Linux Mint 12 "Lisa" officially released
The Linux Mint development team has, today, officially announced the arrival of version 12 of its popular Linux distribution. The project's lead developer, Clement Lefebvre, also announced the project has made its first income-raising deal with a partnership with search engine company DuckDuckGo. In Linux Mint 12, DuckDuckGo will be the default search engine. Lefebvre pointed to the company's lack of tracking or personalisation based on web history, along with its range of features and a commitment to supporting the open source community, as reasons why the relative newcomer in search, established in 2008, was selected to be the Mint default.
A number of media outlets had taken the appearance of Mint 12 on the project's mirrors as an indication that it had been released, but it was subsequently removed from those mirrors to allow the official announcement to take place. Linux Mint 12, code-named "Lisa", is a major release based on Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" and it includes significant changes to the system's look and feel.
The Linux Mint project aims to deliver a Linux distribution that is more user friendly and provides a more complete out-of-the-box experience by including support for DVD playback, Java, plug-ins and various media codecs. Linux Mint 12 is based on the 3.0 Linux kernel and moves from the GNOME 2.32 desktop environment to the sometimes controversial GNOME 3, specifically version 3.2. To address issues users have had with the change in the desktop and workflow between GNOME 2 and 3, the Mint developers have created the Mint Gnome Shell Extensions (MGSE). These extensions add a number of the traditional desktop elements that Mint and GNOME 2 users are used to, such as a start menu and window list at the bottom of the screen. A new "Mint-Z" desktop theme and set of wallpapers are also included.
However, support for the older 2.x branch of GNOME is still included; users have the option to install, in parallel, the MATE Desktop Environment, a fork of GNOME 2.32. MATE is described though as "at a really early stage in its development and isn't stable yet". The Mint developers are looking for more feedback and assistance in maturing the package. MATE is included on the DVD Edition of Linux Mint; CD Edition users can install it via the mint-meta-mate package.
New and updated packages include version 3.0.1 of the Totem movie player, LibreOffice 3.4.3, VLC 1.1.12, and version 7.0.1 of the Thunderbird email client and Firefox web browser; however, users will be upgraded to Firefox 8.0 and LibreOffice 3.4.4 upon running the Update Manager. The developers also note that Moonlight, the Linux implementation of Microsoft's Silverlight browser plug-in, has been removed due to a bug that caused Firefox to crash. The bug has been fixed in the project upstream and the current Moonlight plug-in can be downloaded from there.
Further information about the release, including a list of known issues, can be found in the release notes and on the New features in Linux Mint 12 page. As Linux Mint 12 is based on Ubuntu 11.10, the Ubuntu 11.10 release notes are also relevant for Mint users.
Linux Mint 12 is available to download or torrent as a CD or DVD ISO image for 32- and 64-bit systems from the project's site; a "No Codecs" version provides the same features as the standard version, but without including proprietary software, patented technologies or support for restricted formats.
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