Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, another great distribution. Of course, there is also a Linux Mint Debian Edition version, but that is a different beast that deserves a separate discussion. Up until recently, each new release of Linux Mint followed the Ubuntu release cycle, be it "regular" or "LTS" version. But since Linux Mint 17, only Ubuntu LTS is considered to be a proper Linux Mint base.
Linux Mint 18 is the first release of Linux Mint on consecutive LTS versions of its base. Did it make any impact on this distribution? Let's check ourselves.
I have already published a quick screenshot tour through the main Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon features. Let's now have a more in-depth look into the Live version of Mint 18.
The ISO image of Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon 64-bit is about 1.7 Gb in size. You can download it either directly from one of many mirrors all around the world, or using torrent. I used the dd command to "burn" that image onto a USB stick.
The USB stick is in the port of my Toshiba Satellite L500-19X laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!
The boot processThe first thing you see when Linux Mint 18 starts to boot is a countdown. If you leave your computer untouched for 10 seconds the default Live boot will start. Otherwise you have a small menu where several more options exist. Apart from the "standard" option to go for a direct install, Linux Mint 18 offers you an opportunity to run an installation in "OEM mode". This allows you to install and configure Linux Mint 18 on bare hardware, then turn it over to a new end user who can create a new unique identity, password, location, etc. I have not tried it myself, so all comments on that option are welcome.
Once the boot sequence starts, you see a Linux Mint logo in the middle of the screen. Soon after that, the default Cinnamon desktop appears in front of you.
First impressionsThe default desktop is very familiar to many Cinnamon users.
There is a panel at the bottom of the screen. The panel itself is dark-grey. It features the menu button with Linux Mint logo in the left corner, shortcuts to Firefox, Terminal, File manager and "Show Desktop" next to it. The right part of the panel contains a notification area with clocks, list of windows, battery, volume and network control indicators. There is also a user menu that allows you to switch off the computer, switch user or go into the System Settings. The middle part of the panel has buttons for current open windows. There is no switch between the virtual desktops on the default panel, but you can add it by right-clicking the panel and selecting "Add applets to the panel".
There are some icons on the desktop: shortcuts to Computer folder, user Home folder and Install Linux Mint.
The desktop itself has a dark-grey wallpaper with Linux Mint logo in the right part.
|Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon welcome screen|
Though previous versions of Linux Mint contained the version number on the wallpaper, Linux Mint 18 does not have this number on the default image. If you don't like this picture, you can choose from about 25 alternatives split between the "Linux Mint" and "Sarah" categories. The former contains Mint-themed images and the latter gives you a choice of nice photos.
|Linux Mint 18 resource usage|
The freshly booted operating system took more than 465 Mb memory. That is probably OK for a laptop with 4Gb memory on board, but still is way too much. Just compare it with 360 Mb of Ubuntu 16.04 MATE or 320 Mb of Xubuntu 16.04.
Network connectivityLinux Mint 18 experienced no issues in recognising and configuring the wireless network card of my laptop. Few clicks, typing in the password, and I am connected to the network and Internet.
Unfortunately, I wrote this review away from home and could not test the options to connect to the network drive that I have.
Keyboard layoutLinux Mint 18 Cinnamon uses version 3.0.6 of Cinnamon Desktop Environment.
There were some changes in the way you configure keyboard layouts in this DE version if you used previous versions of Cinnamon. This setting was moved from the Region&Language part of the Settings Panel to the Keyboard part. There is no more item called "Region&Language". Another difference is that you can no longer switch between the flag and text representation of the current layout in the panel. You need to do this via a separate window that appears when you select the Configure option while right-clicking the panel item. The rest of the process remains the same - you can check in in the article I wrote some time ago. It will also be updated soon.
ApplicationsLinux Mint 18 Cinnamon comes with a decent set of applications right out of the box.
Firefox 47 is default and the only browser in this operating system. On top of it, there are Thunderbird email client, HexChat, Pidgin instant messenger and Transmission torrent client in the Internet section of the menu.
The Office section of the menu sports the full set of LibreOffice 18.104.22.168 tools, including Base and Math, plus Document viewer.
There are several applications in the Graphics section of the menu: GIMP, Image viewer Xviewer, Pix manager and Simple Scan.
The Multimedia section of the default menu contains Banshee media manager, Video player, Brasero disk image writer and a separate item called Install Multimedia Codecs. We'll come back to that topic in a moment.
Of course, there are plenty of small and nice utilities for the everyday and one-off tasks like Xed editor, Calculator, Archive manager, Backup tool and so on.
If you are not satisfied with the set of applications you have out of the box, you have Software Manager to deal with that. All the Mint and Ubuntu repositories and PPAs are available for you.
MultimediaAs I have already mentioned in the quick screenshot tour through Mint 18 Cinnamon, this operating system no longer comes with the tools necessary to play multimedia files. You need to have Internet access to install these codecs. Moreover, an error appears when you try to install these codecs. You can see that error in the previous article.
Despite the error, the installation process continues when you close that error message window. The installer downloads a serious amount of packages, including Adobe Flash and Chromium plugins, although there is no Chromium in the Linux Mint 18 default ISO. While installation runs, there are some more errors:
|Linux Mint codecs installation error|
As a result, Firefox still could not play back the Adobe Flash videos, while MP3 files played successfully from the local drive. Some local video files also played well, while others still had issues with playback because AAC audio codec was not installed. Linux Mint suggested installing more codecs, but even that did not help. Video player showed the video part of these videos files, but the progress line remained at the 0:00 point and there was no sound.
ConclusionI could say that Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon is a nice and easy distribution everyone can use... I could, if there was not the issue with multimedia codecs. That spoon of tar spoiled the whole barrel of honey. The error with the installation of multimedia codecs well may be a result of my running Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon in Live mode. But that error was not there before, in previous Live versions of Linux Mint, mainly because all necessary codecs were already pre-installed. The Linux Mint team introduced the error by changing the way codecs are distributed.
I cannot guarantee the users wouldn't get a similar error in the installed system, and thus I would not recommend installing this operating system, especially for novice users.
For me, Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon edition lost its benefit of the system everyone can use in a simple "plug&play" mode even from a Live media.
That's a pity.
If you want to try Linux Mint 18 yourself and check the above yourself, why not order a disk with this operating system through BuyLinuxCDs.co.uk site?