Well, it’s just about that time again, Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) was just released and the developers over at Linux Mint are readying for the subsequent release of their flagship Main Edition, Linux Mint 11 (Katya). To kick things off, Clem, the founder and lead developer of Linux Mint, released a preview this morning over at their blog. Since then, a private 32-bit testing release has dropped in for the tester’s group over at the community site. For those wanting to keep tabs on the progress of the Linux Mint 11 development process, this will be an ideal place to do so.
Since we last heard, there have been some changes to the plans for Linux Mint 11 (Katya). Originally, Clem had indicated that Gnome 3 would be used without the Gnome Shell. However, now it looks as though Gnome 2.32 (the last stable version of Gnome 2, which was released in September 2010) will be used this time around. This may be a disappointment to some, but with the reported stability issues from people using the Gnome 3 private package archive (PPA) and the fact that neither Ubuntu nor Debian has brought Gnome 3 into their stable repositories yet, this is probably for the best (Gnome 3 can always be added after careful consideration with the Gnome 3 PPA!). Keep in mind, Gnome 3 is practically bleeding edge at this point, having just been released not even a month ago and it is a significant departure from 2.32. Also keep in mind (for what it’s worth), the seemingly significant amount of negative reviews it has received at this point (at least in relation to Gnome Shell).
Again, while it may be a bit of a disappointment not to have the shiny new Gnome 3 in Linux Mint 11, it seems to be the more reasonable decision at this point. It’s likely that Gnome 3 may be a better fit in six to seven months when Linux Mint 12 is released. Other than that, who knows what will have changed by the time Linux Mint 12 rolls around. I’ve mentioned this before, but I wouldn’t mind if Linux Mint picked up XFCE 4.8+ as the desktop environment for its Main Edition.
XFCE really does seem like the best fit for their desktop/personal computer orientation and general philosophy and I have the uptmost confidence that the Linux Mint developers could modify the native XFCE install with the mintMenu and other adjustments to get the general ease of use and polish up to what we’ve seen under Gnome 2 (not to mention that I have a soft spot in my heart for XFCE). Apart from that, in time maybe Unity or Gnome Shell will become more accepted, more mature, and be a non-issue come Linux Mint 12 or Linux Mint 13 LTS (at which point we can all look back and laugh at all the craziness that surrounded Unity’s and Gnome 3′s releases!). Whatever the case may be, I have faith and look forward to seeing what the future holds for the GNU/Linux desktop environments.
Aside from the fervor surrounding the Gnome 2.32 announcement, there seems to be a bit of unfounded concern that Linux Mint 11 will be little more than “Linux Mint 10.1″. While it’s definitely true that the Linux Mint team is taking a cautious and conservative approach this time around to make sure the standard Linux Mint fare meets the current high standards (in response to the significant upstream changes), that doesn’t mean a lot of positive changes have not also occurred upstream (Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Kernel, et al) that Linux Mint 11 will inherit.
Linux Mint 11 will feature the famous 200 line miracle Linux Kernel patch that is reported to drastically improve system responsiveness while multitasking. Firefox 4 will be included by default and OpenOffice will be replaced with an updated copy of LibreOffice. Xorg and alsa will both be updated and Nvidia and ATI drivers will also receive significant updates. This is just a very short list of the upstream changes that Linux Mint 11 will be gifted with. Directly from Linux Mint, the already rockin’ Update and Software Managers are being further improved and there are several additional changes listed on the preview that I wont restate here needlessly. Maybe I’ve become easy to satisfy, and have an unusual appreciation for reasonable and sane changes between releases, but it seems more likely that some people are at risk of missing the forest for the trees.
With that said, and on an internal, Ainer.org note, I have been waiting to write my upcoming Couch Potato guide, as well as waiting to update my RAID and SABnzbd+ guides (at very least) until Linux Mint 11 reaches release candidate or final status. So, for any that have been itching to get an updated SABnzbd+ guide for the 0.6 release, or and updated and expanded RAID 5/6 guide, stay tuned!