Monthly News – September 2014


  • A big thanks to all the people who donate to Linux Mint, and to our sponsors. You help us move forward and focus on the important things without worrying about income or commercial aspects. Many thanks to all the people who help us in other ways as well. Whether it’s users helping newcomers on the forums and IRC, developers joining the team or contributing pull requests, people coming with ideas, we’re very grateful to see so many people help like that.
  • A lot of new features were developed in anticipation for the upcoming releases. Cinnamon looks a lot more polished, with a new startup animation, background slideshows, a visual theme selector and a faster javascript interpreter. MDM received graphical improvements and important bug fixes. The default theme for the login screen no longer features a background animation but a background slideshow, it’s more noticeable but also cleaner and less intensive on the CPU. To make it easier for people to help each others on the IRC, mintSystem got a new pastebin command, to quickly share files or text from the command line, either via piping (“somecommand | pastebin”) or by specifying a filename (“pastebin <filename>”).
  • Debian Jessie isn’t frozen yet and a lot of packages are still making their way into it. The recent upower and GTK updates show that the base isn’t quite ready just yet. Work continues on Betsy but a lot of what’s required for it will only happen once the base is completely frozen. We might be looking at Spring 2015, it’s hard to say just yet.
  • Cinnamon 2.4 is on track for its public release at the end of October and it should get into our distribution after a month of maturation with the release of Linux Mint 17.1 “Rebecca” in late November.

Development preview:

One of the projects we worked on this month is the program in charge of the login screen, i.e. the MDM display manager.

The new layout of the MDM configuration tool is similar to mintDesktop, with icons in the sidebar to access the different parts of the tool.

The concept of “greeters” was confusing to users so it was replaced by a simpler theme selection. All themes (HTML and GDM) as well as the GTK greeter are now available from the same list.

It’s also worth noting the addition of a new button (the one with the cog) to launch the login screen and thus quickly visualize the active theme.

Under the hood, we also improved the following aspects of MDM:

  • Syndaemon was added to MDM’s Init, to disable the touchpad while the keyboard is being used.
  • The option to disable the user list in the GTK greeter was brought back.
  • Work started on updating the documentation for MDM.
  • When .dmrc pointed to a non-existing session (which could be the case when the user kept his/her home directory and moved to Mint from a previous release, a different edition or a different distribution) MDM would fail to log in until the user selected an existing session. It now automatically switches to the default session.
  • In certain cases where 2 or more users logged in, switched users and logged out MDM could end up showing the wrong virtual terminal, placing the user in front of a black screen even though a login screen was available on another VT. This is now fixed.

Last but not least, as mentioned in the introduction, the Mint-X theme received a beautiful new slideshow. A new developer, Philipp Miller, created a flexible and adaptable theme called MDModern, full of innovations and elegance from which was inspired this slideshow and which could be used by artists to produce the next generation of MDM themes.

The team is currently working with Philipp, not only on the theme but on the MDM theme API  and we’re hoping to add MDModern to Linux Mint 17.1.


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  1. If we have to wait until Spring 2015 for Betsy, how about issuing some interim updates? We’re using a version of Testing that’s nearly a year old now, and users are getting restless.

    Edit by Clem: It’s the same base. Once it’s ready it will be stable for 2 years or more. Right now maintainers are squishing a lot into it before the final freeze, it’s not the moment to snapshot it for small gains and a quick update though. To give you an example, a few weeks ago Betsy got Cinnamon 2.2, fully functional, a few days ago Debian updated upower and we now need to rebuild Cinnamon again, they also updated GTK to 3.14 and we’re now facing regressions, at the end of this month, possibly in less than 3 weeks we’re releasing Cinnamon 2.4 and Betsy is one of our dev. targets.. it’s moving fast as you can see, and it’s moving fast right underneath us. What we can do in the meantime is working on our own tech, or preparing the ground and an easier transition to Betsy by upgrading LMDE itself with pieces of the puzzle.

  2. The pastebin command will be greatly welcomed, much better then needing to install it everytime.
    Although will it be a custom command?
    I thought it was
    somecommand | pastebinit
    somecommand | pastebin

    Edit by Clem: pastebin will be part of Linux Mint by default and tied to the Mint pastebin service, pastebinint is a separate command, available from the pastebinit package and configurable to work with multiple pastebin services.

  3. Hi!

    I’m really looking forward to the new release with it’s new features and fixes – like always 🙂

    I have a short question about LM 17.1. I’m afraid I’m still not sure about the “new” release strategy… 🙁

    1) Will LM 17.1 be released as an update for the LM 17 LTS and LM 18 non-LTS will also be released in November?
    2) Will only LM 17.1 be released in November as non-LTS version while LM 17 will be still the newest LTS version? (So LM 18 will be released as LTS in 2016?)

    If 2, will Cinnamon 2.4 be backported to LM 17 LTS?

    Thanks and regards from Germany,

    Edit by Clem: Hi Tom. 17.1 will be released in November, 18 is likely to be released some time in 2016. All releases are LTS, ranging from 5 years support for the earlier point releases to 3 years for the latest one. In other words 17.1 and 17 will both reach end of life at the same time, in 2019. Cinnamon 2.4 won’t be backported to 17 because the opt-in upgrade from 17 to 17.1 will be trivial and because they share the same base. It’s likely to hit Romeo between October and November though in 17.

  4. Hey guys, thanks for all of your work!
    All the upcoming new features are awesome, Mint is the best OS, and getting just better.

    But what I noticed, is that even linux->ubuntu->MINT is getting better, and more user friendly each day, there are some main issues which haven’t been solved yet.
    I mean it is really great that you are improving the user interface – which is in my opinion the best of all already.

    But there are a lot of other more important issues.
    – video/sound card problems/bugs
    – other hardware problems
    – user interface bugs
    – other bugs and issues

    I really love you guys and Mint. But Im sayin under the nice interface there are much more bigger problems.
    (maybe you are working on these too, just sayin.)

  5. HI Clem,
    I have laptop 64 bit asus with a wifi card Qualcomm Atheros AR9485 and Linux Mint 17. The wifi card no works,I tried many solutions but nothing. I hope that with L.M. 17.1 I will resolve it.

  6. Just one question, Clem:

    After all would Cinnamon be less memory intensive, compared to version 2.2? That would be great!

    Thanks in advance.

    Edit by Clem: Hi Georgi, I didn’t work on this myself but 2.4 features a newer CJS interpreter which might have an impact there.

  7. If cinnamon could only handle Multi Monitors correctly 🙁 Missing Milti Monitor Workspace and panel setup is stopping me from using cinnamon. Well mate is ok, not perfect but much better in this case compared to cinnamon 🙁 Unfortunately.

  8. Very nice! And it’s good to see my name in the donors list this month. I’m really looking forward to 17.1. Mint is my favorite distro and it’s great for doing everything including games now, with so many titles coming to Steam for Linux. Just ran Borderlands 2 in Mint today. I was shocked at how good it was. I practically maxed out all the settings in 1080p with an R9 270x (albeit with the proprietary FGLRX Catalyst 14.9 drivers).

    I really like the planned new theming options in 17.1. I always re-theme Cinnamon to have blue icons and window borders anyways.

  9. I’m still running 16 and I really want to install 17.1 but please, please, PLEASE make sure 17.1 includes support for nVidia Maxwell GPU’s OUT OF THE BOX! Trying to install drivers for my GTX 750 has been such a fruitless pain that I pulled the GPU and am using the Intel HD 4600 iGPU on my Core i3 CPU. My goal? Reinstall my GTX 750, wipe my HDD and install Mint 17.1 with no scrolling screen of text gibberish as the OS tries in vain to get to a usable graphics interface.

    As nice as they are, I don’t care about any of the other improvements in 17.1, Cinnamon or MATE you guys have been detailing here and on Segfault if Mint refuses to boot to a graphical interface on a GPU that’s been out since February. I do love you guys but this is a deal breaker for me.

    Edit by Clem: This mostly happens upstream from us.. in the kernel, at nVidia itself (because let’s face it, we’re talking about proprietary tech and closed-source drivers here). This box I’m using has an GTX 680 and it works perfectly. Sometimes it takes a little bit of time for nVidia to come up with a newer driver and for distros to ship it. Afaik the GTK 750 is supported from version 334 onwards, Mint 17 is at 331 right now but you can get version 340 from the nVidia website. You might need to use nomodeset to get yourself started on nouveau until the nvidia drivers are installed.

  10. On SEVERAL notebook computers with Linux Mint 17:

    Suspend is working by SELECTing ‘Suspend’ from the ‘Quit’ menu or closing the notebook screen.

    Suspend is NOT working when set to ‘5 minutes’.

    Is there a fix?

  11. Will LM 17.1 be an update to 17 or will I need to install it from scratch?

    Edit by Clem: Both. It will be a new release which you can install from scratch but it will also share the same base as 17 and we’ll provide a trivial upgrade path to it.

  12. Hi Clem, Thanks for the update. Its really a pleasure to interact with all you folks and feel proud of being part of the community being able to offer what we can as average users. I remember suggesting about MDM new slideshow theme and preview option only a while ago and so glad to see things fruition in such a short time frame. Really.

    One request – can you consider having some dedicated time for users in dev team IRC channel to discuss github issues / other ideas. I suppose, you have developer meetings, can we have some user meetings ? Even one hour slot per month would help. Given that we are all in different timezones, such initiative would help. Github is pouring with requests and I know you may not have time to ack all issues. An user discussion would give us some time to discuss / debate 😉 on some of the critical issues and know development team’s take on them.

    Edit by Clem: Hi Anand, yes that’s possible. Don’t hesitate also to just come on #linuxmint-dev and talk to me directly. We no longer have dev. meetings, we just meet there at the moment.

  13. @5 about wifi card: I also have an Asus with the same wifi adapter (AR9485 Wireless Network Adapter, Qualcomm Atheros, driver=ath9k). Working like a charm on Mint 17 XFCE 64bit.

  14. i put here 2 links with help pages for 10. robert to solv his problem with nvidia. the comment is awaiting moderation.

  15. I have to agree with Robert’s observation about graphics in comment 10, but I also understand this to be upstream as Clem mentioned. Not too much he can do about it.

    That said, I’m running a GeForce 8400 GS GPU, and this time around, graphics are clunky for sure — seems my experience has regressed a bit. I would try to stay with nouveau if I didn’t think my CPU fan was going to launch into orbit. I really miss the days of silky smooth graphics after loading the proprietary drivers. It really made me feel like I was accomplishing something. These days, it’s anyone’s guess as to how proprietary graphics drivers will work, or not work.

    I’m hoping all the threats of Nvidia offering assistance to driver development will come true, maybe some already have. It would be awesome if the open source driver can truly replace the proprietary.

  16. Thanks, Mint Mate People,

    I installed Mate as an add-on from the repositories of a couple of other distros. It works but isn’t Mint. This makes me appreciate the extra work the Mint group puts into their distribution.

  17. Hi

    Thank you for the good work! 🙂
    I just wondering would it be possible to maybe add option to install linux kernels automatically (from Ubuntu repo) but have it as off by default in kernel options in mint update?

    Thanks 🙂

    Edit by Clem: Yes, you can install linux-image-generic, it’s a metapackage which always points to the latest available kernel. After it’s installed you’ll get updates for it in the Update Manager and grab new kernels that way.

  18. Great stuff, bravo!
    Does this apply to LMDE as well?
    I’m waiting for the next LMDE update (soon?) before reinstalling it.

    Merci Clément!

    Edit by Clem: In LMDE it’s called linux-image-amd64, linux-headers-amd64 (for 64bit for instance).

  19. This may be a bit off topic, but I do have a question regarding the MDM configuration tool that will be implemented next month. The question I have is, will the configuration tool allow us to make our own customized theme? The reason I ask is because when I read the article it sort of implied you could. My interest is making the login and the desktop background the same.

    Edit by Clem: It’s already implemented Kenneth. I wouldn’t show you mockups or previews of something which might not happen. It won’t let you “make” your own themes though. It’s there for you to select one, or eventually to install themes you find on the Internet. With that said, if all you want to do is change the look and feel of an existing theme, look in /usr/share/mdm/themes and /usr/share/mdm/html-themes, pick a theme you like, copy it, change its name and its background. GDM themes are made in XML, HTML themes are made in HTML 🙂

  20. Just following up to what Clem said about new kernels. If you install linux-generic then it will also grab latest linux headers as well. Linux-image-generic just seem to get latest kernels that it.
    Thanks to clem for info.

    Edit by Clem: Ah sorry John, you’re 100% right, I forgot the headers there.

  21. Hi,

    There is something I don’t understand about Linux Mint 17 and 17.1. Quoting Clem:
    “All releases are LTS, ranging from 5 years support for the earlier point releases to 3 years for the latest one. In other words 17.1 and 17 will both reach end of life at the same time, in 2019.”
    And in august it was said that “Linux Mint 17 users will have the choice to upgrade or not”.

    Does that mean that Linux Mint 17, 17.1 (and, say, 17.2, 17.3, etc.) will coexist and will all be maintained at the same time? If yes, won’t that generate quite much work?

    Edit by Clem: Yes they will, but no it doesn’t represent much work, only in packaging, repository maintenance and release management (and these have pros too), not in development.

  22. Hi Clem, can you possibly tell us how your donations are taxed?

    Edit by Clem: They should fall under the category of gift tax but since the amounts are significant they’re taxed as commercial income as defined by the Irish taxation system. I had an issue with it initially, we appealed the decision and it didn’t change anything. We could create an association in the US or a company in a country without taxes but that’s not the way I usually manage things. From the beginning we’ve seen things in large, we pay people well, we buy quality products/services and when it comes to taxation we’re more interested in keeping things simple than in optimizing costs. That’s at company level. At the personal level I’m based in Ireland as well so I pay income tax on anything I earn. The dev. team is made of people from very different locations, USA, France, Canada, Russia, Italy, I’ve no idea how much tax they pay or if they pay any at all (well.. I know about France since I spent 20 years there, but that’s about it) 🙂


  24. Hi Clem, My laptop has a 10 inch display and its resolution is 1024×600… so it is very small.

    That is why i like the unity’s appmenu. but using Cinnamon and MATE it does not looks as stable as unity’s appmenu.

    Can you bring unity desktop? or how can you help me how to configure my desktop for my tiny laptop?

  25. Nice work,

    but is it possible to fix the ugly Bug in the Backuptool? I don’t exactly how it happend, but a lot of users had problems after using that tool.

    There are a lot of files in the home-folder with the owner “root”:
    For example:
    927993 4 drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Sep 27 23:04 /home/xyz/.cinnamon/backgrounds
    927999 4 drwxr-xr-x 5 root root 4096 Sep 27 23:04 /home/xyz/.cinnamon/spices.cache
    1186654 12 drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 12288 Sep 27 23:04 /home/xyz/.cinnamon/spices.cache/applet
    1058642 4 drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 4096 Sep 27 23:04 /home/xyz/.cinnamon/spices.cache/extension
    1058398 12 drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 12288 Sep 27 23:04 /home/xyz/.cinnamon/spices.cache/theme

    This is a copy of 5 lines out of over 500 that
    “find ~ -user root -ls” shows.

    Please remove this bug, or remove the tool til is is working as announced…

  26. Hi Clem,

    Thanks for the precisions. I will wait and see how this turns out. I am pretty sure that as long as the Linux Mint team enjoys it (and it seems to be the case), the result will be great.

    Keep the fun going!

    Edit by Clem: We’re not looking back, working on 17.1 is a real treat.. we’re not wondering what might break, what new components might introduce regressions or changes we haven’t yet adapted to, we’re really focused on improving the user experience and on developing new features on top of a base we already know and which we continue to fine-tune month after month. It’s really enjoyable and it makes a lot of sense. It also empowers us much more than before to make a difference on things that really matter to most users. There’s less gamble, less risk, less rushing, more certainty, and we don’t start from a new random snapshot of unstable Debian packages every 6 months, but from our best release to date. We already know the next release will be just like this one, only better.

  27. With the newest Ubuntu release, is it necessary to update all the Ubuntu repo’s used from trusty to utopic?

    Edit by Clem: No, not at all, please don’t do that. Linux Mint sticks to LTS, we won’t be using utopic as a base. 17 and upcoming releases are based and compatible with trusty, not utopic.

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