Linux Mint 9 Review

Posted: May 24, 2010 in OS Reviews
Tags: , ,

Well, well..the distro I was waiting for is finally out.  It took a bit but I was finally able to do a review on it.  It is hard for me to do objective reviews on Linux Mint as it is my preferred Linux distro, but I feel I am up to the challenge.  So, let’s begin.

As usual, my preferred method of testing (and installation) is from a Live CD.  I tried a DVD for the first time, but it didn’t boot for some reason.  I have a feeling it may be the DVDs I bought so I am reserving judgment about that issue.  The second time was a CD.

The load time was a bit longer than usual, but nothing more than maybe a minute or two.  Then it boots into a nice re-designed splash screen with the logo and 5 dots underneath.  (I’ve heard that there have been issues with either the logo not displaying or some other weirdness but I didn’t experience that).  Then it finishes with a lovely new desktop (green of course!) with no logo interestingly.  I understand that the artwork for this version was outsourced.  I have mixed feelings about this as I love how community oriented Linux Mint is and I feel that between Zwopper and Jernau among others, nobody else is needed but having said that, the artwork looks very nice and professional.  This is really a non-issue in the bigger scheme of things anyway *she says sheepishly*

Because I only VERY briefly used Linux Mint 8 due to the horrors of Karmic Koala, there were many changes for me in regards to the difference between Linux Mint 7 and Linux Mint 9.  Some of these include:

  • The ever amazing Linux Mint Menu.  Love it or hate it, it’s probably the most often discussed start menu in all of Linux-dom.  This version of Mint sports even more improvements to the Menu of all Menus, with the ability to make the menu transparent.  Excellent idea!  However, the problem with it is that everything is on the same transparency level, fonts, icons etc..rather than the background transparency being separate.  I would imagine that someone said “Doh!” upon realizing what had been forgotten 😀  Of course, the Menu is uber-customiseable, with way too many options to list here..some include the afore-mentioned transparency, the option to always start with your favorites, searching the menu, show/hide application comments, custom colors, number of colums, icon size, name swap, and the very nice customiseable, editable default places as well as scrolling and removing items from the default list.  I have heard some complaints about the size of it..true, it is pretty large but I’m sure this will be addressed in future releases.
  • The Startup Manager.  This is where things can be changed such as the color depth and resolution, which version will be booted (e.g. recovery mode), whether or not to show a boot splash and verbose boot and the bootloader menu resolution.
  • The Software Manager.  I really like the Software Manager.  Everything in it is for Mint and so everything works with little or in most cases no tweaking.  The Software Portal (the earlier version of Software Manager was slow and irritating for the most part (but a good idea) and now that idea has been tweaked until installing with Mint is now as easy as pie.  I love being able to review apps right while I am looking for them and installing them!  I had no problems with the search results even though I was vague with my search terms 😀   The only suggestion I would make in this regard is that it would have been nice to see what versions of the apps were.  For instance, Opera was there, but what version was it?  Not strictly necessary but it’s something I like to see.
  • The social scene.  When I reviewed Ubuntu’s Lucid Lynx, I liked it overall (except for the lack of chocolate color lol) but I didn’t particularly care for the social apps set up into the desktop.  The MeMenu could have been awesome but wasn’t.  I’m very glad that Mint didn’t try to stuff that in my face, but yet included it in the distro to be used as desired.  I tried it out and successfully set up my microblogging accounts but I won’t be using it often so I’m glad it’s not all over my desktop.
  • Backup Tool.  Ahhh the joys of a Backup Tool to go from one Mint to the next.  As someone who has been too hard up to buy an external drive, it is usually at least 8 kinds of nightmare trying to back up everything for the next install.  This is going to make it soooo easy, I can’t wait to back up everything (and I’m finally able to get that external drive to do it with!)
  • This time around’s version of Update Manager comes with a new icon set, which seems to be changeable?? Really?  I didn’t try it since I wasn’t sure how to change it back but wow, how’s that for customisation!  Being able to change the repo sources (add and subtract also) and getting to see the changelog, this isn’t too much different from Helena’s offering.  Although it is faster and smoother.

Some of the other things I have noticed so far are the offerings of GParted, USB Disk Creator and Domain Blocker which are welcome.  I would prefer Evolution over the massive overkill that is Thunderbird but I’m not someone who has to deal with much email, being more of a text and IM person myself but ’tis easily taken care of with one of my favourite features of the Menu, uninstall.

Wow moments:

Chromium and Flock now in the repositories!  Nice!!  My biggest wow moment concerns the AWN dock but I think I may have to do a review of it on its own merits 😀  The Hardware Analysis tool is going to be very useful in terms of getting the information needed to do troubleshooting, especially with the copy to clipboard option which is very useful when trying to get help with an issue..just copy and paste the problem right into the forum!

So my overall, unbiased opinion?  I give Linux Mint 9 a solid A for performance and an A/A- for appearance.  I’ve heard various sources saying this is up there for top distro release this year and I believe it.  Linux newbies, this one’s for you!

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