The Linux Mint website at http://www.linuxmint.com is the first place to look for news, help and other resources relating to Mint. Some of the features it offers are:
Figure 51: The Linux Mint website
The main page of the site provides current news and a menu linking to other pages. Older news is moved from this page into the Mint Blog. News includes details of new releases and updates, including screenshots, and monthly statistics on Mint sponsorship, uptake and use.
It’s possible to register on the Mint site by supplying a username and a password. Registered users can post in the forums. The whole site is searchable via a search panel at the upper right.
This is a sequential list of articles and news releases on Mint by the development team. Articles are generally in English and are shown in reverse order of date. A search panel at the upper right allows users to search for specific terms or names.
Click on the title of an article to open it in a separate window. This will also show any comments on the posting. Comments are often responded to by Clem Lefebvre or other team members.
Figure 52: The Mint Community website
This tab links to various websites and subdomains maintained by and for the growing community of Mint users.
The ‘Community’ tab on the Mint homepage links to a separate site at community.linuxmint.com. This is designed for feedback and collaboration among Mint users. You can register on the site by supplying a username, a password and an email address. This adds a tab to the menu called ‘My Places’ where you can enter your own details and create material of your own such as tutorials.
At the time of writing there were around 71,000 Mint users registered. The home page shows details of where they are located and the versions and releases of Mint they are using. There is a page for reporting bugs found in Mint, and registered users can also submit ideas for improving the system. These can be purely technical: ‘One click reinstall of grub / grub2 on live cd’ or more general suggestions: ‘Give KDE some love’. Suggestions can be commented on and voted on by registered users of the site.
Tutorials on the site appear at the rate of one to two per day. They may be brief or extended, technical or basic. Examples at the time of writing included ‘How to move window button layout to the left’ and ‘Change the color in the Cinnamon Menu’. There is a search option that allows you to filter the tutorials in order to locate the one you want, but the titles are not always very meaningful.
A Hardware menu item allows you to search for hardware which is compatible with specific releases of Mint. This can be of value when you’re shopping for a printer or scanner, for instance: although Mint and other Linux distros support the majority of devices, there are still a few that may not work as expected.
The Software item allows you to read reviews of various applications and utilities which have been tested on Mint. These are more informative and useful than the relatively short blurbs appearing in the Synaptic Package Manager and the Software Manager.
‘Countries’ shows the distribution of registered site users by country. ‘Users’ shows a searchable list of users sorted by their ‘experience points’ – how much they have participated on the site. There is also a chat room for users to discuss their problems and discoveries. This is distinct from the official Linux Mint IRC channels which can be found elsewhere on the internet – e.g. irc.spotnet.org. The general level of chat is fairly uninspiring, with lots of passive onlookers, but users should be able to offer help if you need it. Site members can also volunteer to help test pre-release versions of Mint.
‘Local communities’ shows a list of the local Mint user and promotion groups that are recognised by the Mint team.
Back on the main Mint website there is a subdomain for ‘forums’ (forums.linuxmint.com) where users can post questions and tutorials. This includes a ‘Newbies’ section, which is a good place to start off. There’s even a little button at the top right to adjust the text size up or down. Each forum is separately searchable for words or phrases.
The Forum is a lot busier than the community site, and user responses can run into many pages. You’ll need to bear in mind when using this that Mint is in a state of steady development, and that many of the responses to older questions may no longer be relevant to new versions, though sometimes a comment on an older response may direct you to some more up-to-date coverage.
Many Mint Forum users don’t speak English as their first language, so their spelling may not always be perfect and their grasp of English idioms may be poor. When asking (or responding to) a question, try to keep it simple and straightforward.
The Linux Mint ‘Planet’ (linuxmint.com/planet/index2.php) is a series of YouTube video tutorials. Users can play these directly from the website or subscribe to them via an RSS feed. Several new tutorials are added daily. Most are currently in English, though a range of other languages is represented. Lengths range from a few seconds to nearly half-an-hour.
A huge collection of wallpapers, screenshots, themes, logos and other ‘eye candy’ contributed by Mint users and developers. You can also access these directly through linuxmint-art.org. Themes are specific to GNOME (called GTK) or KDE, so you will need to download the theme appropriate to your GUI. It will be downloaded as a compressed package, Open this up and follow the instructions in the ‘readme’ file to install and use the theme on your own system. Note that ‘Artwork’ also includes sets of system sounds.
This links to a weekly podcast (http://www.mintcast.org) from a Mint users’ perspective relating to developments in Linux and computing in general. Alternative distros are described and discussed. The podcasts can be streamed from the website or downloaded manually. Users can subscribe to an RSS feed of new podcasts as they are posted. The podcast site includes links to the sites and organisations discussed in the podcasts.
This is the link that allows users to download copies of Mint releases. The latest versions of Mint 14 and Mint Debian are shown as separate menu items. There is a link to ‘All Versions’, which contains versions of Mint back to Version 1.0, and a ‘Documentation’ link that leads to downloadable copies of The Linux Mint User Guide (see below) in a variety of languages. You can also choose to ‘Buy CDs’. This will take you to the the commercial supplier On-Disk (on-disk.com), which provides versions of Mint on CD-ROM and DVD for prices in the range $US10-15, plus shipping. Users with little or no bandwidth available may opt to purchase these instead of downloading.
This links to sections within the Community Website, described above.
This has links to sections including:
- Get Involved – Allows you to make donations, sponsor Mint, read reviews of the various Mint distros and releases, report bugs, translate Mint menus and help into other languages, submit new themes and artwork, and even review and correct bugs in the Mint source code.
- Donors – Displays a list of donors with the amounts contributed to Mint. This also includes a box where you can donate to Mint via credit card or PayPal. The amounts donated range from $2 to $250.
- Sponsors – Lists sponsors for Mint, with links to their homepages or sites where appropriate.
- Partners – Lists the partners and vendors associated with the Mint project.
- Store – The Mint Store stocks Mint-related merchandise. This includes computers with Mint pre-installed, a special-purpose minicomputer called the Mint Box, live CDs, DVDs and USB sticks from On-Disk, shirts (through http://www.hellotux.com) and stickers.
- Mirrors – Lists addresses for computers around the world which host versions of Mint and the Mint repositories for downloading.
The About menu gives an overview of the Mint message, lists the participants in the various Mint development teams, provides a brief FAQ dealing with major questions, provides some screenshots for reviews and press releases, and provides a second link to reviews and interviews about the distro.