2014-07-30

Review: Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" MATE

 Main Screen + Linux Mint Menu
I've been out of the country for 2.5 weeks, explaining the lack of posts in that time. Before that, I was busy trying to finish a rough draft of a paper outlining the work I did at my UROP before graduation. Now that I'm back and tired from jetlag, I have a little more time to do a review like this, which I wanted to do in June itself.

I'm skipping most further introduction because none is needed for Linux Mint here. All I'll say is that there is no "LTS" label on this post because now all Ubuntu-based Linux Mint releases are based on the LTS releases, starting with this one; this is a move that I support because it should give more credence to the idea that Linux Mint is a stable system that newbies can comfortably use. I reviewed this as a live USB system made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

After the boot menu, I was greeted by a full-brightness solid Linux Mint logo for the boot splash. After a reasonably quick wait, this gave way to the desktop. The desktop is virtually unchanged from past releases aside from an appropriately minimally updated wallpaper.

 Mozilla Firefox
Mozilla Firefox is as usual the default browser. As expected, codecs worked fine, as did my laptop's volume keyboard shortcuts. LibreOffice is the default productivity suite again. Most of the other default applications are the same; only very few have changed, such as HexChat instead of XChat as the default IRC client.

Skype, Mupen64Plus, and Redshift were installable through the repositories, while the Google Talk plugin and the M64Py GUI frontend were installable from their standalone DEB files downloaded from the respective websites. Skype, Google Talk, and Redshift all worked without issue. Unfortunately, Mupen64Plus did not work from the CLI for unknown reasons, and because of dependency problems that are issues with Ubuntu and its derivatives but not with Debian, apparently, M64Py was broken upon installation. That was a bit sad to see, though that feeling was partially mitigated by the realization that I barely use Mupen64Plus anymore anyway. Regardless, I hope that the developers of M64Py, Mupen64Plus, or Linux Mint might consider fixing this issue.

 Caja + Eye Of MATE + LibreOffice Writer
Despite following the online tutorials by the letter, Compiz did not work. This outcome, however, was something for which I had prepared anyway, given my recent history with not getting Compiz to work. Thankfully there are always Devilspie and Devilspie2 to satisfy my window management extension needs, even if the eye candy is gone forever; those programs installed and ran fine (separately). Anyway, without Compiz, Linux Mint with MATE used about 240 MB of RAM at idle, which is pretty reasonable. Furthermore, there were no stability issues to speak of.

That is where my time with Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" MATE ended. I'm slightly disappointed to see the dependency issue crop up with M64Py, considering that the issue seems exclusive to Ubuntu and its derivatives; I'm just as disappointed to see Mupen64Plus not work even in its CLI form despite the absence of any indication of what the problem actually is. These issues of course may well be more the fault of those programs than of this distribution, but I can't deny that the experience was very slightly marred. Those are more personal opinions, though, and I still think that otherwise overall, Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" MATE continues to deliver a solid and reliable experience that is suitable for total newbies to Linux.
You can get it here.

1. What is up with the screen turning black while I'm watching a movie in full screen?!!! It's killing me that such simple things are so damn annoying on linux. I had caffeine installed and configured as latest guides instruct.. I even had the screensaver removed . I tried scripts running on crontab to budge the mouse just so I cand get through a 30 min tv show without the screen blacking out... It's killing my mood to even boot linux. (I'm dualbooting with "that other OS" so I can play Borderlands 2 on it)

1. Go to Settings -> Power -> AC -> Monitor Tab.
Set 'Monitor Sleep' -> Never
Set 'Switch Off' -> Never
This will keep the screen from shutting down. This has nothing to do with the Screen Saver...

Linux Mint 17 Mate has some aggresive power-saving features enabled by default, such as a short suspend/hibernate time, also you could turn up, (or disable), the standby timeout on your display, disks, ...
BTW, why would you remove the "Screensaver"?, you should have just simply disabled it, in the the "Control Center" settings
These settings, and many more, are ALL in the "Control Center"

wow, if you honestly think "...simple things are so damn annoying on linux."? -such as Mint 17 Mate , then maybe you should stick with Windoze dude.
sheesh.

1. Good attitude 'Mr. Know It All'. This will encourage people to switch to Linux and ask beginner questions. I'm quite sure you were BORN knowing everything. Just for YOUR information the is NO 'Control Center' in Mint. It is called 'All Settings'. If you are going to be an Ahat at least be right...

3. Thanks Prashanth, (for the tip on Redshift).

A couple of my friends are recent XP refugee's. I spent a bit-o-time looking around for the best drop-in replacement for their home PC's, and this "Mate" edition fits the bill perfectly for them. -as you mentioned: ALL the necessary codecs, extra lib32 libraies, are already there, just add skype, frostwire,....
The only caveat was AdobeReader, googletalk-plugin, and teamviewer which I installed for them, via the respective ".deb" sites.

Now, all I hear is how much faster Mate is, than XP ever was.
-I luv a good ending.
:)

4. @Etescartz: That sounds like a power management issue. Just to check (I'm sure you already did this), did you look at the power management settings to see that the screen isn't being turned off after a very short period of inactivity or after an application goes full-screen?

@Anonymous 1: That's what I figured too.

@Anonymous 2: It's great that this works so well for you and your friends.