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07 November 2011, 09:46

Linux Mint 12 gets GNOME 3 with training wheels

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Linux Mint Screenshot
Zoom The Linux Mint GNOME 3 desktop with Mint GNOME Shell Extensions
Source: Linux Mint
The Linux Mint developers have announced that they will now be able to go to GNOME 3 whilst maintaining support for the 2.x branch of GNOME by being able to install, in parallel, the MATE Desktop Environment, a fork of GNOME 2.32. Just a few weeks ago, the developers were considering releasing two editions, one with GNOME 3 and another with GNOME 2.32, but the work that they have put in over that time has resulted in them announcing GNOME 3 support for the release of version 12 of their Linux distribution.

"We’re excited about the new technology but it’s important everyone feels at home," say the developers. So to provide users with a familiar experience on the GNOME 3 desktop, they have announced MGSE, Mint GNOME Shell Extensions, which add traditional desktop elements such as a start menu and window list at the bottom of the screen. Visible system tray icons, a media player indicator and other enhancements are also included in MGSE to provide a mix of old and new.

The Mint developers write in their blog post that GNOME 3 is a "a fantastic desktop" that is "shiny, elegant and modern looking" but not without what they consider problems in that it changes how people use their computer, it application-centric rather than task-centric and doesn't multi-task well. With MGSE, Linux Mint users will be able to use the familiar elements of their previous desktop, but they will also be able to selectively disable those elements "to get a pure GNOME 3 experience".

For users who want the original GNOME 2 experience, the MATE fork of GNOME 2.32 provides just that. The Mint developers have found clashes between MATE and GNOME 3 and are working to resolve those. They expect to be able to offer a parallel installation of both desktops when Linux Mint 12 ships.

Linux Mint 12, code-named "Lisa", is based on the current Ubuntu 11.10 "Oneric Ocelot" release. The Mint developers have not adopted Ubuntu's own Unity desktop which was introduced in Ubuntu 11.04, but had stuck with GNOME 2.32, though now the GNOME developers are no longer developing the GNOME 2 series. Linux Mint 12 is expected to appear towards the end of November.


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