Linux Mint 9: Elegant, complete desktop OS

By   |  June 2, 2010

Linux Mint 9 has arrived and, dubbed Isadora as per the tradition of bestowing feminine names on releases, it is certainly very good, writes Quintin van Rooyen.

NAME: Linux Mint
RELEASE: 9, Isadora
CORE: Linux
PARENT: Ubuntu
PLATFORM: 32bit, 64bit
This review was first published in The SAGeek Mag. (Download a free copy)


Mint releases are known to be beautiful, and Isadora is no exception. Sticking with their green theme again, the guys have achieved a certain elegance and polish that is rarely seen with smaller distributions.

When you delve deeper into the operating system you find that this polish is not limited to looks alone. There are custom utilities built in, like the MintMenu, that really add to the overall feel of polish.

Ease Of Use

Linux Mint has always aimed for ease of use. Instead of the top and bottom panel that is a Gnome staple, Mint resorts to a single bottom panel. This is not a bad design feature at all. For wider screens where vertical real estate is precious this makes a lot of sense.

If, like me, use a lot of applications that reside in the panel – like system monitor – space can become a problem. Whenever using Linux Mint I add a panel at the top to put my panel apps in, and leave the bottom for the open windows indicators.

MP3 out of the box

Linux Mint is available with MP3 and other restricted codecs installed out of the box. This removes one hurdle to adoption that Ubuntu might never overcome. Perhaps uniquely among Linux distributions, Linux Mint has different ISOs available for users in different countries: with codecs, or without.

The choice is entirely yours though. You can have your Mint with codecs pre installed, but if you are afraid of falling fould of patent laws in your country you can download the codec free version and download them yourself.

Software Packaging

Some of Isadora’s packaging choices raises some eyebrows though. Let’s start with the good choices. Simple Compizconfig Settings Manager : A great inclusion. Why Ubuntu has not included this I don’t know. Mint gives you so much more control over your desktop experience out of the box with this single piece of software.

Ndiswrapper Utility: Another sane choice. For people having trouble with their wireless network cards this is a godsend. I used to have to install my wifi drivers by first downloading and then installing Ndiswrapper with Ubuntu way back. Mint has always included this package.

GIMP: Yes I can understand the inclusion of this by them, and I can also understand the exclusion thereof in Ubuntu. A matter of choice, really.

Now, the things that make me wonder what they were thinking. Exclusion of Pitivi: The open source video editor Pitivi brings to the Linux desktop something that has been lacking for years. Ubuntu includes it now, why not Mint?

Totem AND Gnome Mplayer: Two software packages that duplicate functionality. I’d vote for excluding Totem, since Mplayer provides better browser streaming support. Drop one and rather include Pitivi then.


I have to say something about MintMenu. It is the best menu in the industry. Seriously, it is better than anything any other desktop environment offers. Try and type a software package name in the menu search bar. BAM and you have it. Don’t have it? You can install it right from the menu. KDE4 eat your heart out. And you can install MintMenu in Ubuntu as well. Really a great piece of work folks.


Linux Mint is a great OS. It is continually improving as a desktop OS, but is beginning to diverge more into a home use OS, where Ubuntu seems to fit easier in a work environment. Sure you can install Evolution on Mint and add some business functionality, but part of its charm is that it is aimed at the everyday user, a good home desktop compliment for the person who slaves away using Ubuntu at work. The weird software choices fail it a bit though.


Desktop ready: 4/5
User-friendliness: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5

Mint Linux 9 is an SAGeek Recommended product.


One Response to “Linux Mint 9: Elegant, complete desktop OS”

  1. Michael Struwig
    June 3rd, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

    I was holding back on Linux Mint, as I was waiting for this very v9 release.

    Glad to see it’s doing so well – and that it’s still based off Ubuntu (which I use on both my netbook and big rig).

    Nice review.

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