Looking to the future
For the last week or so I have been messing around with a couple of pre-release operating systems.
The first one I tried out was Linux Mint 12. As I am a fan of, and use Linux Mint, I like to know what’s coming down the road.
The most significant change that I can see is the new Gnome desktop.
For some reason they have shifted the main menu bar to the top of the screen, and I haven’t found any way (yet) to change its location. Anyone who has driven a car will know that such items as the steering wheel, brake and accelerator pedals are in much the same position no matter what make of car. Computer interfaces should follow the same pattern, and finding the menu bar is to me like finding the steering wheel on the passenger side of the car.
However, Mint 12 does offer an alternative interface they call MATE. I booted into that.
This at least has the menu in its old familiar place, but is a bog standard Gnome menu. I like the Mint menu system that they currently use and can only hope that it will be imported into Mint 12.
The next system I tried out was Windows 8.
To an old fogey who has been used to everything from Windows 3.1 onwards, this is a massive departure from normality. The first thing that greets you is a desktop and clock.
Notice that there is no Start button, or anything resembling a menu? They are gone. To get to the next stage you have to scroll with the mouse wheel. That brings you to a login screen where you do the usual validation. If you are expecting a normal screen to appear then, forget it. What you get is a horizontally scrolling screen filled with “Apps”. ( I have a personal hatred of that word App, and seeing it plastered everywhere offends my senses!)
Clicking on any one of the tiles will launch that programme. If you do want to get to the standard desktop you have to either click on its tile or hit the Windows key.
One thing that has virtually disappeared is the Title Bar. Run any programme from its tile and the Title Bar is absent. The problem then is that there is no Minimise, Resize or Close buttons. I have yet to find a means of shutting down a programme that is supplied with the OS.
Shutting down Windows 8 is another nightmare. The only way I can find is to go to the tile screen and to click on the User name. This gives you the option to log out or switch user. Choosing log out will eventually bring you back to the original login screen and here is where you find the close down button.
I don’t know how close this version is to the final release but as it stands I hate it. It is full of bells and whistles that look flashy but lack any kind of function or intuitive use. Extra steps have been introduced for no reason that I can see,.that just make a simple task more complicated.
It looks like I will be staying with Mint 11 for the foreseeable future.
What you’re seeing in first image is the Gnome 3 “Fallback mode” and not the proper “Mintified” Gnome Shell environment which requires 3D support. If you haven’t installed the proprietary video driver for your computer this fallback mode is what you’ll get. The Gnome shell environment has two panels as well but the traditional style menu (added by Mint) is on the lower left corner as usual with the Gnome (3) shell “hot spot” in the upper left corner. The new Gnome 3/shell Mint menu is crude yet but it’ll be improved.
In Mate: If you have installed the latest updates the Mint Menu is available by first removing the old style menu you mentioned and then right-clicking on the panel, click on “Add to panel” (can’t recall the exact phrase here–I’m sure you know) and scroll down the items till you see “Mint Menu” and add that to the panel. Position accordingly. The Gnome 2.32 Control Center has been ported to Mate in the latest updates by the way which is nice. Mate still has a lot of bugs yet but it’s really shaping up.
I do like the Mintified Gnome 3/shell environment as well as Mate (lousy name though. It’s actually pronounce Matay but it’s for search purposes it really sucks).
About an hour after writing this, my RSS reader told me that the Mint blog had been updated. One of the first things they mentioned was that the Mint Menu had been ported into Mate.
Personally, I really like the Mint menu, especially the Favourites panel, and find it very simple to use. I would be prepared to use a standard menu if it came to it though. However She Who Must Be Obeyed uses the Mint Menu and would hit the roof if I had to remove it. So at least now my future is safe!