I have some good and bad news for you. The good news is Linux Mint 12 is shipping with Gnome 3 which means you will get to you the ‘best of the breed’ desktop environment. The bad news is as we were expecting that Linux Mint will maintain the same user experience of Gnome was not entirely true.
Still the Linux Mint team has tried its best to retain as much functionality as possible -- thanks to Gnome shell extensions that I am writing about in the Fedora review. Special thanks goes to Ron Yorston, who has done a lot of work to create extensions to offer Gnome 2 functionality to Gnome 3 Shell, something Ubuntu is dearly missing.
Linux Mint is using quite a lot of these extensions. Some important extensions are Bottom Panel, which creates a bottom panel so that you can see your currently running apps without having to dance your mouse around to find which apps are running.
It has also moved the clock to the right using the ‘move-clock’ extension. One area where Linux Mint team has done extra work is Linux Mint Menu which offers an experience similar to the previous Lancelot Menu that Linux Mint was using.
What Linux Mint Users Will Miss
What you will miss. You will miss the ability to add any item to either or the panels -- top or bottom. But there is an extension to do that which I will be talking about in my Fedora review.
Default Search Engine
Default search engine has always been a pain in the neck for Linux Mint users. Earlier it came with a custom Linux Mint search which was not at all polished an turned users off. My wife disliked the ‘ugly’ landing page and ‘unreliable’ search results so much that I had to spend half an hour just to find ways to remove it.
Yes, I do want to support Linux Mint financially as I don’t pay anything for the OS, but it should have been equally easy for an ordinary user to change the search engine without needing the help pf a ‘techie’. Search is one of the basic things a user does and considering Linux Mint’s target audience is the ‘typical’ Windows users, it should have been easier. That’s one of my gripes with Linux Mint.
How To Add Google To Linux Mint 12
If you are one of those who do want to support Linux Mint project without losing your user experience, I would suggest please visit this page and make a donation every time you install a new version of Linux Mint. At the moment Linux Mint is using DuckDuckGo, which I like quite a lot and the search results are good as well. If you have no ‘special’ priorities for Google I will heavily recommend using DuckDuckGo.
However, if you do want to use Google, just click on this link and then go to the search box and from drop down menu select Google.
If this option is going to say with Linux Mint I trust it will remove the only gripe I have with Linux Mint. I wish Linux Mint could find a way to sign a deal with Google, where they get paid for using Google as the default search engine, just the way Mozilla Firefox has a deal with them. That said, DuckDuckGo is a very good search engine and you may want to stay with it.
Conclusion: I am not a full time Linux Mint user. I switch between Ubuntu, Fedora, openSuse and Linux Mint so much that I am no more used to anything in particular. So I have no idea what a typical Linux Mint user will be missing other than the fact that you can’t have docks, or add items to panels anymore. That said, I found Linux Mint to be taking the full advantage of the goodies that Gnome 3 has to offer. With all those useful shell-extensions, I believe Linux Mint has done a great job. I think Linux Mint is the one distro which will make users love Gnome 3 without even realizing it.
I loved it so far.