Home > Clement Lefebvre, DistroWatch, GNOME, GNU/Linux, linux, Linux, Linux Mint > Where desktop sanity prevails

Where desktop sanity prevails

November 7, 2011

While the knock-down drag-out debate over the great leap in desktop environment “developments” has raged over the last several months, Clement Lefebvre and the team over at Linux Mint have been taking a more sane and sound approach — mostly under the radar — to the whole desktop interface hubbub.

Thankfully this approach comes with enormously positive results: Desktop environment developments on tap for Linux Mint 12 could be an enormous boon for both Linux Mint itself and for other distros choosing to integrate some or all of these UI developments.

Lefebvre outlines in great detail what’s in store for Linux Mint 12 in a blog item posted Friday. After apologizing to folks for not being more forthcoming with the changes — “The reason we’ve been so silent is because we didn’t want to promise something we could not guarantee,” he writes — Lefebvre delves into an excellent solution to the whole desktop fiasco, which includes:

An improved GNOME 3 experience thanks to Mint GNOME Shell Extentions: To their credit, Linux Mint stuck to their GNOME 2.32 guns in Linux Mint 11. However, realizing that the writing was on the wall for the lack of future for GNOME 2.32 (more on this later), Lefevbre and the Linux Mint team put together a set of extensions — MGSE — which “makes it possible for you to use Gnome 3 in a traditional way. You can disable all components within MGSE to get a pure Gnome 3 experience, or you can enable all of them to get a Gnome 3 desktop that is similar to what you’ve been using before. Of course you can also pick and only enable the components you like to design your own desktop,” according to Lefevbre.

As an aside, if you’ll permit me a Captain Obvious moment, this is how things work in the FOSS realm. Ideally, extensions like MGSE can be picked up by GNOME and integrated into later updates or releases of the desktop environment, providing a lot more flexibility for users who may be using another desktop because of GNOME 3’s rigidity.

Check MATE: Not one to shy away from herculean tasks, the Linux Mint team will try — try is the key word here — to provide MATE, a fork of Gnome 2.32, on Linux Mint 12. Conflicts between GNOME 2 and 3 are many and profound, which makes this an arduous task to provide that GNOME 3 and MATE will coexist peacefully on your computer, switching freely between desktops from the login screen. But Lefevbre sounds hopeful: “Conflicts with Gnome and the migrations of applications and themes are easy to fix. So if MATE makes it to our liveDVD, it’s likely to come with some rough edges but with your feedback we’ll be able to solve most problems very quickly.”

Linux Mint 12 is expected to be released later this month, around the 20th. A release candidate could be available by the end of this week.

Numbers being what they are — mostly misleading on Distrowatch for any category past seven days (it’s a “lies, damned lies and statistics” situation, as outlined by Mark Twain, for any category other than a week) — it’s this kind of listening to the community, and responding in a positive manner, that makes Linux Mint a rising popular choice when it comes to Linux distros.

This blog, and all other blogs by Larry the Free Software Guy and Larry Cafiero, are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs CC BY-NC-ND license. In short, this license allows others to download this work and share it with others as long as they credit me as the author, but others can’t change it in any way or use it commercially.

(Larry Cafiero is one of the founders of the Lindependence Project and has just started developing software in his new home office. Watch this space.)

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  1. Earl
    November 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I can’t wait to try out MGSE!

  2. nightmare
    November 7, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    MGSE will be available for all distros. No big deal.

  3. November 7, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    probably a stupid question but… what do you exactly mean by:

    “Numbers [are] mostly misleading on Distrowatch for any category past seven days”


    • November 7, 2011 at 11:07 pm

      Distrowatch provides numbers of distro downloads for different ranges of time (7 days, 30 days, six months, etc.), and anything other than the the last 7 day average can be somewhat misleading. Average trending is hard to come by the way Distrowatch does things now. There are better ways that Distrowatch can count downloads to accommodate for spikes in numbers when distros are released and things like that.

      The only way to credibly use Distrowatch numbers is to pull the 7-day average every day for a period of time and make your own trending graph from their data.

      Having said this, Linux Mint’s numbers are somewhat off the chart, and it will probably be atop the 12-month average soon, but that may be misleading because eight months ago, they were not trending that high.

      I hope that helps.

  4. Glenn Thigpen
    November 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    It’s all about users and what they want. When KDE gave the users what they wanted, it was sailing high, but fell in grace when the KDE team gave the users what the KDE team wanted them to have. I loved the way KDE 3.x worked. From reports it seems that many of the gripes have been fixed, but the bad taste still remains for many, who went to other desktops and have not returned.
    Gnome seemingly did listen and learn and may be suffering the same fate. And then it is Canonical’s turn to not listen and learn. They were on top of the Linux distro heap, but may suffer a similar fate.
    Hopefully LinuxMint will continue to listen and learn and give the users what they wish. I am using the LMDE XFCE package and am well satisfied. I am rather utilitarian in nature and do not wish for a lot of eye candy. I hope the LM continues on their present course.
    And hopefully Slackware, Fedora, Mageia, and others will continue to offer other types of users what they want also.


  5. November 9, 2011 at 8:25 am

    At some point my Update Manager will tell me there is a new Linux Mint
    release waiting for me to download it. Not going to do it.
    My apps and security needs will still get updated with the Package
    Manager. Someday all the yea sayers and nay sayers will have finished
    with their wailing and lamentations, LtFSG will have covered the issue and
    maybe poked a little fun at the usual FUD mongers trying to earn a living
    as tech journalist. The truth will be in front of me and I will then know if
    I should click on that Upgrade button.

    Right now, Linux Mint 11 is running on all five machines in this house,
    it is not broken. It is secure.

    Peace, Bob

    • November 9, 2011 at 8:37 am

      Good point, Bob. An update may be available, but it’s up to you if you want to use it or not. Ah, freedom!

  1. November 7, 2011 at 10:41 pm
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