Linux Mint 13 rallies behind Gnome

The newly released Linux distribution comes in two variants, Cinnamon and Mate, both of which use Gnome

With the new version of Linux Mint, released Wednesday, the developers behind the open source Linux distribution have put all energies behind Gnome, offering two versions of the desktop interface.

Linux Mint 13 gets back to basics

One version of the Linux Mint distribution, called Mate, is based off the widely used Gnome 2 desktop interface. The other, called Cinnamon, runs a variant of Gnome 3, which offers more cutting-edge features, such as support for 3D acceleration. Both versions will be supported until April 2017.

"These two desktops are among the best available, they're perfectly integrated within Linux Mint and represent great alternatives to Gnome 2 users," wrote Linux Mint founder and lead developer Clement Lefebvre in a blog post announcing the release.

Last year, Canonical dropped the Gnome interface for its Ubuntu Linux distribution in favor of Unity, which the company's engineers felt could be used more easily across a wider range of devices, such as television sets.

Linux Mint 13 -- codenamed Maya -- is built from Ubuntu 12.04, but bypassed Unity, which has been criticized for being buggy and difficult to use.

The Mate distribution builds upon Gnome 2, which could be called the classic version of Gnome. It is best suited for those users who want a stable platform with well-known features. It can run the many applications with interfaces built with the GTK2 toolkit. The developers behind Gnome have moved to work on Gnome 3, though Linux Mint will maintain this code base, under the name of Mate, and even add more enhancements over time, according to the Linux Mint site.

The Cinnamon distribution is based on the new version of Gnome that is still being developed, although the Linux Mint developers are adding additional features here as well. Cinnamon features a number of different themes and add-ons that could speed productivity. The Linux Mint people, however, admit that Cinnamon, as well as the underlying Gnome 3, is not as stable as Mate.

In addition to the choices in desktop UIs, Linux Mint also features a number of other changes. This is the first version to include MDM (MDM Display Manager), a console for setting and even scripting the display settings. With this release, Linux Mint has also switched the default search engine for the browser to Yahoo. Linux Mint is funded, in part, from ad revenue generated by user searches. Previously, the distribution used DuckDuckGo as the primary search service.

Created by Lefebvre to be an easy to use version of Linux for the home, Linux Mint is currently the most widely used Linux distribution today, according to an informal ongoing poll by Linux distribution news site DistroWatch.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is

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