This release brings big changes to Linux Mint so be ready for something different. The DVD version offers users the ability to choose between the new Gnome 3 interface with the Mint Gnome shell extensions, Gnome classic, or the new MATE desktop.
About Mint 12
Linux Mint 12 is extremely user-friendly as always, and offers all the hardware recognition and easy driver setup advantages that new Linux users will enjoy. Novice users may however be frustrated with the customization options temporarily, but that will surely develop further in upcoming releases.
Another flawless installation, this time using the Linux Mint 12 Live DVD. After launching the live desktop installation icon you will be asked to choose a language for the installer. You can then choose your partition setup details and begin copying files.
While you wait you will have time to add your location information, keyboard layout, and your user account details. Next just kick back and enjoy the brief slide show while you learn more about Linux Mint 12.
LightDM Display Manager
You will then arrive at the Linux Mint 12 login screen which now uses LightDM. LightDM has only recently replaced GDM as the default display manager for Ubuntu and its derivatives. This means a slightly increased speed, and a beautiful Linux Mint 12 login screen that can still use different themes.
Using Gnome 3 with MGSE makes for a creative interface that should certainly satisfy most people who are frustrated by the drastic changes in Ubuntu at the moment.
Users have two panels to choose from, the bottom panel has a slightly more traditional menu that users will be familiar with, though it has been re-styled significantly. The top panel has a few indicators and a menu button that you can use to launch the Gnome Shell dash.
Try Gnome Default Shell
You can also disable many of the Mint Gnome shell extensions to revert to a default Gnome Shell desktop if you prefer.
Gnome Tweak Tool
Many window manager and desktop manager settings can be customized using the Gnome tweak tool. The Linux Mint 12 desktop has been left fairly clean, only the most helpful desktop icons have been included. You can choose to display more desktop icons, or remove icons you don’t want them.
Mint 12 Gnome has a revamped menu inside the bottom panel. This menu is similar to what most users were familiar with when using Gnome 2, but still a big change from the old Mint menu.
Gnome Shell Dash
You can also try the Gnome Shell dash, just click the infinity symbol in the left corner of the top panel. From the dash you can switch between open windows, or find installed applications and software.
More About The Dash
The dash also has a very useful search bar that can help you quickly find what you are hunting for. The applications tab inside the dash even has several categories where you can find related applications.
The desktop now has two unique panels, one on top, one on the bottom. The top panel is very Gnome 3, and the menu icon will open the Gnome Shell dash. There are also several application indicators and icons in the right hand side of the top panel. Many of these indicators can be interacted with for convenience.
A Cool New Menu
The bottom panel has a menu that works more like the traditional Gnome 2 menu. This menu also has some stylish applications icons and quick launchers for some of your favorite applications.
More Panel Details
There is also a workspace switcher on the right hand side of the bottom panel. You can even use the Gnome tweak tool to remove the bottom panel completely if you prefer.
Another primary aspect of Mint 12 is the Nautilus file manager 3.2. Not much has changed visually in this release. There are a few minor changes in the background though.
This release of Nautilus has removed the audio preview function that was so annoying when your mouse would hover over an audio file. Nautilus now uses sushi to preview audio files, this can be done with the space bar.
The Nautilus Interface
Aside from that its the same old Nautilus interface, menus at the top, bookmarks on the side, and display area on the right.
Users also have the choice of two panels in the default window, or you can open other directories in separate tabs. All of your own favorite locations can be saved in the bookmarks area as well. Nautilus is very user-friendly, highly customizable, and loaded with features. Nautilus will even detect your connected devices and network shares automatically in most cases.
The MintInstall software manager is available for installing new software, or you can use the Synaptic package manager. Mint of course uses Debian packages, and the MintInstall software manager makes software installation extremely easy. All applications are categorized neatly by their functions.
Installing New Software
You can also see reviews, descriptions, and version information about all available packages. In many cases even screenshots are available, just press install to get new software.
Linux Mint 12 Gnome also provides a single system settings window where you can find all of your settings categorized by function. The system settings window has mostly options for hardware and interacting with hardware.
Gnome Tweak Tool Settings
Very few desktop customization options can be found. To customize the Linux Mint 12 desktop further users can turn to the Gnome tweak tool which can be found in the dash via the advanced settings button.
Using The Gnome Tweak Tool
From here you can find icon, font, window, and theme settings all in different tabs. Configuration is very simple, just toggle the option you want on or off.
You can even change themes for different aspects of your desktop, this can be done with the Gnome tweak tool. Mint 12 is using the Adwaita window theme, with the Mint-Z shell theme.
Many window themes are available to try, there are also a few shell themes and GTK+ themes. Even icon themes, and cursor themes can be changed from here. Unfortunately no theme previews are available.
Adding new themes must be done manually by placing files in the proper directories, you can then enable them with the Gnome tweak tool.
Still Needs Work
In my opinion the themes and the theme interface both need some work. I could make nothing more attractive than the default desktop without having to resort to some downloads.
A shocking 21 wallpapers to choose from will certainly satisfy everyone aesthetic differences in opinion. Linux Mint always offers a great choice of wallpapers for users to pick from. You can find these settings by searching the dash for the appearance button, this will open the appearance preferences window.
There are a several artistic Linux Mint creations, some that we have seen before. There are also many fantastic landscape and nature wallpapers straight from India and Yellowstone National Park.
This is certainly one of the most bearable Gnome 3 implementations I have come across so far, the Mint Gnome shell extensions provide many great features. The developers have obviously put in lots of work for this release. I still had the tendency to avoid the Gnome 3 aspects of the desktop, for that reason the Mint Gnome shell extensions are a must have.
New Search Engine
The Linux Mint 12 Gnome release also uses the new Duck Duck Go search engine which I highly recommend. With Duck Duck Go everyone sees the same search results, and the project is Open Source. Enjoy Linux Mint 12!