Linux Mint 15 brings prettier desktop, new software and driver managers

The Linux Mint project yesterday unveiled version 15 of the increasingly popular desktop operating system, with upgrades to the MATE and Cinnamon desktop environments as well as new applications for managing software and drivers.

Code-named “Olivia,” Linux Mint 15 is based on the most recent version of Ubuntu and will be supported until January 2014. Linux Mint 15 is in the Release Candidate stage, with a final release coming later. Linux Mint also has a version based on Debian which is released on a “semi-rolling” basis while the Ubuntu-based version mirrors Ubuntu’s six-month release cycle.

“Linux Mint 15 is the most ambitious release since the start of the project,” the Mint announcement states. “MATE 1.6 is greatly improved and Cinnamon 1.8 offers a ton of new features, including a screensaver and a unified control center. The login screen can now be themed in HTML5 and two new tools, ‘Software Sources’ and ‘Driver Manager,’ make their first appearance in Linux Mint.”

Software Sources (or “MintSources”) replaces the previous software-properties-gtk for managing software repositories. The idea was to create a more user-friendly interface:

EnlargeLinux Mint

The new Driver Manager also simplifies the process of managing drivers. “Drivers are listed by package name, and their version are clearly stated (in the case of the Nvidia drivers you can therefore choose according to a particular version instead of wondering what ‘current’ or ‘updates’ really mean),” the Mint release notes state. “Devices from popular brands (Nvidia, ATI, Broadcom, Samsung…) are illustrated with an icon.”

Mint 15 has upgraded login screen applications supporting HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, and WebGL which “can be used to produce beautiful animated and interactive login screens.”

While Ubuntu comes with the Unity desktop environment, Linux Mint users can choose from the two primary options, Cinnamon and MATE. Each has improvements that made their way into Linux Mint 15.

In Cinnamon 1.8 the Nemo file manager’s “user interface was heavily modified and its behavior was adapted to integrate better with Cinnamon.” Cinnamon’s new Control Center replaces the GNOME Control Center, providing a new place to manage system settings.

The new version of MATE features improvements to the file manager, workspace switcher, notifications, and window management.

You can find all versions of Linux Mint available for download on the project website.