Linux Mint 16 (Petra): 16 Reasons to Upgrade

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Linux Mint 16 “Petra” is out! After a sort of disappointing release by Canonical (Ubuntu 13.10), at least for novelty freaks, all eyes were set on Linux Mint. After all, it is one of the most beloved distributions of the Linux community. Not only does Mint free the user from the new convergent desktop that Canonical is heavily touting, it also brings a complete ready-to-use desktop that a new user would absolutely love. Linux Mint, with its ease of use faintly reminiscent of the GNOME 2 desktop, ensures that user gets the best stable desktop without any gimmicks. If you've been on the fence whether to switch to Mint 16 or not, we have a few reasons for you to make the change. 

1. Cinnamon 2.0

As we said before, the Mint desktop is known for its reminiscence of the old GNOME 2 way of life. Its simplicity is perhaps its biggest strengths. You got a nice looking taskbar at the bottom and a clean start menu. The start menu opens up in a way similar to what we used to see in Windows XP. Not only does this keep the much-needed familiarity that the desktop needs, it also makes it easier for old-time users to consider Linux now that both Windows 8 and Ubuntu sport a "convergent" desktop. Cinnamon, thus, is the perfect sweet spot for desktop users who need a good-old desktop that just works as it should.

With Mint 16, we have Cinnamon 2.0. Cinnamon version 2.0 is a huge change as far as Linux Mint is concerned. Unlike previous editions, Cinnamon doesn't run on top of GNOME environment. Instead, it is now a completely independent desktop much like GNOME shell and Unity. That said, you wouldn’t find any incompatibilities thanks to this new change. Cinnamon still is compatible with GNOME and clutter libraries so that you can run your favorite applications without any inconsistencies.

Apart from getting its new identity, Cinnamon brings some cool window-management features to the table. You can now tile and snap the windows, much like you do on a Windows 8 or a Unity desktop. One of the best parts about this is the newly introduced edge-snapping feature. Inspired by snap functionality on Xbox One, it lets you keep an eye on two applications at once. So play your favorite movies while you work on that pending TPS report. To snap a window, all you have to do is drag the application towards the edge of the window et voila, you have two applications running side by side.

2. Improved Nemo

Linux Mint 16 also brings some improvements to Nemo, Mint's default file manager. Copying and moving files become easier, especially if you make use of bookmarks. Simply right click a file, hover over "copy to", and you'll be able to copy that file over to any of your bookmarks. Also, nemo-preview, a cool file-previewing extension makes its way into this update.

3. Updated Mate

Though Cinnamon is the star of the show, the lightweight MATE is often forgotten. Linux Mint 16 also comes with an updated version of the lightweight MATE desktop giving traditional desktop lovers something to look forward to. If you use an older computer, MATE is your best gateway into reviving the machine into a functional desktop.

4. Updated Apps

All your favorite apps are updated to their latest version in this release. Mint 16 uses the Ubuntu 13.10 package base thus allowing you to stay in sync with whatever new that crops up on the Ubuntu software scene. 

5. Faster Boot and Login

You'll find that Mint 16 boots quite faster than before with this new update. This is thanks to many under-the-hood improvements that developers worked on before releasing the update. One such improvement was the removal of btrfs partition scanning from the boot.  Not only is the boot faster, you'll also find that logging in takes a lot less time than before. This is due to intelligent tweaks like delaying the start of update manager so as to speed up session loading. 

6. Updated Themes

The Mint theme is updated in this version to bring in more consistency, especially across GTK2 and GTK3 applications. There are also new icons for several applications and a cool set of wallpapers. The release comes with 3 new themes: Linux Mint, (which is the default theme), Mint-X, and Cinnamon thus giving you a lot of eye candy to choose from.

7. Sound Effects 

While this is a minor addition, it's still noteworthy. System sounds, a feature that is found in almost all modern operating systems, makes its way to Mint. Upon performing certain tasks like minimizing or maximizing a window, you'll get a nice audio feedback. Minimizing a window, for example, makes a swoosh sound. Of course, if you don't like this feature, you can tweak it or disable it entirely.

8. New Kernel 

Linux Mint 16 is based on kernel 3.11 giving you the latest and the greatest of what the Linux world has to offer. Kernel 3.11 offers a boost in performance along with the addition of a new feature called zswap, which is a lightweight compressed cache for swap pages.

9. File Operations in System Tray

Though a minor addition, having to constantly keep an eye on file transfer operations is a big bummer. That's why Mint 16 brings system tray support for file transfer operations. This means that you can watch your favorite music video while copying a bunch of files in the background. Anytime you want to know about the progress of your files, simply glance over the new circular symbol in the system tray. Hovering over the icon gives you more detailed stats.

10. USB Formatting Tool

For those who use a lot of USB drives, formatting them becomes a way lot easier using the USB formatting tool. This simple application supports volume labeling and formatting between EXT4, NTFS, and FAT formats. And best of all, it is perfectly integrated with Nemo. 

11. Updated Login Screen

Mint 16 comes with Mint Display Manager (MDM) 1.4, an updated version of the desktop's default login screen. You'll find that the login screen now works much faster and is quite stable overall. The background is now animated and the user interface is further streamlined. 

12. Managing Users is Easier

One of the most important features to be upgraded in Linux Mint 16 is that of user management. If you use a computer that is operated by more than one users, then you'll simply love this feature. With this update, you'll be able to do a host of tasks right from the user applet in the system tray. Simply click on the face silhouette in the system tray and a new menu opens up allowing you to do tasks like shutting down the PC, locking the screen, restarting, and switching the users. There's also an option that says Account Details. Clicking on it will allow you to change your picture, password, and your name. In short, managing users becomes a two-step easy process that can be accessed from practically anywhere. Also, if you are a system administrator, you can change the users and the group settings right from the same menu.

13. Faster Software Manager

Mint's software manager is quite popular among its users. It is known for its ease of use, speed, and a clean user interface. Mint 16 takes Software Manager to a whole new level with speed refinements and UI improvements. The application store now takes lesser time to load, lesser time to search, and goes easier on your system. That's not all, to get a sneak preview of the application you're going to install, the Software Manager now shows multiple screenshots of the app. 

14. Associating Files with Applications is Easier
With Mint 16, you have better MIME type handling. Earlier versions of Mint made it slightly tedious for users to associate certain file types with applications. In Mint 16, this process has been made a lot easier. 

15. Faster Fullscreen Applications

Thanks to improvements in Cinnamon 2.0, fullscreen applications run way faster than they used to with Cinnamon 1.8. This is definitely going to make a lot of gamers and movie buffs quite happy.

16. Better release for gamers

As mentioned above, Mint 16 improves the quality of fullscreen applications. Furthermore, to the delight of hardcore gamers, Steam has been added not only to Mint's repositories but also to the Software Manager's featured section. Moreover, support for Steam has been improved.

You may download Linux Mint 16 "Petra" HERE.