Review: For a sweet desktop, try Mint with Cinnamon

Linux Mint 17 offers long-term support; emerges as open source alternative for Windows XP users

If Red Hat’s specialization is enterprise application, development and hosting, and Ubuntu’s is anything that moves, then Linux Mint is carving only one niche: desktop dominance.

Linux Mint 17 continues in a line of Linux desktop-focused releases, and in testing we found it’s become more mature. Like the other two Linux distributions we recently tested, Linux Mint is supported for a longer term — five years from April 2014. Linux Mint gives you a choice of user interfaces, including Gnome-branch Cinnamon, its half-brother Mate, or the lightweight Xfce version.

Other pertinent points: These UIs can be downloaded in either 32- or 64-bit versions. You’ll need a gig+ of user memory for a smooth installation. Mint runs on Intel CPUs only, so no playing around on ARM-based tablets for now.

Mint is based on Ubuntu, but there’s also a version of Linux Mint 17 based on Debian Linux (LMDE). This version uses rolling updates, which, while being a secure way to keep an OS protected, might be disconcerting for some.

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