Anyhow, the Linux Mint 11 is based on the latest release of Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal but because of few obvious reasons (I guess) they've decided to drop "few things" on their way. One of the reasons of Mint being so famous is because out of the box they included all the proprietary codecs + multimedia players such as MPlayer, etc (currently positioned at 6, in the most popular GNU/Linux distros according to distro watch).
Mint 11 comes with both Live CD and a DVD versions but they've decided to drop the proprietary codecs from the CD!, first I thought it could be because it's still a bet version (doesn't make any sense, I know :P) but when I was reading their official Mint 11 RC page, I realized it's because... let me put it in their own words...
The liveCD comes with less applications, no multimedia codecs and no restricted software, making it fit within 700MB and safely distributable in countries where the legislation allows patents to apply to software...Time destroys everything. First you start with fresh/new ideas and hoping that you'll make a difference, but most of us (other than very few) just end up being the exact "opposite", that we "thought", we'd never become otherwise. Suddenly Mint wants to be famous but they should not forget that behind their reputation, the excellent support for proprietary codecs did play a major role.
But actually that's not the only thing behind their reputation. For instance, if I'm not mistaken, it was them who created the MS XP/Vista like start menu for Gnome (then OpenSuse "grabbed" it or maybe it was OpenSuse who implement that on GNU/Linux first, anyway) + Mint is not just another distro that changes few backgrounds/boot-screens or themes and call it different.
Like Elementary OS, they have their own collections of tools that make the life of the GNU/Linux user more easier for which they do deserve some appreciation. So, thank you Minty dudes ad dudees :P.
Anyway, the 11 RC brings few major differences...
*. Although they've decided to drop codecs in the CD version (they're all there in the DVD) but as soon as you install and log-in you'll be prompted to install all those codecs and players via a single click which can also be accessed via the start menu as well, for that you'll need an internet connection (as in the below screenshot).
*. Enhanced software manager.
As said before, Mint is not just another "derivative", they have their own customized apps. The 11 RC comes with an even better software manger. With big icons and categorized main window, excellent if you're a bit new to GNU/Linux.
*. The Desktop Setting Tool.
This is another one of their own inventions. Depending on your Desktop type (whether it's Gnome, Qt/KDE, XFce, etc)... this user friendly wizard lets you customize the desktop according to your personal preference.
*. A Better update manager.
Yes, according to the developers, this update manager is faster than the previous ones.
*. Comes with the Ubuntu Unity's "overlay scroll-bars".
Yep, for some reason, they've not decided to drop that. So, if you love those scroll-bars in Unity, then this might get you excited.
Remember, Mint 11 does not use Unity desktop (shell) nor Gnome3 either. They still use the "old" Gnome 2.32, Kernel 2.6.38 and uses the Xorg 7.6 version.
Although these are very few to mention and Banshee is the default music player and gThumb replaces F-Spot (they're both seem pretty useless to me) as well. You can read about all the new features from this official release page.
x86 processor (supports both 32/64-bit versions)... no information can be found concerning the CPU speed.
512MB of RAM (1GB recommended).
5GB HDD space.
800x600 Display resolution.
CD/DVD or a USB drive.
Few final words...
Let's hope that, other than giving those codecs in the DVD, if they really want to make it easy to distribute by aligning themselves with laws of other countries, then at least, dear Linux Mint team, please when you release the 11th version, could you at least create two separate CD versions (one with the codecs and the other without them, simple solution) so everyone wins! :).