Y'all should know by now that I'm a Linux user. I write in Linux, I game in Linux, heck, my house has been Microsoft-free for about three years and I've never looked back. (The only exception being my day-job laptop. I'm stuck with Windows there.) The only thing that really bugs me about Linux is the uncertainty of upgrades.
I've been using Linux Mint for a while now. Since version 8, I believe, when I changed over from Ubuntu. I find Linux Mint more user friendly than just straight Ubuntu and this is important. I'm a very plug-and-play kind of person. I don't want to sit around installing drivers and slogging away at software installs. I want to plug it in, turn it on, and have it work. When I installed Linux Mint 8 for the first time, it did just that.
Change is inevitable. It's a fact of life in the tech industry, and so each time a new version of Linux Mint is released, I try it out. Well, when I installed Linux Mint 11, I was disappointed. Something happened between version 10 and 11 that caused a very odd, very annoying bug with the window manager. I'm not sure if anyone else saw this bug, but it drove me up the wall. Suddenly, a system that was working and stable became a system that was annoying and often cumbersome to work on. This was not my Linux.
So of course, when 12 came out, I hesitated. I'd learned to live with the annoying window manager bug, and now I was presented with a new version, with possibly a new set of bugs. I'd have to learn to live with it all over again.
I finally built up the courage (and got annoyed enough with 11) to download and install version 12, and here's my experience. The download went smoothly and completed in exactly the amount of time you would expect a 1GB file to take. (I set it to download overnight.) I always install my Linux system from a USB stick. It's faster than a CD or DVD by a long shot. I can have a Linux system installed and working in under a half hour using this method.
There was one catch. I put the image on my USB stick using the system disk creator like I always do and rebooted. And got an error.
An hour, and a struggle with various tools and methods and several google searches later, and I find out that the error is due to a slight change in the ISO format for version 12. If I boot from the stick and just type "live" and hit enter when the error appears, the system boots.
Okay, so I'm off and running. I had the system installed in under 30 minutes, and what's this I see? A new interface. I knew there was something new coming. Loads of people in the Linux community have been up in arms about a new window manager. I was used to the Mint 11 system, but 12 is all shiny stuff.
Unity. The new default window manager in Mint 12 is Unity.
I read a lot of news. I've heard about it, seen screen shots, and read enough to know that this system is one of the most controversial systems to hit Linux in all its years. Why?
Because it's different, is the best reason I can muster.
One week in, and I'm not bothered by it. There's a learning curve for sure, but if you're patient, you'll find there is definitely something to this system. It's pretty and runs nice and fast on my three-and-a-half-year-old system. It's functional too. I have an easy time finding what I'm looking for and it strikes me as a great system for a beginning user. Of course, I'm far from a beginning user, and maybe that's the community's problem with it too? I don't know.
I have two real gripes, neither of which are show-stoppers. First, I have not yet found a way to set up a screen saver. This isn't a big deal, but would be nice to have. I probably just need to install a certain package. Second, I haven't found a way to customize the main menu, or setup shortcuts on the taskbars. This is important to me. I want to be able to get to my frequently used applications fast, and this means having them within one click.
All told, neither of these issues will stop me from using it. Linux Mint 12 is otherwise a good, stable system that any user can enjoy. Now back to my writing, so I can get a move on with Legacy, and if you're looking for something to read this week, you can check out The Time Weaver. Written, edited, illustrated, formatted and published entirely in Linux with open source technologies. It's pulling in some great reviews!
Update (2012-04-17): Okay, my bad. As the *cough* helpful commenter "fail" pointed out, Linux Mint 12 does not have Unity. It is Gnome 3. Thanks for pointing out my mistake in a constructive and considerate way.
Thanks for reading!
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