Sunday, October 23, 2011

Linux Mint (Debian Edition) Impressions

With Ubuntu kind of going downhill with no quick fix in sight I decided to try another distribution. Linux Mint looked like a decent choice, so here a few quick impressions:
  • Mint comes in three different versions, two of which are based on Ubuntu I guess and the other on Debian, as always, the differences and incompatibilites between these versions are never properly explained, so as a user one ends up rather confused
  • Mint Debian is, as the name suggested, a Debian plus some additional tweaks, it is based on testing and thus like testing gets regular updates
  • as usual for Debian testing packages break all the time, currently Blender isn't installable and there is no Wine in the testing repositories, also you will see a lot more useless questions on dist-upgrade then you see on Ubuntu, stuff like this was why I moved away from Debian in the first place many years ago and it doesn't seem to have improved
  • Mint Debian still has good old Gnome2 it works as expected and feels so much better then the incomplete garbage that is the gnome-fallback in the current Ubuntu
  • Mint Debian doesn't support installing on an LVM root, so better have a free regular partition handy, sad to see that LVM is still a niche oddity, not a standard feature of the Linux toolbox
  • Mint can be installed from a live system and the install is very fast, essentially just six clicks and you are done in 15min, tweaking it to your liking will of course take a lot longer then that
  • /etc/defaults/rcS has UTC=yes, this messes up the hardware clock as my Ubuntu is UTC=no
  • can't use my Rhythmbox database, as the Rhythmbox version on Mint is apperently older then the one on Ubuntu, looks like Ubuntu is running straight from the Git repo, as even the latest source release is to old
  • ATI driver performance with linux-image-3.0.0-686-pae is completely horrible, makes the system essentially unusable, linux-image-3.0.0-486 on the other side is fine for some reason
  • added now Debian unstable to sources.list, lets see how much that breaks, Blender and Wine seem installable with that
  • Debian unstable lead to the installation of Gnome3 and destruction of Gnome2, guess I am back at square one
Overall my impressions of Mint so far are quite good. It's nothing revolutionary and the brokeness of testing is annoying, but it provides a simple Gnome2 desktop that just works and that's really all I need. One remaining question of course is: Why Mint and not just Debian Testing directly? The changes so far seem all to be rather minimal.

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