My favorite Linux desktop: Mint 10

My favorite Linux desktop: Mint 10

Summary: I go through Linux distributions like an elephant does peanuts, but a few of the best stick around. Right now, my favorite Linux desktop is Mint.


Over the years, I've seen more Linux distributions than anyone this side of the Distrowatch editors. Some end-up staying in my offices. For example, I use openSUSE and CentOS on my servers, and I've often used Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, and MEPIS on my desktops and laptops. I'm also constantly looking at new Linux distributions, such as SplashTop and Peppermint on my test boxes or a VirtualBox virtual machine. Now, though, I find myself using Mint 10 as my main Linux desktop.

Why? Because Mint works, really, really well. Simple isn't it?

I run the mainline Mint distribution. It's based on the Ubuntu 10.10 with its GNOME 2.32 desktop. I've been using it on both my work laptop a Lenovo ThinkPad R61 with its 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor T7500 and has 2GBs of RAM and my workhorse desktops: Dell Inspiron 530S powered by a 2.2-GHz Intel Pentium E2200 dual-core processor with an 800-MHz front-side bus. This box has 4GBs of RAM, a 500GB SATA (Serial ATA) drive, and an Integrated Intel 3100 GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) chip set. These are in no way, shape, or form leading edge computers. While Windows 7 SP 1 doesn't show to good advantage on either system, Mint runs quickly and smoothly on them.

If you're not crazy about GNOME, the good developers at Mint have just released a version of Mint that uses the KDE desktop. This model uses KDE 4.6--the latest and best of the KDE 4.x line. There's also a version of Mint that uses Debian for its foundation instead of Ubuntu. If you're so inclined there are also versions that use the Xfce, LXDE, and Fluxbox desktops.

To install it all I had to do, as is the case with any modern Linux, was I had to download and burn a Mint image to a CD or USB stick. After that, all I had to do was stick the CD in, boot up, and click a few buttons. In less time than it took my Windows 7 SP 1 update to take, less than half-an-hour, I had a perfectly functional Mint desktop PC.

Customizing my desktop and installing additional software was also a cinch. If someone tells you that you still have to download source code from the Internet and compile it to add a program to Mint, or any other contemporary Linux, you have my permission to laugh at them. Mint's uses an app store-like approach with its Software Manager program that makes it lead-pipe simple to find the program you need. With it, you can also click your way down a program's description to screen-shots, fuller descriptions and, in the case of more popular programs, reviews and a score from other users.

As always one thing that I like about Mint, and makes free-software purists blanch, is that Mint comes with Adobe Flash, MP3 music codecs, the ability to play commercial DVDs, and the like already installed. The only popular proprietary program that runs on Linux that doesn't come by default with Mint is Moonlight, Novell's take on Microsoft's Silverlight multi-media suite.

Mint also comes ready-to-run with all the popular open-source programs such as OpenOffice for office work, Firefox for Web browsing, and Pidgin for instant messaging. I added a few programs, such as Evolution for e-mail instead of the default Thunderbird and the Chrome Web browser.

The one program that I did have to go to some trouble to install was LibreOffice, the OpenOffice fork. It's not in Mint's software repository yet, so you'll need to manually pull out OpenOffice and replace it with LibreOffice. It's not pretty, but it's also not compiling from source code either. I think most users will be better off waiting for Mint's developers to incorporate LibreOffice into Mint. At the absolute latest, that should happen by May.

Other than that though, I like Mint a lot. It works smoothly with my PCs, my peripherals, my network, etc. etc. You get the idea. If you want a fast, reliable desktop Linux you can't do better than Mint today.

Topics: Collaboration, Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

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  • No compelling reason for making a switch from Ubuntu

    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • RE: My favorite Linux desktop: Mint 10

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      Compelling reasons: Gnome 3 and Unity and coming soon to a desktop near you Wayland.
      • Gnome 3 and Unity are reasons?

        But I like Gnome 3 and Unity.

        I think wayland has potential to update the graphics capabilities of desktop linux.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • From what I have seen of G3 and Unity are a yawn


        Indeed the idea that Unity will radically change, dropping in favor of Wayland is interesting, but, Ubuntu won't reach that plateau for at least several more point release iterations.

        I will reserve judgement until then, but in the meantime, I run Ubuntu 10.10 on my netbook with the Ubuntu Desktop Edition GUI.

        When you are at the login screen after selecting a login 'user' and have advanced to the password field, the bottom status line will reveal and you can select UDE from the session drop-down list.

        With UDE and Compiz I feel totally productive.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • Better stability, less Ubuntu gimmicks

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate
      I was already quite annoyed by the button positions moved to the left side of the titlebar and the schizophrenic theme color swing. With Ubuntu 10.10 which, for an unknown reason, always failed to install on my computer (which has decent specs) . It was a fresh install and I had tried many ways to install. Always end up with issue writing extremely slow to disk. I then installed Mint 10 and it was working OK since.
      I switched to LinuxMint 10 and since then everything works OK.
      • RE: My favorite Linux desktop: Mint 10

        @RelaxWalk I had a ton or problems as well. Ended up being the Integrate Intel Graphics on the i5 was too new for the distros' I had to wait for the kernel to get upgraded. Win7 was fine, but I bought a cheap 17" Acer (new) to play with Linux full time. I use VM on my monster Win7 i7-920 12 Gig full time machine. They finally caught up and while it's not perfect it works.
        KDE 4.6 is MUCH better (IMO) than Gnome. Gnome is cartoonish and looks old and outdated, and in IMO hurts Ubuntu when you compare it with OSX or Win7
    • Sure there is

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      First of all Ubuntu is GNOME centered and kubuntu is junk. I'm not a fan of GNOME.

      As of right now Linux Mint 10 w/KDE 4.6 is the best KDE distro there is.

      Mint has everything one might want 'out of the box'.

      The performance of LMDE is awesome although I'm waiting for a KDE version before I would move to LMDE.

      So as it stands, Debian servers and for desktops and notebooks it's Mint 10 KDE.
      Tim Patterson
      • KDE is a memory consumer compared to GNOME, LXDE

        @Tim Patterson
        You and I have kicked this can to the curb several times.
        So, far, GNOME has worked for me and I won't switch from it unless I have to. Unity in its current incarnation does not cut it for me.
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
      • Huh?


        I'm not sure what you're talking about. I've used both and I can say that KDE 4.6 is faster than GNOME on Mint.

        If I had systems with limited resources (memory) I certainly wouldn't run Ubuntu or Mint on them regardless of the DE. Ubuntu and Mint (ubuntu based) are slower than other distros. Don't believe me? Install pure Debian and you'll soon see the difference.

        Fortunately my systems have plenty of horsepower so it's down to personal preference and GNOME drives me nuts.
        Tim Patterson
      • RE: My favorite Linux desktop: Mint 10

        @Tim Patterson KDE 4.6 is very nice, fast does not a memroy hog like some say.
        I agree (said above) Gnome is old dated and cartoonish. I have a 17" play laptop I use with i5 and 4 Gig. I may try Mint, currently using Kubuntu 10.10. If the use Ubunut distro there is always a big lag with the Kernel, and that kept me from installing for a long time after I bought the machine.
      • RE: My favorite Linux desktop: Mint 10

        @Tim Patterson If Mint supported my wireless networking, i'd use it.

        Ubuntu Natty Narwhal does; but it breaks when it tries to access my Nvidia onboard graphics.

        Personally, i find KDE intensely annoying.
      • Linux Mint rocks!!

        @Tim Patterson
        Nough said!
        "From Ubuntu to Linux Mint"

        [Max The IT Pro]
    • There are tradeoffs

      Mint really offers pretty negligible compelling advantage over Ubuntu to me. I will spend an afternoon or two after any new Ubuntu install customizing the desktop, adding my repos and installing all my apps. Adding some codecs and Flash and the few additional things that Mint may come with already are maybe 2% of that effort.
      But sticking with mainline Ubuntu just makes it a bit easier to take advantage of cutting edge packages, vast community and bulletin boards and free advice etc. The repos for Ubuntu often have more up to date package versions of newly updated apps. The release for Mint is dependent on the Ubuntu release and so always takes a month or so longer while the Mint devs add their stuff to the final Ubuntu release. I have no problem with Mint, but I see it as a tradeoff, save a little time upfront but you may pay for it in other respects.
      • RE: My favorite Linux desktop: Mint 10

        @ArtInvent Totally agree.
    • Maybe this is a good reason not to

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz, Your Linux Advocate

      Looks like this version of Linux was the wrong choice for the LSE

      I wonder if Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols will write about this, or just stay real quite on it?
      Will Farrell
      • RE: My favorite Linux desktop: Mint 10

        @Will Farrell
        Most likely the issue is with an application not the OS.
      • RE: My favorite Linux desktop: Mint 10

        @Will Farrell I guess you missed the article on LSE on how the NYSE has saved $300M since switching to Linux (No problems mentioned, either)<br>Oh well, so much for your comments.
      • OS? no.

        @Will Farrell ...<i>"The news comes at the end of the second week of trading on the exchanges new Millennium trading system. Over the last fortnight, anger has been growing after large vendors that supply price data to the market continually experienced significant technical difficulties, including displaying entirely inaccurate and blank prices."<br><br>"The LSE said the nature of the technical problem had not been established, though it told traders of a market data issue"</i><br><br>They have problems getting prices to come up on their data tables? How is that an OS issue?<br><br>You should visit Ed's column, he's teaching everyone how to fix Win7, SP1.
      • I missed it too...


        Not that I went much deeper into it, so flame away if you have any additional information or links, but the article you linked to only states that the savings "target" is for $300M.. that's quite a difference than saying the "savings" were $300M..

        There are plenty of failed projects out there that didn't deliver on their targets.. In fact, *most* don't.
      • RE: My favorite Linux desktop: Mint 10

        @Will Farrell
        Not really an OS issue when you dig a little deeper. Looks like a bug in the application layer (trading engine) and loose business rules

        "It remains unclear whether the problem is with the LSE data feeds or with the vendors? processing of the data. Market sources said they expected it to be a combination of both factors, suggesting that coding instructions were either misinterpreted or unclear in the first place."


        "The changes - and the apparent lack of system readiness among vendors - had led to what market participants described as "alarming" price disparities between the data firms. A number of vendors even displayed blank prices on top traded stocks such as the Royal Bank of Scotland and Vodafone."