What's new in Linux Mint 8 Helena?

Based on Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala, Linux 2.6.31, Gnome 2.28 and Xorg 7.4, Linux Mint 8 "Helena" features a lot of improvements and the latest software from the Open Source World.

Linux Mint 8 "Helena"

Featured improvements in this release: OEM installation, possibility to ignore updates, configurable menu places, multiple selection in the Software Manager, new system tray File Uploader with support for drag and drop and mutiple files uploads.

Menu improvements

Configurable places: In the preferences, you can define your own places. For instance a "Music" button pointing to your Music directory. Any places you define appear in the "Places" section of the menu.

Define custom places...

... and access them from the menu

In the preferences, you can also enable or disable any button from the "System" and "Places" sections.

System menu items

Lock screen button: A "Lock Screen" button was added to the "System" section of the menu.

New Lock Screen button

Software manager improvements

Visual improvements: The graphical interface is now easier to use and it shows more content. The layout was changed and by putting the screenshots in the corner of the application you can now see more software and more reviews at once.

A better layout for the Software Manager

Packaged updates: You don't need to manually refresh the Software Manager anymore. When new data is available you get notified by the Update Manager of a new version of "mintinstall-data".

APT status: The Software Manager is now aware of the APT status of each application. Among other things, this means you can now see the size and version number of each application and whether they're installed on your system or not.

Software removal and multiple selection: The Software Manager now allows you to mark multiple applications for installation and/or removal. A new apply button confirms your choices and processes them all at once.

Update manager improvements

Visual improvements: A few enhancements make the update manager look better than ever.

In the view menu you can now define the visible columns in the list of updates. You can also resize the update manager to make it look exactly the way you want. It will remember its size and the columns you chose and it will look the way you defined.

In this example, the update manager was made smaller and shows only the name and size of the updates

When visible, the update manager now uses Synaptic to refresh the list of updates. As a result you'll see progress information on the screen.

Manually refreshing the update manager now shows progress information

If a problem occurs, the error message now appears in the main window and not only in the logs. This makes it easier for you to detect if there's something wrong with your repositories.

Software sources: In the edit menu, you can now access the "Software Sources" tool.

You can decide which repositories you want to use.

Enable and disable repositories easily

And you can also improve performance by selecting among the Linux Mint mirrors available.

Find the best package mirror

Ignored packages: In the preferences, you can define a list of packages for which you do not whish to receive updates. You can also use wildcard characters to define groups of package updates you want to ignore.

Define the packages you don't want updates for, no matter what level we assign to them

Other improvements:

  • The detection of updates is now faster and more reliable.
  • Errors are better handled and now appear in the main window.

A brand new Upload Manager

Highlights: Multiple uploads, Upload manager, systray and drag and drop support

What was previously called mintUpload is now split into two applications: The Upload Manager and the File Uploader.

From the Upload Manager you can define upload services using the following protocols: FTP, SFTP and SCP.

Define your upload services from the Upload Manager...

In the screenshot above for instance, we've defined two upload services: An FTP service to our website server, and an SFTP service to access a server from work.

...access them from the File Uploader sitting in your system tray...

When you launch the File Uploader, your upload services become available from your system tray. You can simply click on the services you want, and upload zones will appear on your screen.

...drag and drop the files you want to upload.

Drag and drop files into these upload zones and they get uploaded to their respective upload services.

Multiple files uploads are supported. Support for directories and the legacy Mint-Space protocol will be added at a later stage.

Artwork changes

Linux Mint 8 Helena comes with up to date version of the Gnome Colors icon theme and the Shiki gtk theme.

Firefox comes bundled with the Stylish add-on which makes it integrate better with the overall theme.

The default background is called "Fresh" and it was designed by Zwopper (who also designed the default background for Linux Mint 7 "Gloria").

Various upstream improvements in the gtk engines used by Linux Mint make widgets, and buttons in particular, look better than they did before.

Other improvements

Community editions now use their own repositories and are now able to pin packages from the main edition.

Dependencies were simplified and the Mint tools were made more modular. In particular they can now be installed on Ubuntu without any configuration.

The branding used in the Mint tools was removed to make it easier for other distributions to use them and to give a more professional look to the desktop.

An OEM installation can now be launched from the liveCD boot menu.

Inxi buttons were included in xchat to make IRC support easier. The #linuxmint channel was also split into #linuxmint-help and #linuxmint-chat to separate chatting and support and give people seeking for help a dedicated channel. Xchat now autoconnects to both channels.

MintCast is now registered by default as a podcast in Rhythmbox.

Gnome-Do was initially introduced to raise people's awareness about the project and is now removed from the default software selection.

Upstream Improvements

Linux Mint 8 Helena comes with a linux 2.6.31 kernel.

Gnome 2.28 comes with noticeable improvements in Bluetooth support, DVD playback and PulseAudio integration.

The Ubiquity installer features graphical improvements and support for the ext4 filesystem.

Ubuntu 9.10 also introduced improvements in the boot sequence and notifications.