Reminder: OEM images are for computer vendors and manufacturers. They allow Linux Mint to be "pre-installed" on a machine which is then used by another person than the one who performed the installation. After an OEM installation, the computer is set in such a way that the next reboot features a small setup screen where the new user/customer has the ability to choose his/her username, password, keyboard layout and locale.
On supported hardware Cinnamon now uses a newer "cogl" API. This change is known to prevent some of the causes of desktop freezes observed in earlier releases. In case of a freeze or if you need to restart Cinnamon for any reason, you can now do so via a keyboard shortcut. The default key combination is Ctrl+Alt+Escape. Pressing this combination of keys restarts nemo and cinnamon-settings-daemon in case they had crashed, and launches a brand new instance of the Cinnamon desktop. Unlike Ctrl+Alt+Backspace which terminates your session and brings you back to the login screen, Ctrl+Alt+Escape simply restarts Cinnamon itself, which means your session is exactly as it was, you don’t lose any work and all your windows and applications remain open.
You no longer need to recompile Cinnamon to choose between consolekit and logind support. This is done in gsettings and you can decide which relevant Cinnamon components use which session/power-management backend: Set org.cinnamon.desktop.session session-manager-uses-logind to true to make Cinnamon rely on logind to restart/shutdown/suspend/hibernate the computer from the shutdown dialog, or to false to restart/shutdown the computer via consolekit and suspend/hibernate via upower. Set org.cinnamon.desktop.session settings-daemon-uses-logind in a similar fashion to control suspending/hibernating on idle or via multimedia keys. Set org.cinnamon.desktop.session screensaver-uses-logind to true to make the screensaver listen to logind, or to false to make it listen to consolekit. Linux Mint uses consolekit and upower by default but it is also compatible with logind. With MDM 2.0 and Cinnamon 2.6 you can now switch back and forth between the two and it should work well either way.
Responsiveness, load times and CPU usage
A huge amount of work was done to review the CPU usage in various parts of Cinnamon and many improvements were made. Performance was gained by optimizing how Cinnamon reacts to particular events and reducing the number of tasks or repeated tasks it performs. The menu, for instance, is refreshed about 6 times as less as before… signals resulting from connecting a USB device are grouped together and lead to 1 action, reducing 4 concurrent reactions into a single one. The docinfo part of Cinnamon, which handles “recent files”, was optimized a lot. We found out tiny features such as generating thumbnails for “recent” files in the application menu were very expensive in resources and dropping them led to significant reductions in CPU usage. Un-necessary calculations in the window management part of Cinnamon could also be dropped, leading to reduced idle CPU usage (about 40% reduction in the number of CPU wakes per second). Loading times were also reviewed (this covered Cinnamon and MDM) and found to be excellent, except for the case where Cinnamon is loaded for the first time after a computer restart or shutdown. Whereas a normal Cinnamon initialization would typically take between 0 and 2 seconds, the very first one could take up to 40 seconds on some of our test systems. The reason was a lack of HDD read-cache, especially when it came to Gio appinfo and icon themes data. To reduce this initial load time, Cinnamon 2.6 introduces a preload mechanism which loads themes and app info asynchronously earlier on during the boot sequence. Distributions using non-standard icon themes can add them to /etc/cinnamon/preload/iconthemes.d/. Finally, information was added to Looking glass logs to report the Cinnamon startup time as well as to indicate how long each enabled applet took to start.
Multi-monitor and multi-panel support
Support for multiple monitors was improved. Better window list actions and new keybindings allow you to move windows to other monitors (Super+Shift with arrow keys by default). But the most significant improvement is that you can now have multiple panels and place them across multiple monitors. Applets are better than before at running multiple instances of themselves and some of them got smarter to accommodate multi-monitor/multi-panel setups. For instance a window list applet won’t show you windows from another monitor if that monitor has a panel with its own window list.
Linux Mint 17.3 is a long term support release which will be supported until 2019. It comes with updated software and brings refinements and many new features to make your desktop experience more comfortable to use.
About Linux Mint
Linux Mint is an Ubuntu-based distribution whose goal is to provide a more complete out-of-the-box experience by including browser plugins, media codecs, support for DVD playback, Java and other components. It also adds a custom desktop and menus, several unique configuration tools, and a web-based package installation interface. Linux Mint is compatible with Ubuntu software repositories.