Linux Mint 12 to Blend GNOMEs 2 & 3

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 04, 2011

Clement Lefebvre posted a preview of the upcoming Linux Mint 12 "Lisa" today. The post listed several noteworthy announcements. However, it wasn't the news itself that was the most notable. What seemed most noticeable to me was that Mint possesses what Ubuntu is struggling to recapture and what openSUSE and Fedora are duking it out to earn: user excitement.

Canonical is trying to recapture the blogger excitement they once enjoyed. openSUSE is trying so hard to gin up some excitement for their upcoming 12.1 release and Fedora is trying to find some for version 16 that just went gold, but again, with lackluster results. I was beginning to think users are just burnt out. And change isn't such a good word anymore.

But one need to look no further than the Linux Mint project to find where some of the excitement's been hiding. Today's post is just another example in an ever increasing long line. Mint 11 stuck with GNOME 2 when everyone else was moving on to 3. And apparently a lot of users approved.

However, distributions have to move on. No matter where developers lead us, we must follow. Alas, so must Mint; even though Mint developers aren't sure they really agree with the philosophy or execution of the new GNOME desktop. This is why they've developed Mint Gnome Shell Extensions "that make it possible for you to use Gnome 3 in a traditional way."

The main features in MGSE are:

● The bottom panel
● The application menu
● The window list
● A task-centric desktop (i.e. you switch between windows, not applications)
● Visible system tray icons

Screenshot showing the blend of old and new

The GNOME 3 fallback mode will be retained and Mint developers are working on MATE, a GNOME 2 fork, for Mint 12. They are hopeful it will be ready for release. Developers are soliciting feedback for 12 and so far 70 have replied. Clem also stated that, "Mint is the 4th most popular desktop OS in the World, with millions of users, and possibly outgrowing Ubuntu this year."

So, if you're wondering where the excitement is, I think I found it at Linux Mint.