Five Tiny Features of Linux Mint Cinnamon I’ve Come to Love
I am often asked by Windows traumatized users that Linux operating system I would recommend. Up to a year and a half ago I recommended Zorin OS without hesitation. However, last year, Zorin was still working on an important rewrite and could not offer a release of LTS (long-term support).
One of the problems of the Linux world is that large and small distributions come and go. Without any certainty that Zorin was ready before my version lost its support, or that Zorin still existed, I downloaded Linux Mint Cinnamon 18 and I have used it and recommended it since.
5 features of Linux Mint I love
As a result, the last 18 months have been quite boring for me: Nothing ever seems to go wrong with Linux Mint. On the other hand, it’s nice to write about things that work well. For this article, I’ll focus on five small and easy to use features that I found to be very helpful. All are pre-installed. That is nice since using Synaptic Package Manager or the bash line can be quite intimidating for newcomers to Linux.
1. Nemo Preview
I have a great collection of music and often do CD compilations for friends. If you’ve done it yourself, you’ve probably noticed that ‘ Gain ‘ varies greatly from CD to CD and from format to format. And while they are brasing and most other burning applications can smooth small bumps can not do much for the wilder inconsistencies that often occur. And while the gain on a single track is easily adjustable with audacity, it’s hard to tell how much adjustment is required if you can’t quickly compare to a benchmark file.
Say you’re at the point where if two tracks can be made to match, the disc will be perfect. My problem here is that my default music player, Banshee, has to suck hundreds of albums from an external drive before it will open and that takes a few seconds. And once you get up you can take a couple of seconds to switch back and forth from the track to the runway. Full-featured music players are simply not designed to be agile.
This is where Nemo comes in. It is integrated into the Nemo file Manager and could not be faster or easier to use. Just click on the file and press “SPACEBAR”. If it is an audio file, a micro player appears and starts playing instantly. Hit “Spacebar” again to close it, click on the new file and hit “SPACEBAR” again, and you’re listening to the other track. Nemo Preview also works on most other types of files, although not always with the same blazing speed.
2. Mint Menu Part 1 The “Uninstall” Feature
A couple of weeks ago I was trying to make a Skype call, but Skype wouldn’t open. It wasn’t the first time this happened to me. It happens every time Skype updates. Microsoft makes an updated version for Linux, but does not make any allowance for removing the newly defunct version. Trying to install a current version is not that difficult; The latest version is present in the Mint repositories and its easy enough to down a file. Deb from the Skype website. But if you forget to remove the previous version first, you can conclude with two versions, only one of which works.
For an experienced user, this can be easily solved in two different ways. The redundant version can be removed using the Synaptic Package Manager, or by opening
Software Manager, by clicking on “Show installed applications “, hunting down and then removing it by clicking “Uninstall “.
However, the Mint menu offers a much simpler solution. Locate the application and right-click the icon. This triggers a selection menu, which also allows you to create a desktop panel or launcher. Click on “Uninstall ” from the drop-down menu. This activates Synaptic, requiring you to type your password. Finally, a progress window will open, which will tell you when it is done (or sometimes ask you to allow some other libraries to be added or removed).
So, going back to the redundant Skype problem, since both versions will appear in the menu, just test it and then “Uninstall ” What does not work.
3. Mint Menu Part 2 Where the heck did that Download Go? Use “Recent Files” to find out!
Like any Linux operating system I’ve ever used, Mint menu has a “recent Files ” option. This option remembers not only the files you have created or used, but also everything you have downloaded. One mistake I often make is to face a download in the wrong folder. Nemo has a decent search function, but it can take time. It is much easier to find the location of a file in the Mint menu. Click “Recent Files “, hover over the file out of place and at the bottom of the menu is exact location will appear.
If the option “Recent Files ” does not appear in the menu, this is because there is an option to turn it off in order to protect your processing activities from prying eyes. If you can’t find it on your menu, go to “System Settings ” and click “Privacy “. You’ll see this screen:
Just switch to “On” and adjust further as it suits your needs. (But remember, if you select “Never forget old files ” The menu will take longer and longer to open the time steps and the voices multiply.)
4. Unattended Upgrade: An invisible friend
For at least a decade I have been an occasional user of “ClamAV“. It is an open source virus scanner for Linux. When I use it, it’s like a courtesy: Linux systems can be immune to all known Windows viruses, but Linux users can switch to systems that are not.
Anti-virus Software has unique needs: Malicious code writers do not release their work on a predictable program. So the signatures of the virus are constantly evolving. And also, the more creative mal-ware becomes, the more creative search algorithms need to be.
But even if ClamAV can be downloaded from most of the repositories, that was more or less. If you wanted to use it you had to manually update the engines first, and then the virus signatures-and in that order, if you wanted it to work properly. Since these updates have come directly from the author’s servers, this process may take a long time.
While this was a hassle, it usually worked-in the end. And I can understand why the signatures of the virus should be updated manually with each use-would place an absurd burden on the repositories to keep them up to date. But what I never could understand because the repositories never sent updates to the interface. In a decade of using ClamAV on Ubuntu, Fedora and Zorin I have never received a single update.
I am the kind of nosy-Parker that looks at every update that comes my way. One of the hallmarks of the “Update Manager ” Is that it provides a description of the item as well as a change log. Shortly after the mint switch, one of the updates I got was called “Automatic Updates “. Strangely lacking such information. This is because “Unattended updates ” (along with “Mint upgrade ” That I intend to examine more accurately in the future) is not really a package. What it does is look for the system for packages rarely used by official repositories and PPA to make sure even low-priority applications are checked for upgrades instead of, as usual, it is ignored.
Shortly after I received for the first time updates for ClamAV. Above are my most recent updates.
5. Sound Settings
This last built-in feature has little practical value, but it can still be loads of fun. Most Linux systems come with a limited range of built-in audio files to give you audible cues for various system states; Log in, log out or new email notifications, for example. Linux Mint Cinnamon has gone to great lengths to offer users the ability to install their own audio scripts and to choose which system events you want between them to inform you about. The only limitation is that custom sounds must be in OGG or WAV format. It’s also a good idea to nest somewhere in your Home folder, though not absolutely necessary.
You can find and download system sounds all over the Web. But if you feel adventurous you can easily make your own. They can be verbal: just record your own voice-if you have a webcam you have a microphone. You can also break into your music collection. Using Audacity, you can crop a section of a song, save it as an OGG or WAV file, and use the effects “fade in ” and “Fade out” to smooth the edges. Or you can go really crazy and use the wide range of effects. (My favorite is “Paulstretch “.)
Once you’ve made your own palette of sounds, installation is a breeze. Go to “System Settings “, scroll to “Hardware “, click “Sound ” and then “sounds effects “. From this menu, you can add or remove sound effects by activating or disabling. By choosing the music icon you can connect your custom sounds and then you can test them with the game icon.
A Few Caveats
The first three features I mentioned were available in Zorin 9, although I couldn’t find them in the first version of Zorin 12, they may have been added ever since. None of the first three features appear in the latest version of Ubuntu GNOME. Finally, as far as I know “Unattended updates” is common a feature of all Ubuntu-based Linux systems these days. But what I can say in total candor is that in over a decade of using Linux I have never received a single update for “Grub Customizer ” or “ClamAV ” until I switched to Linux Mint.
About author Dave Merritt: I’m a 59 years old, full-time landscaper and parttime PCmedic. I have been an avid Linux user for over ten years. At that time, I do not pretend to have made any possible mistake, only most of them. I am a big fan of prog rock, avant Jazz and J S Bach, and enjoy reading Neal Stephenson and nothing to do with the fundamental problems of modern physics.