New features in Linux Mint 14
Linux Mint 14 is the result of 6 months of incremental development on top of stable and reliable technologies such as MATE, Cinnamon and MDM. This new release comes with updated software and brings refinements and new features to make your desktop even more comfortable to use.
MATE is working hard at providing a rock-solid environment in the continuation of GNOME 2. In 2011, GNOME 2 was renamed “MATE” and MATE 1.x made it possible for GNOME users to continue to use their favorite desktop. There were a few hickups along the way and a few regressions. 6 months later, MATE 1.2 brought many bug fixes and a much more solid experience. This time around MATE 1.4 not only strengthens the quality and stability of the desktop but it goes beyond GNOME 2 by fixing bugs which were in GNOME 2 for years and by providing new features which were previously missing.
MATE 1.4 comes with numerous bug fixes, bluetooth and mate-keyring are now functional and caja features support for Dropbox.
MATE now includes its own character map, fast alt-tabbing with Marco compositing, a selection of notification styles (although this was included in Linux Mint 13, it wasn’t part of MATE 1.2), and Caja improvements such as a toggle button to show and edit the path and a new button to compare files in the file conflict dialog.
Cinnamon is full of new features and among the most active projects in the Linux community. Within this release cycle, Cinnamon developed at an amazing pace and its development was frozen in preparation for Linux Mint 14. The result is impressive and despite all these new features, Cinnamon 1.6 is more stable than its predecessor.
Workspaces are “persistent” in Cinnamon. This means you can create a workspace whenever you want by clicking the “+” button and it will remain there until you decide to delete it. You can log off or even reboot, your workspaces will remain the way you defined them.
In Cinnamon 1.6 you can give them a name.
This allows you to define distinct and memorable environments and to separate and gather your windows according to your activities.
When you switch workspaces, the workspace name appears on the screen. So you always know where you are.
The Workspace OSD (On-Screen-Display) is also configurable. You can set its duration, its position on the screen and whether you want it to show up or not.
The Window Quick-List is a new applet which lists all your windows across all workspaces.
Scale also received improved keyboard navigation, so whether you prefer to find your windows by name or by looking at them, you can do so quickly and easily in Cinnamon 1.6.
Finally, both Scale and Expo are now also available as applets (as opposed to hot corners). This means they can be added wherever you want in the panels, in complement or replacement of the window quick-list.
When you add the notifications applet to your panel it keeps track of any notification you didn’t dismiss.
Cinnamon notifications are ephemeral; Either you click them and they disappear immediately or they disappear by themselves after a few seconds.
The notifications applet acts like a tray which collects the notifications you didn’t click on. This is particularly handy when you’re busy doing something else and you just happened to see a notification in the corner of your screen but didn’t have time to read it, or when you’re away and you want to catch up with what happened during your absence.
Alt-Tab Thumbnails and Window Previews
The Alt-Tab window switcher is now configurable. Cinnamon 1.6 features the following switchers:
- Icons (default, similar to Cinnamon 1.4)
- Icons + Thumbnails
- Icons + Window Previews
- Window Previews
“Window Previews” shows a preview of the selected window while switching with an effect similar to the Compiz Fusion switcher. The window in question comes to the front of the screen and is displayed prominently. If the theme defines it, the window can also be highlighted with an outline border/color.
Improved Sound Applet
Music lovers will enjoy some of the improvements in the Sound Applet.
The layout was reworked to give the cover artwork more space. The volume slider now features a visible percentage and no longer controls amplification past 100% (although this was handy in Cinnamon 1.4, it was confusing and led to people experiencing sound saturation). The applet now also comes with tooltips and mute buttons for the sound and the microphone (accessible via the right-click menu).
Cinnamon now features its own file browser: Nemo.
Cinnamon will eventually handle all visible layers of the Gnome desktop and provide an integrated experience, not only in terms of window and workspace management, but also in terms of file browsing, configuration and desktop presentation. Cinnamon 1.6 comes with tight integration for Nemo and a brand new backgrounds selection screen.
Nemo improves on Nautilus in many areas and offers a lot of new features.
And that’s not all…
Cinnamon 1.6 is huge. There’s more than 800 changes in it and its commit changelog is 2.3 times the size of the 1.4 release! It would be hard to describe all the new features and to list all the bug fixes… and if we did, you probably wouldn’t have the patience to read through it all 🙂
So here’s a quick overview of the most notable new features and bug fixes which come with this new release.
For an exhaustive list of changes, please visit the following page: https://github.com/linuxmint/Cinnamon/commits/master
Other new features:
- Edge Flip
- Grid View in Expo
- Configurable panel heights
- Panel auto-hide delay options
- Expo and Scale applets
- Brightness applet
- Mouse scroll to switch windows in window list applet
- “Close all” and “Close other” in window list applet
- Cinnamon 2D (A new session which uses software rendering, to help people troubleshoot compatibility problems with Cinnamon)
- Workspaces and Menu pages in Cinnamon Settings
- Faster menu filtering
- Menu activation on hover
- Settings applet is now part of the panel context menu
- New widgets (for Applet developers): radio buttons and checkboxes
Most notable bug fixes:
- Improved keyboard navigation in Scale and Expo
- Fixed panel labels getting shrunk
- Panel zones alignment
- Improved stability (fixed many bugs which made Cinnamon 1.4 crash)
- Fixed many memory leaks present in Cinnamon 1.4
- Improved dual-monitor handling
- Fixed context menus appearing behind the panel, flickering or appearing behind other windows.
- Faster workspace switching (and no more reordering of the windows)
- Fixed skype chat window stealing the focus
- Fixed attached dialogs leaving window borders on the screen when closing too fast
- Fixed panel autohiding when lookingGlass is open
- Fixed showDesktop applet not always showing the desktop
- Fixed showDesktop applet missing Gimp utility windows
- Fixed places not appearing in menu
- Applets are now aligned in the center when placed in the central zone of the panel
MDM was given a lot of attention and comes with exciting new features.
MDM now supports legacy GDM 2 themes. About 30 of them are installed by default in Linux Mint 14 and you can find 2,000 more in gnome-look.org.
This makes MDM the display manager with the most themes available (GDM isn’t themeable) and the theme format is so trivial you can make your own very easily and make your login screen look exactly the way you want.
MDM now also features improved support for user lists and “faces”, so instead of typing usernames you can select a theme with a userlist and simply select the user you want to log in as. If the user has a ~/.face picture, his/her face will appear to represent him/her in the list.
User-switching is now improved. You can still select Menu->System tools->New Login (or Menu->System tools->New Login in a Window if you have xnest installed) but you can now also simply lock the screen and click the “Switch user…” button.
After 6 months of development, the new MDM also features numerous bug and security fixes.
The Software Manager received a lot of “under the hood” improvements. It no longer uses aptdaemon (which was responsible for crashing or freezing the application under certain conditions) but its very own apt client. It now also come with full debconf support so you no longer need to use Synaptic for debconf enabled packages (such as the Microsoft Fonts, or Wine).
It’s also more convenient than before. It runs as root so you no longer need to type your password everytime you click “install” and the application page is now reloaded following the installation or removal of the application.
Also, “Search while typing” is now configurable and can be disabled.
MintStick replaces USB-ImageWriter, for a better UI and better progress reporting.
Gedit 2.30 replaced Gedit 3. It’s a more mature/stable alternative, which provides more features and a much better search functionality than the latter version.
MintSystem now provides two additional commands:
- dns-fix sets your DNS resolution to OpenDNS
- xchat-systray makes your Xchat systray icon re-appear after restarting the desktop (this is particulary useful to Cinnamon developers)
Special attention was given to Mint-X and its support for GTK3.6 to make GTK3 applications look native and integrate well with the rest of the desktop.
The icon theme was also greatly improved. It caught up with most of the enhancements from upstream Faenza and some of its derivatives and received better quality as well as a wider collection of icons.
Linux Mint 14 features the following upstream components: Ubuntu 12.10, Linux 3.5, MATE 1.4, Cinnamon 1.6.