Linux Mint Debian Edition Updates

Linux Mint Debian Edition Updates

Summary: Since the release of the Linux Mint Debian Edition distribution last December, and then the Linux Mint Xfce distribution which is also based on Debian rather than Ubuntu, I have found myself moving more and more toward using these Debian-based distributions rather than the Ubuntu-based Mint 11. In a lot of ways these Mint distributions seem to offer a good combination of a solid Debian base, with a choice between the standard 2.


Since the release of the Linux Mint Debian Edition distribution last December, and then the Linux Mint Xfce distribution which is also based on Debian rather than Ubuntu, I have found myself moving more and more toward using these Debian-based distributions rather than the Ubuntu-based Mint 11. In a lot of ways these Mint distributions seem to offer a good combination of a solid Debian base, with a choice between the standard 2.6.32 kernel (which is in the current Debian stable distribution) and the latest 2.6.38 kernel (which is in the current Mint 11 distribution), plus all of the excellent Mint utilities (such as MintMenu and MintUpdate), and the excellent software, application and utility selection that are included on all of the Mint distributions. I can't put my finger on any specific thing that makes me prefer these Debian based distributions to the standard Mint 11, but it is a sort of general feel, consistency and reliability.

Over the past week or so there have been a lot of significant updates made to the Linux Mint Debian and Linux Mint Xfce distributions. These are "rolling distributions" which are intended to be continuously updated rather than having periodic major releases, but with all of the activity associated with the recent release of Ubuntu 11.04 and then Linux Mint 11, they appeared to have fallen a bit behind, so these updates are very welcome. The most eye-catching of the updates is that Mint Debian now has its own logo with the Debian symbol in place of the 11 in the standard logo, and there is a new default wallpaper which includes it:

Linux Mint Debian

Of course, most of the updates are a lot more significant than the cosmetics of a new logo. The first one I noticed was that Firefox is updated to 4.0.1, which I felt was a bit overdue. This was one of the big things that I thought got neglected during the Mint 11 activity, so I am glad to see it finally come along. LibreOffice also got an update to version 3.3.2, the latest in the 3.3 development line.

There were also a lot of updates to the "underlying" system packages, such as Gnome 2.30.2 and an X.Org update that includes X Server 1.10.1 and a variety of updated video drivers. These sorts of updates might not be quite so obvious as the applications like Firefox and OpenOffice, but they are the ones which keep the system running smoothly. One good example of this is that Mint Debian now includes the Synaptics driver version 1.4.0, which handles the "ClickPad" on my Lenovo S10.3s without problem, including left and right buttons and tapping.

Finally, and perhaps most important to experienced and knowledgeable users of Linux Mint, there were updates to a lot of the Mint utilities. The most important of these is MintUpdate, to version 4.3.2. This fixes a number of long-standing and very irritating problems with dependencies in updates. In fact, when you update Mint at the moment you are likely to see that it first updates only MintUpdate itself, and then restarts and brings up the list of the remaining updates. One note here, on a couple of my systems I found that after updating MintUpdate I had to reboot before it would install the remaining updates.

So, the point of all this is that if you are currently running Linux Mint Debian or Xfce, you should install the latest updates as soon as possible. Of course, the MintUpdate icon in the panel will already be reminding you that the updates are available. If you haven't tried Mint Debian yet, these latest updates make it even more attractive - you really should give it a whirl. For myself, it looks like I am very likely to be using Mint Debian rather than Mint 11 for most systems now.

jw 16/6/2011

Topic: Linux

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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  • Sounds like what we've come to expect from M. Lefebvre.
    Have you tried it on your HP 2133, or is this something that needs a little more horsepower to do it justice?
    Warmest regards...
  • I use lmde on my old laptop, it's the fastest version of any linux distro I've tried on it and it's a 2.4 celeron from around 2003. It does work better with more ram, I currently have 512mb but I have tried it with 1gb.
  • @zdnetukuser - Mint Debian works very well on the HP 2133 Mini-Note - in my subjective opinion, it works better on there than the regular Mint 11 distribution does. I had not mentioned it with these updates because it was out on loan (when there is work to be done, or someone needs to borrow a netbook for a while, the Mini-Note is always the first to go because it is so reliable). I got it back at the end of last week, and I am now preparing it to take on my trip to Iceland this summer. The latest Mint Debian updates installed on it without a hitch - although it had been away so long that there were over 700 updates to be installed.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Update: Just a week after I wrote this there has been another significant batch of updates for Mint Debian. The most important part of this batch is that it updates the Linux kernel to 2.6.39. This really shows the value of a "rolling distribution", because unless they break with previous procedures, Ubuntu will not have this kernel until October, when 11.10 is released, and thus neither will Mint 11 (or its successor that is based on Ubuntu 11.10). There are significant advantages to the 2.6.39 kernel, both in performance improvements and in new driver support. Assuming that Mint Debian continues to distribute 2.6.39 updates, they are likely to be a long way ahead of those distributions by the time October comes around.

  • The only problem is that the last batch of updates completely trashed my Mint Debian installation, so back to square one. Luckily I can still boot the computer.
    The Former Moley
  • Hi Moley - how badly did it trash it? There was a point on one of my systems where I thought the Mint Update process had made a mess of things, but I ended up just going to Package Manager, refreshing the list, then selecting and installing updates, and it seemed to straighten things out. Maybe (hopefully) that would help you too... although what I am hoping for, to be honest, is a new base ISO distribution for Mint Debian, because the process for new installations is getting pretty tedious because of the large number of updates.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Also, anyone who has a laptop/netbook system with the Ralink WiFi adapter, and who compiled the driver as I explained in my blog, will need to recompile after installing the Mint Debian updates which bring in the 2.6.39 kernel.

  • Hi Jamie. Totally trashed! I need to start again. I did use the package manager and followed it's suggestions for adding, removing and updating. It seems it just got it wrong, as Mint LMDE won't even try to start now. The 'Update' programme never worked - complaining about broken packages.

    I agree, it's time that for ISO downloads to be updated to reflect the huge number of changes.
    The Former Moley
  • I agree that LMDE and LMDX are very promising releases but what everyone needs to keep in mind is that these releases are only in their infancy yet. Mint Update is still not recommended for use in updating any of the Mint Debian based editions as it's still not compatible in it's default setting (only levels 1 through 3 enabled). Synaptic and the terminal (using "apt-get dist-upgrade") are strongly recommended for upgrading by Clem himself, not Mint Update.

    That being said, the way that these Debian Testing based editions of Linux Mint are upgraded will be significantly changed in the near future with the strong possibility of using "Mintified" and debugged monthly snapshots of Debian testing instead of drawing updates straight from the Debian testing repos themselves which will significantly reduce breakage due to updates. In that case Mint updates will come across as usual and updates for the Debian testing base should come across on a monthly basis. If they're smart about it they'll make security updates an exception but no matter how it's done it means completely revamping the update process in Debian testing based editions of Mint. Something that's already in progress with Mint Update.

    (The above comes from various info found here and there on the Linux Mint website, news posts and forums)

    For myself, I've (finally) re-partitioned my hard drive the way I wanted after having removed Windows from it nearly 3 years ago. My main OS has always been Linux Mint (main edition) with two other testing partitions. One of which always had LMDE installed on it. This time though I'm waiting for the promised respin of LMDE as installing LMDE fresh from the December, 2010 LiveDVD is way too painful a process with well over 1000 updates (and who knows how many more after the last two batches you mention), several breakages that need to be fixed while updating a fresh install, etc and that's on a fairly new, off the shelf desktop computer I've upgraded specifically for Linux distro compatibility. That's one thing straight Debian Testing installs have over the current Debian Testing editions of Mint is regular respins. So I'll wait until the 64 bit repsin comes out before attempting to install LMDE again.