After beta testing for three weeks, the Linux Mint team has released the final stable build of Mint 12 (codenamed Lisa). Mint initially gained popularity thanks to its clever mixture of beauty and productivity. With Lisa, the Mint team is trying to pull off another delicate balancing act. Mint 12 adopts the new GNOME 3 desktop environment, but slaps its own MGSE (Mint Gnome Shell Extensions) layer on top of it to retain the familiarity and power of the GNOME 2 desktop environment.
Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, which uses its own Unity desktop environment that, in some ways, differs radically from the traditional desktop paradigm. Both GNOME 3 and Unity has proved to be controversial as they often break the traditional task based workflow. In fact, the backlash against GNOME 3 and Unity has helped boost Mint’s popularity in a big way. According to Distrowatch, Mint is now the most popular desktop Linux distribution, ahead of Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Ubuntu.
Lisa also includes MATE, which is a fork of GNOME 2 that is compatible with GNOME 3. However, MATE is still a work in progress and isn’t entirely stable.
Mint 12 features DuckDuckGo, which is my favorite search engine, as the default search provider. The Mint team has decided to exclude search engines with which it couldn’t reach a revenue sharing agreement. However, it has also made installation of additional search engines easier than ever before, in case you are not comfortable with default providers. Other changes to Mint include new artwork and theme.
You can grab Linux Mint 12 from any of the mirrors listed here.