mintbox 2
The MintBox ships without multimedia codecs

Linux Mint will no longer come with multimedia codecs pre-installed, the project has announced.

Full out-of-the-box multimedia support had been a key differentiator for the Ubuntu-based distribution, helping it earn recommendations as the ideal choice for newcomers to Linux.

So why the change?  Effort.

More Work, Less Reward

The reasoning behind the decision to drop media codecs is hard to argue with. Put simply: it’s more work for the Mint team to ship ISO images both with and without codecs (the latter used by OEMs, etc to avoid licensing costs) than getting the user decide to install them.

Shipping images with codecs pre-installed was “costly and only slightly improved our distribution”, Mint say,

In cutting codecs from install builds the team also cuts the number of images that needed to be tested during each release cycle: it drops from 5 milestones across 18 ISO images to a more manageable 4 milestones across 12 ISO images.

This news does not mean that you won’t be able to play audio and video content on Linux Mint at all.

Going forward, for new installs and inside the Live CD/USB session, you will need to install the relevant multimedia codecs yourself.

On Linux Mint 18 this is as easy as:

  • Checking a box during installation, or;
  • Clicking a button on the Welcome screen, or;
  • Installing them via Menu>Sound and Video>Install Multimedia Codecs

Linux Mint 18 is based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. It is to feature a suite of forked GNOME apps called ‘Xapps’ and a brand new theme. Expect to see it make its first beta release sometime in the very near future.

Does this change affect you? Will this move put you off recommending Linux Mint to newbies? 

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