2014-03-25

Review: Linux Mint MATE 201403

Main Screen + Linux Mint Menu
It's been a while since I've done a review. In fact, it's been a while since I've posted in any form, because this semester has turned out to be a lot busier than I anticipated. It likely will remain so until it ends; the only reason why I can post a review right now is because of spring break, and even that has been busy for me. Anyway, I initially wanted to do a review of Frugalware because it looked intriguing, but I couldn't get the live USB to work. I'm reviewing this (which I had planned for later) instead. If you've passed by this blog, you've probably already seen my thoughts on Linux Mint, so I'll skip the introduction. I tried this updated ISO file as a live USB made with MultiSystem. Follow the jump to see what it's like. There isn't too much that has changed since last year, so I will simply link the review from then, point out any changes, and put out any other thoughts that occur to me about this.

After booting I was greeted not by a nice boot splash but by a scrolling wall of text, which isn't a huge deal. Also, I couldn't really see what the notifications looked like right away because no notifications came up by themselves, but looking at the settings showed that they still look like the Notify-OSD notifications in Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based Linux Mint, which I like.

Mozilla Firefox + LibreOffice Writer
LibreOffice now uses a much nicer icon theme than before. Caja has a much better updated interface thanks to Nautilus/GNOME Files and Nemo, making it even more usable; I'm still waiting on a nice file previewer for it, though (but that isn't a dealbreaker). The ImageMagick GUI seems to have been removed, maybe because the Linux Mint developers realized it wasn't really fit for inclusion as a default program.
Because Mupen64Plus 1.5 is not supported by anything anymore, I installed Mupen64Plus 2.0 from the repositories through the Synaptic Package Manager, and then I downloaded and installed the M64Py GUI. M64Py worked even better than the last time I tried it because my controller configuration changes persisted, though there was a tiny bit of lag that persisted when playing games too.

Installing Compiz is now even easier than before. I followed instructions here, and it worked right away. All I had to do was set the desired plugins in the CompizConfig Settings Manager and then start the Compiz Fusion Icon and tell it to switch to Compiz, and it did that. It even automatically kept the "Mint-X" window decoration too. There were however some other issues in that for some reason I couldn't change the icon theme or the window decoration once Compiz got running, even with GConf-Editor or DConf-Editor; I was able to change the GTK+ theme just fine though.
Caja + Eye Of MATE + Desktop Cube
With Compiz running in the background, Linux Mint used about 255 MB of RAM at idle, which is only slightly more than before. That's not bad at all. That said, when I initially started testing this live system, there were a couple of window artifacts and a little latency when moving and resizing windows, though interestingly, these seemed to smoothen out after starting Compiz.

Other than that, the experience was almost identical to last time. There were new plusses and new minuses, but there were a few more of the former than the latter, and the few new minuses there were certainly were not showstoppers by any means. Hence, I'd feel even better now about both recommending it to newbies & more experienced users as well as using it for my own computer if I need to change distributions for whatever reason.
You can get it here.

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