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Linux Mint 12 RC1 adds GNOME 2.x-like extensions to GNOME 3.2
Nov. 14, 2011

Linux Mint 12 ("Lisa") RC1 was released, based on Ubuntu 11.10 and Linux 3.0. RC1 offers GNOME 3.2 -- but augments it with "MGSE" extensions designed to let users customize a GNOME 2.3x-like desktop environment -- and Mint also supplies a GNOME 2.x clone called MATE.

In Linux Mint 11, the Ubuntu-based distribution could have adopted the new GNOME 3.0 or Ubuntu's Unity desktop, but instead stuck with GNOME 2.3.2. While this pleased many Mint users who were unhappy with GNOME 3.0 -- and also attracted some Ubuntu users who disliked Unity -- it raised concerns that Linux Mint would be left behind as a retro distribution out of touch with new desktop Linux developments.

In Linux Mint 12, available here in a pre-release RC1 version built on Linux 3.0 and the latest Ubuntu 11.10, the Mint project has attempted to be all things to all people with three alternative desktops. First users can move up to GNOME 3.2, a version found in Fedora 16 and OpenSUSE 12.1.

In addition to providing GNOME 3.2, Linux Mint 12 offers the controversial release with "MGSE" (Mint Gnome Shell Extensions), pictured at top. This desktop layer sits atop GNOME 3.2 and "makes it possible for you to use Gnome 3 in a traditional way," says the Mint project. "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."

The project has also included an early version of the MATE project's MATE fork of GNOME 2, which is said to be compatible with GNOME 3.x. With MATE, Mint users can run both GNOME 3.2 and MATE on the same system, says the Mint project.

Other major new features in Mint 12 RC1 include a new theme called Mint-Z, featuring new artwork and backgrounds, as well as a new default search engine called Duck Duck Go.

For the full report, see our Linux Mint 12 RC1 coverage on LinuxDevices.

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