Linux Mint 13 KDE released: But does it live up to expectations?

Linux Mint 13 KDE released: But does it live up to expectations?

Summary: Review Mint 13 KDE and it soon becomes clear that it's a release that contains so many good things in a single package

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Hot on the heels of its Xfce build, the final release of Linux Mint 13 KDE is now available for download. This is an iteration that a lot of people have been anxiously awaiting, because it combines a lot of good things in a single package.

As part of the Mint 13 family, it is based on the KDE desktop version of Ubuntu 12.04. So those who want Ubuntu but not Unity, or Mint but not Cinnamon or MATE, and feel that Xfce might be downsizing too much, now have another excellent alternative.

However, it is important to note that Mint 13 KDE is not derived from Kubuntu. It has been created by the Mint development team starting from the main Ubuntu distribution — essentially in the same way as the Mint 13 Gnome distribution is created.

The ISO DVD installation image is about 900MB, so it's a DVD image and not a CD, and available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions. As with the other Linux Mint distributions, it is a hybrid ISO image, which so it can either be burned to a DVD or copied to a USB Flash drive. If you have a running Linux system, just dd the image to the USB disk. The Release Notes and What's New documents give more details about the contents of this release.

The default Mint 13 KDE desktop looks like this:

Mint13KDE
Linux Mint 13 KDE Desktop

If you leave the settings at default, this is the screen that will greet you whether you boot from external media or the hard drive after installation. The only change I made to the standard setup was to add a couple of my most commonly used programs to the desktop folder.

The KDE menus are at the bottom-left corner of the screen. Just click on the little icon there and you can add items to the desktop folder as I have done by dragging and dropping from the menu to the desktop folder. I have also added a Weather applet and Shutdown buttons to the bottom panel.

However, with KDE this desktop is only half the story. The screenshot above was taken on my HP Pavilion dm1-3105 sub-notebook, which has an 11.6-inch 1,366x768 screen. For anything smaller than that, such as my various netbook systems with 10-inch 1,024x600 screens — such as my Acer Aspire One 522 where the following screenshot was taken — I switch to the KDE Netbook Workspace:

Mint13KDEnetbook
Linux Mint 13 KDE Netbook

That is, without a doubt, the best netbook desktop I have ever seen — and it just keeps getting better with every new KDE release. It is just a lot easier and a lot more comfortable to use on a netbook — the application icons in the upper section of the screen are easy to add and delete, and they launch with a single click of the mouse.

The menu icons in the lower part of the screen provide logical groups of applications and utilities without having to walk through a traditional cascading menu hierarchy. The search bar in the centre of the screen provides easy access when you don't know or care which of the menu groups something might be in — or you're just old, forgetful and lazy like me. Applications start in full-screen mode by default, and the top panel auto-hides whenever you start or switch to another application.

My intention is for this to be a quick overview of Mint 13 KDE, so I won't go into a lot more details about the desktops. So what about the technical details? What is included in Linux Mint 13 KDE?

Linux Kernel 3.2.0 It has all the latest device support. As I said with Mint 13 Xfce, I have already installed it on a wide range of notebook and netbook systems, and everything just worked out of the box on all of them. No driver problems. No screen problems. No network problems. Down to and including Bluetooth and 3G cellular modem.

KDE 4.8.4 Another significant improvement over previous releases. Powerful, flexible, fast and beautiful. If you prefer a traditional desktop, rather than what is going on now with Gnome 3 and Unity, you are likely to be very comfortable with KDE.

digiKam 2.5.0 My absolute favourite photo-management program. Cataloging, tagging, geolocating, simple editing, publishing/sharing, panorama creation, and much, much more.

LibreOffice 3.5.3.2 Text. Spreadsheet. Presentation. Database. Drawing. It's all there. It can read MS Office documents. It can write PDF files. Best of all, it isn't cursed with idiotic ribbon menus.

Firefox 14.0.1 The latest version — enough said.

GIMP Image Editor 2.6.12 No skimping to save space here. The GIMP is included in the base distribution. If digiKam doesn't have enough photo editing capability for your needs, then you need GIMP.

Gwenview 2.8.4 At the other end of the spectrum, if digiKam is more than you need or want, Gwenview is a very nice photo viewer and minimal organiser.

Amarok 2.5.0 Full-featured audio player. As good as any, and better than most.

Kaffeine 1.2.2 Media player with digital TV support.

VLC 2.0.1 My go-to media player. If I have something I need to play, audio or video, in whatever format, this is where I take it first.

This distribution is going to be another feather in the cap of the Linux Mint team. If you haven't tried Linux yet, this is a good opportunity. Download the ISO, burn it to a DVD and boot it up. Check the device support. Check the programs. Kick the tires, and drive it around the block. I'm willing to bet that after such a test, the next step for a lot of users would be to install it to disk.

Topics: Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Reviews

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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84 comments
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  • Linux Mint 13 KDE released: But does it live up to expectations?

    No, no linux ever does.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • change

      i would change your name to loveruck if i was you
      rukker is dutch for wanker and that seems to fit your replies perfectly
      sophiebbke
      • But I'm not dutch

        So that wouldn't make any sense.
        Loverock Davidson-
        • Loverock Davidson = jerk

          And I stand behind this message :-)
          Over and Out
          • Common

            Yo! Leave Loverock alone - he's everybody's favorite zndet troll. Think of him as Court Jester - only more primitive. :-P
            vgrig
    • Loverock tell us why no linux ever does

      If you had any clue, you would explain your comment with more than less than a half assed sentencel.

      Go back to Redmond and kiss Balmer's butt you mole.
      robolinux
    • Preez excoos my speeling

      luvkok gayvidson, but you know not of what you speak, especially with Steve Ballmer's third leg in your mouth, lmao.
      tek_heretik
  • Not convinced at all

    Now I stopped using Linux (on dual boot) a while ago and I can tell just from looking at those shots it was for the better...
    DJK2
    • I'm on Linux right now

      laughing at you. My work machine and home machine both run 12.04.

      Sorry that you feel a need to pay more for hardware, virus protection, and software licenses just to get the same thing.
      T1Oracle
      • Not to pee in your cheerios, but...

        I likewise feel sorry for you, missing out on the least expensive, yet most advanced gaming industry, and not being fully compatible with the rest of the world from an Office standpoint, and having limited utilization of your graphics card's full potential.

        I want to like it, I really do. Free is awesome, but being left behind is not.
        thoiness
        • bah

          for those of us who use consoles for gaming and find libra office to do the job actually feel sorry for you. As for left behind ? isnt M$ leaving their desktop users behind with the imlpementation of metro ? seems to me that a lot of ur kind do not have the werewithall to use linux (its not for the sheep, we think for ourselves) anyhoo enjoy spending 1/3rd of ur productivity scanning for malware.
          cirrus_minor
          • Move to Linux for WHAT? (repost)

            Like have full Office standards compatibility? (nope)
            Have full advantage of DX APIs to support the multi-billion dollar gaming industry? (nope)
            View the most widely used form of internet entertainment - Netflix? (nope)
            Have advanced video editing capabilities? (nope)

            I've been trying for the past decade to determine what people see in this (besides the price tag), and what compelling reason I'd have to switch.

            Every year, I've been left feeling pretty apathetic and disappointed by that attempt.

            So where is it? Are you going to talk about virus immunity? I could have virus immunity by living in a human bubble. I still don't make that choice, however.

            To continue on your line of thinking, the current gaming industry from a console standpoint is about 7 years behind the current PC.

            Metro is nothing more than a skin. I don't lose any of these capabilities.
            thoiness
          • Linux version 3.4.6-1-ARCH #1 SMP PREEMPT Fri Jul 20 08:21:26 CEST 2012

            you are a sheep , granted if you are a hardcore gamer then u gotta go windows , most grown ups grew out of that stuff in our mid 20's tho, metro is not "just a skin" it is hardcoded into windows8, and its a mess , but hey if ur hapy carry on , the grown ups like to study the code we entrust with out data. linux has some decent video editing apps, maybe not have the bells and whistles but it gets the job done , if i was a video editor to trade id be using an imac , thats what the pro's use. if ur happy u carry on , the linux community really dont want your ilk.
            cirrus_minor
          • EXACTLY

            The Linux community DOESN'T REALLY WANT THE GENERAL CONSUMER.

            And that's the problem (or in your case, not the problem).

            LINUX DESKTOP is supposed to be for the mass consumer. The problem is, it's not.

            I love the idea, but you said it perfectly: You have to settle for less to pay less. Most do not find the trade-off worth it.

            As far as gaming is concerned, it doesn't matter if your 20 or 83. If you don't view what these talented companies are doing these days, you're missing out on an experience.

            I grew out of watching dogcrap like reality shows and half-baked "entertainment" on TV a few years ago. It neither engages my intellect, nor requires any thought, but I'll bet it's a daily occurrence for you? Do you watch sports? Tell me how that engages your intellect. At least in the gaming industry, your leisure requires your mind to be active.

            I'm typing to you from a Windows 8 computer RIGHT NOW. You know what's missing? Tiles. That's right. Windows 8 tiles are not on my screen. In fact, I'm using the same version of Chrome "normal people" have on their desktop!

            So who here is "brainwashed?" You, who states Linux Desktop is the greatest thing since sliced bread, yet still admits to the shortcomings and states the "community doesn't need the common person?" Or me, who enjoys computing to all of its possible potential and appreciates the tech when being pushed to its capabilities?

            When Linux convinces ME to switch, then you have won the general public. Scratch that. I'm a developer that won't switch.

            When I can convince my PARENTS to switch, then you've won the O.S. war. It wasn't hard convincing my dad he needed an Android phone. If you can make a desktop (should be exponentially easier) perform at LEAST to Android standards, THEN you have won the O.S. war.
            thoiness
          • And then you wonder why crap like this happens...

            http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/nvidia-responds-to-torvalds-f-bomb/20902

            I understand completely.
            thoiness2
          • #

            where did i state "linux is the best thing since sliced bread" ? i understand its not for everyone , and i also didnt state linux is ready for the mainstream anywhere i dont know what u been reading dude. anyhoo feeding time is over , i hope u be very happy with windows8 , and dont have your bank details stolen any time soon. www.malwarebytes.org ;)
            cirrus_minor
          • My original response...

            was to this:
            "laughing at you. My work machine and home machine both run 12.04.

            Sorry that you feel a need to pay more for hardware, virus protection, and software licenses just to get the same thing."

            Along with your comment that "only sheeple who are too dumb to switch use Windows" (paraphrased)

            So if you weren't saying it wasn't for everyone, and you weren't saying it wasn't for everything, how would one interpret these statements?

            Wasn't PS3 running on Linux Servers when millions of people's identities were stolen? o.O
            thoiness2
          • You mean a MicroKlunk developer? obviously

            If you were a real developer you'd ditch MicroSkunk and their pathetic code that never works and never has.

            Have fun with your ancient MS DOS 4 bit ifle system under the hood of your virus trap/dfrag junker non OS called WindoZe 8 --soon to be considered worse than Vista, ME and the Zune flops!

            Once again: Real coders don't use anything from Microsoft.
            robolinux
          • Right...

            Because real coders code for the 1 percent... Get bent.
            thoiness2
          • as stated above, I switched and am loving it

            My mother uses Ubuntu 12.04, she's not a nerd, not a geek, not a technofile. A few years ago, when my mother started to use the internet, she was using my little brothers Windows computer.
            She'd never spend much time on it, giving up after less than an hour, closing popups. I'd already installed ubuntu onto my computer and, after showing her how to use it (she barely knew how to double click but it still didn't take long), she started using mine.
            She now has a netbook running Ubuntu 12.04 she takes on the road with her and an Android phone she uses daily. The phone gives her more problems than the computer has since I bought it for her.
            tmsbrdrs