New features in Linux Mint 17.2 MATE

Linux Mint 17.2 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 17.2 "Rafaela" MATE Edition

MATE 1.10

Linux Mint 17.2 features the latest MATE 1.10 desktop environment.

In the Caja file browser, you can now enable/disable extensions at run-time.

Caja's Extension Manager

Thanks to a new audio library, libmatemixer, MATE can now take full advantage of mixer functionality and it is able to automatically detect and support PulseAudio, ALSA and OSS.

MATE 1.10 takes advantage of the brand new libmatemixer

The help was improved and is now available within the desktop.

The MATE User Guide

Under the hood, static code analysis was performed on the MATE source code and many memory leaks were fixed.

Atril now supports the ePub format.

Linux Mint initiated a "papercut" sub-project for MATE to fix many small issues and port some of the Cinnamon new features into MATE. Many of these should come as updates to MATE 1.10.x.

Software Sources

In the Software Sources configuration tool you can now open PPA archives and browse their packages. You no longer need to switch to another tool to install what you were looking for.

PPAs can now be browsed and you can install packages directly from the Software Sources configuration tool

The tool is now also able to list foreign packages and to downgrade them.

Linux Mint is now able to list and downgrade foreign packages

Foreign packages are a new APT concept in Linux Mint. A foreign package is a package which origin and/or version is unknown and which doesn't match what is available in repositories known by your operation system.

Downgrading foreign packages back to their official versions can be especially useful in the following cases:

  • If you want to purge packages from a 3rd party repository or from a PPA
  • If you temporarily enabled Romeo and you want to downgrade your packages back to stable versions
  • If you mistakenly used repositories which aren't compatible with your system (Debian repositories in Linux Mint for instance)
  • If you want to remove .deb packages installed manually

In all these cases, the procedure is simple:

  • Remove the repository/PPA you no longer want to use
  • Refresh your APT cache
  • Click on Maintenance -> "Downgrade foreign packages"

This, along with the new "apt recommends" command, makes it easier to solve APT-related issues and to clean your Linux Mint system.

Update Manager

The Update Manager continues to present updates in a more meaningful way:

  • Packages can now be aliased and presented under a different name than their package name or source package name. When this is the case the original package names also appear in the interface as secondary information. This is used by Linux Mint to group related packages together or to present them with simpler and more understandable names. For instance, updates for "cjs", or "muffin" which are essential to Cinnamon are now presented as "cinnamon-cjs" or "cinnamon-muffin" and appear just beside other Cinnamon updates.
  • Aliased packages are also localized in your language. Localization isn't handled by dpkg. Ubuntu and Debian provide an incomplete layer of translation to APT and this was missing until now for Linux Mint packages.

The Update Manager

The user interface was also slightly improved:

  • The Update Manager now uses the entire window to show errors when they happen, or to report that your system is up to date.
  • A new configuration option allows you to hide the Update Manager system tray icon when no updates are available.
  • A new configuration option allows you to hide the Update Manager window automatically after updates are applied.

Language Settings

The user interface of the Language Settings was redesigned again:

Language Settings

The window now loads input methods in the backgrounds and is now much faster to show up.

Proper flags were added for minoritarian languages.

Different Input Methods can now be defined for different languages. Support for Japanese in particular, was improved in Linux Mint 17.2.

Login Screen

The MDM 2.0 display manager features many under-the-hood improvements:

  • Avatars are now supported for users with encrypted home directories
  • Just like in the Language Settings, flags for minoritarian languages are now also supported.
  • Screensavers are faster to unlock when switching users and logging back in
  • Scrensaver unlocks via logind are now supported
  • Infinality fonts are now supported
  • A new session detection mechanism was implemented. The benefits of this new feature are explained here:

Setting the MDM default session

Better support for UEFI, NVIDIA and Optimus cards

Grub was updated for Linux Mint 17.2 and brings better UEFI support and better compatibility with modern computers (this is known to fix live boot and graphical issues on many computers).

The NVIDIA drivers were upgraded from version 331.113 to version 346.72 to support recent NVIDIA chipsets.

MDM was given better support for NVIDIA Prime. On NVIDIA Optimus equipped computers, you can now switch between your Intel and your NVIDIA card with a simple log out. You no longer need to reboot.

A system tray icon also indicates which GPU is active and you can click on it to switch to the other one:

Switching between Intel and NVIDIA Optimus cards is now much easier

System improvements

Linux Mint 17.2 features the following system changes:

  • The bash command completion was improved. The terminal is now able to better auto-complete the commands you type and also their arguments.
  • The bash history was improved and no longer accepts duplicates.
  • A new APT command was introduced to list missing recommended packages for a particular package. Say you installed wine, you can review the list of packages it recommends which aren't installed on your computer by typing the following command:
    • apt recommends wine
  • A new command was introduced to see the signals handled by a particular process. The following command, for instance, lists the signals handled by MDM:
    • check_signals `pidof mdm`

Artwork improvements

Linux Mint 17.2 features a superb collection of photographs from Jen K, Kenny Louie, m1r0r1m and backgrounds from Rapciu.

An overview of some of the new backgrounds

All the backgrounds from Linux Mint "Maya", "Nadia", "Olivia", "Petra", "Qiana" and "Rebecca" are also present, as well as a nostalgic selection of the best backgrounds from the early days of Linux Mint.

The Mint-X GTK theme is now available in Grey.

Windows borders were improved. MATE 1.10 and the new Mint-X theme bring support for metacity-2, providing better rounded corners.

Other improvements

The USB Image Writer and the USB Stick Formatter now recognize a wider variety of USB sticks. They also feature improvements in terms of partitions alignment, boot flags. Sticks are better described and the tools also now use less CPU than they did before..

LibreOffice was upgraded to version 4.4.3.

HPLIP was upgraded to version 3.15.2, for more HP printers to be recognized and supported.

HAL was reintroduced to support DRM playback in Adobe Flash (note that this helps with certain video websites, but not all of them, a tutorial was written to workaround other DRM/Flash issues)

In the repositories, Inkscape was upgraded to version 0.91.

Main components

Linux Mint 17.2 features MATE 1.10, MDM 2.0, a Linux kernel 3.16 and an Ubuntu 14.04 package base.

LTS strategy

Linux Mint 17.2 will receive security updates until 2019.

Until 2016, future versions of Linux Mint will use the same package base as Linux Mint 17.2, 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.