Hands-on with Linux Mint Debian Edition 201403 release candidate

Hands-on with Linux Mint Debian Edition 201403 release candidate

Summary: It's been a long time coming, but it is finally - almost - here.


Well, it has been a long, long wait for the next major release of Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE). 

The last "rollup" release, with the latest Update Pack (UP6 at that time) included in the ISO images, was a year ago, LMDE 201303. 

I am particularly pleased to see this release, and I have been been waiting for it anxiously, because there have been two major Update Packs (UP7 and UP8) since the last release, and it has gotten increasingly difficult to install LMDE from scratch and then add the latest updates. 

The release notes for UP7 and UP8 each included several cautions about individual package updates which might break the Update Pack installation, and thus had to be installed separately first. So it is really nice to have a clean set of ISO images that can just be installed to get the latest version. 

Of course, at this point it is only a 'release candidate', so unless you are desperate or adventurous, it is probably best to wait another week or two for the final release.

There is a lot of good news with this release, and one of the best things is that it is finally UEFI compatible. 

Not only that — the news just keeps getting better — the Linux Mint developers have fixed the UEFI installation problem that appeared in the Mint 16 release, where it installed its EFI boot files in a directory named ubuntu, which meant that it was difficult to install Mint and Ubuntu on the same system. With this release they install again to a directory named linuxmint, so there is no conflict with Ubuntu.

LMDE Cinnamon
Linux Mint Debian Edition Cinnamon Desktop

 The release announcement gives a very brief overview and includes the download links to mirrors all over the world. 

This release is available with either the Cinnamon or MATE desktop, in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. There is good news for those who are concerned about compatibility with non-PAE CPUs: the 32-bit version of this release comes with a 486-compatible kernel by default. However, this has a negative impact for those who want to use 32-bit multi-core CPUs. The situation is described in detail in the Known Problems document.

This release comes with Linux Kernel 3.11.8 and of course the latest release of the two desktops, Cinnamon 2.0 and MATE 1.6, X.Org Server 1.14.3, Firefox 27.0, Thunderbird 24.3 and LibreOffice

So far I have loaded it on four systems, two UEFI and two Legacy/BIOS/MBR:

- Acer Aspire One 725 (UEFI)

- HP Pavilion dm1-4310ez (UEFI)

- Lenovo T400 (BIOS/MBR)

- Samsung N150 Plus (BIOS/MBR)

The installation was absolutely routine with the exception of the well-known difficulty with UEFI firmware configuration on the HP Pavilion. There was even good news on that system, though, because the very difficult wi-fi adapter (Ralink 3290) seems to work just fine. 

Every bit of hardware on every one of these four systems was supported, with drivers loaded automatically and everything working as it should. Graphic display and screen support was also good, ranging from the 10-inch (1024x600) display on the Samsung netbook to the dual monitors (1280x768 laptop and 1920x1080 external) on the Lenovo.

I will look at this distribution in more detail when the final release is available.  For now I just want to report my initial successes with the release candidate.

Further reading

Topics: Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems

J.A. Watson

About J.A. Watson

I started working with what we called "analog computers" in aircraft maintenance with the United States Air Force in 1970. After finishing military service and returning to university, I was introduced to microprocessors and machine language programming on Intel 4040 processors. After that I also worked on, operated and programmed Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8, PDP-11 (/45 and /70) and VAX minicomputers. I was involved with the first wave of Unix-based microcomputers, in the early '80s. I have been working in software development, operation, installation and support since then.

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  • Gateway

    Will it load on a Gateway LT3120u 64 bit small notebook?
    AMD Athlon 64 X 2 L310
    • Probably

      I do not have this exact model to test it on, but I strongly suspect that it will. I would start with the 64-bit distribution, and first just boot the Live image, either from USB stick or DVD. From there you can see if everything is going to work - the display/graphics will be obvious, but you should also check wired and wireless networking and such while running the Live image. If everything looks ok, then you can install from there, and it should all work just as well, and considerably faster, from the hard drive.

      • Thanks for the review!

        I always enjoy reading your linux posts. I noticed that tanglu 1.0 released last week. When lmde 201403 goes final, it'd be interesting to see a comparison of the two; both trying to make debian as easy to use as possible, but one team coming from debian itself and the other from the ubuntu branch?
    • Gateway

      I don't know if LMDE will work on it, but I have installed Solydx, another very good Debian rolling release, which is an unofficial fork of LMDE with XFCE, on a Gateway LT4010u with no problems. There is also a Solydk edition with KDE available from them also.
  • it has gotten increasingly difficult to install LMDE from scratch and then

    add the latest updates-really? The I guess LMDE should not be advertised as a rolling release?
  • Ancient looking

    I don't get. Their UI is plain and ugly. Yet it gets treated better than Windows XP. What's so exciting about "old" Linux? I rather stay with a nice, simple interface like XP. Who cares about XP Apocalypse. At least I can use Adobe CS6 on XP. Can't say that about the "great" Linux.
    • Suit yourself

      There are a variety of desktops available for Linux, including LXDE, which looks a lot like Windows XP.

      But if the Windows look and feel is what you care about, then maybe you're better off sticking with what you have, at least until MS discontinues support completely. At least orphaned open source systems have a chance of finding new maintainers if/when the old ones quit.

      Personally, XFCE suits me just fine.
      John L. Ries
    • You say "Ancient", I say "Classic"

      Great question! Here's my take.

      XP reaches end of life on April 8, only 6 weeks from now. After that, no security patches, so XP becomes even more of a malware magnet that it already famously is.

      And that's a huge problem, specifically because XP is *still* more popular than 8, despite Microsoft's grim determination to wipe it's unprofitable carcass from the planet. People freaking *love* XP (you're a case in point - several hundred users at the Fortune 50 corporation I support join you, making March my "hell month"), because they know it well and it does what they want.

      That's the market for Mint - it's as familiar as XP, and it does what so many people want. *And* Clem loves and supports it.

      You also have the XP driver issue - Microsoft changed the driver model in Vista, so a lot of modern hardware doesn't have working XP drivers. Mint has equivalent (perhaps a bit better) support for old hardware, but it supports most modern hardware as well - again, simply because every major corporation now supports Linux, but many (most?) have dropped support for XP in the harsh glare of Microsoft's enforcement squad.

      So, in summary, Mint is a big deal because (1) it has the clean, simple interface that XP fans appreciate, (2) the vendor is actively supporting it, rather than trying to eradicate it, (3) it's not a malware magnet, and (4) it has drivers for modern hardware.

      Disclaimer: I don't run Mint. But I get why so many people do.