Linux Mint KDE and Xfce: A look at the release candidates

Linux Mint KDE and Xfce: A look at the release candidates

Summary: Release candidates are out for Mint with the "other two" desktops. Here is a brief look at each of them, and some information about alternate kernel management in Linux Mint.


There is always a delay between the release of the Linux Mint Cinnamon/MATE distributions and the KDE/Xfce distributions, but for those who have been waiting patiently (or perhaps a bit anxiously), the wait is almost over. 

The 'Release Candidates' for both KDE and Xfce are available now, so the final releases should be out soon. I decided to take a brief look at each of them, and in the process of doing that I got into the new kernel management system, so I will add a few notes here about that as well.

As was the case with the Cinnamon and MATE releases, there are separate release announcements (KDE / Xfce) and release notes (KDE / Xfce) for each version. It is worthwhile to read these, as they not only contain information about what is new and different in this release, but also some tips and tricks that might save you some time.

Links to the download mirrors are included in both the release announcement and release notes. The KDE download is about 1.4GB and Xfce is about 1.3GB. They are hybrid ISO images, so they can be burned to a DVD or dumped directly to a USB stick. Both versions are UEFI compatible, but both still use 'ubuntu' as the name for their EFI boot directory. 

This means that you have to be very careful if you want to install either of these on the same system where you already have either Ubuntu or Mint 17 installed — or if you want to install both of these on the same system, for that matter. It can be done, but it requires a bit of fancy footwork.

It is important to note that these two distributions are not repackaging of either Kubuntu or Xubuntu, they are original creations of the Linux Mint development team. This means they have their own package selections, customisations and configuration.

Mint Xfce
Linux Mint 17 Xfce
Mint KDE
Linux Mint 17 KDE








Both distributions appear very typical for their respective desktop types. One thing that distinguishes the Xfce version is the use of the Whisker menus, rather than the standard Xfce manu system.

When I wrote previously about the Mint 17 Release Candidate and Mint 17 Final Release, I mentioned some of the changes to the Mint Update utility. I didn't talk about the new kernel management capability, though, so I would like to go through that now.

Linux Mint Kernel Selection

Although Linux Mint follows Ubuntu updates pretty closely, it does not automatically install certain kinds of updates which are considered very risky to stable systems, such as kernel updates. There are situations where a user may need an updated kernel, perhaps for device support such as was recently mentioned in the comments of a previous post by my friend Thomas, or when some security vulnerability has been found in the kernel.

In order to make this a bit easier, they have added a new function to the mintUpdate utility. Under 'View' on the menu there is now 'Linux kernels'. Selecting that brings up the window shown here, listing all of the available kernels and their status.

Initially only the 3.14.0-24 kernel is installed and running; you can click 'Install' under any or all of the others to get them downloaded and installed. For kernels which are already installed, you can click 'Remove'.

The 'Fixes' section contains links to Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures addressed by each kernel. As a side note, if you aren't familiar with the CVE system, I think it would be worth your time to at least have a look and familiarise yourself with it.

The 'Regressions' section contains links to Ubuntu launchpad bug reports of possible problems introduced by each kernel. These are not necessarily confirmed problems, they might only have been reported and still under investigation for confirmation and possible resolution.

Linux Kernels
Linux Mint Kernel Selection

The 'mintUpdate' utility will dynamically determine which kernel is currently booted, and indicates that with a check in the 'Installed' column. With all three kernels installed, and the -27 kernel booted, the window looks like this.

Finally as far as content goes, for the most important (commonly used) applications these distributions are similar to the Cinnamon/Mate distributions — Firefox browser, VLC Media Player, Libre Office, and GIMP. For other common applications and utilities they have what is included or at least typical with their respective desktop software collections, such as (KDE) Amarok music player, Dolphin file manager, k3b CD/DVD disk burning, Kate text editor, digiKam photo management; (Xfce) Banshee music player, Thunar file manager, Xfburn CD/DVD burning, gedit text editor, gThumb photo viewing/management.

I have installed these two RC distributions on my Acer Aspire One 725 (KDE) and Acer Aspire V5 (Xfce).  Both are UEFI firmware systems, and both installed with absolutely no problems.  All hardware was recognised and drivers were configured with no manual intervention.

Further reading

Topics: Enterprise Software, 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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  • Mint 16 XFCE is my current choice for Windows dual boots

    and I'm trying out Mint 17 Cinnamon via Live USB on a laptop with decent specs. My netbook is waiting for the final Mint 17 XFCE. I tried out an RC release of Mint 15 some years ago and it was still too buggy to waste time with - leave RCs to the developers and enthusiasts.
  • Have Mint 17 Cinnammon, but ...

    I think I will switch over to Mint XFCE. I like the lower demand on system resources when using XFCE and the Whisker menu works really well. I would like to read a comparison of how these two flavors perform compared with Mint Cinnamon.
  • Skype still busted?

    Since version 16 skype over USB headsets appear to be busted. I was hoping it would be fixed in version 17 but yesterday's "Going Linux #247" podcast says Skype is still broken!
  • Mint Linux in genera : meh :(

    I originally switched from Ubuntu to Mint several years ago when the Unity desktop UI appeared simply because Mint offered the Mate desktop, the last good version(s) I remember were Mint 12 and 13, after that the distro became a complete mess, nothing but one problem after another. I have tried all 4 of the above mentioned and nothing has changed. It is still full of so many problems that for me it is not worth the bother any longer.

    After a year of struggling with various other flavors of Debian based product's and Gentoo I have finally settled on KXStudio 14.04, not only does it suite my professional needs in the Audio Video production industry, it is the first distro I have used in the past 3 years that worked right out of the box, no oddball problems with drivers, of screwball unfinished UI's
    ( Cinnamon - Mate - Xfce - or a bloated KDE ) KXStudio uses a bare bones KDE desktop that is a joy to use, and just plain works.

    LinuxMint lost my support a while back, and after trying the release(s) of Mint17, they have lost me for good, to many things always seem to be either broken or unfinished.

    So sorry to rain on anyone's parade, but I am with Mint for good.

    aka. CinnaMate1
  • Edit to Mint Linux in Genera

    Hmm seems as if I hit the Submit button to soon, my above post should have been titled
    Mint Linux in General : Meh :(

    and the closing statement should have been : So sorry to rain on anyone's parade, but I am Done with wasting my time on LinuxMint for good.
  • Linux tinkerers instead of users

    I will give you this much, for persons who want to go under the hood, be bleeding edge, Linux seems to be it. For the majority of PC users, both Windows and OS X, this is not desirable at all and its proven in the large user base of both commercial platforms. You buy a PC, install Windows or a Mac and you use it. The appeal of updating kernels (the heart of an OS) sounds like something you should only be doing every 4 years.
    • Linux not just for tinkerers anymore

      In response to adacosta38's reply, I strongly challenge his view that Linux is for 'tinkerers' who like being under the hood and bleeding edge. I am neither. It had stopped me from trying out Linux for quite a while. But I did switch to Linux Mint about 7 years ago, and haven't looked back. It installs easily and everything is pretty much straight forward, in particular updating the software in one easy simple safe process. Unlike Windows where you inevitably end up with lots of crapware and system bloat, that requires you to go under the hood or buy additional software to clean things out and keep the system safe. And I've never been keen to get myself hooked into the costly Apple proprietary ecosystem of i-gadgets.

      Initially I didn't think this latest version of Linux was going to offer much new. But in fact, I love it. It feels slicker/faster and better integrated with my Sony Viao laptop hardware (which is the Achilles heel with Linux).