The latest LXF magazine arrived with Linux Mint 6, Slackware 12.2, and openSuse 11.1. I was originally going to review openSuse, but I have been unable to successfully boot either into VirtualBox or just by booting my computer and running it as a LiveDVD. (ed. note: I just checked the magazine and they suggested booting in failsafe mode, so I’ll try that out in a couple of days) So, we’ll be starting with Linux Mint 6. I reviewed Linux Mint 5 Light back in July 2008. Since I wasn’t using VirtualBox at the time, I only tested it as a LiveDVD and that may have been the source of some of my problems testing the software installation. Plus this time I can review the installation process.
The desktop hasn’t changed much from Linux Mint 5. They still have the menu bar at the bottom. Same slick background. I did notice they now have Gnome Do. Gnome Do is a pretty neat technology that I hope to review a bit once I’ve played with it a little.
Alright, time to see what this installation process is like. The first few questions were easy – language, timezone, keyboard. The partition screen looks pretty slick. Perhaps they’re using some Cairo there.
I just went with the default. I think this screen should have had just a small text box saying what partitioning is and just a bit of an explanation. Someone who’s never done this before might be a little scared or nervous. The installation is pretty simple. No little ads or anything.
Installation took about half an hour. Not too bad. About the same as any of the modern popular distros. After installation I had to reboot. The grub screen had a few options.
and the boot up screen looks VERY nice. Much more elegant than Ubuntu.
and, I really like the gdm greeter screen. Many kudos to the Linux Mint Art team.
As this is my first boot, Linux Mint starts up a configuration wizard.
and now came a surprise that I thought was amazing and really made me like Linux Mint over Ubuntu.
As a Fedora user, the whole sudo thing was very strange for me. It seems, to me, to be a security problem because you are requiring a cracker to know one less password in order to gain root access to your system. So I’m glad that Linux Mint allows you to enable the root account right at the beginning here while also doing a good job of explaining it for new users. It also asked if I wanted to enable fortunes. This is where I slag off Fedora because it annoyed me to find out that many other Linux distros and Unices were rewarding their users with a fortune whenever they opened the terminal, but Fedora wasn’t.
Once I finally logged in, I checked out the applications. They appear to have the usual suspects – Firefox, Open Office.org, Pidgin, Xchat-Gnome, Tomboy, and Transmission for Bittorrent. I didn’t see Blender, so I decided to try and install it. I clicked on Software Manager.
I had to do a refresh first. That took a few minutes 20-25 minutes. The program is what I picture the ideal Synaptic to be.
Synaptic, as you probably know, is the superb program installation application for Debian and Ubuntu (and probably some others based on Debian). It’s so good that Fedora is only now starting to catch up with PackageKit. But Mint takes Synaptic and adds some great features – screenshots and ratings! So if you’re trying to decide between different Web Browsers you can look at the ratings and take a look at the screenshots and get a good idea of what you want to install. I hope that more distros steal port mintInstall to their distros.
So there’s Blender and I go ahead and install it. The only thing I don’t like is that it’s only listed as the Blender Exporter for Ogre.
They’re a bit behind compared to Fedora 10. Fedora 10’s at Blender 2.49 and Linux Mint’s still at 2.46. If you’re just doing animation work, it’s not a big deal. But if you’re doing game desgin work, you’re missing out on some new features. So if you need cutting edge, Fedora10 would be a better choice than Linux Mint 6
Audio worked perfectly fine – even in VirtualBox!
If someone were to ask me, “Eric, should I choose Debian or Ubuntu?” I’d reply, “Is this for a system where stability is critical? Or is it some architecture other than x86 or AMD64?” And if they didn’t reply yes to either question I’d say, “Then there isn’t really a question, is there? You choose Ubuntu. It’s got the latest software and it’s updated every 6 months.” In a way, I feel the same about the comparision between Linux Mint and Ubuntu. At first, I didn’t see the point in Linux Mint – they were just Ubuntu with girls’ names and multimedia codecs. But now they’ve reached the next level in Linux distribution evolution. No longer are they just an off-shoot of Ubuntu anymore than Ubuntu is just an off-shoot of Debian. They’ve begun to provide innovations such as mintInstall, just as Ubuntu has been doing a lot of the work on Upstart (and Fedora did a lot of the initial implementation work on PulseAudio). When people complain that there are too many distros – this is a reason why we do need a few different ones. They are each providing bits of innovative additions to the Gnu/Linux community which other distros can pick up and everyone becomes better. So, I got a little bit side tracked there. Basically, I don’t see why anyone should not choose Linux Mint 6. There isn’t anything that appears to be better about Ubuntu in comparison; Linux Mint appears to be Ubuntu++. So if you’re distro-hopping or trying Linux for the first time – Linux Mint 6 seems to be easy enough and it has Ubuntu as its parent. So check it out – especially if you don’t want any hassles with multimedia codecs. (Although, for legal reasons, let me say that it’s illegal to use those in the USA – but how could they possibly find out…)