Now that 17.3 is out, Linux Mint has implemented some changes that will make the casual user take notice. In most cases an upgrade isn’t absolutely necessary. If you are still marvelling at 17.2 I tend to think the biggest difference you’ll notice is on the Mate side.
Biggest changes in Mate Desktop:
New window manager options
- Openbox: A very fast and very light window manager.
- Compiz: One of the most visually impressive window manager available for Linux.
- Compton: A compositing manager which can be used in complement of Marco, Metacity, Xfwm4 or Openbox.
MATE is now fully compatible with Totem, VLC and many other players. The screensaver (ideally) won’t start while they’re playing a video.
*This remains the biggest bone of contention on many of the Linux desktops. Nothing is more irritating than trying to watch a video on a desktop that screen blanks because of some conflict between the xset and the drivers handling dkms poorly.
Update and Driver Managers are more accurate regarding server mirrors, and have more options.
Biggest changes in Cinnamon:
- Better applets featuring more information
- Workplace switcher (aside from expo mode)
- Better window management
In both cases the upgrade path yielded some quirks, fewer in the case of the Mate desktop but this may have been harware dependent. Mate has slightly lower hardware requirements in practice but is also somewhat sluggish compared to Cinnamon both in boot up and general performance.
The Mate desktop performs somewhat slower, perhaps due to the animation cycle of the window managers. The actual kernel performance and browser times are unaffected, both systems are quite fast even on old harware but for some people this tiny difference is important.
The Cinnamon desktop crashes somewhat unexpectedly on older harware, depending particularly on the drivers installed prior to the upgrade. It is preferable to either switch to the open source driver before the upgrade and then run the driver tool after the first set of updates, or do a fresh install then one round of updates before running the driver tool. (ESPECIALLY OLDER NVIDIA CARDS)
*Stick to the Mesa drivers till it’s sorted out!
In both cases I tested the 32 bit version only, I have the 64 bit Linux Mint 17.2 Cinnamon Desktop as one of my daily use machines, and will see if there are any noticible differences on the Cinnamon 64 distro during upgrade. In my past experience there is only a big difference if the hardware itself is coupled with the wrong kernel. I didn’t adopt a different kernel scheme, This machine is currently using Mate with the 3.13.0-24-generic i686 after the upgrade.
This testing machine is older hardware but is still quite 64 bit capable with 2 AMD Turion 64 processors.
Ironically it’s in dual boot with an original Crunchbang Linux which I patched to run using mostly third party ppa’s (Chrome and so on.) I’ll get around to updating it to Bunsen Labs Hydrogen eventually. For now it still outperforms every other distro I test and runs video at 720 HD in Google Chrome at less than 250 Mb of ram use.
It can do this in several tabs at once and that is actually just one reason I keep it around. It’s a reminder to me that no matter how many new changes the developers come up with, some user out there finds a workaround to make it rock.
Cinnamon is still faster, Mate is still more stable, I’d go with Cinnamon 90% of the time.
*On a special note the featured image up top is an image supplied to the distro by the creator of Linux Mint himself, Clem takes some nice photos!