Linux Mint 15 Olivia MATE review

Last year, I installed and wrote a review for Linux Mint 13 Maya, the MATE version. It had worked really well on my laptop so even when Linux Mint 14 "Nadia" was released, I still kept using Maya. But after a year, I think its the time for an upgrade, and on the same occasion that Linux Mint 15 Olivia was recently out, I decided to download and install the new Linux Mint 15, MATE version.

Linux Mint 15 MATE overview

At first glance, the new Linux Mint is just like the older ones. Download and installation are simple and easy as usual.

Linux Mint 15 Olivia MATE review
The usual Linux Mint desktop

The default desktop of Linux Mint 15 MATE is still the same. You got the same wallpaper with the only difference is the number "15". The desktop is simple and clean with 2 icons by default. At the bottom is a gnome panel with a button on the left to launch the menu and some notification applets on the right.

The MATE menu still has the same default favorite applications just like in Linux Mint 13.

Linux Mint 15 MATE review


The new things

I didnt try Linux Mint 14 so these things are just new to me comparing to what I know from using Linux Mint 13.

One big change I noticed while trying Linux Mint 15 is the plymouth screen. It only has a big logo of Linux Mint now with some fading effect, the text is already removed.

Another big change is the login screen. The old login screen of Linux Mint was criticized of being ugly and tedious so it's nice to see a new one here. It really looks better now.

Linux Mint 15 login screen
New login screen

Besides these two big changes, one has to be quite meticulous to spot the other differences in this new release of Linux Mint.

The Caja file manager now has shortcuts in the left side bar. In Linux Mint 13, you will have to manually create the shortcuts yourself.

Caja file manager with shortcuts in the sidebar

I also saw some new icons for VLC and the volume control, I dont know whether these icons have been already used in Linux Mint 14.

Several bugs that I saw in Linux Mint 13 have been fixed in Olivia. The gnome dictionary now works right out of the box. The sound also works well and I didnt have to face the any problem at all when installing the proprietary driver for the ATI video  card.

And of course, the other obvious new things you will find in Linux Mint 15 are the new kernel and new versions of the applications.

The default applications

There is not too much to say about the default applications in Linux Mint 15. Its still the same bundle of apps that you find in the older releases. Linux Mint always offers all the basic applications you will need for the common tasks.

For surfing the net, you have the Firefox browser, version 20.0. Firefox in Linux Mint 15 still uses DuckDuckGo and Yahoo as the default search engines. You can change them to Google search easily but that will hurt the Linux Mint team a little bit since every time you use these search engines, the Linux Mint team will earn a little money. So you can just use "!g"  or "!i" before the search terms in DuckDuckGo to get the google result websites and images without removing DuckDuckGo.

Firefox 20.0 with DuckDuckGo and Yahoo as default search engines

Media codecs and flash are preinstalled so you can listen to music and watch youtube videos right out of the box here. In the MATE version that Im using, when you open Nautilus and hover the mouse over an audio file, the file will be played in the background, which is very nice to preview music.

The other apps are what we have already know, all are basic, popular apps. Pidgin, Xchat, Transmission and Thunderbird are the other apps for internet. VLC, Banshee, Mplayer are the media apps. GIMP and the LibreOffice bundle are for graphic and office works.

Performance

Nothing to complain about the performance of Linux Mint 15 MATE. At idle, it consumes over 300MB of RAM, a little higher than the minimalist distros but since my laptop has 4GB of RAM, thats not a problem.


Everything else works well right out the box. The propriety driver for my ATI card was installed smoothly without a problem. All the laptop function keys work well. No bugs or problems with the applications have been found so far.

Conclusion

Linux Mint deserves to be one of the most popular Linux distros. I have used Linux Mint 15 Olivia, the MATE version, for 2 days and am very satisfied with it. I havent tried the Cinnamon version but the MATE one is just excellent. I dont even have to tweak or change anything at all, the default settings are already good enough. In short, Linux Mint 15 MATE a great distro for those who want the Gnome2 experience with something that works out of the box with all the basic, necessary applications.
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