What's new in Linux Mint 6 Felicia KDE Community Edition?

Based on Kubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex, Linux 2.6.27, KDE 4.2 and Xorg 7.4, Linux Mint 6 "Felicia" KDE Community Edition comes with a brand new "Software Manager", FTP support in mintUpload, proxy support and history of updates in mintUpdate, mint4win (a Linux Mint installer for Microsoft Windows), and a lot of other improvements.

Linux Mint 6 "Felicia" KDE Community Edition

KDE 4.2 and Amarok 2.0

Highlights: The latest and shiniest KDE desktop and applications

Linux Mint 6 KDE Community Edition uses the brand new KDE 4.2:

The KDE menu

And it also comes bundled with Amarok 2.0:

Amarok 2.0

mintInstall 5, the "Software Manager"

Highlights: New offline frontend, support for multiple portals, versions information

The content of the Linux Mint Software Portal can now be browsed offline and directly from the desktop thanks to a brand new frontend developed for mintInstall. The frontend can be used to quickly browse through available software, view screenshots and user reviews, sort by various criterias of popularity, check installed and available versions and eventually install software.

mintInstall 5 from a simple installer to a full software manager

The frontend uses XML meta-data to synchronize its content with the online portal and also has the ability to support additional 3rd party portals if other portals decide to support our XML format in the future.

mintUpdate 3, a brand new Update Manager

Highlights: New GUI, history of applied updates, proxy support, improved stability

The Linux Mint Update Manager "mintUpdate" was refactored and its graphical interface was redesigned from scratch.

mintUpdate 3 brings numerous bug fixes and a brand new GUI

A new view was added to browse through the history of applied updates.

History of applied updates in mintUpload 3

Proxy support was added in the preferences.

Proxy support in mintUpdate 3

Many bug fixes and minor improvements were also introduced:

  • Log files are now saved in /tmp so they don't take unnecessary space in /usr/lib and in /home anymore.
  • The Internet detection was improved and the domain used for the ping is now configurable.
  • The routine which checks for the updates (called checkAPT) was improved and so was the way it communicates with mintUpdate.
  • The status reporting was improved. Logs are now clearer and show more information. In the GUI, status is now also reported via a status bar.
  • The configuration moved from /usr/lib/linuxmint/mintUpdate/config to /etc/linuxmint/mintUpdate.conf and is now persistent (it won't be affected by package updates).

mintUpload 2, with FTP support

MintUpload is the little tool which pops up when you right-click on a file and select "upload". Until now mintUpload was mostly used as a way to share files by uploading them to a public place somewhere on one of Linux Mint's servers and by sending the corresponding URL to friends and family members (or to anybody really..). Some people also bought Mint-Space accounts and were able to set up mintUpload to add an additional upload service to it. These people could then share files in a similar manner but instead of using a public storage space and being limited to 2 days, they could use their 1GB of Web space and have their files kept there indefinitely.

Initially mintUpload was designed with novice users in mind, people who wanted to share large files with each others and who didn't know what FTP meant or where to get free web space to store them. After gathering some feedback, we've come to realize that mintUpload also got popular with experienced users, people who even had their own FTP accounts and wanted a quick way to upload files to it without launching an FTP client. So we added FTP support to MintUpload by defining another type of service and letting the user define his own FTP services.

Upload files to your FTP server with one click of the mouse!

With mintUpload 2 you can now define "upload services" by adding files in /etc/linuxmint/mintUpload/services/ or in ~/.linuxmint/mintUpload/services/

Here's an example of an FTP upload service:

    type=FTP
    name=My own FTP service
    host=myhost.com
    user=myusername
    pass=mypassword
    path=myuploads

The "path" is optional, it lets you define where within your FTP service you want the files to be uploaded. In this example we're not uploading them in the root folder, but within a directory called "myuploads".

MintUpload will use any service defined with that format and saved as a file within /etc/linuxmint/mintUpload/services/ or ~/.linuxmint/mintUpload/services/

mintNanny - Minimal parental control

One of the features Mint has been lacking as a family desktop is the ability for parents to prevent their children from accessing certain websites. Parental control is easy to set up in Microsoft Windows and we got a lot of feedback from people who migrated to Linux and who missed this feature. Of course one could install DansGuardian and a few other packages but it's not easy, it usually requires the use of a proxy and it's also quite complex to configure. For Linux Mint 6 we came with a compromise and we decided to implement a minimal set of features but to make it as trivial to use as possible. So here comes mintNanny.

mintNanny will block sites you really don't want to see!

MintNanny is a small graphical interface which lets you "block" domain names. You can't block domains for particular users or particular programs, the block is for everyone on the computer and for any protocol. When you "block" a domain in mintNanny it basically adds an entry to your /etc/hosts file and defines that domain's IP address as being 0.0.0.0. This results in your computer not being able to communicate with the domain anymore. So if there are domains you really don't want your children to have anything to do with, put them in mintNanny.

Notes:

  • Remember that mintNanny blocks domain names, not IP addresses so if your children are smart enough to ping the domain from another computer they'll be able to access it via its IP address.
  • Certain domains use subdomains and redirect to them so you might have to block them to. For instance if you want to block somewebsite.com you might also have to block www.somewebsite.com. As a rule of thumb try to access the website after you block it to see if your block was efficient enough.
  • Firefox caches DNS resolutions to speed things up. This means that it remembers where a website is until you close it. In other words, after you block a website, you'll have to restart Firefox.

Command line goodies - search, apt content and apt contains

A new command called "search" was introduced to let you search for files containing a particular keyword. The command searches recursively, it highlights the results in red with their corresponding filenames and line numbers and it can even search through binary files.

The content of a package can now be shown by typing "apt content packagename" and you can list the package providing a particular file by typing "apt contains filename".

For more information on these three new command, read the following blog entry: http://www.linuxmint.com/blog/?p=346

mint4win - A Windows installer for Linux Mint

If you run Microsoft Windows, insert the liveCD and a program called mint4win will launch automatically. This program is an installer for Linux Mint which runs on Windows. It installs Linux Mint within a file on one your partitions and it doesn't touch your existing partitions. It also sets up a Windows multiboot for you.

Install Linux Mint from within Windows.

Of course the performance won't be as good as if the system was installed in its own partition but if you just want to give Linux Mint a try this is a very good option.

You can remove mint4win from the Add/Remove applications tool within Windows and this will remove Linux Mint and restore your boot exactly as it was.

Note: Mint4win is based on Wubi.

Upstream Improvements

Kernel, system and X server

Linux Mint 6 Felicia comes with linux 2.6.27-7, and Xorg 7.4. Read this article for an overview of the new kernel.

Dell's DKMS was included by Ubuntu and allows modules to be automatically rebuilt when the kernel gets upgraded. For more information about DKMS read this article.

On the desktop

Gimp 2.6 features a much nicer interface.

The ClamAV antivirus is now officially supported by Ubuntu and should be kept up to date within the repositories.

Other improvements

Linux Mint now uses its own LSB information and no longer identifies itself to applications as Ubuntu. This can potentially break compatibility with some 3rd party tools. If you experience problems with this, let us know and we will contact the appropriate developers.

Meta-packages were introduced within the repositories to reflect the default selection of packages for the various Linux Mint editions. The artwork now also comes as a package.

The Linux Mint project as a whole is going through important changes. The new focus is given to R&D and the design of desktop utilities more than to the base system itself. The project aims at automating the porting of its technology on top of the current base in an effort to rebase on every single Ubuntu release instead of following its own branch since the initial fork of Edgy. Since the Edgy/Barbara fork, Linux Mint 6 Felicia is the first release of Linux Mint Main Edition to be built directly from Ubuntu and not from the preceeding Linux Mint release. The advantages of this are to guarantee an even higher compatibility with Ubuntu, to speed up the process of jumping from one release to another, to automate the process of porting our technology (which can then be used to "mintify" Ubuntu or other distributions) and above all to guarantee that most of our time goes into desktop innovations and not in the actual releases themselves.

A technology called "xdg-user-dirs" is now used for the home folders instead of mintDesktop. This means home folders no longer come with emblems but they are localized and bookmarked.