Full focus on Linux Mint 5

If you’ve been reading Husse’s newsletter you probably know it by now: Don (aka Exploder) is joining the team and replacing me as the person responsible for testing our ISO images before they get released.

The first advantage of this is that we’re going to achieve better quality and have less bugs slip through. Exploder is much better than I am at finding bugs and when he’s happy to see something released as I do the releases anyway I’ll run my own tests as well on top of it. So the BETA or STABLE ISO which ends on our mirrors will have been tested by the maintainer, by Exploder and by me πŸ™‚ Of course there’ll always be bugs, don’t worry about that πŸ™‚ But at least most of them will be caught prior to the release.

The second advantage of this is that it frees me up from something which required a lot of time. So I can now focus even more on the project, the main edition and the tools we develop.

As Ubuntu is getting ready for an LTS (Long Term Support) release in April, our next release will focus on long term stability rather than on the innovation of a lot of new tools. MintBackup is coming in but don’t expect the same level of innovation as in previous releases: Linux Mint 5 is going to be a boring release πŸ™‚

What we want to achieve before this release is a better vision of how we work, how we define our editions, our tools, how we look at localization and in a very general way how we can improve not the Linux Mint desktop but the project itself and its organization. For instance, one aspect of the upcoming LTS Ubuntu base is that Mint 5 will get 3 years of security updates. This is an opportunity to create an enterprise desktop and a solution which can please companies. So we want to look into that of course. What would be the difference with the main edition? How would we go and conciliate development and updates between the new releases and the LTS one?

If we could manage to have this LTS release declined in two editions, one aimed at companies interested in stability, security, networking and another one similar to what we have now, aimed at individuals who want an elegant desktop. If we could manage to keep our 6 months release cycle, but at the same time still maintain these two LTS releases for another 3 years, and not only by providing Ubuntu updates but by also providing updates for important user tools (OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Evolution, etc..). If we could manage to do that, we would be able to keep going on the way we are now but we would have a very interesting option for both companies and individuals. The goal here of course would be to accelerate the migration of companies to Linux and to place Linux Mint on the enterprise market. A 3 years release cycle for LTS is also very reassuring for individuals, especially if they come from Microsoft Windows and if we manage to upgrade user-level applications.

We’re also dropping minor revision numbers for our releases, so the next release won’t be Linux Mint 5.0, it will be Linux Mint 5. The codename hasn’t been decided yet.

If we look at our past releases we can see how the focus went from one area to another. After Bea was released we had a great Ubuntu base with our own tweaks and optimizations and with the necessary codecs and package selection. The focus changed from the system configuration to the development of tools in Bianca and that’s basically what we’ve been doing until the release of Daryna. Now that an LTS release is coming up and also because we’re happy with the quality of our current desktop we want to shift the focus and strengthen the project itself, make our tools more robust, revise our software selection, ensure a better level of localization, produce more documentation, work on our image and our offerings (not in terms of product as we’re not “selling” anything but in terms of what we can offer and to which audience), increase our efficiency in how we do things and let our community grow with us staying close to it.

So you see the list of planned changes for Linux Mint 5 has never been so small and at the same time we’re preparing for one of the most important releases we ever had. This time it won’t be only about the quality of our desktop but about how the project itself managed to grow with its community.

This is a very vague vision of course and as always your feedback is welcome. What we know so far about Linux Mint 5 is this:

  • It will be based on an LTS release (3 year security updates from Ubuntu)
  • We’re hoping to give it 3 years user-level application updates (OpenOffice, Thunderbird, Firefox, all important user-level apps), to maintain it, and while we’re developing other 6 months span releases to give it as much attention as the latest release gets.
  • Most tools will be translated in various languages and get minor improvements.
  • Amarok will be replaced with Rhythmbox (this might change).
  • mintBackup will be introduced.
  • We currently have a Main and a Light edition. It’s not decided yet how or if this will change but we’d like to introduce an enterprise desktop for this LTS, this might merge with Light into a DVD special edition with a radically different software selection.
  • A user-guide will come with the release and we’ll hopefully have that guide translated into many languages.

Right, enough said.. tell us what you think and how you see things happening.

Clem

PS: I didn’t realize I wrote so much.. sorry for the long blog post πŸ™‚

30 comments

  1. Clem,

    I have you to thank for making me a Linux addict over the holidays! I had been monkeying with various other distros (including *Ubuntu), but now I’m hooked on Mint with its ease of use and streamlined functionality. I look forward to Mint 5 and all the refinement it brings. Hopefully, one day, this newb will be able to contribute to your cause.

    PS – you should call Mint 5 codename “Elissa” πŸ™‚

  2. Removing Amarok is a good idea, but I am not sure whether Rhythmbox is up for the task though. The last time I used it (Ubuntu 7.04, forgot the version) it lacked proper Ipod support, some files would appear in the Ipod, some did not, trying to download podcasts would cause it lock. These maybe local troubles for me, but I am still worried about Rhythmbox, but I am not so happy about Amarok either, I fully support a *full* GNOME desktop. But I also hear that our current desktop we want to shift the focus and strengthen the project itself, these issues have been addressed in the 7.10 release of Ubuntu, but I am not sure, but I could give it a test though, I am way behind on my regular podcasts…

  3. All that sounds great!

    I’m interested in translation. How will it work?
    I have checked on the launchpad site, but the mint* projects are not set up for translation…

  4. I don’t believe in putting labels on everything but I like the ideas behind “Agile” and in particular “Scrum”. One of the main ideas behind this is that tools should remain tools and only be used if they add value to the manual process. Although I didn’t find anything radically wrong with launchpad I definitely didn’t like the dependency it was causing Mint in regards with translation uploads, and I also didn’t like the fact that it drastically reduced communication bandwitdh compared to what we can achieve with our forums.

    So maybe it’s more suited for a large community such as Ubuntu’s but for us I’m convinced we’ll be far more efficient by relying on our forums to do the translations.

    You can already see how this works for mintBackup here: http://www.linuxmint.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=8221

    Similar thread will be created for other apps as they reach code-freeze.

    Clem

  5. Hi Clem,
    This is my first post at any Mint fora and I take this opportunity to congratulate you and the rest of the Mint team on the success of the project.

    I am a relatively new user of Linux, about 15 mths, and I am currently running openSUSE 10.3 on an Acer Aspire 1644 wlmi laptop. I have tested many distros in the last six months and only openSuse offers reasonable power management features that allow this machine to operate without the cooling fan turning on and off continuously, especially when web surfing and having multiple (6+) tabs open in Firefox. The power management control options in Ubuntu/Mint are not available and only the dynamic cpu frequency element is enabled, and this is not sufficient for this machine to operate quietly and coolly.

    Question: Is it possible to modify the CPU Frequency Scaling Applet in Mint to be similar to the one in Mandriva 2008 and Fedora 7/8, at least? Is it possible to do that plus improve it a little bit by allowing the user to retain the preferred frequency option in the same way that one is able to do in Kpowersave in openSUSE?

    The lack of this power management control is preventing me from using Ubuntu/Mint on this machine.

    Regards,
    Paul

  6. l.e.: Thanks for that. I noticed your contribution on launchpad and this is definitely in my todo list for Elyssa πŸ™‚

  7. This is going to be a great release!

    However, I do not like the idea of Mint becoming yet another boring-commercial-distro.

    IMO, what the LTS affords is the ability to create a release that manufacturers could directly ship with their machines as they are assured of support for the next 3 years,

    I’m also wary of replacing Amarok with RhythmBox. Amarok has all these little touches (like music fading out when stopped) which wow the first-time user. Removing this “wow” factor would seriously affect what users initially think of the distro. (It’s for the same reason we provide codecs built in. The joy of using software that “just works” (beyond users’ expectations) is what makes Mint what it is.

    PS: If any of the admins are strolling by, please tell me where I should send UI improvement suggestions. I really would like to help.

  8. can we please have it so that we can just dist-upgrade into the new versions? I hear you can’t do that..

  9. Replace amarok with Rhythmbox?
    NO NO NO NO…
    Please NO Clem.
    Do anything you want but don’t change amarok with Rhythmbox.
    If it was for Banshee I would have no problem. But please not Rhythmbox.

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  11. First of all, sorry for my bad English!
    I’m very interesting in the Enterprise Edition. I’m from Argentina and I want to make the migration of my Office to GNU/Linux. I will love is you could add workgroup colaboration soft. Internal Messaging, Shared Adressbook (very customizable for meet all needs), Shared E-Mails (something not so complicated like an imap email server, something like this: http://www.olfolders.de,), Shared Calendar, installations of updates from 1 PC to all others in the network, some anti-virus for email checking (when you share a file with windows people, you need to check it for windows-virus).
    Also a light weight Windows Manager to not push little pymes to a massive hardware upgrade, without comprimise standards like Firefox, Flash, Java, Acrobat Reader , Thunderbird or Evolution, full and easy rar, zip and 7-zip (of course others are welcome) compress and uncompress support via rigth click, easy Linux/Windows File sharing, and why not a nice Backup Tool like the one you mention.
    Take into account that we cant force others company migrations, so, in my opinion, is necessary to priority compatibility with Windows users.
    For example using StarOffice instant of OpenOffice.
    Another visionary idea could make an Ubuntu Server edition aimed to not expert people like me, with windows manager and graphical tools for all type of server task.
    Hope not boring, I’m just sharing some dreams…

    Thanks!
    Damian

  12. Re: Default media player

    To start, please allow me to convey my heartfelt thanks for Mint. It is simply the best distro I have ever used (and those include RH,Slack,Gentoo,SuSe). I remember thinking to myself that this is the distro to make Linux Desktop easy for the masses.

    I fully support the removal of Amorok. I don’t like KDE, and it is unnecessary in any Linux distro. For Mint it is definitely misplaced – an elegant desktop should not have 2 desktop API’s. Admittedly Gnome could do with some better themes, but the advantages of gStreamer far outweigh the eye-candy factor.

    So getting to the point of this post, when I installed mint my first objective was to remove KDE. To do this I needed a new music player, and after some hunting around and dismissing some of those available, I found RhythmBox and BPM to be somewhat unstable.

    I settled on Exaile. Since installing it I have never been without music on Mint. There are plugins available for shoutcast, mini-mode, alarm clock.

    It is simple, does what it says on the tin and has no problem sliding into Mint as the icon is already green.

    I strongly recommend that Exaile be included in Ellysa. I’m also intereseted in supporting the Exaile project to meet the high expectations of Mint users. Perhaps some Amorok users could compare it against Exaile and produce a list features that they feel they need to justify the change.

    Thanks again for Mint πŸ˜‰

  13. DoctorZ= “If it was for Banshee I would have no problem”

    Banshee? “NO NO NO NO… Please NO Clem” lol
    I don’t want Microsoft technology on my Linux box!

    Rythmbox is perfect for newbies, and also QuodLibet is a great app, maybe the best gnome app for heavy use…

    jiggles100= “when I installed mint my first objective was to remove KDE”
    And also Mono… :-p

  14. Hey, clem. I’ve testing the Mint 4 and i really like it :). Just some things, first of all i really didn’t like the fact that the “Add or Remove” wasn’t installed by default, some times is more practical than Synaptic, so… every time that i install Mint i’ve to do sudo aptitude install gnome-app-install.

    Another small thing is the plugin for compiz that allows me to change between the desktops using the mouse’s middle wheel, in ubuntu that’s enabled by default. So to enable it, first i’ve to install the compiz’s advanced manager..

    I prefer Amarok since another player, i think that the others are very early…; But maybe Exaile or Listen could do the work of it…
    Same with K3B, for me it’s superior than Brasero or Baker…

    For video player, VLC would be nice to have it.

    Cheers from argentina πŸ™‚

    Also Glipper could be usefull…

  15. Clem,

    Do you will try to release the Gnome and KDE Editions at the same time, in Elyssa?

    Regards

  16. I’d love to see Amarok in Linux Mint 5.0 again as well. It is such a great music player. I don’t think there is any gnome-player that can compete with Amarok.

  17. I find Amarok too buggy in Gnome, like others have said, Exaile is a worthy replacement for Mint 5.
    I am a relative newcomer to Linux, having tried several Distros, I have now found, in Mint, my Distro of choice.
    Really looking forward to 5.

  18. Exaile is Amarok in gtk+ πŸ˜‰ Bringing in banshee would start another novell & microsoft war (I was programming in C# but just went back to Java because of the uncertainties & patent issues). If you were to add a server edition (someone mentioned it above — Damian) maybe add a gui tool for apache2 conf stuff similar to RedHat Enterprise Server’s apache conf tool (mainly for virtual hosts) but so much mint cooler — (btw friends don’t let friends use RedHat/Fedora) j/k πŸ˜‰

    I have been using GNU/Linux & FreeBSD for a while now and I use Mint 4.0 for my workstation & laptop. This distro is great and if there was a server offering, I would lose the BSD.

  19. I’ve been using Linux Mint for a little over a year now. After about the first 6 months on it, I went so far as to load 4.0 on every machine in my house short of my server…and have been very happy with it ever since. I’m now running Daryna at work, and I’m a Windows network admin. I think the Enterprise edition is a great idea, and that’s very much what I have configured my work PC to do. One major obstacle I have found is that Thunderbird (even with the lightning extension) is not acceptable as an Outlook alternative in a business enviroment. Evolution does work well, and offers most of the same features as Outlook. However “Subscribe to other users folders” does not work at all (generic error). This is a Novel issue (and they are well aware of it), I have confirmed it to still be and issue in Hardy as well. Until Outlook can be replaced 100% with an exchange compatible GNU/Linux client, an enterprise offering is going to be hard up for an audience IMHO. Most IT departments like the one I work in, want a solution that plays nicely with their existing network. And as much as it pains me to say so, that means along with the existing Exchange server. At present I’ve loaded VMware server, and use a Windows XP image sparingly for network admin functions, and…outlook’s calendar.

  20. Yeah Please Take Away amarok but dont Replace with Rythmbox replace it with the new Banshee Please it will be great if you do that

  21. This is one of the best linux distro i’ve ever use. I hope in the next release, Linux mint will include the emulator such as Wine. And for the multimedia, i hope Mint will always including the newest codec.

  22. I have been using Mint 5 now for 2 weeks. Before that I used Windows since ver 3.1 and DOS 5. My son gave me Ubuntu 8.04 after raving about it. I installed Mint 4 from a magazine cd and fell in love. I just had to get Mint 5 – and NOW!!! I fell in love with this distro the minute I saw it. Being totally new to the concept of Linux and the software, I found Mint 5 pleasing to the eye, easy to use and not complicated. This is the distro that could break the back of Windows, and I’m doing my bit to advertise the transformation from a Gates based IT dependency to Open Source by using Mint 5. This is truly an amazing OS. Thanks to all those involved in this project.

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