Linux Mint, while relatively new, has gained a lot of fans from the linux community, and is now the third most popular on DistroWatch, slowly crunching on openSUSE lead. It brings something a lot of distro have tried: simplicity, functionality, and of course looks. Let’s see what makes Linux Mint fresh and if it’s worth switching from Ubuntu.
Launched about 2 years ago,
It’s one of the most community driven distributions. You could literally post an idea in the forums today and see it implemented the week after in the “current” release. Of course this has pros and cons and compared to distributions with roadmaps, feature boards and fixed release cycles we miss a lot of structure and potentially a lot of quality, but it allows us to react quickly, implement more innovations and make the whole experience for us and for the users extremely exciting. –Linux Mint Team
I’m your father, Linux Mint!
While ignoring the reference to Star Wars, Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu 8.04 LTS (Hardy Heron), which guarantees long term-support, APT package manager with the huge library and the best hardware compatibility so far.
Linux Mint benefits from the huge Ubuntu community, forums, websites; almost all tutorials written for Ubuntu work with Linux Mint.
Getting Linux Mint is fairly easy process: hit the download link, burn the .iso image and boot from the CD. You’re greeted with a fully functional desktop and a choice to install it – the same Ubuntu wizard we’re used to.
There’s no noticeable difference in boot-up time or install time, considering you’re getting a lot of extras from the start.
Booting up Linux Mint is like Christmas morning, and it’s not just eye candy either. There’s no need to manually install ubunru-restricted-extras to bring in those essential packages.
- Out of the box support for media playback, everything from .xvid to .avi, mp3 and flac. Default player: Rhythmbox, MPlayer.
- Easy wizard for installing proprietary ATI/nVidia drivers, with some additional options not included in the default Hardware Drivers app. Default player: MPlayer.
- Sun Java and Adobe Flash support out of the box.
- Drops the Ekiga package and adds an IRC client.
- Compiz Settings Manager: Allows advanced configuration options to the compositioning engine.
- Mint Update: An application specifically written from Linux Mint that allows users to install updates while providing a safety-level indicator, allowing un-experienced users to skip updates that may need further configuration or are not compatible with Mint.
- Mint Desktop: A configuration tool for various settings regarding the desktop. Makes useful stuff like hiding the mounted devices a one click affair.
- Mint Assistant: A first-time configuration tool that let’s you choose to enable the root password and terminal quotes.
- Mint Install: Allows installation of new applications from a simple 3 tab interface: .mint, getdeb.net and the APT repository. Useful for newbies, and definitely faster than loading Synaptic Package Manager.
Mint Backup: Easy wizard for setting up a backup.
From freedom, comes elegance. -Linux Mint motto
Initially skeptical about the elegance part, once it booted-up I was in love. The attention given to every aspect of the interface is unbelievable. From the GRUB boot logo to the login, and desktop, everything inspires elegance. Even the start-up sound is nice – the first time I didn’t disable it.
The main menu resembles KDEs’ implementation – which initially made me wonder if this is Gnome.
Linux Mint’s purpose is to produce an elegant, up to date and comfortable GNU/Linux desktop distribution. -Linux Mint Team
No operating system is perfect, and Linux Mint is no exception.
- Not up-to-date with with the latest improvements in Ubuntu – 8.10 features like the new Network Manager are not yet implemented.
- Doesn’t have the commercial backing of a corporation like Canonical or Novell.
- The release schedule fluctuates. New features might be just around the corner or not implemented at all.
- Google Custom Search instead of Google in Firefox. Can be fixed with ‘Add to search bar’ addon.
A lot of people may argue that the changes in Linux Mint are not that innovative or new. Some people will argue that you could spend a couple of hours and mod the Gnome panel to resemble Mints’. You can install all the Mint apps for Ubuntu. You can install ubuntu-restricted-extras by yourself.
But that takes time – and why waste that when you can have everything you need out of the box? Linux Mint convinced me, and now has its own partition.
Visit Linux Mint website.
What about you? Are you happy with Ubuntu as it is? Share in the comments.