This version of Linux includes many media features that work straight away including Flash and DVD playback
Linux Mint is a version of Linux that includes several useful capabilities that normally have to be added by hand such as Flash and DVD playback. It is also attractive to use.
The latest version, Linux Mint 12, includes Gnome 3 (that's the software used to display the desktop) with some customisations unique to Mint, new artwork and a new default search engine called DuckDuckGo. This search engine doesn't track information about search requests. Some of the search engines donate to Mint when they are used.
This DVD image can be used as a LiveDVD for giving Linux Mint a try without having to make any changes to your computer. This Live mode is also used to install Linux Mint and there is a link for this on the Desktop.
We used a blank hard disk for the test and found that we had to click on the Edit partitions button in order to prepare the blank disk for installation. This won't be a problem if you are installing onto a computer that already has an operating system on it. It has a simple checklist for disk space, power (don't try to install on a laptop on battery) and internet connection.
A clever touch is that it starts copying files before asking you for various settings such as location so it leaves less time waiting around for stuff to work.
The password tool checks for the security of the password and tells you how strong it is. Mint can be set to log in automatically and encrypt a home folder using that password.
The equivalent of the Start menu looks a little different with a bigger panel. This first shows the favourite programs that cover most of the tasks you are likely to want to use the computer for. The All applications button is at the top right rather than the bottom right on Windows but this leaves more space for the search bar. Using a single menu for applications, places and settings is easy for newcomers from Windows.
Impressively, Flash playback worked from installation with sites such as YouTube. DVD playback should also work as it has both the Totem player and VLC. All of the system files for DVD playback are also included in the installation.
There is an update manager that shows an icon in the Notification Area when updates are available. We would probably prefer something a little more obvious, at least for top priority updates.
The download link will take you to a webpage where you can choose where to download Mint from. This is fairly common practice in the open source world where the download is found on several different computers, known as mirrors. They will all have the same file so there isn't much to choose between them. It is normally best to pick a server
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