Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cinnamon Spices

Yesterday I upgraded my home PC from Linux Mint 11 (Katya) to Mint 14 (Nadia), picking the Cinnamon version. (Well, I did most of the upgrading -- I'm still tweaking things, installing applications that were not from the main repositories, etc.) A few things about the upgrade are worth mentioning:
  1. Mint ships with LibreOffice 3.6.2 (I think); the current version, as of this writing, is 3.6.3. Either would be more recent than the version I had with Katya. I don't use most of LibreOffice, but I use Calc (the spreadsheet component) rather extensively. So I was dismayed to discover that it crashed more than half the time trying to open a particular spreadsheet file (the first one I needed to access). If I managed to get into the file, Calc crashed consistently when I tried to save it. It also crashed consistently if I tried to copy the contents (thinking that perhaps if I pasted it into a new file I might work around the problem). I tried opening and saving a few other spreadsheets, and they all were handled correctly. There's nothing special about the contents of the problematic one (a column of dates, a column of formulas, a column of numbers, some headings), nor is it a large file. A web search turned up one or two reports of crashes with Writer (the word processing component), typically on a different Mint variant (KDE desktops, I think). One person reported that the problem disappeared after an upgrade. So I downloaded and installed the latest LibreOffice, and so far the problem has not resurfaced.
  2. Cinnamon seems to be based on JavaScript and JSON. A few of the features I used with the GNOME desktop have been removed, have not yet been replicated or are left to the reader as an exercise. Fortunately, third-party substitutes are available in some cases. A number of possibly handy applets (that plug effortlessly into the panel) are available from the Mint Spices page. One I found particularly useful is My Launcher. It provides an easily configured quick-launch list for applications I use frequently. One click expands the list, a second click launches the application. With GNOME, I was able to add the Accessories menu directly to the panel; My Launcher accomplishes the same thing, but lets me add applications that are not on the Accessories menu and remove ones I do not use often.

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