📅 January 19, 2015
Having been thoroughly impressed with Linux Mint 17, I was curious to see the features offered in Linux Mint 17.1. Linux Mint 17.1 features more polish and better user interface design among many other improvements, so does it match those expectations?
I have been using Linux Mint 17.1 continually since its release in November 2014, and this is one of the best Linux distributions that I have used. Even though the new release is labeled “point 1,” do not let the 17.1 fool you into thinking that this is an insignificant bug-fix upgrade. It is more than that. The 17.1 updated versions of Linux Mint offer user interface enhancements, better system stability, and overall polish that make using Linux easier than ever before.
For the Long Term
Codenamed “Rebecca,” Linux Mint 17.1 uses the same Ubuntu 14.04 LTS repository that Linux Mint 17 does, not the newer 14.10 repository. Since 17.1 is an LTS release, it will be supported with security updates until 2019. (But by then, we will probably use a newer distribution anyway.)
Linux Mint 17.1 is available with four different desktop environments: Cinnamon, MATE, KDE, and Xfce. I have used all four, and Cinnamon is my favorite, which is what this short article is based upon.
Improved User Interface
When first used, Linux Mint 17.1 looks just like the previous Linux Mint 17 — until you begin exploring the system dialogs and interface. Everything is still familiar and located in the expected places, but they have received minor upgrades to make them easier to use. For example, the Networking dialog offers much improved control over the network settings.
As another example, the Backgrounds and Themes dialogs feature more customizations than ever before. In fact, all backgrounds from all previous Linux Mints are included along with a built-in slideshow engine.
Themes can be customized to a greater extent due to the intuitive interface. Folder colors, Cinnamon themes, icons, and borders can be mixed and matched easily without the need to install additional theme management tools.
More improvements abound throughout the operating system and might depend upon the desktop environment. For example, MATE has built-in Compiz support just like Linux Mint 10. This makes Compiz effect easier without the hassle of custom installation. However, in my experimentation, I found that Compiz still does not behave as smoothly as the pre-Ubuntu 11 distributions. This is the fault of Compiz, not Linux Mint, since I experience identical Compiz issues no matter the Linux distribution.
Overall, Linux Mint 17.1 feels more polished because of the user interface. The minor tweaks make a substantial difference.
Updated Software and Fixes
I have never encountered any deal-breaking issues with Linux Mint 17, and Linux Mint 17.1 is just as stable. Never a crash or graphics problem. Everything just works from the installation. Even newer kernels, such as 3.18.3 obtained from http://kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/, install and run well.
The only system freeze I have encountered involves one machine and link aggregation. For some reason, that one system sometimes freezes during file transfers using the bond0 interface. A system restart is required to unfreeze the system. This occurred in Linux Mint 17 and Xubuntu 14 also, but I mention it because it still happens with Linux Mint 17.1. This more likely a configuration issue than a Linux Mint issue since other machines using link aggregation run fine. I am still attempting to resolve this sporadic issue.
Linux Mint 17.1 Cinnamon includes the latest Cinnamon 2.4 and the improvements it brings. Under the operating system hood, the system seems smoother and slightly optimized in areas of usage. It is hard to explain exactly, but after using Linux Mint 17 for several months and then using Linux Mint 17.1, Linux Mint 17.1 feels more refined and slightly faster from an end-user’s perspective — as if the designers made Linux Mint more efficient.
And the hardware compatibility? Linux has always been a superb champion, and Linux Mint 17.1 continues the tradition by handling any hardware I connect to it no matter the obscurity — and it does so without the need to hunt for driver CD-ROMs or download drivers from manufacturer’s web sites. Linux just works.
Linux Mint 17.1 continues to run fast and snappy inside VirtualBox. From LiveCD preview to installation to actual usage, a virtual Linux Mint 17.1 performs brilliantly.
A great Linux distribution was made better! Linux Mint 17.1 is definitely my favorite so far, and this is the distribution that I would recommend to Linux beginners for its ease of use and reliability.
Much more can be said about the improvements made to Linux Mint 17.1 but much remains the same. For full details, www.linuxmint.com provides a list of features.
With improvements of this nature, the future of Linux Mint appears promising and gives Linux a stellar reputation. Highly recommended for existing Linux Mint 17 users.