loopholes? If you don’t like something you’re free to change it don’t like LibreOffice? well there’s Callgra office or the lightweight AbiWord Don’t like Firefox? so download Chromium,Chrome,Opera,Konqueror,Midori,etc… your not bottlenecked into using what’s installed by default The same goes for multimedia don’t like VLC? not a problem maybe you’d like Exaile,Listen, or Amarok instead one of the major points of Linux is if your not happy with one program well try another I think if I could teach my Dad quite a novice with computers at 62 how to use the Software manager I’d imagine most people could use it I choose Linux because I don’t want to be forced into mediocre software choices like windows media player,the trident engine,etc… I’d feel far more comfortable showing my mom or dad how to use Ubuntu or Mint the trying to explain to them how to use the new “Metro” interface which is confusing since my P.C. isn’t a cell phone or a tablet.

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