The Linux Mint team announced today that the final release of version 10 of the free and open source operating system, dubbed "Julia," is now officially available.
Launched in 2006, Linux Mint has quickly become the third most popular Linux distribution out there behind only Ubuntu and Fedora, and version 10 makes it easy to see why. Based on Ubuntu 10.10, or Maverick Meerkat, Julia offers numerous enhancements that put it at the forefront of usability.
A new Welcome Screen, for instance, lets users install any multimedia codecs they might need right from the start as well as upgrade to the DVD edition, if necessary. Linux Mint has always stood out for its compatibility, thanks in large part to its inclusion of many proprietary multimedia codecs that are often absent from other distributions, and this new capability makes that compatibility even easier to ensure.
A revamped menu, meanwhile, highlights newly installed applications and adds support for GTK bookmarks and themes for easier customization. It's also now aware of what's available in the user's software repositories, meaning that they can search for software and install packages without even having to open the Software Manager.
Search capabilities are now directly integrated into the menu as well, so users can simply begin typing to look something up on Google or Wikipedia, for example. It's also now possible to look up words in the dictionary and find tutorials, software, hardware devices and even other Linux Mint users that way.
Then, too, there are the updates to Linux Mint 10's Software Manager, making packages easier to browse through and find. Software is now categorized more clearly, while application icons make them easier to recognize.
Also new in Julia is an Update Manager that lets the user tell the operating system if there are packages for which they're not interested in receiving updates. When updates are selected, the Update Manager now shows the size of the file about to be downloaded.
Look and Feel
There's a new look and feel in Linux Mint 10, adding a metallic twist to the distribution's traditional light theme and dark background. A number of artist-created backgrounds are also available.
Under the hood, components include security-enhanced version 2.6.35 of the Linux kernel, GNOME 2.32 and Xorg 7.5. The speedy Adobe Flash "Square" is also part of Julia, as is a new metapackage called "virtualbox-nonfree" that points to the non-open-source version of Oracle's VirtualBox virtualization software and provides USB support.
Finally, for developers and administrators, Julia's Upload Manager has been polished with a raft of new improvements.
Following the debut of its release candidate last month, Linux Mint 10 is now available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions via Torrent and HTTP download. It will be supported through April 2012. The software requires an x86 processor with 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB of disk space for installation along with a graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution.
I've got Maverick Meerkat running on my main machine, but taking Julia for a lengthier test-drive is going to be one of my weekend projects.
If you're curious about Linux Mint as a user-friendly alternative to Mac or Windows -- or if you're an Ubuntu user who wants to see what Mint is like in light of all the big changes coming down the pike for Canonical's distribution -- there's no better time to give Julia a try.
Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.