Linux Mint, Debian Edition

A couple of weeks ago Linux Mint announced a new distribution - based on the Debian Testing branch, rather than Ubuntu. Like most users, the announcement took me by surprise, I hadn't even noticed that they were working on such a Distribution.

A couple of weeks ago Linux Mint announced a new distribution - based on the Debian Testing branch, rather than Ubuntu. Like most users, the announcement took me by surprise, I hadn't even noticed that they were working on such a Distribution. It didn't take much thought to realize what a good idea this could be, though. Mint Debian will be a "rolling release", which means that it will be continually updated rather than following major increments as it does now with the 6-month Ubuntu release cycle. This should get away from some problems that people have been complaining about, such as having to wait for the next 6-month increment to get a major new OpenOffice or Firefox release, or the next step in the Linux kernel itself.

Of course, the change to Debian also has some drawbacks. The one that I have noticed first is the difference in hardware support. Not only the obvious fact that at the moment Mint Debian only has a 32-bit distribution and a Gnome desktop; I also found that when I loaded it on my Samsung N150 Plus, there is no "Hardware Drivers" wizard to discover the Broadcom 4313 WiFi adapter and offer to install a driver for it. I don't expect these sorts of things to be major issues, though, and they are likely to be smoothed out as development of the Mint Debian distribution continues.

I have loaded Mint Debian on my three main laptop/netbooks so far - Fujitsu Lifebook S6510 (Intel Core2 Duo), HP Pavillion dv2-1010ez (AMD Athlon Neo) and Samsung N150 Plus (Intel Atom), and it loads and runs very nicely, and it looks and feels exactly like the Ubuntu-based Mint 9 (Isadora) distribution.

jw 20/9/2010

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