Linux Mint 18 won't include multimedia codecs

Also in today's open source roundup: DistroWatch reviews Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS, and you can now download the new Google Keyboard app for Android

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Linux Mint 18 won't include multimedia codecs

Linux Mint is one of the most popular desktop distributions around. And one of its most appealing features was that it shipped with multimedia codecs. But that practice will end with Linux Mint 18, and users will have to install the codecs themselves.

Richard Chirgwin reports for The Register:

The reasoning is straightforward: shipping with codecs involves a lot of work that other mainstream distributions don't bother with, instead leaving users to choose what they want post-install.

As the maintainers explain in this Friday post, pre-configuring codecs was "very costly and only slightly improved our distribution", so out they go, with the post providing instructions on codec installation.

Snipping the codecs out of the default images means the project will be able to cull its release cycle to four events with 12 ISO images to test in each event.

More at The Register

The news about Linux Mint 18 not including multimedia codecs caught the attention of Linux redditors, and they weren't shy about sharing their thoughts:

Two tone: "So like most other Ubuntu forks then? With the worse security and no codecs, what benefits to installing and using it are left?"

Reddaks: "I guess if you're really set on using Cinnamon and not able to install it yourself. And once someone finally makes an Ubuntu Cinnamon spin, we'll have that taken care of, too."

NastyaSkanko: "It says in the linked article, codecs can still be installed a) during the OS installation by checking the appropriate box, or b) installed after the OS installation by going into the setting and clicking "install codecs". I don't see how that's made installing"

Evotopid: "Why are people so emotional about a freaking distro installer?"

Asakpke: "Not a big deal to install but I don't like this change :( There are situations when you don't have the Internet."

Aelog: "Eventually someone decided to actually threaten them about their copyright infringements."

F22Rapture: "This change isn't happening because of patent/copyright threats though, it's because the Mint team has limited manpower and testing 8 different ISOs sucks."

More at Reddit

DistroWatch reviews Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS

The release of Ubuntu 16.04 LTS has also spawned the release of its various spins, including Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS. DistroWatch did a full review of Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS, and found it to be a positive experience.

Jesse Smith reports for DistroWatch:

My experiment with Ubuntu MATE got off to a rocky start due to an unusual hardware issue and less than stellar support for running the distribution in VirtualBox. However, with those initial hurdles aside, I was quite happy with the distribution. Ubuntu MATE 16.04 offers a very light and responsive desktop while still providing modern conveniences. The project runs on a range of hardware (common desktop and laptop computers, Raspberry Pi devices and PowerPC computers) and offers just about everything desktop users will probably want right from the start.

The new Welcome screen provides us with lots of friendly resources and I like the Boutique package manager, I think it is very newcomer friendly and Boutique makes it easy to access more powerful package manager front-ends. The snap package manager was a bit of a disappointment as the technology is still limited and not friendly, but at least we get to see a preview of what Canonical has planned with Snap packages.

I like the distribution's Control Centre and Deja Dup backup utility, both are easy to use and powerful. I am also happy to see ZFS gain more mainstream support. We may not yet be able to set up ZFS volumes from the Ubuntu MATE installer, but having the packages in the default repositories is a step in the right direction.

Despite my initial problems getting Ubuntu MATE installed and running smoothly, I came away with a positive view of the distribution. The project is providing a very friendly desktop experience that requires few hardware resources by modern standards. I also want to tip my hat to the default theme used on Ubuntu MATE. The desktop's darker backgrounds with white text and colourful icons were much easier on my eyes than the transparent or grey-on-grey themes some projects use. Seeing full, detailed icons rather than vague, abstract shapes was a nice touch too. I feel too many modern themes look like they are designed to intentionally cause eye strain and Ubuntu MATE's high-contrast, colourful look made it easier for me to read the menus and find the controls I wanted to access.

More at DistroWatch

The Google Keyboard app is available for Android

The new Google Keyboard app is now available in the Google Play store. The app promises to make one handed typing easier on larger Android phones.

Here's the official description of Google Keyboard from the Play store:

Google Keyboard makes typing fast and easy with gesture and voice. Glide through letters with Gesture Typing to enter words - just lift your finger to finish a word and gesture again, no spacebar required. Compose text on-the-go with Voice Typing. When you can't find the right words, express yourself with the perfect emoji. Works on all your Android devices.

Key features:

• Gesture Typing: Slide your finger from letter to letter. Completes a word before you've finished the gesture, especially useful when gesturing longer words.

• Voice Typing: Touch the microphone to dictate your text.

• Word completion suggestions, automatic corrections, and next-word prediction.

• Emoji: Press and hold Enter to add emoji in any app (Android 4.4+)
• Learns as you type: No need to manually add words to a personal dictionary. Type a word once and you can gesture type it or find it in suggestions next time.

• Syncs your user history across devices and improve suggestions.

More at Google Play

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