Review: Linux Mint 17.1 "Rebecca" Xfce

Main Screen + Whisker Menu
Recently, the Xfce edition of Linux Mint 17.1 "Rebecca" was released. It and the MATE edition are notable in featuring...Compiz! This really caught my eye, so I wanted to review it. There are several other changes too, so I figured that it would be worthwhile to review the Xfce edition rather than the MATE edition, given that I already tried the MATE edition of Linux Mint 17 "Qiana" not too long ago. Note that Ubuntu-based Linux Mint is sticking only to LTS releases, so a major release will roughly coincide (lagging by a month or so) with the Ubuntu LTS release, and then decimal point releases will be put out every 6 months or so and be given a new code name while still sticking with the last LTS release as its base. As far as this review goes, I tried this as usual as a live USB system made with UnetBootin. Follow the jump to see what it's like.

After the boot menu, I was greeted by a boot splash consisting of a solid Linux Mint logo on a black background. After a reasonably short time, that gave way to the desktop. The desktop is fairly similar to the previous version, though for some reason the icons and panel looked noticeably bigger than before; looking at the screenshots, though, I think I may have been getting mixed up with my experiences with Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" Xfce, which I have installed and use every day. That said, I do think the big icons and panel could help entice users new to Linux; this could possibly include older folks who may just want something simple to browse the Internet, check email, and write some letters in a word processing program, and who need bigger icons and other buttons.

Mozilla Firefox is the default browser as usual. As is expected for Linux Mint, proprietary codecs are included, as I was able to use YouTube and other sites that require Adobe Flash just fine; additionally, my laptop's volume keyboard shortcuts worked fine.
Mozilla Firefox + LibreOffice Writer
LibreOffice is the default productivity suite. The remaining applications seem pretty standard for Linux Mint. Thunar is the default file browser, but it feels a little too bare-bones for my tastes. I was able to successfully install Nemo and its associated file preview application from the repositories without installing a ton of Cinnamon dependencies; all that got installed were some critical files for Nemo as well as some small common files that happen to be used by Cinnamon. I was then able to successfully use Nemo and set it as the default file browser.

Skype, Redshift, and Mupen64Plus were easily installable from the repositories, while M64Py and the Google Talk plugin were installable from their respective websites. Skype worked great, as I was able to make a full-length call from the live session. Google Talk seemed to have been configured properly as well. I figured out what the issue with Mupen64Plus was from last time: accessing the game ROM file from my hard drive caused issues with permissions, so I copied it to the live session home directory, changed the permissions to be readable and writable by the regular user, and ran it fine. Redshift worked fine, and it seems to have improved too; it now has the option to start the application automatically available from the GUI panel applet, and it automatically detects the current location (avoiding the need to look up latitude and longitude coordinates).

Nemo + Nemo-Preview + Desktop Cube
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, one of the features that caught my eye about this release was Compiz. It turns out that Compiz is already fully installed and generally configured from the get-go, so all that needs to be done is to use the "Desktop Settings" application to switch the WM from Xfwm to Compiz, log out, and log back in. Moreover, any changes to Compiz settings are retained between sessions. In general, Compiz worked as well as it used to over 4 years ago, which makes me quite happy. Additionally, I find that in Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" Xfce, the calendar panel applet appears a bit above the panel (instead of aligned with it) because of an issue with Compiz, and I have found that in more recent releases of Linux Mint, the same issue occurs with the main menu; neither of those are problems here. The only minor issue is that the workspace switcher applet seems to get squished when Compiz runs, so it becomes harder to select the correct workspace in that applet when switching.
Even with Compiz running in the background, the command "free -m" showed that Linux Mint used 270 MB of RAM at idle, which is pretty good. The system was overall quite stable and responsive, and I had no other issues in that regard.

That's where my time with Linux Mint 17.1 "Rebecca" Xfce ended. There was just one minor issue, but it was small enough that I could easily overlook it. Everything seemed to work perfectly; I had no other complaints, and I was really happy with how all the applications worked and how the desktop worked as a whole. It looks like I've found the distribution that could potentially replace Linux Mint 13 LTS "Maya" Xfce on my main computer. Overall, I can only give it my highest recommendation for newbies and more experienced users alike.
You can get it here.

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