New features in Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon

Linux Mint 17 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2019. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop experience more comfortable to use.

Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" Cinnamon Edition

Update Manager

The Update Manager was hugely improved.

It shows more information, it looks better, it feels faster, and it gets less in your way. It no longer needs to reload itself in root mode when you click on it. It no longer checks for an Internet connection or waits for the network manager and it no longer locks the APT cache at session startup.

The UI was improved, the icons were modified a bit and the changelog retrieval is now much faster and more reliable.

The Update Manager

A new "type" column was added to differentiate between traditional updates, security updates, backports and romeo updates.

Security updates can now bypass safety levels and two new options were added for you to decide if they should always be visible and if they should be selected. By default these options are respectively set to True and to False.

History of Updates

The history of updates used to only cover the updates performed by the Update Manager. This is no longer the case. They now feature all updates performed on the system, whether it's with the Update Manager, apt-get, aptitude or even directly with gdebi or dpkg.

Available Kernels

A new section of the Update Manager presents all the available kernels. The development team will use this section to give you relevant information about new kernels, what they fix, what they break, so you can decide which kernel is right for you.

Driver Manager

The Driver Manager is now able to install drivers without a connection to the Internet.

The Driver Manager

When offline, the Driver Manager asks you to plug in the installation medium and proceeds to mount it as a temporary package repository.

It's now much easier for instance to install Linux Mint on laptops equipped with Broadcom wireless chipsets, and you no longer need an an ethernet cable.

Login Screen

MDM was refined, and it received new features and important bug fixes.

Multi-monitor support was improved:

  • You can now configure which of your monitors should be used as the primary monitory by MDM
  • You can now define a background color or a background picture no matter what greeter you're using

The HTML greeter now comes with HiDPI support.

The default login theme features the following improvements:

  • It is now possible to input a username which is not present in the list of users
  • The background animation uses less CPU usage

MDM is also now able to detect your session and your language and it preselects them by default.

Finally, MDM comes with a recovery command. If you find yourself unable to log in, you can press CTRL+ALT+F1 to log in the console, and type "mdm-recovery". This command gives MDM a safe configuration, it switches it to the GTK greeter, enables the logs and restarts your computer.

Language Settings

A new "Language Settings" tool was introduced. It replaces "Language Support" as well as the Cinnamon "Regional Settings" module and unifies locale management in Linux Mint and LMDE for Cinnamon, MATE and Xfce.

Language Settings

The tool makes it easy to select a language, to apply it system-wide, and to install additional languages on the system.

Software Sources

The "Software Sources" configuration tool received a few UI and usability improvements.

Software Sources

A warning was added against the use of the "backport" and "romeo" components of the Linux Mint repositories. For each of these, a confirmation dialog explains in detail what they are, who they are for and when and why they should or shouldn't be activated.

Welcome Screen

The welcome screen was redesigned and no longer uses webkit. It uses less resources and launches much faster.

The welcome screen

Cinnamon 2.2

Better Looking Settings

The graphical interface for System Settings was refined and settings now look more consistent. Settings are better categorized and separated into sub-sections.

System Settings

This allowed us to remove the switch between normal and advanced modes and to show all settings all the time.

Screensaver and Power Management

The settings for the Screensaver and for Power Management were very confusing. Some settings were absent, others weren’t presented clearly and some were described in a way that led to believe they worked differently than they actually did.

Lock Screen settings

Power management and screensaver settings were completely revamped in 2.2 with a clear separation between what relates to the Lock Screen and what belongs to Power Management.

Brightness settings were also improved, missing settings added and the overall presentation was reviewed.

Date and Time Settings

The original date and time module was brought back, using policy kit and system-wide date setting.

Date and Time settings

Options such as “Use 24 hour clock” were also added and apply not only to Cinnamon’s calendar applet and clock desklet, but also to the screensaver.

Hot Corners and HUD

Cinnamon’s snapping functionality and workspace management are pretty unique. They might be too advanced for novice users but they’re great once you’re used to them. With that in mind, it’s important to raise the user’s awareness about these tools but without getting in his/her way, and it’s also important not to confuse the user by activating them by accident.

The HUD is now less intrusive and should only appear if you drag a window really close to the edge. As cool as snapping can be, you don’t need to be reminded about it every time you’re a bit slow moving a window around.

Hot Corners were given better settings. For each corner you can now define whether to react on hover, on icon click, or on both.

Hot Corner settings

The hot corner module is also less confusing and more discoverable than before. This allowed us to disable the top-left hot corner by default, which was often triggered by accident by people who weren’t familiar with it.

Applet Roles and Systray Icons

Previous versions of Cinnamon came with a hardcoded list of systray icons to hide. Icons such as the one for Network Manager, or Banshee were typically hidden as their functionality was already covered by the network and sound applets.

In Cinnamon 2.2, this list is gone and each applet is able to register “roles”, i.e. to tell Cinnamon which functionality they take care off, and thus, which systray icons should be hidden when they are running.

These new roles enable Cinnamon to dynamically show relevant systray icons when applets are removed, or to dynamically hide them when applets are added.

Say you remove the network applet, well… you’ll see the Network Manager GTK systray icon appear. Say you put the network applet back in the panel, the Network Manager systray icon will then disappear.

Menu Improvements

The menu applet received two mintMenu features (more will come in 2.4):

  • Right-click an application and select “Uninstall” to remove it.
  • Newly installed applications are now highlighted in the menu.

MPRIS and Sound Applet

Cinnamon 2.2 was given MPRIS support, so you can interact with MPRIS compatible software not only from the sound applet but also from your multimedia keys.

The sound applet can now show the track name and the cover art of the song you’re playing, in the panel itself.

It’s also possible to tell the sound applet whether to hide or to show systray icons for multimedia players.

HiDPI/Retina Display support

Cinnamon 2.2 comes with HiDPI support.

A lot of work went into this but there isn’t much to say about it… it just works well in high-resolution :)

Graphics Tablet

The “wacom” plugin is back. It’s fixed, dropped its branding and is now called “Graphics Tablet”.

A11y MouseWheel Zoom

Visually impaired users will enjoy the ability to zoom in and out using Alt+mousewheel.

The magnifier needs to be activated but it no longer needs to be disabled, i.e. you can keep it running even when zooming at 1:1 and it won’t eat any CPU cycles.

Window manager improvements

Window opacity

You can now shade windows or change their opacity by using your mouse wheel on their titlebar. A quick roll of the mouse wheel makes your window semi-transparent so you can see what’s happening underneath without the need to tile things or to use Alt-tab. This option is available in the “Windows” module.

CSD support

Cinnamon 2.2 adds full support for GTK Client Side Decorations (CSD). We do urge developers though not to overuse these, as they don’t work well in other desktop environments and they don’t integrate well with other applications.

Other WM improvements

Other improvements cover:

  • Alt-tabbing away from modal windows
  • Shadows improvements
  • Focus improvements
  • Improvements to resizing tiled windows

Other improvements

Other improvements include:

  • CJS gsettings wrapper (no more segmentation faults when an old applet queries a Cinnamon gsettings key which no longer exists… CJS intercepts the call and deals with it)
  • Better integration with GNOME on the same machine (you should no longer see GNOME Control Center in Cinnamon, or Cinnamon Settings in GNOME)
  • Better support for GDM (in particular for user-switching)
  • Better support for Xrandr cloning
  • Support for MDM fallback shutdown sequence
  • New shutdown hotkey
  • Configurable delay in cinnamon-session-properties
  • Logout sound
  • Fixed backlight/brightness support on some hardware
  • Better systemd/logind support
  • Better support for VLC screensaver inhibit
  • Compatibility with new interfaces such as modemmanager1, upower1
  • A lot of bug fixing

System improvements

Linux Mint 17 features the following changes:

  • lsb_release now supports a -u option to show upstream LSB information (i.e. the same LSB information you would find in Ubuntu Trusty)
  • The shutdown sequence was fixed.
  • Hexchat replaces Xchat as the default IRC client.

Artwork improvements

Linux Mint 17 features a superb collection of backgrounds and photographs from the following artists:

Linux Mint 17 features a beautiful collection of backgrounds

The Mint-X theme is improved with every new release. This time around it was completely revamped. It features the same feel as before but with better tints, better widgets, and more consistency between toolkits.

Main components

Linux Mint 17 features Cinnamon 2.2, MDM 1.6, a Linux kernel 3.13 and an Ubuntu 14.04 package base.

LTS strategy

Linux Mint 17 will receive security updates until 2019.

Until 2016, future versions of Linux Mint will use the same package base as Linux Mint 17, making it trivial for people to upgrade.

Until 2016, the development team won't start working on a new base and will be fully focused on this one.