Posts Tagged ‘Linux Mint’

Linux Mint 10 Review

Posted: December 22, 2010 in OS Reviews
Tags: ,

First off, my apologies for such a late showing of this review.  I always take notes as I test a new distro and I was going to write this review using my handy-dandy Android app, so I took my little paper and stuck it in a pocket..somewhere.  I finally located it today, which is the reason for my tardiness.  Now that my groveling is complete, awayyyy we go!

I booted a Live CD of Linux Mint 10, nicely named Julia, and waited for the boot.  The booting didn’t take much longer than average but longer than I would have liked.  The throbber ‘dots’ from the previous Isadora are again present.  The boot finally ends in a gray desktop with very little green to be had (:O) but it was a nice ‘metal’ theme that had a simple yet elegant LM 10.  The new icon theme, which is apparently made from sets “Faenza” and “Elementary” and of course, mintified, is VERY nice to look at.  It was a little wow moment.

One of the big changes for Linux Mint this go around (and there’s always at least one to wow you with) is the Mint Menu.  That’s right, the amazing Mint Menu that makes other distros wish they were green, has gotten even better.  The menu is now themeable, and more customiseable than ever, with the nice new icons incorporated and menu entries have been revised to make categorizing better as well.  Additionally, one can use search engines from the menu now, as well as the search and install packages right from the menu.  I did forget to check the CPU usage for this so I am uncertain whether or not these menu improvements will be detrimental to memory.

The other big big change for Mint is that now, upon deciding to do a hard drive install, one is now presented with the option of upgrading to the DVD edition of Mint.  This includes all the goodies that have to be missing from the Mint editions that get distributed in the USA and Japan due to patents and copyrights etc.  So now no one has to miss out on the full issue of Linux Mint.  This is something I can take advantage of myself.

Other nice improvements include changes to the Update Manager, which now comes with an ‘ignore list’ and now tells the size of individual updates.  The upload manager, which also remained untested by me as I have no use for it, went through some minor changes as well, including the ability to run in the background and it’s looks now mirror the download box in Firefox.  Additionally, the Software Manager is faster, which was nice..although not as noticeable as the speed increase was on Isadora lol.

As for aesthetics, I liked the look of Linux Mint (I always do) but as far as the artwork is concerned, I have to say none of the hired artists have done work to surpass that of some of the long time community members.  In future releases I would like to see artwork by Linux Minters again.   The brushed metal look is good though.   Everything I tested worked just fine, as expected from the Mint team.  Wireless and DSL connections fine, as well as all the apps were all in perfect working condition.  As usual, I give high marks to Linux Mint, an A- for performance and an A- for looks.  Great job to the Mint team!

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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!

Oops.  It would seem that I forgot a key piece of information between the two prior posts.  Lol, okay a bit late and I’m sure it’s obvious by now but I installed Mandriva Linux One to my hard drive, replacing Linux Mint as my distro of choice.

That is pretty huge.  I used Linux Mint for nearly 10 months, which can be quite some time in a distro hopping Linux world.  The two main reasons (and I just found a third) that I switched are:  Linux Mint wireless is an ongoing pain in the rump kind of issue.  Not to say Mandriva doesn’t have its own ongoing thing..all distros do, but that was something I needed to work out of the box and it didn’t.  As well, no matter how much I begged, pleaded, screamed or ranted, Linux Mint would not recognize the USB connection from my Nokia phone or even acknowledge its existence.  A minor inconvenience for some, or not even relevant for others but for me, taking out the memory card (which requires removing the case and back cover, which in itself is a trial) then putting it in a card reader, transferring files and then finally putting the memory card back in the phone and reassembling the phone (whew!) was SO tiresome!!  And it was something I had to do at least once a day..not to mention, I had to reset the things that my phone ran off the memory card…so yes, deal-breaker for me.  The third thing that I just discovered about 10 minutes ago, is that the printer I have, just works.  It didn’t on Mint.  It took 2 hours of tweak, read, try, rant, and tweak some more before I ever got it to partially work.  Now I can use the HP Tools that were denied me on Mint.  So, while I love Linux Mint, I had to switch to something that works a tad better for me…so now I am falling for Mandriva.  Hopefully it keeps my affections lol.

Hello, fellow bloggers.  Today I will be doing Yet-Another-Distro-Review; this time however, I will be reviewing from a more biased side than usual…..I feel my reputation taking a hit as we speak.  Yes, I am known for my impartiality on most subjects but Linux Mint is a subject near and dear so they say…

Linux Mint has been my distro of choice for a while now (okay about 8 weeks; I just “converted” to Linux 3 months ago).  Prior to Mint, it was PCLinuxOS and then Debian, which started it all…I was patiently waiting for Linux Mint 5 to be released as I was excited about some of the changes Clem et. al. were making.  With no further ado:

As per usual, I downloaded the iso file for Linux Mint via a mirror.  I do not like torrents; some find them faster but it never fails I find them slower…(let the digressing begin)…After a suitably forever period of time, I had my nice little iso image and used Brasero to burn that image to a disk.   After checking the integrity and finding it good as always, I rebooted the computer and ran the CD.   Although I knew I would be installing it, just for amusement I messed around with the Live Disk for a few.

First of all, wow on the new artwork!  There is a talented Linux Mint fan out there who just started making his own artwork and it just had that perfect Minty look–polished and elegant..and minty!  There are all new wallpapers which is a nice change (sorry but I just didn’t like most of the default set on Daryna) and a new gtk engine-Aurora.   Every wallpaper is available in wide-screen.  Gion icon set comes installed by default now.  A couple of new themes are Carbon and PepperMint…also there is a WildMint but the Windoze blue border horrified me on sight.

The hard drive install is the same as ever so I proceeded on with it.  (For those of you who don’t know, it is an Ubuntu install process)   Then, I started to have some fun!  The first thing I looked for (and used) is the uninstall feature built in to the MintMenu!  So far, this is far and away my absolute favorite, favorite feature on Elyssa.  I am a tweaker by nature.  No distro on the planet would ever come with exactly what I want and not what I don’t…so anytime I install a new OS, I am stuck in Synaptic right off the bat, using the search over and over…ugh!  This uninstall from the MintMenu feature is so wonderful because it spares me much of the hassle of removing programs I don’t want.  Additionally, some great news on the Mint Menu is that it is using far far less resources memory-wise than in Daryna.   I actually had MintMenu on Daryna removed because of the load it placed on my memory.  No longer!   Mine went from 100MB to about 29MB!!  Good enough to make me happy because I had always liked the MintMenu (some do, some don’t; I know!)

Of course, as usual the MintInstall is a great application for installing packages quickly and painlessly.  In addition to it just being a good package to begin with, Clem and gang improved on this as well by making options for installing deb and apt packages through the MintInstall as well!  Dependencies aren’t always resolved but it is still a way to get the latest and greatest in the bleeding edge world.

Another nice feature is being able to open an application in root, all with a right-click!  That’s right, just right click on a menu item and you are given a choice in the context menu whether or not you want to open as root!  This is a vast improvement.  One thing I always hated was being made to feel like an idiot because I wasn’t “allowed” to be root.  Of course I know that’s not actually the case.  I just said feel like an idiot.  From what I hear, I am not alone in that feeling and that some desert Ubuntu in part due to that.  To help folks remember they might be working in root now, a different browser comes up..Xfe…It looks a fright but it is supposed to be nothing like Nautilus so one can remember they are in root.  Good plan for now…hopefully in a release or two that quietly disappears.

Changing Applications:  Serpentine and Sound Juicer were both replaced.  Now Brasero is installed (which I love) and so is Rhythmbox (which I despise).  Kudos for installing Brasero but Rhythmbox just had to go..and fast.  I have never had anything but problems with it all four times I have tried it, on four different distros…and if I remember right, it was a different issue each time too! lol…It’s just buggy as all get out and it crashes so much, SafeAuto wouldn’t insure it.  Guess what I tested out the “uninstall” feature on first! lol

GnomeDo now runs in the background.  Nautilus is somehow faster, not sure how but I like it!  There is a new Envy version to replace the old one..EnvyNG or some such I believe..not an app I need so off with its head.  Transmission is the new bit torrent client if you use such..

Firefox 3 is the default webbrowser (of course, accompanied by Thunderbird)  I am an Opera fan myself but I could sure appreciate the lower memory consumption and better speed on this fox.

And last but probably first with cube lovers everywhere…The Compiz-Fusion settings GUI is installed by default..wobble your windows to your heart’s content.

There are some issues known (they haven’t affected me yet and hopefully won’t but they are, quoted straight from the website to avoid any misconceptions or errors:

Known issues

Upstream issues:

  • GDM: It takes a while to open the “Login Window” configuration tool. Just be patient, it will come up eventually.
  • GDM: In “Login Window”, if you select another theme.. even though it will tell you everything is fine, it will actually select to show other themes randomly. Open “Login Window” again and set the theme again.
  • GDM: On shutdown, usplash doesn’t show properly and is interrupted by network manager error messages. This is a known bug in GDM. You might be able to fix it by changing the GDM theme “twice” (in “Login Window”).
  • GDM/Gnome: The shutdown/logout sound isn’t played. This happens because Pulse Audio is shut down by Gnome before it gets the chance to play it. You could install “esound” to fix that problem but then that would break PulseAudio altogether. Another workaround would be to use aplay to play the sound before the event, as described here.
  • Gnome: Turning on/off the Gnome Compositing Effects (in gconf or in mintDesktop) can freeze your computer. Make sure to save all your data before activating/deactivating this feature.
  • Gnome: The first time you launch the “Users and Groups” configuration tool, it might not find any users and consequently it won’t work properly. Close it and launch it again.
  • Gnome: The color of the window borders doesn’t always refresh when you select or customize a Gnome theme. This is because some GTK themes refer to the same metacity theme but with different colors, and unless the metacity theme itself is changed Gnome doesn’t refresh it.
  • Gnome: You might see an error message saying the “Gnome Settings Daemon” could not start. It usually only happens once and either doesn’t affect anything or affects the look and feel (the default Gnome theme is applied instead of the Mint one).

Mint specific issues:

  • Widescreen support: If usplash doesn’t fill your screen an alternative is to install usplash-theme-mint-black (which comes with a black background). All wallpapers come in widescreen format and GDM also has a widescreen version of the Elyssa theme.
  • Localization: Not all translations (for the Mint tools) were included in the release. We had to code-freeze at some stage. The missing and future translations will come in as level 1 updates.
  • MintMenu: mintMenu doesn’t always refresh (or doesn’t always refresh fast enough). To force it in doing so, right click on the “Elyssa” button and select “Reload Plugins”.

Warning about upgrades:

  • Be cautious with level 3 upgrades. As these notes are written, applying the Gnome related upgrades break the ability to change your wallpaper!
  • Prefer level 1 and 2 upgrades to be safe and only apply level 3, 4 and 5 upgrades selectively and after you made sure they fixed a bug you needed fixed.
  • Always use mintUpdate to perform package upgrades, avoid to do so with APT or Synaptic; these tools are not aware of the stability level related to package upgrades

Hopefully soon there will be updates to fix these issues and all will go merrily on in the mint world lol…

Hello fellow geekers, it’s time for another distro review…For a while now, I have made it clear that the Linux distro to win my notoriously cold heart is Linux Mint, the distro widely claimed as “Ubuntu done right.”  This is still true!  But of course, I am the type that is never satisfied with my lot in life, so the search goes on for the “perfect” Linux distro.   Especially at the times like these when my CPU fan never shuts off, getting louder and louder lol…Linux Mint is a tad hard on my memory, to be sure.  As soon as this “economic incentive” check from the IRS gets here, I plan on buying a 2GB DDR kit…until then..I like to check out the distros that are ideal for “legacy machines.”  The latest one I downloaded (last night) is a little derivative of PCLinuxOS, called TinyMe.

Now, bear in mind that the second distro I ever tried was PCLinuxOS.  The first was Debian, which I liked but I was sooo frustrated at the time because there was no flash happening.  What a newb!  Of course, I now know that Debian only uses open source applications but hey, I was a serious newb..wow was that just in March?  Seems a lifetime ago…I digress…So anyway..PCLinuxOS was being proclaimed as the “radically simple Linux.”  Well of course, as a uber-newb, I needed easy to start with…So, bearing in mind my limitations in the memory department (at the time, it was 256 MB RAM) I downloaded the 2008 PCLOS MiniMe edition, a leaner version of the original…basically the same, but on a diet.  I was impressed and I thought it ran great but I didn’t know all the things I do now and I borked it a couple of times lol…plus I preferred Gnome…so I tried quite a few distros after getting a new 512 MB memory stick  and ended up with Linux Mint.

I digress..again…So, at any rate I came across this TinyMe version of PCLOS and was fascinated enough to try it…why bother?  Yes, I have 768MB RAM now, but honestly it’s not really enough for Linux Mint and I do tire of hearing my fan (loudly sometimes) all the time..so I downloaded TinyMe and made myself a nifty little boot disk.  I rebooted with my new “Live CD” and away I go…

It started immediately…and I do mean immediately!  Nice!  Nice polished look of PCLOS…The usual of logging in with guest/guest or root/root blah blah…so then I get to the desktop.  I see all the icons for the major installations of various applications, such as a text editor, Audacious for playing music (which I love), Opera for the internet (which I slavishly adore) and mtpaint for editing pictures, and gThumb.  On the right side of the desktop is the system monitor which is there by default.  Yes, this can be removed or commented out if you prefer (like me) to have a naked desktop.  There is by default a desktop switcher and you can name the desktops (by default they are 4 names, one is fred and one is “soup” no idea why but it made me laugh)  Seriously when is the last time Windoze made anyone laugh in delight?

Anyhoo, there is no desktop environment, which I thought would bother me immensely (because I hate the way Fluxbox looks) but Openbox has a very nice look to it and I made sure that themes could be added…Switching them is a snap..Just open the TinyCC which is the TinyMe control center.  The window management tab allows for switching to various looks for the Openbox..not quite as customizeable as Gnome or KDE but honestly duh!  Nitrogen is a little app that lets you easily switch between wallpapers and lets you add more at the click of a button.  I didn’t see a way to add more icon themes or switch icons but it may be there is a way and I forgot to look or just didn’t notice.

Of course, the full fledged PCLOS control center is there too, allowing for customization concerning networks, hardware, monitors etc..just like the regular PCLOS..  All in all, I thought this was a great distro!  Everything was “whoa!!” fast and I didn’t see any instability issues that ruined the MiniMe experience for me.  There was even an app for killing apps (like Gnome’s fabulous force-quit) I momentarily forgot what it’s called but the icon was appropriate with a little skull-and-crossbones to go over the desired app to kill.

I was sorely, sorely tempted to install this to harddrive and I may still install it with the option for dual-booting..of course, I have to wait for Linux Mint 5 (Elyssa) to be released and give it a go but if it doesn’t work out for me for some reason, I will absolutely use TinyMe.  I give it a B for looks and an A- for functionality (for my purposes anyway).  I am just a “baby geek” after all and I do absolutely love deb and mint packages and I likely won’t want to give that up but this distro tempts me like no other!

Today the Linux Mint Elyssa second beta version was released with bug fixes. Linux Mint 5 Elyssa RC2 (BETA 048 )
was released today. It comes with the brand new Firefox 3 RC1, Flash 10, improved printing and bluetooth support and a lot of bug fixes. The changes are described here in the forums: Links: Release Notes & Download mirrors

Remember people the betas are for testing!!  Don’t expect them to be perfect.  Additionally, upgrading from Mint 4 (Daryna) to the Beta Elyssa is a bad idea..there maybe a problem with your upgrading and you end up reporting it as a bug..and additional reasons..Be patient..the stable release will be out very soon!!  And remember a fresh install is always the best idea!

Woohoo! Linux Mint 5, codenamed Elyssa this time is out in Beta version!!! There are some awesome new changes, especially to the Mint Menu and Mint Install and many applications have been added to the Software Portal..Rhythmbox has replaced both Amarok and Sound Juicer (which is my only complaint because I really hate Rhythmbox) and Brasero has replaced Serpentine (yay!) There is also a separate file browser for doing work in root so that it looks different enough for you to remember it is root and not bork your system lol!! There are also new right click options, such as when searching through images being able to use it as the desktop and there is an uninstall option for those of us “tweakers” who find searching Synaptic over and over a tedious process….I can hardly wait to get my hands on the final…Good job Clem and the team at Linux Mint and congratulations! For those interested, here is the link for the release notes for this Beta —> Linux Mint Elyssa Beta
I seriously cannot wait to review this; here’s hoping the stable release comes out soon!!