Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Linux Mint 17.2 MATE RC: The epitome of elegance

Linux Mint is the most popular Linux distribution in the world, and the third most popular operating system overall. The release candidate of version 17.2, as of the time of writing, has not been announced by lead developer Clement Lefebvre, but the official live images are up on the distribution’s mirrors. Since I reviewed the Cinnamon version when I did my 17.1 review, I thought I’d review the MATE edition this time, the “other” official Mint version.

initial desktop.png


1. First impressions and ease of use

On startup, we get a MATE 1.10 desktop, freshly released, that has anchored the “traditional” end of the Mint releases for close to four years. It’s simple, solid, and polished; and also elegant and easy to use. Nothing much else to say here, anyone who hasn’t ever used a computer can understand what to do.

Ease of use score: 10/10

2. Installer

Again, Mint uses the Ubiquity installer. I won’t bother you with excessive screenshots, but there are some things I want to point out.

First, the “Install third party software” option that I’m all but accustomed to selecting on an install is removed. Obviously Richard Stallman would disagree with this, and certainly other FAIF (free as in freedom) enthusiasts would disagree as well, but in any case the original goal of Mint since its inception in 2006 was to bundle Ubuntu with non-free video codecs, so that’s mostly a non-issue.

codec option deprecated.png

Also, the slideshow misrepresents itself as the 4th most popular operating system, when in reality it is the 3rd most popular one:

3rd not 4th most used os

On the positive side, everything worked perfectly and smoothly, with no errors as expected.

Installer score: 10/10



Release date
ISO size (GB)
Distribution base
Default filesystem
Install time
Boot time
Size of install
Desktop RAM use
Kernel Version
KaOS 2015.02
2/24/2015
1.4
Independent
XFS
18:03
0:36
4.6
415
3.18.7
Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Beta 1
2/25/2015
1.1
Ubuntu Vivid (15.04 Beta 1)
ext4
12:57
0:27
4.2
457
3.19.1
Manjaro 0.8.12 Xfce
2/6/2015
1.4
Arch
ext4
11:33
0:27
4.7
351
3.16.7
Netrunner 15
2/16/2015
1.9
Ubuntu Utopic (14.10)
ext4
16:20
0:41
6.4
714
3.16.0
openSUSE 13.2 KDE
11/4/2014
4.4
Independent
Btrfs (used ext4 because of known bug)
15:29
0:39
4.4
422
3.16.6
Bodhi Linux 3.0.0
2/17/2015
0.6
Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS)
ext4
5:50
0:34
2.2
348
3.16.0
Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon
11/29/2014
1.4
Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS)
ext4
8:45
0:42
4.5
343
3.13.0
Pinguy OS 14.04.2
3/22/2015
2.6
Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS)
ext4
20:54
0:47
7.4
745
3.13.0
Korora 21 Cinnamon
2/6/2015
1.7
Fedora 21
ext4
13:24
1:04
5.0
602
3.18.3
Fedora 22 Beta
4/21/2015
1.3
Independent
ext4
10:10
0:46
4.2
843
4.0.0
Lubuntu 15.04
4/24/2015
0.7
Ubuntu Vivid (15.04)
ext4
11:55
0:22
2.4
216
3.19.0
elementary OS 0.3
4/11/2015
0.9
Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS)
ext4
11:20
0:26
2.6
392
3.16.0
Linux Lite 2.4
4/1/2015
0.8
Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS)
ext4
4:31
0:23
3.5
416
3.13.0
Linux Mint 17.2 MATE RC
6/16/2015
1.6
Ubuntu Trusty (14.04 LTS)
ext4
12:37
0:38
4.8
303
3.16.0
Average of all distros

1.6


12:24
0:36
4.4
469


3. Design

With the default looks, Linux Mint 17.2 MATE RC looks simple, elegant, and current, if a little bit bland. However, they can be spruced up with the nearly endless customization possibilities, this being a GNOME 2 fork. So my customizations got me this:

Customizations.png

(Icons - Vibrancy Colors by RaveFinity, GTK - Ambiance Blackout Flat Colors Green by RaveFinity, Wallpaper - included with Mint 17.2, zshrc - my custom zshrc, available on this website)

The MDM login screen, is the best display manager of any distro. Its slideshow of backgrounds is beautiful:

login screen.png

Design score: 10/10

4. Applications

Linux Mint 17.2 MATE RC comes with most of the same applications as the Cinnamon edition, except for the MATE-specific Caja, Eye of MATE Image Viewer, and MATE Terminal.

Web Browser - Firefox
File Manager - Caja
Email Client - Thunderbird
Text Editor - Text Editor (GEdit fork)
Image Viewer - Eye of MATE Image Viewer
Terminal Emulator - MATE Terminal
Music Player - Banshee
Office Suite - LibreOffice

Sadly, Firefox still ships with Yahoo as the default and no Google option as default, and you have to enable it like you had to for the Cinnamon version (http://linuxdesktopreviews.blogspot.com/2015/03/linux-mint-171-cinnamon-traditional-and.html).

Applications score: 9/10

5. Installing Packages

Again, being based off of Ubuntu, Mint has a wide repository of software, extendable using PPAs. The GUI software manager is very good as well.

mint software center.png

The update manager, MintUpdate, is also the best update manager of any distro.

mintupdate still best update manager.png

Installing packages score: 10/10

Final Thoughts: Linux Mint 17.2 MATE RC is the result of years of polish, and it shows. I have no problem recommending it, and in my book, it rates higher than its competitor Ubuntu MATE. The number 1 distro keeps its spot over the number 2 for this round.

Final score: 49/50 = 98%


Distro name
Final Score
Manjaro 0.8.12 Xfce
99
Linux Mint 17.2 MATE RC
98
Ubuntu MATE 15.04 Beta 1
97
Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon
95
Fedora 22 Beta
94
openSUSE 13.2 KDE
93
Korora 21 Cinnamon
92
elementary OS 0.3
91
Pinguy OS 14.04.2
91
Linux Lite 2.4
90
Netrunner 15
90
Lubuntu 15.04
88
Bodhi Linux 3.0.0
84
KaOS 2015.02
80
Average of all reviews
92

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