Will Linux Mint outdo the popularity of Ubuntu?
It is raining new releases this month as a result of the domino effect caused by the release of Ubuntu 11.04. The latest in line is Linux Mint. Team Mint has always managed to come up with a distro that improved the strengths of Ubuntu many fold while remaining true to the original one. However this time the scene is completely different. The team had recently announced the release of Linux Mint 11, codenamed Katya. Although, its usual to give a feminine name to each Mint release, this one seems to have a meaning. Katya which means "pure" In Russian seems to hint subtly that the Mint team is upto something.
Canonical's decision to ship Unity with Ubuntu seems to have had a dividing effect on its fan base with the purists showering their discontent while the others kinda welcoming the move in the name of expanding the horizons and experimentation. It seems the Mint community belongs to the former pack.
Clement Lefebvre had announced that Katya will not be shipping Ubuntu or Gnome 3. Instead they wish to stick to the time tested Gnome 2.32. We were all looking forward to a "Minty" Unity or a Gnome shell with a tinge of green. Still this decision seems to have received a favorable response from their fanbase. .
Linux Mint has has been one of our favorites as it had managed to excel in the few areas where Ubuntu was lacking, especially its focus on the out-of-the box multimedia experience and their inclination to improve the end user experience for new users that have recent recently migrated from Windows.
All this, without deviating too much from the parent distro. The Mint Team knew all the right spots to tackle, to polish the already polished Ubuntu. This might have well created their sizeable fanbase. Its also the second most popular distribution after Ubuntu according to Distro Watch.
Leaning on their succes they had recently started moving one step ahead. They had made a pretty good headway in KDE by including KDE as the Desktop Environment followed by LXDE and XFCE, almost like a parallel Ubuntu and they did not fail to make a good impression doing that.
Then they took a giant leap further and brought out a pure Debian based distro, just like Ubuntu. This made us wonder, whether Mint is trying to outdo Ubuntu itself! Hey! they were emulating Ubuntu's strategy, only with a slight twist. Still we just thought that we were making wild guesses. Now with this recent announcement, of sticking to the original Gnome and ditching the new ones along with the 'new' name just strengthened our convictions.
The Ubuntu Team has made a serious gamble with Unity. If their plan backfires then Mint stands poised to gain the upperhand and can become a serious competition to Ubuntu itself.
Now, all this could be just our imagination. Just a really wild guess. Still, if you look at the past, Ubuntu had shed its "just another distro" image to become more popular than Debian or Linux. Now we do not even want to go into the history of Linux, which started out as a Finnish students UNIX clone to surpass UNIX itself. So.....will it be safe to say that soon an Ubuntu based distro will outdo the popularity of Ubuntu itself?