June 15, 2013

Linux Mint 15 Mate - 3 Reviews

Linux Mint 15 "Olivia" Mate & Cinnamon Review: Great aesthetics & superb performance - Almost perfect!

Linux Mint is one of the few Linux distros that I normally recommend to any newbie. It just works! This is possibly the most amazing thing about Mint. Whereas with rest of the Linux distros, I get to hear a lot of complains (even I have experienced for some). But, not a single one for Linux Mint. Any system you throw at it, it will always work! Perhaps this is what separates Mint from rest of the Linux distros that it is numero uno in Distrowatch ranking for quite sometime!

From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

I missed an early review of Linux Mint 15, nicknamed "Olivia", as I was enjoying my vacations. It is a bit late to review Linux Mint 15 but never the less I wanted to review it. As usual, for this test I downloaded the 32-bit ISOs of both Mate and Cinnamon releases.

The release note of Mint Olivia states some significant improvements:
"The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 15 'Olivia'. Linux Mint 15 is the most ambitious release since the start of the project. MATE 1.6 is greatly improved and Cinnamon 1.8 offers a ton of new features, including a screensaver and a unified control center. The login screen can now be themed in HTML 5 and two new tools, 'Software Sources' and 'Driver Manager', make their first appearance in Linux Mint. MDM now features 3 greeters (i.e. login screen applications): a GTK+ greeter, a themeable GDM greeter for which hundreds of themes are available, and a brand-new HTML greeter, also themeable which supports a new generation of animated and interactive themes."
Linux Mint "Olivia" comes with Linux kernel 3.8.0-19 and is supported for 6 months, till Oct'13. Desktop choices are Mate 1.6.0 and Cinnamon 1.8. For installation, I used my Asus K54C laptop with 2.2 Ghz Core i3 processor and 2 GB RAM. With Unetbootin, I created live USB's of each, did a live boot to test and finally install. I tried out both the flavors for a week (installed in partitions) and finally decided to write a review. The 32-bit ISOs of both Mate and Cinnamon are around 1 GB and won't fit in a CD. Anyway, who uses CD these days?

Installation of Linux Mint  is typical Ubuntu and no surprises there. The information required are location, language, keyboard preferences, location to install and finally user ID creation. It takes about 30 minutes to install, including installation of updates, just like Ubuntu. 

From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Aesthetics & Hardware Recognition
Although professionalism and refinement is evident in the distro starting from boot splash to desktop, Linux Mint 15 comes in it's good old bland ash colored wallpaper with white (Mate) or black (Cinnamon) lower panel. The login screen for Cinnamon version looks really cool but Mate release has the same default login. It is a typical Windows XP look and will make new switchers from Windows comfortable. Fortunately quite a few good wallpapers and loads of to-be-installed themes (for Cinnamon) are there as a saving grace. With these and adding a conky, I could transform the desktop to my liking!

From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

This is what I did to the above Mate desktop with simple addition of a cairo dock & a conky
From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Cinnamon version comes with quite a few attractive themes and has some subtle but really cool effects like windows disappearing with effect upon minimizing, popping up when maximized, etc. but nothing too gaudy to distract user's attention.  

From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Hardware recognition is the best in Linux Mint among all Linux distros I have used and it could recognise Wifi, screen resolution, sound card and touchpad automatically. 

Both Mate and Cinnamon versions have more or less similar set of applications with some minor differences, viz.
  • Office: LibreOffice Base, Calc, Draw, Impress, Writer, Dictionary, Document viewer
  • Internet: Firefox 21, Pidgin IM, Thunderbird 17, Transmission bit-torrent client, Desktop sharing, Xchat IRC
  • Graphics: GIMP 2.8.4, gthumb, Imageviewer, Simple scan
  • Multimedia: Brasero CD/DVD writer, Rhythmbox music player, VLC 2 video player, Totem video player
  • Accessories: Archive manager, gedit text editor, Screenshot, Terminal, Firewall, Printer settings, gdebi package installer, Calculator, File search, Tomboy notes, USB Image writer
  • Others: APtoCD (create installation disc), backup tool
Application list is very comprehensive and it has most of daily use apps. Mate has pluma in place of gedit as text editor. Rest of the softwares are the same.

Linux Mint 15 came with all multimedia codecs and Adobe flashplugin pre-installed and it is actually helpful for the new users.

From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

For Cinnamon, Nemo 1.8.2 is the default file manager and Mate has Caja 1.6.1. Both are very efficient and comes with all possible hard drive and networking options on the left hand side, so that users can drag and drop files for copying. Also, disk usage information is flashed in the bottom panel, which I find advantageous. Nemo, of course, looks more attractive than Caja.

From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in
From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Cinnamon Integrated Settings
Cinnamon 1.8 has got a new integrated settings. Earlier version had two settings options - one for Cinnamon (with very few entries) and rest of the settings would appear in another settings menu. It was really confusing for starters and I feel, this is a good incremental innovation.

From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

Linux Mint derives it's applications from Ubuntu Raring Ringtail repos but has a different GUI for the same - Mint Installer. Further, Mint provides some applications of it's own to the users, like Image writer (Mint Image writer is different from Ubuntu Image writer). Also, the good old terminal is present to download apps, for experienced users. For update notification, an update manager is also present. 

From Linux Mint 15 Olivia Mate/Cinnamon http://mylinuxexplore.blogspot.in

From repos, I installed a host of applications like Chromium browser, docky, cairo dock, conky, etc. All worked as expected.

Given my system didn't have any other graphic card except Intel GPU, I couldn't test the new addition "Driver Manager". 

For Snowlinux, I noted Mate version to outperform the Cinnamon one. However, Linux Mint Mate and Cinnamon versions actually provide similar performance. At steady state, with task manager running, it consumes about 170-180 MB of RAM and 1-5% CPU. Both ran really smooth on my system.

If I compare Mint 15 to Ubuntu 13.04 & Snowlinux 4 Mate & Cinnamon editions, LM 15 Cinnamon is possibly best among the Cinnamon spins I have used so far. It offers a blend of both aesthetics and performance. However, I can't say the same thing about LM 15 Mate. Snowlinux 4 Mate actually offers better performance. One advantage that Linux Mint distros offer is that they take almost similar space as Ubuntu and are not bloated like Snowlinux. 

OSSize of ISOBaseDesktopLinux kernelCPU UsageRAM usage
Snowlinux 4 Mate919 MBUbuntuMate MB
Snowlinux 4 Glacier Mate980 MBDebianMate 1.4'3.5.01-5%147 MB
Mint 201303 Cinnamon1.3 GBDebianCinnamon MB
Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon973 MBUbuntuCinnamon MB
Sabayon 11 Mate848 MBGentooMate MB
Linux Mint 15 Mate1.1 GBUbuntuMate MB
Mint 201303 Mate1.3 GBDebianMate MB
Mint 13 Cinnamon857 MBUbuntuCinnamon MB
Mint 14 Mate1 GBUbuntuMate MB
Mint 13 Mate942 MBUbuntuMate MB
Mint 14 Cinnamon922 MBUbuntuCinnamon MB
Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS693 MBUbuntuUnity with Gnome MB
Snowlinux 3 White Mate827 MBUbuntuMate MB
Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon849 MBUbuntuCinnamon MB
Snowlinux 3 White CInnamon760 MBUbuntuCinnamon MB
Ubuntu 12.04.1 LTS730 MBUbuntuUnity with Gnome MB
Ubuntu 13.04 Gnome1 GBUbuntuGnome MB
Ubuntu 13.04835 MBUbuntuUnity with Gnome MB
Ubuntu 12.10790 MBUbuntuUnity with Gnome MB

OSInstallation Size
Ubuntu 13.044.98 GB
Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon8.58 GB
Linux Mint 15 Mate4.90 GB
Snowlinux 4 Cinnamon12.00 GB
Snowlinux 4 Mate11.58 GB

Stability of both Mate & Cinnamon (thankfully) are better than Ubuntu Unity. I didn't note any annoying pop-ups of some back-end programs crashing, during my one week usage.

I would rate Linux Mint 15 Cinnamon among the best Cinnamon spins I have used in the last couple of years. It offers really good performance and consumes resources similar to what you see in any XFCE distro. Additionally, it offers quite a few cool effects, loads of themes to add variety, desk applets, etc. However, the Mate release is more functional and it too works well. But, I have used better Mate release from Snowlinux. Linux Mint 15 is definitely a great release but the most unfortunate part is that Mint is not upgradable. It takes the shine out of it a bit as you can use the fantastic installation till Oct'13. Possibly Mint can start a semi-rolling release distro for Ubuntu as well (like it has for Debian or like Fuduntu had for Fedora).

Otherwise, there is no better distro for beginners than Linux Mint. Even for experienced users it gives a rock solid stable distro which just works on any system you throw at it. The same legacy continues with Mint 15 Olivia as well. 

In overall, I recommend Mint 15 Cinnamon to those who want to try out Linux as well as for those who love GNOME but hate what they have done to it in GNOME3 or what Ubuntu has done to it in Unity.

You can download the 32 and 64 bit versions from here.

Linux Mint 15 Olivia MATE review

Last year, I installed and wrote a review for Linux Mint 13 Maya, the MATE version. It had worked really well on my laptop so even when Linux Mint 14 "Nadia" was released, I still kept using Maya. But after a year, I think its the time for an upgrade, and on the same occasion that Linux Mint 15 Olivia was recently out, I decided to download and install the new Linux Mint 15, MATE version.

Linux Mint 15 MATE overview

At first glance, the new Linux Mint is just like the older ones. Download and installation are simple and easy as usual.

Linux Mint 15 Olivia MATE review
The usual Linux Mint desktop

The default desktop of Linux Mint 15 MATE is still the same. You got the same wallpaper with the only difference is the number "15". The desktop is simple and clean with 2 icons by default. At the bottom is a gnome panel with a button on the left to launch the menu and some notification applets on the right.

The MATE menu still has the same default favorite applications just like in Linux Mint 13.

Linux Mint 15 MATE review

The new things

I didnt try Linux Mint 14 so these things are just new to me comparing to what I know from using Linux Mint 13.

One big change I noticed while trying Linux Mint 15 is the plymouth screen. It only has a big logo of Linux Mint now with some fading effect, the text is already removed.

Another big change is the login screen. The old login screen of Linux Mint was criticized of being ugly and tedious so it's nice to see a new one here. It really looks better now.

Linux Mint 15 login screen
New login screen

Besides these two big changes, one has to be quite meticulous to spot the other differences in this new release of Linux Mint.

The Caja file manager now has shortcuts in the left side bar. In Linux Mint 13, you will have to manually create the shortcuts yourself.

Caja file manager with shortcuts in the sidebar

I also saw some new icons for VLC and the volume control, I dont know whether these icons have been already used in Linux Mint 14.

Several bugs that I saw in Linux Mint 13 have been fixed in Olivia. The gnome dictionary now works right out of the box. The sound also works well and I didnt have to face the any problem at all when installing the proprietary driver for the ATI video  card.

And of course, the other obvious new things you will find in Linux Mint 15 are the new kernel and new versions of the applications.

The default applications

There is not too much to say about the default applications in Linux Mint 15. Its still the same bundle of apps that you find in the older releases. Linux Mint always offers all the basic applications you will need for the common tasks.

For surfing the net, you have the Firefox browser, version 20.0. Firefox in Linux Mint 15 still uses DuckDuckGo and Yahoo as the default search engines. You can change them to Google searcheasily but that will hurt the Linux Mint team a little bit since every time you use these search engines, the Linux Mint team will earn a little money. So you can just use "!g"  or "!i" before the search terms in DuckDuckGo to get the google result websites and images without removing DuckDuckGo.

Firefox 20.0 with DuckDuckGo and Yahoo as default search engines

Media codecs and flash are preinstalled so you can listen to music and watch youtube videos right out of the box here. In the MATE version that Im using, when you open Nautilus and hover the mouse over an audio file, the file will be played in the background, which is very nice to preview music.

The other apps are what we have already know, all are basic, popular apps. Pidgin, Xchat, Transmission and Thunderbird are the other apps for internet. VLC, Banshee, Mplayer are the media apps. GIMP and the LibreOffice bundle are for graphic and office works.


Nothing to complain about the performance of Linux Mint 15 MATE. At idle, it consumes over 300MB of RAM, a little higher than the minimalist distros but since my laptop has 4GB of RAM, thats not a problem.

Everything else works well right out the box. The propriety driver for my ATI card was installed smoothly without a problem. All the laptop function keys work well. No bugs or problems with the applications have been found so far.


Linux Mint deserves to be one of the most popular Linux distros. I have used Linux Mint 15 Olivia, the MATE version, for 2 days and am very satisfied with it. I havent tried the Cinnamon version but the MATE one is just excellent. I dont even have to tweak or change anything at all, the default settings are already good enough. In short, Linux Mint 15 MATE a great distro for those who want the Gnome2 experience with something that works out of the box with all the basic, necessary applications.

Source: http://www.linuxandlife.com/2013/06/linux-mint-15-olivia-mate-review.html