Distro Review: Linux Mint 8

Default Mint Desktop

I’m a bit late with this review I know, but the distro releases have been so thick and fast lately I just couldn’t keep up. Today I’d like to talk to you about Linux Mint 8, AKA Helena. I’ve said this many times before, but the codenames still sound a little tacky to me. The distro itself is anything but tacky though and it’s been one of my firm favourites in the past. How would this release stack up? Well, I’ll tell you…

Vital Stats:
Distro base – Ubuntu (itself based on Debian)
Packaging – .deb (Managed by the mighty Apt)
Linux Kernel – 2.6.31-14-generic
Default Desktop – Gnome 2.28


Setting Time Zone

Setting Time Zone

I began by downloading the standard Linux Mint 8 install CD, foregoing the Universal version. For those interested in the differences between the two, the Universal version is actually a much larger download and contains support for a lot more languages. I suppose the name should have made that obvious really, but I always thought there must be more technical differences. Firing up the LiveCD worked like a treat as expected and I was soon loading into a live session, from which I could install the new system. The look of Mint is always very nice and they seem to take a lot of time over the desktop themes, wallpapers and so on. This release is no exception in that department and it looks beautiful. Clicking the install shortcut located on the desktop I wasted no time in getting into business. If you’re new to Linux or just the whole LiveCD model in general, don’t be fooled by the slowness of a live session. This usually bears no real reflection on how the final install will perform on your hardware. It’s just that constantly loading data from a CD is much slower than a hard drive, so don’t panic.

Disk Partitioning

The Mint installer is inherited from Ubuntu 9.10 and they don’t seem to have modified this much, I guess it didn’t need it. The Ubiquity installer is one of my favourites and one area where Ubuntu has really done a lot for the Linux experience. That’s not to say that other distro installers aren’t good, they are. I just think the work on Ubiquity has been a catalyst for overall installer development, which is a good thing. I proceeded through all the usual stages of set up, time zone & localisation, user details etc. I also chose my normal partitioning scheme of 12gb root (/), 4gb swap and remaining 140gb(ish) as /home. It only took a minute or two to configure the installer and I set it on its way. You are now treated to a slideshow during the Mint install, a feature I noticed in Ubuntu Karmic. It’s a nice touch. The install process itself took about 10 minutes all together, and you really couldn’t complain at that. I was then prompted to reboot and remove the disc to boot into the new system.

All in all the installation was quick and painless. I think the Ubiquity installer has to take most of the credit here, but it’s good that the Mint devs realised not to mess about trying to change it. Concentrating instead on other areas of the distro which actually need attention.


Customising The Desktop:

My Finished Desktop

Much as I love Mint, there are a few things about the default desktop layout I’m not crazy about. These may be purely personal preferences but I’ve never understood why there’s no workspace switcher on view by default. I’ve speculated before that perhaps this is meant to make the desktop more recognisable to fresh Windows exiles, but being able to use multiple workspaces is something I’ve loved about the many Linux desktop environments I’ve used over the years. Apple even added this feature to OS X themselves quite recently, about 10 years after us. So one of the first things I do with any new Mint install is to modify the desktop configuration. It only takes a few minutes, but I’ll share this process with you now. Firstly I move the bottom toolbar to the top of the screen, making it more like a traditional Gnome set up. That’s simple. I then add a workspace switcher and dock it next to the notification area on the bar. Next I install the Avant Window Navigator and configure that at the bottom of the screen. I’ve skipped a step here which I should point out. Before you can install AWN you need to have working 3D graphics drivers. In my case this involves installing the restricted and evil Nvidia drivers, which is really simple on Mint. The Restricted driver manager prompts you to do this if you have a freedom hating card. With AWN installed I set it to start automatically on login and add all my shortcuts. You can see an example of my finished desktop layout in the screenshots. Mac fans will be quick to point out this looks much more Mac-like and that’s a fair comment, I do like having a dock at the bottom of me screen. As I said, these changes to the default set up are quick and this is the most work I ever have to do with Mint. Codecs, Flash, Java and all the other things you often need for a home desktop are already installed. Adding software yourself is also a simple process. Let’s look at that in more detail.

Who Made Who?

Shoulders Of Giants

Mint is based on Ubuntu Linux and because of that some people have dismissed it as nothing more than Ubuntu with added media codecs, proprietary apps and a green paint job. I’ve long countered that assumption and I believe there’s a lot more to it as a distribution in it’s own right. That fact just gets more and more evident with each new release. Mint benefits from a lot of Ubuntu development of course, but Ubuntu in turn benefits from Debian development, Gnome development and Kernel development if you want to analyse it down to that level. The accusation is a bit unfair. Mint has many custom tools such as the Software Manager, MintUpdate, MintAssistant, MintUpload, MintBackup, MintNanny and more. If you haven’t tried it before that’s worth keeping in mind.

The Software Manager:

The Software Manager

One of the big changes made to Ubuntu with 9.10 was the addition of the Ubuntu Software Centre. I commented at the time that this was oddly reminiscent of the tool developed for Mint a long time ago. Despite some initial hesitation I actually liked the Ubuntu Software Centre very much, so I wondered if Mint would abandon their own Software Manager tool and adopt this new offering. They haven’t, instead they’ve made improvements to their own Software Manager and strengthened it. A big change is the ability to mark and install multiple programs in one action. This was sorely needed and it speeds greatly things up. I also noticed the “featured applications” button and I think this could really help newcomers to the platform. It offers a list of the most commonly installed packages and even some things you might not expect to find in the repositories, such as Skype and Google Earth. I like that it gives you user reviews and a whole wealth of of other information on each application right in the installer. I did find it a little odd that you can’t right-click on items in the list to get up a contextual menu though, perhaps this is just a bug. The Software Manager has come a long way since it first appeared in Mint a couple of years ago and it’s one area where perhaps the pupil has taught the master a lesson, in respect to the Ubuntu/Mint relationship at least. I like both the new Ubuntu tool and the Software Manager in Mint and I’d really like to see them work more collaboratively to produce one really stellar tool, but I won’t hold my breath. People have often asked me why these Mint innovations don’t make their way back upstream into Ubuntu and I can’t explain that. The same question could be asked about the lack of Ubuntu tools making their way back into Debian I suppose. I know they’re working hard but it would be nice to see more collaboration from all parties. One slight downside to the Mint Software Manager is that it doesn’t list all the available packages you could get with Apt-Get or Synaptic. I’ll illustrate this point in the screen shots. Here’s the result when I search for Gwibber in the Software Manager…

Gwibber search in Software Manager

Gwibber search in Synaptic

…but if I open up Synaptic and do the same there it is. This could confuse some new users and it would be good to consolidate. I’m not sure of the exact solution but it wouldn’t seem that hard to me to make Software Manager display all the results of an “apt-cache search” command somewhere. Perhaps they could be colour coded to differentiate, or even put into another panel if that’s easier. It would make a lot more sense to unify the process and could give Mint a real edge. Just a suggestion.

Ease Of Installation & Use: 5/5
Stability: 5/5
Speed: 4/5
Community & Documentation: 4/5
Features: 4/5
Overall: 5/5

Chromium browser image

Chromium Installed From PPA

I went into Linux Mint 8 with high expectations from previous releases and I wasn’t let down. I like the custom tools they’ve added on top of a solid Ubuntu base, and I’ve said many times this is the best distribution for anyone new to Linux. I see no reason to alter that assertion. This release has added a few little features like the OEM install options and many improvements to the Mint Menu, but it seems to be mostly a consolidation of previous work. There’s nothing wrong with that. For me it gives by far the most complete home desktop experience of any distro out of the box. Everything you could need is here, and if you do want to add something else the Software Manager makes it easy. For more advanced users the benefit of Ubuntu compatibility means you can still add PPAs and get involved in the Ubuntu community if you like. It not a distribution for freedom crusaders though, and if your primary concern is Free Software values I’d advise you to look elsewhere. Perhaps Fedora or something off the FSF approved list would suit those people better.

The Mint Menu in action

Mint Menu

There seems to be a fairly strong community around Mint and this will only be improved by the development of a new website. It’s in the early stages but the idea is to provide a kind of social networking platform for Mint users, where they can post ideas and rate the suggestions of others. I’ll be very interested to see how that develops. The size of the Mint following isn’t close to Ubuntu in sheer numbers at least, but once again the Ubuntu compatibility means that most guides and tutorials will work the same here. I’m a big fan of Mint and I make no secret of that fact, but as always I’ve done my best to assess it fairly and objectively. Some people will disagree with the 5 star rating I’ve given it I’m sure, but it’s as close as I’ve ever seen to distro perfection. For my own taste at least, I find it very comfortable and easy to settle into each time I stop by. It will continue to be the CD I give to people when they come to me and say “what’s this Linux business about then?”. I think that says it all. Truly advanced users and kernel hackers may find something else suits them better, but for the rest of us this is a great option.

Don’t take my word for it, try out Mint for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments. You might think I’m completely wrong and you’re welcome to say so. All I ask is that you do it in a reasonably civilised manner.


Up next…
Just before Christmas I was fortunate enough to be sent an N900 Linux-based phone from Nokia. It’s my first real smartphone (a fact that shocked many people) and while I can’t compare it to the iPhone or an Android device directly, I would like to give you my assessment of it. The Debian-based Maemo operating system is very interesting, coupled with the fact that you get easy root access and it even runs my own shoddy Python code. Join me for that in the New Year. If you have any suggestions for other things I should look at please feel free to send them to me or leave comment. I’ll see you all back here in 2010 for more adventures…

Posted in Review
108 comments on “Distro Review: Linux Mint 8
  1. Andy C says:

    Great review, Dan. As someone who finally converted to Linux in 2009 and chose Mint 7 and then upgraded, I agree with everything you say.

    So does my wife who also converted from the dark side with hardly any problems whatsoever.

  2. Dan says:

    @Andy C – That’s great news, glad you’re both enjoying Linux Mint :)

  3. Omega says:

    Thank you for a great review,
    but mint is no more than a ubuntuwith adons (codecs, new artwork, mintinstall, mintupdate, and a few more that I do not remember ) remove all that and you got Ububntu, they just found a way to make money thanks tu ubuntu. mint should be a metapackage that you can istall on top of ubuntu and not a distro.

    • Dan says:

      @Omega – I don’t think that’s fair, as I said in the article. There are many changes made to Ubuntu here and it’s far more than just codecs and a paint job. Look at the backup solution, the software manager, the custom updater with more granular control and many other things. How is this different from Ubuntu taking Debian and adding a few custom tools? I agree that some distros just take Ubuntu and change the default language calling themselves a new distro. They could easily be a meta package but Mint is more than that. I’s community supported and there is no company behind it, so I’m not sure how you can say they’re “making money thanks to Ubuntu”. If you have more info I’d be pleased too hear it. How is this different from Ubuntu “making money” (though I believe they aren’t breaking even yet) from Debian’s work? This is how our eco-system works.

  4. Raul says:

    The best part about Mint is the mintmenu. It’s in AUR for ArchLinux and that’s what I use on my desktop.

  5. richyrich says:

    Nice review Dan, just want to add an un-confirmed rumor ;), Keep a lookout for the Community Editions that may be coming available for the New Year ! KDE. Xfce, and Fluxbox too!

    • Dan says:

      @richyrich – Thanks, I’ve never really dug into the community editions but I’ll try to fix that next year. The XFCE and KDE editions look interesting. There was also a version based on Debian, but I don’t know if that’s still going.

  6. David says:

    You didn’t try to install it dual boot with another system. It totally messes it up and you can only boot Mint Linux.

    • Dan says:

      @David – When you say dual-boot with another system do you mean Windows or another Linux distro? I only use Linux on my machines, but I have installed Mint many times in a dual-boot with XP or Vista for family and friends. It’s always just worked alongside without a problem for me, so I can only judge from that experience. There may be some kind of bug I haven’t come across yet, or maybe you were unlucky. If you can offer more information I’d be happy too help. It can be frustrating when things go wrong. Unless you wiped your Windows partition you can restore the bootloader and fix it. Hope you get it sorted.

  7. Henry says:

    Great review. Just wanted to a tiny bit to it. The difference between the Standard and Universal edition is, apart from the multiple languages supported by the Universal edition, it also comes without the non-free softwares (eg multimedia codecs) included in the Standard edition. This is because of the different laws on distribution of proprietory softwares across the different countries which languages are supported.

    • Dan says:

      @Henry – Thanks for the information, so there is another difference between the versions. I will have to update the article to reflect this :)

  8. husse says:

    Thank you for an interesting review.
    I can tell you that the next version of The Software Manager will include all packages one way or another – Synaptic will in a sense be merged
    It is still very early so exactly how this is done remains to be seen
    (and yes – I am Husse over at the Mint forums)

  9. Omega says:

    You over rated mint, is not that good at all
    5/5 installation??? that is the ubuntu installer

    5/5 stability, jajaja i guess that is a joke good one

    every one knows that ubuntu is not that stable it is build on top of debian testing plus they left synaptic some moron will pres reload=>mark updates=> apply, and there it goes mint is destroy

    4/5 speed (that is Ubuntu not mint )

    Community & Documentation: 4/5 Granted, hey they got one :)

    Features: 4/5 please……a couple more application (buggy) and slow

    Overall: 5/5 how is that, do the math

  10. Omega says:

    debian and ubuntu, try using debian testing and then try ubuntu you tell me

    • Dan says:

      @Omega – I’ve used all versions of Debian and Ubuntu many times over the years thank you, so don’t lecture me. I’m not sure exactly what your problem with Mint is, but I have no time for petty flame wars or personal vendettas. You don’t like it that’s fine, everyone is entitled to an opinion. I’m not even sure you properly read this though, it looks like you just read the scores and left the text. This is my personal opinion I say that hundreds of times all over these articles. I also say that not everyone will agree with this opinion and nor should they.

      Ubuntu has done a lot of great work, and they’ve built it on top of other people’s great work too. The Kernel, Gnome, Debian, all the many many upstream developers. Mint is now taking Ubuntu’s work and building on that in turn. This is how our development model works, we share changes and improvements. The last Ubuntu had many features inherited from Fedora, so what. I don’t see the sense in finger pointing and accusations. The GPL was created for all of us to share our advances and move forward, it’s doing a good job of that. Who exactly has done what part is irrelevant in the larger scheme. So let’s just agree to disagree and get on with our lives like adults.

  11. Oldcode says:

    @Omega for benefit mainly of new users. First dan Omega has only given a self belief of what he thinks mint is. As for math. My company has converted this year a record of over 700 users on mint. On a statistic from July of 2007 on ubuntu We had alot of trouble with just the basics ubuntu employs in its layout with clients and customers switching from home to business on xp/vista to Ubuntu as a solution. In first quarter of 2009 we made the move to Linux Mint.
    with a 39% change rate back xp or vista. and having 3 techs giving support 24 hours a day. Here is your math

    2007…..495….112 switched back…phones busy
    2008…..672….389 switched back…phones busy
    2009(Linux mint)..789….0 switched back. let go 2 techs.

    Theres your math from our small group in arkansas, texas, oklahoma and missouri.

    The article is spot on. Or goal is 1. we are a non profit spread Linux. This is how we contribute to Linux. In the end more developers will come as more masses us what we support as the greatest movement ever.

    The small picture is Linux is free. The big picture is the freedom and advancement it gives to all of society.

    If I was smart enough to Program, I would. If I was rich enough to donate I would. But what I can do is take my 20 years of minor experiences and great sells ability and spread Linux to ever system like a mad virus. And this is my contribution.

    Like Dan said. Try it yourself. And be the Judge yourself. I for one give Linux Mint the #1 distro as does the several Hundreds of users I keep track of and there experiences.

    with that said. ubuntu is a great distro. But it lacks the simplicity Mint has provided.

  12. privatehuff says:

    Great Review Dan, thanks!

    I’ve been wanting to branch out from ubuntu and was considering SUSE but now it looks like you’ve confirmed that Mint is worth some attention.

    One question though, as I see you installed the 32 bit edition: I’d like to us the 64 bit edition (mainly for more RAM as I use virtual machines) but on the Mint site they claim that the 64bit edition isn’t (necessarily) as stable as their main 32 bit edition. Do you know if this is just CYA on that part of the Devs or a real concern?

    • Dan says:

      @privatehuff – I’m not sure if these warnings are just the developers playing safe or the 64 bit version really is unstable. I haven’t tried it yet. I tend to stick to 32bit versions on my laptop at the moment. I don’t have enough RAM to worry about 64bit and it’s benefits on this machine right now. I would say backup your data thoroughly and give it a try. If it goes wrong you’ll lose an hour or two moving to 32bit again and copying your data back. Perhaps one of the more knowledgeable Mint users who read this can offer more info. Good luck!! :)

  13. Schmidt says:

    I am in love with Mint 8. I am currently running a dual-boot with Windows 7. For a newbie to the Linux scene, I’ve tried Ubuntu 9.10 and Mint 8. And I’ve gotta say that I personally think that Mint blows Ubuntu away speed wise! The menu is much more user friendly. Mint has it down to a “one-click” menu whereas Ubuntu has about 3 different ones. I can’t run my mouth too much here because I’m sure a lot of you have been using Linux longer than I have known about it. But, I just wanted to put in my two-cents about it. Yes, it is based on Ubuntu but look at all the other distro’s based on Ubuntu as well. Give Mint 8 a chance. And Omega, come on! You don’t have to hate on Mint that much. So what it’s Ubuntu-based that doesn’t mean that it’s Ubuntu. Go to the Distro Watch website and just take a look at all the new distro’s being released that are Ubuntu based. I also think that Mint 8 is very stable, I run a lot of games and have never had one problem with Mint. In my opinion, Mint (like Dan said) is a great distro for those just coming from Windows. It’s simply just easy to use. And like their slogan says, “From Freedom Came Elegance” that is Linux Mint.

  14. Mike Dinon says:

    Hi Dan,

    Very nice review as always. I have never installed Mint (I am a Slackware user) but I have messed around with the live CD a little. I can certainly understand the appeal of Mint to new users. My friend has set his with up with Mint on her laptop and she likes it very much. I find the numerous Ubuntu fans who complain that Mint isn’t much more than Ubuntu with some codecs etc. quite funny as of course this is the Debian-users complaint about Ubuntu. What I do find a bit odd is the general perception that the Mintmenu is a great innovation where to me it seems extremely similar to the slab menu that openSUSE/Novell developed for GNOME. I remember the slab being derided by many people at the time and criticized from deviating from upstream so I find it odd that so many people embrace the Mintmenu. Personally I feel that there should be distros that try to innovate (Mint, openSUSE, Ubuntu) as much as I believe there needs to be distros that provide an experience as close to the upstream as possible (Fedora, Arch, Slackware). Anyway look forward to your next review, perhaps FreeBSD 8 or Slackware 13?

  15. klanger says:

    Great review!
    I always have this feeling that I HAVE to try reviewed distro, after your article…

    I wish you Dan, a Happy New Year!

  16. Alpha says:

    Hey Omega, keep your voice down!
    From the better distros, Mint will rise
    Quit the flaming
    Quit the blaming
    Be unforgiven, unless you apologize!

  17. Nick says:

    Hi Dan,
    Happy New Year to you from The Antipodes! Thank you for your very favourable review of Helena, which I am using as my main OS (and a Linux distro which I was more than happy to donate to!). There was one installation hiccup (especially since one has two hard drives – grub installed to the wrong one – problem with Ubiquity?) but nothing that couldn’t be fixed. Anyway, one of my students has requested Helena to replace CentOS, which I will gladly fulfil!

    • Dan says:

      @Nick – Greetings to you too! Glad you’re enjoying Mint. Not seen that GRUB error but I only have one HDD in this laptop. I’d suggest reporting it on Launchpad.net and seeing if anyone else has the same thing. Hopefully we can get it fixed soon.

  18. Dylan C says:

    Hmm… another good review but Mint isn’t for me. I do like the way it comes with all the media codecs, flash and java. Other than that the tools Mint adds to Ubuntu I don’t really need or want.

    In my opinion Ubuntu with Ubuntu Tweak and Bleachbit is excellent and doesn’t need anything more than that. (besides apps + codecs)

  19. Taomaster says:

    Sounds like david doesn’t know how to setup a dual boot system. I have 4 operating systems on one hard drive… David. Knowledge is power.. David.

    • Dan says:

      @Taomaster – Anyone can have a problem and make a mistake, so let’s be more courteous to David. He may have found a bug, I’d like to know if that’s possible and help him get his system working properly. That’s better for all of us in the long run :)

  20. Unixpert says:

    “they left synaptic some moron will pres reload=>mark updates=> apply, and there it goes mint is destroy”

    You CANNOT hit mark all updates in Synaptic in Mint 8, the button does not exist there.

    I suggest you actually test something before spouting nonsense you have no clue about. Bye Troll

  21. TheLinuxAdvocate says:

    So what if Mint is a “Heavily” modified version of Ubuntu. 95% of all GNU/Linux Distros are Modified versions of another Distro. Seriously how many ‘original’ systems are there? Debian, Slackware, Gentoo, Arch, and maybe 2 or 3 others out of around 400+ available distributions (Not counting the tens of thousands of different versions of each distro available).

    Mint is Ubuntu done right. Its not ‘just’ modified. Its fixed. It is made better in every single conceivable way.

    To the idiot that mentioned people clicking the mark update button in Synaptic. That button has been removed in Mint 8, therefore is impossible to select. If you are going to troll, please do some research first.

  22. Uwe Sch. ( Germany ) says:

    Thank you for your good Review !

    I began to used Linux for many years ago with Suse. Than i testet more and more other Distributions, but the best Distribution ( so i think ) its Mint, and I’m a greast Fan of this. Mint works on my Desktop PC and on my HP Laptop very fine – and overall Mint works ONLY
    ( that means : no Microsoft beside Linux on my HD’s 😉

    Many greatings from Germany, and a happy new year !

    • Dan says:

      Thank you to everyone for reading an commenting, even those who disagree. I’m having trouble replying to everyone individually so I hope you understand. For the record, Ubuntu is a great distro doing great work and I’m glad it fits perfectly for some users. I still believe that Mint is better for novice users and they’re only building on Ubuntu in the way Ubuntu builds on other things. All this flame baiting and so on reminds me of the things I used to see posted about Ubuntu by Debian users. I find it funny that now it’s come full circle. Ubuntu users should remember the problems they had with some elements of the Debian community in the early days, and not fall into the same trap. The beauty of the GPL and our development model is that we all share our advances and developments, we become stronger as a whole and that’s the main thing. There’s no need for in-fighting and finger pointing. When we do this the only winner is Microsoft and Apple. We’re better together :)

  23. While we are here, I should just toss in a recommendation for the Mintcast – http://mintcast.org.

  24. Someone says:

    Hi, I believe that you were wrong in one thing.
    Linux Mint does have a Workspace Switcher by default, out-of-the-box.
    It’s the green screen icon (applet) next to Tomboy’s Notes icon on your very first screenshot.
    So, you might want to edit this article again.

    • Dan says:

      @someone Is it? I’ll investigate that right now then. I’ll be glad if I am wrong because I find multiple workspaces are essential. Thanks!!

    • Dan says:

      @Someone – Nope it seems I was right. I just loaded a fresh install in a VM to check. That green button next to the Tomboy icon is just the “show desktop” tool. It minimises all your windows in the workspace you are on. It doesn’t help you switch to other spaces. You can of course do CTRL+ALT and the arrow keys to switch workspace at any time, but you have to know about that and I don’t think new users will.

  25. Shawn says:

    Nice review Dan.

    I have used Mint in the past and enjoyed it. But one unknown for me is whether or not Mint upgrades seamlessly. I have had trouble in the past with several distributions when upgrading, and I lose my trust in them when that happens. How would you rate Mint’s upgrade process?

    Not to nitpick, but if your comment posts you sometimes use the word “too” when I think you mean “to” (some of them are used correctly). Maybe they are just typos. I always appreciate it when others correct my spelling/grammar constructively. Anyway… fyi

    • Dan says:

      @Shawn – I haven’t tried upgrading in place with Mint really because I’m always swapping distros so much, they don’t stay on long enough to get upgraded. I would imagine upgrading it should be a similar experience to Ubuntu, which I hear is good in that department now. I can’t say for sure though, sorry. Thanks for the grammar tip. I suspect some of the “too”s are typos and some are just wrong. It’s tough to get everything spot on at times but I always like to improve anything I can. I’ll keep an eye on it :)

  26. kenholmz says:

    Thank you for an informative review of Mint 8. I am a distro agnostic for the most part. My primary addictions were RedHat 5.2 through 8.0. Then I switched to SuSE 8.2 and am now up to Opensuse 11.2.
    I am pleased there are hundreds of distributions, both general and specialty. Mint is one of a few that fit into a very special category just now. It may well serve Windows refugees in particular and others who may want to have the multimedia and other things as part of the default install. I have been informed lately of two others; one is SuperOS (formerly Super Ubuntu).
    The other is Fedora Omega (which I plan to try out this coming week). As for your review, Lxer led me to
    The home page for the distro is

    I mention this as a complement to your review. As discussed regarding Mint, it isn’t only the initial installation but a number of other factors that contribute to a user’s overall subjective experience.

    On the social side, I have been reading postings for a full decade and they haven’t changed greatly. Many are thoughtful and informative, many lack both. I don’t expect this will ever change. I expect there is a serious sense of insecurity involved for those who must demean any experience different from their own.

    • Dan says:

      @kenholmz – Thanks for the information. I haven’t tried SuperOS or Fedora Omega so I should add those to my list right away. I’m sure Mint isn’t the only distro out there that works this well, I’ve had good experiences on many others. I try to be a distro agnostic and assess everything for what it is, but it’s always going to be subjective to some degree I suppose as it’s my experience I’m reporting. I think all you can do is try your best to be honest and fair. That’s what I aim for, I probably don’t get it right all the time.

  27. Omega says:

    @ Oldcode
    are you using the lite version of mint?

  28. Expat says:

    I have been using Linux now for the past 5 years and litterally used to hop from distro to distro every time a new one was released, I’d try it for a bit and always find something wrong or that I didn’t like.
    Then in 2007 I tried PclinuxOS and at that time it was the best distro (for me) out there. I stuck with PclinuxOs until Texstar (the main developer) left……the distro started becoming buggy and unstable (in my opinion) so I tried ubuntu, having heard many good things about it, but Ubuntu never really liked my hardware and things just didn’t work like they did with Pclinuxos 2007….and again I was hopping distro to distro looking for the “one” when I reluctantly tried Mint….reluctantly because I knew it was based off Ubuntu and my experiences with Ubuntu were not good……..Now I am so happy I tried Mint, everything works flawlessly (I am using Mint 7 the 64 bit version by the way) and now I am reluctant to switch to Mint 8 for fear it’s anything like Ubuntu 9.10 which for me was a nightmare, but after reading your review I feel better about moving from Mint 7 to Mint 8……Linux is like Ice cream ….. we don’t all like vanilla….I like Mint.

    • Dan says:

      @Expat – Great comment. I think it’s good that we have so many flavours and also that people can make their own new interpretations if the want. That’s what freedom is all about.

  29. Shaine Williams says:

    Dan, Thanks for the great review. I agree that many innovative aspects of Mint have begun to set it apart as a distro. All I can say is that after trying multiple distros on my wacom tablet PC that I found Mint 8 to not only work with the wacom pen but to work very well. I only needed to install one driver for my screen rotations & buttons. I’ve used Ubuntu since their first release and I love LM8 on this laptop, it definitely has the feel of a different distro.

  30. mvdvarrier says:

    Hello Friends, This is my first post here but I am a regular reader of these Linux reviews.

    Dan Wrote,

    “@Omega – I don’t think that’s fair, as I said in the article. There are many changes made to Ubuntu here and it’s far more than just codecs and a paint job. Look at the backup solution, the software manager, the custom updater with more granular control and many other things. How is this different from Ubuntu taking Debian and adding a few custom tools? I agree that some distros just take Ubuntu and change the default language calling themselves a new distro. They could easily be a meta package but Mint is more than that. I’s community supported and there is no company behind it, so I’m not sure how you can say they’re “making money thanks to Ubuntu”. If you have more info I’d be pleased too hear it. How is this different from Ubuntu “making money” (though I believe they aren’t breaking even yet) from Debian’s work? This is how our eco-system works.” …………

    I am a distro hopper using 3 Desktops and one laptop of various configurations (Medium to low end) solely for wandering in the distro jungle. I am using Mint-6, 7 and 8 editions in my productive machines. Even though I just wondered by speed & flexibility of Arch Linux, Cutting edge techs of Fedora, simplicity of Slackware and stability of Debian and ambitiousness of Ubuntu but none of them forced me to put them in my productive machines.
    From my experiences it is evident that Mint is not an ornamented Ubuntu. I have tested ubuntu and Mint side by side in my computers with almost same soft wares installed. In various tests it seemed that Ubuntu uses more system resources than Mint especially in 2D Video. That type of low consumption of resources overtook only by Arch Linux. But the Synaptic, Ubuntu repository and Customisations of Mint Team made Mint some more acceptable by my employees who are transplanted from MS world.

    Next Dan wrote,

    “Next I install the Avant Window Navigator and configure that at the bottom of the screen. I’ve skipped a step here which I should point out. Before you can install AWN you need to have working 3D graphics drivers. In my case this involves installing the restricted and evil Nvidia drivers, which is really simple on Mint.” ……..

    In fact there is an alternative. I hate using proprietary ATI Catalyst. (I have an ATI card). I insist on open-source ati driver.So I can use only 2D. Even then “wbar” seemed as a good choice.
    By the way great review, Congrats and thanks Dan!

    • Dan says:

      @mvdvarrier – Thanks for the interesting thoughts and thanks for reading. I know some people who use wbar and like it very much. I’ve tried it but it didn’t quite fit for me. I also tried Docky but that never felt as good as AWN either. I suppose once again it shows the wide range of choice we have, different things for different users.

  31. Rob says:

    Nice review, Dan. I usually install Mint on computers I donate. I recently tried the live CD for Super OS (mentioned above), just to have a peak, and thought it worked well. Also, not sure if you were aware that there is a Docky theme setting in Gnome Do. Gnome Do is obviously incorporated into it and the dock appears very similar to AWN. It is worth a look.

    Cheers! To a happy, healthy new year.

    • Dan says:

      @rob – Thanks. I mentioned Docky in reply to the last comment. It’s quite cool, but not as good as AWN in my opinion. I tried it for a while but it didn’t stick. Others might find it suits them better.

  32. Someone says:

    Ah, it turned out to be my mistake. 😉

  33. Dan says:

    @Someone – No problem, it makes a nice change that it wasn’t me for one hehe

  34. kenholmz says:

    Dan, I want to be clear that I find your posting to be clear and helpful. You brought up some things that are new to me and worth checking into. I also appreciate the responses that informative. I know I can always learn something worthwhile. What saddens me are the responders who merely attack the author or product and offer nothing informative or helpful.
    I look forward to reading more of your thoughts and appraisals in the future.

  35. Dan says:

    @kenholmz – Yes I agree this is very sad. I can’t believe people waste their time on doing just that. I’ve had thousands of comments over the years though and I’m always impressed by how well most people conduct themselves. The trolls are in the minority. Thankfully :)

  36. Gary says:

    Hey Dan,

    I am so glad to read other that enjoy Linux Mint s much as I do. I messed with linux back when Mandrake’s Blue Katana version was given to me, but it was beyond the scope of my abilities. Finally sick of windows problems, I stumbled across Linux Mint 4. I’ve been a Mint user since. I still have crappy windows installed on one of my other machines, but I don’t think I’ve turned the darn thing on in months. I have another machine I distro hop with, a desktop PC. Mint is my only OS on my Asus G50 laptop tho, and I run the x64 bit version with no issues what-so-ever.

    Great review man, keep up the good fight.

  37. nkspro says:

    Dan, better late than never, your review was short and simple yet effective. I tried Mint 8 RC on my laptop but found that the Mint Menu was somewhat buggy – yet it was a great improvement over the so old looking Ubuntu’s 3 tier menu. I hope it will get better with future releases. Currently running Karmic (with lot of additions and modifications). On the basis of your reivew, I hope I would give it a second chance. I have always recommended Ubuntu to my friends but Mint seems to have the ability to convert Windows users as it has less modifications to be done for Out of the Box Experience. Great review, thanks.

    • Dan says:

      @nkspro – Thanks. I haven’t seen any bugs in the Mint Menu so far with Mint 8, perhaps the fact you were running an RC made some difference. It’s hard to say. Ubuntu is a great choice as well, but I find Mint is better for people new to Linux.

  38. OpenDaily says:

    test, did my comment go in?

  39. OpenDaily says:

    I second Dan’s point about Mint being more than just
    an ornamental change to Ubuntu. I tried Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic and had terrible sound problems. Surprisingly, Mint 8 worked perfectly! No sound issues at all.

    Anyway, a couple of tips based on my own experience for people who want a more modern desktop while keeping the Mint 8 stability and reliability:

    1) Upgrade your kernel to 2.6.32. More power-saving features (according to the release notes) and feels very stable.

    2) Download KDE 4.3 from Synaptic. You may need to add the KDE repo. KDE is so much more modern than GNOME, and is in the same league as OS X and Win 7 when it comes to eye candy, which is important IMHO. Plus, the PowerDevil power management app works so much better than GNOME’s… whatever you call its power manger — I forget. Also, the networkmanager in KDE is very problematic, so by keeping Mint’s GNOME-based networkmanager, you’ll have easy network management.

    PS: I use a Thinkpad X200.

    • Dan says:

      @OpenDaily – KDE4 is very good but I prefer Gnome myself. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess. There is a KDE community version of Mint which should be updated soon, I’d say that’s easier than taking standard Mint and trying to convert it to KDE. Interesting method though and some people my find it useful, thanks for the tip.

  40. nkspro says:

    @Dan – I tried Kubuntu Karmic for a week last month dual booting with Ubuntu Karmic. And I was like “WOW”. Kubuntu Karmic has also gotten some good reviews, but as you said beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder – I found that Kubuntu being very snappy, fast and responsive but I felt it being cluttered and some fonts here and there were not looking good to me. I was not too comfy fixing those appearances and fonts in kubuntu rather I would invest that time in installing my favorite apps. Just my opinion. I hope if Mint goes KDE way, it does the same miracle to it as it has done on Ubuntu.

  41. hgzr says:

    I think Mint is more than a flavour change for ubuntu.

    Mint developers actually find workarounds for problems and try to ‘tame’ ubuntu as much as they can before releasing their own version. A few releases ago, mint’s wireless solution was better than Ubuntu’s.

    They don’t ship releases with known show stopper bugs.Despite ubuntu’s paper cut project,mint improves the experience of using linux kernel and debian base significantly.

    There are talks of a debian version and i’m curious about mint-haters’ reactions if/when it’s released.

    However,i agree that there are too many debian and ubuntu variants.People should always try to do new things universally not just skin deep.

    • Dan says:

      @hgzr – There used to be a Debian based version of Mint, I’m not sure if it’s still available though. It was one of the community editions. I agree that all of these distros just changing the default language and desktop wallpaper of Ubuntu are a bit of a waste. Duplicating effort is a shame but it’s also great that we have the freedom to customise this software as much or as little as we want, that’s the beauty of the GPL for me.

  42. Dan says:

    @nkspro – That’s cool. They’ve had KDE versions for a number of years now but they’re not the official focus of the project, I can’t see them making it the main version any time soon. Have a look here and scroll down to the Mint 7 KDE version. The Mint 8 KDE release should be along in the near future, they lag slightly behind the Gnome edition usually. I don’t know if it’s any good I haven’t tried it, but you might find it useful. You might also find your own KDE version is better, in which case you could get involved in the KDE edition development perhaps. It’s worth thinking about if you have the time and interest.

  43. nkspro says:

    Thanks Dan, I didn’t know there already is a Mint KDE (I just surfed on their download section, never ventured into their Community section). I will definitely give it a try someday and would share my experience. Although I am not a linux dev or expert (just converted 6 months ago, used to dual boot with Win for last 1.5 years), I see immense scope of learning and doing things in Linux that a win could never have given me. So, even if I am not coding, I will definitely give some feedback to KDE (or Ubuntu or Mint) devs on usability and appearance. Thanks for sharing info.

  44. Dan says:

    @nkspro – No problem. Even if you’re not a programmer or don’t consider yourself an expert there’s usually something you can offer. Could be just reporting back on what works and what doesn’t, filing bugs. There’s also documentation and graphics, helping other users with problems that you know how to fix. It all takes a burden off the developers and lets them get on with the more technical work. Glad you’re enjoying Linux and I agree, the scope for learning here is massive. I learn new stuff every day :)

  45. randy says:

    Nice writeup on Mint 8. It was strange when i first came across Mint in the early stages and thought even then that it was definitely an improved version of Ubuntu which i will say i DO NOT like. Mint though has come a long way and i wish it was not a Ubuntu based version with the loaded overhead of Ubuntu. Mint though has given us a great distro to work with and it seems pretty flawless, even though i know it is not perfect. I have always prefered the Mepis distro versions, but i am frustrated by the mouse and keyboard issues that show up more on some machines than others. Other distros let alone debian distros do not have this problem so it is unique to Mepis. i frequently install Linux on many of my customer machines for the security benefits and usability benefit too when working on the internet. Mint has become my main stay for that purpose, even though i am not a GNOME fan. Mint is very well put together and where i find ubuntu not exiting, i do find Mint to be so and nicely done with a great improvement over Ubuntu. I am hoping for many more great things with Mint in the near future and hope to see this year with hopes in version 9.

    Keep up the great work and hope to read more of your work. if i can be of help feel free to write to me as i have an extensive amount of experience working with everything from CP/M, DOS, OS/2, Windows, Mac, Unix, and of course many flavors of Linux. Always willing to share my experiences and continued growth as the OS world continues to change.


    • Dan says:

      @Randy – Thanks for the kind comments and offer of help, I’ll keep it in mind. I’ve used Mepis a little bit but only in the last 2 or 3 years. From what I’m told it was really the king of easy to use Debian-based distros a few years back, but has lost some of it’s edge more recently. I think the dawn of Ubuntu and the way it’s drawn the attention away in that time might not have helped Mepis.

  46. dawgdoc says:

    @Dan I am fairly new to Linux and almost all of my experience is with Mint, so take this comment for what it is worth. Having come from WinXP last year I tried bringing up the file manager, Nautilus, with Super+E (Winkey+E) shortcut and was rewarded with a view of 4 workspaces. Two downsides, depending on personal preferences: there is no graphic in the toolbar and it would not be readily apparent to new linux users. This was before enabling Compiz.

    • Dan says:

      @dawgdoc – I just tried that on my machine and you’re right, it brings up the expo view from Compiz which could be confusing for a newcomer. I didn’t even know that shortcut, so you learn something new every day. Perhaps the keymapping could be changed to more closely match the shortcuts from Windows. I thought they’d all been done but it seems not. Good point. I’m not sure how many truly novice users would know those shortcuts from Windows but it could be worth investigating.

  47. Holger says:

    Hi Dan!

    Many thanks for your review. I absolutely agree with you.

    I was using openSUSE/KDE for many years (no Microsoft) at home, but I felt more and more annoyed about the bundled tools, the upgrade path, the way they (don’t) care about handling hardware configuration and system upgrades, the way it felt, the overall system speed, etc. So I decided to find something better. Then, back in November, I thought about using Ubuntu or some distro around it (basically now, I don’t care at all which distro is based on which, I just want a useful, easy to install Linux-based system with good configuration and maintenance tools, that satisfies all my needs) and found Mint. So I gave it a try…

    I’m impressed and really like it very much! It is fast, seems reliable and I like the way it looks and feels ;-)) But what I love most is the fact, that I didn’t have to care about all this codec, proprietary driver/software, libdvdcss blabla talk, as you have with many other distros! Works out of the box. While having to deal with many technical problems, details and questions at work, I’m happy to have a system at home now, where I don’t have to care about such details if I don’t want to.

    Many thanks to the Mint Team for that and I’m very curious about the way it might develop in the future!

  48. I have been using Mint 7 and xfce versions for some
    time now and find the both great.
    No luck whatsoever with Mint 8. Have tried about
    4 times to install, but cannot find any desktop, controls, no permissions in anything and briefly
    cannot do a thing with it.
    Very disappointed, but will have to give up on it.
    It tells me all is installed so big question mark.


    • Dan says:

      @Robert – Sorry too hear about your troubles with Mint 8. It seems odd if 7 worked for you on the same machine. Hopefully they’ll get it sorted soon!

  49. fox says:

    I like Ubuntu, and had no interest in trying Mint until recently, when it came on a disk in a Linux magazine I bought. The version on that disk is Mint 7 XFCE, and I installed it in a virtual machine on my MacBook Pro. I am very impressed with it, not only by the polish but also with its snappiness. The codecs and Mint-specific tools are nice, too, but I have no complaints with either on Ubuntu. Surprisingly, I had some difficulties playing mp3’s and mp4’s, which worked after I download some additional codecs. However, this may have been a problem with VirtualBox rather than Mint. One other shortcoming of Mint 7 XFCE is the lack of a “Force Quit” miniprogram that can be installed onto the menubar. Although this is a Gnome tool, I seem to recall that Ubuntu running XFCE would install it.

    The polished look of Mint is not something you would put into another distro just by changing the theme and wallpaper – it runs through other programs like openOffice. I can’t say enough for the artist(s) who designed Mint. I’m looking forward to a version 8 XFCE edition when it is released.

    • Dan says:

      @fox – Ubuntu is a great distro and I’ve said that many times. Mint builds on the work of Ubuntu and that has to be acknowledged. I haven’t used the XFCE version yet so can’t really comment on that. I hope the XFCE version of Mint 8 turns out as well as previous releases.

  50. mikeinohio says:

    @ Robert
    You seem to be having a lot of strange problems with Mint 8. Are you sure that the cd you are trying to install from is a good cd? It’s also possible that something went wrong when you downloaded the disk image.

    • Dan says:

      @mikeinohio – That’s a good point, I should have asked that. It sounds like the install CD might have been corrupted in some way. Worth doing an MD5 checksum on the image and ensuring it’s good.

  51. Natasha says:

    I love Linux Mint! I was first introduced to Ubuntu and I just did not like it… I found Mint and it’s so easy to use, but not to a point that you can not change anything. I love mint, and I love that I am finally able to school my boyfriend with my Mint OS.

  52. Pagan says:

    I’ve been running Mint since “Barbara”, I love it. It’s the only distro that pulled me away from Gentoo on my desktop. I’ve converted many from Windows using Mint. Now for my Servers I’m still running Gentoo but for Desktops and Laptops you just can’t get better than Mint. Each release gets better and better with Mint, Clem hs put together a very smooth and polished OS. I don’t like Ubuntu, never have but Clem has taken a “Sows ear” and turned it into a silk purse.

    Anyway you’ve done a good job with the review and have summed up Mint very nicely


  53. Glen says:

    Hi Dan,

    Great write up!

    I’ve been using Linux for the last year, and have now settled on Mint as my fav distro. I was using Ubuntu from version 8.10 (which I found to be excellent), but when they upgraded to 9.04 and then to 9.10, I had all sorts of graphics problems, and as a gamer, that’s not good.

    I went for Mint 7, and was completely delighted to retain most of the key features of Ubuntu, but without the graphics problems! I’ve since moved to Mint 8, and am more than happy with it’s performance. My games run fine too!

    Keep up the good work,


  54. Kirk M says:

    Dan – Just a little info for you. The Helena KDE CE should be out within the next few days. They had planned for a New years release but a few show stoppers cropped up which needed to be ironed out. The old “It’s ready when it’s ready” practice (and a good practice it is too).

    This is troublesome for me since I have my regular Mint 8 install running just the way I like it and I’m sore tempted to try the KDE version when it’s released. Such troubles, I tell ya’.

    Also, according to what I’ve read in the Mint forums, Clem will eventually be releasing a new Debian based version of Mint but it may be awhile as he’s the sole developer for the Gnome based versions of Mint and also has his hand in the Community Editions as well.

    This is really the only drawback with ditros like Mint and PCLinuxOS in that there’s basically only one developer that holds things together. So long and healthy life to them I say.

    • Dan says:

      @Kirk – That’s good too hear. I knew there would be a KDE version coming, just wasn’t sure of the date. I totally agree that Clem is doing amazing work with Mint and I wish him all the best for the future. I’ve seen the same with Phillip Newborough and Crunchbang, he basically does 99% of the work in his spare time. It’s amazing what these people can achieve and we all owe them a massive debt. Long live Free Software!

  55. AmblestonDack says:

    Currently running Mint8 Gnome in VirtualBox.

    Mint is an excellent distro and some call it “Ubuntu Done Right”. I have been an Ubuntu user since 5.10 and I have never really strayed from Ubuntu. Last year I was experiencing major issues with Jaunty, which turned out to be a faulty 2GB DIMM and not Jaunty at all, but it gave me a chance to install the 64bit version of Mint. Apart from the annoying fortune cookies (which can be disabled) I had a real blast with Mint, and was amazed at the level of polish and professionalism, but when Karmic came out, I went back, sorry Clem.

    Anyway, nice article Dan and I’m glad I was not the only one to make the default Mint Gnome Desktop look like Gnome by moving the bottom toolbar to the top 😉

  56. Dan says:

    @Ambleston – A lot of people hop around between distros and I obviously do. So I wouldn’t blame you for that. A Gnome bar at the bottom of the screen doesn’t feel right to me, but it only takes a second to fix. That’s the thing I love about Linux, flexibility. Thanks for reading.

  57. Mint is a great antidote to the mess that is multimedia.

    I’d love to see a Debian version of Mint. It’d be a bit lighter on its feet, I figure, compared to the Ubuntu-based build.

  58. Kees L. says:

    Hi Dan,
    I love your podcast and love this review.
    And I love Linux Mint also. I first installed Fedora on a laptop HP 8510p and put Citrix on it for my work. My laptop froze 3 times a day and had to be restarted. Now with Linux Mint it works flawless. And with AWN it looks very good. Only linking to MS-shares works less then Fedora. Thanks for all things you do for the open source world.

    • Dan says:

      @kees – Thanks for the kind words. I don’t think I do that much for the open source world compared to the people really making the software, but I try I suppose. Odd that you say connecting to MS shares is harder in Mint. I’ve always found it works out of the box by just browsing the network in the file manager (nautilus). I don’t do a lot of linking to Windows machines for more than transferring the odd file though. Perhaps if you do more serious stuff it can be a problem and if you’re referring to performance then I can’t compare them much.

  59. privatehuff says:


    Hey I took the plunge and installed mint8 on my laptop. Everything worked out of the box except wireless (hooked up a wire and installed the broadcom driver which fixed that) even the touch screen (this is an hp tablet laptop) and the onboard SD card reader!

    So far so good. The 64-bit warning I think probably comes from them developing their mint additions for a 32 bit platform and recompiling with fingers crossed for the 64 bit version. (that is only speculation, however)

  60. Eric says:

    First, thanks for going to the work of doing the review. I’ve been running Debian for the past few years as my main OS, and based on earlier reviews, I added Mint to one of my partitions in a dual boot system. I’m not an expert on this, and have certainly failed many times in creating dual, tri and quad boot approaches. Using a little knowledge about chainloading, it’s not hard. My experience with operating systems is often different from that of reviewers- and I attribute a lot of this to hardware compatibility issues. For example, I’ve run Vector, Zenwalk, Suse, Mandriva and others successfully, but I’ve never succeeded in getting Fedora or Ubuntu to run on my pc. They always hang partway through the installation. Mint loaded and runs with far fewer tweaks than any other I’ve used. As an example, in Debian, I have to download my own printer driver and install it. Mint identifies it and gets it done with one click (or so). Once installed, it seems to operate generally the same as Debian, with some interface and graphic differences. I use it when I want a more current version of certain software, and I highly recommend it to my friends who don’t want to fool around with the limitless configuration possibilities that you have with Debian.

    • Dan says:

      @Eric – Yep, that’s why I say Mint is the best option for new users to Linux in my opinion, or even people new to computers in general right now. They can progress onto other things as they learn. It’s a great starting point.

  61. Philder says:

    I’ll admit to being one of the cynics who dismissed Mint as little more than rebadged Ubuntu when it first appeared, but I’ve been happy to eat humble pie in that regard. I used to distrohop quite regularly, but have been using Mint since version 5. Draw your own conclusion. I also had no issues other than missing custom artwork when upgrading from 7 to 8, despite some of the more apocalyptic stories regarding the Jaunty > Intrepid update. I really can’t understand the criticisms Mint receives, as it’s supply and demand. Were Mint just a rebadged and repainted Ubuntu, it simply wouldn’t have survived, as many “child” distros have fallen by the wayside over the years. How does Mint differ to things like Vector or Sidux ? They all evidently fill a gap in the Linux landscape, otherwise we’d all just be sat here on Slackware and Debian.

  62. Michael says:

    Thank you for an excellent review and the helpful personal customization tips that I think I will copy from you (sincerest form of flattery you know!).

    I am returning to Linux after a long break where I ran windows to play games and suffered the rest rather than dual boot. Consoles have come a long way and gaming under windows is for me becoming largely irrelevant, thank God. That said, it is time to go Microsoft FREE again and so I first hit distrowatch to get the pulse on Linux and work from there. Since then I’ve read quite a bit about Ubuntu and Mint which are both new since I left. A lot has changed no doubt and for the better it appears. I am excited to be returning.

    While I have worked with Solaris at work and ran Linux dual boot then alone (Red Hat, the mostly SUSE) and consider myself capable of looking up whatever I might need to know and work with whatever software I want to, I don’t want to work at this.

    It’s like a car now. I want to get in, turn the key, and I do not care about how the internal combustion engine works, how to do a brake job, fix a timing belt and more all of which I have done in the past. I just want to get in and drive. It sounds like Mint comes closest to giving me that in the wonderful world of Linux. Hats off to the good folks who bring this to us. I am grateful already!

    I still want to look at SUSE that I used to use before i make the call but I am suspecting from all I read that Mint will more likely deliver the user experience I want today, painless as possible. If I want to work at it, I will do so for an employer who pays me for this. At home I just want to do the usual things and that does not include endless tinkering just to get a video player to play a DVD for me, etc. I want results right now, not after a lot of pain.

    As for the Open Source cycle of upstream development, this can only be seen as a thing of beauty and a small part of the advancement of mankind. How anyone can be critical of kernel->debian->ubuntu->mint is beyond me. Rejoice! I say! Rejoice! Thanks to everyone on every team that gets us to here. Just say NO to whining!

    • Dan says:

      @Michael – If you’ve been away from Linux for a while I think you’ll be amazed how easy Mint is to use. The pain is taken care of and that’s one of the things I like about it so much. OpenSUSE is a nice distro as well but not quite as simple for the end user in my experience. It’s good to have a choice. Good luck and welcome back to Linux :)

  63. Michael says:

    Hi Dan. Thanks very much again for the great reviews and blog here. I have you bookmarked now for future Open Source Adventuring News I can use. You do a wonderful job with the reviews and I actually consulted your overview of SUSE before I tried it myself. I have decided to use Sun’s excellent Virtual Box to run some other distributions just for fun and to see them but Mint 8 won out in my own small bit of Live CD evals and reviews reading easily. In use it is everything I was hoping for as well. I love it!

    Currently I am setting up my desktop to suit myself along with the various apps and games I want to try as I narrow down the set of “keepers” for me. I bothered to create a nice little table in a Google Docs document (I love most things Google) where I listed everything I was using in Windows and Prospective Linux replacements or sometimes same apps in native Linux versions. I am thrilled also at how far gaming in Linux has come. A good deal of what I own can be played in native versions and Mint appears to come with quite a nice collection of fun diversions too. My earliest PC gaming days go back to the PC-XT running MS-DOS and playing early arcade, shooter and RPG games. I still remember late nights at Dragon Systems where I once worked, when DOOM was brand new and four of us stayed late on a conference call (early teamspeak!) killing each other in 4 man multiplayer networked DOOM. Those were the days! So the various shooters will be fun for someone like me to try and I am delighted at id software’s support of Linux where I can play classics like Quake III Arena (still many active servers!), Urban Terror, the much newer Quake Wars: Enemy Territory and more. I can play Neverwinter Nights (the first and better of the two imo) natively I believe. WINE has made amazing progress and now many of my older games are all listed as “platinum” and should for the most part run flawlessly. In the case of older Infinity Engine games such as Baldur’s Gate I & II, Icewind Dale, and Planescape Torment, all are said to run flawlessly. As someone who loves computer and video gaming (can you tell?) I see a great deal more viability for Linux from a gaming enthusiasts perspective now as well. This is great news that will result in me removing all things evil (i.e. Microsoft) from this system sooner than I’d been expecting. I will not need to dual boot for games anymore. What I cannot do in Linux, I can easily find on console almost entirely. Oh, yes!

    Actually, I am going to run a second licensed copy of XP that I own in a VM for rare occasions when something just isn’t going to work in Linux through the fault of its devolopers. A good case in point here is Audible Manager which I use to purchase and move audio books to a Creative Zen Vision M MP3 player. They are all DRM’d and you need their software. At some point I’d like to find an alternative to these guys as it annoys me greatly to have books I pay for shackled with DRM that causes me pain when I simply want convenient use of something I paid for. I will be sure to make my feelings known to them but I do not expect change just for me.

    I think that is the big update on how the transition is moving along so far here at home. Thanks a lot for all the helpful and interesting information you post here. I really enjoy it. Well done!

    One last thing, your desktop makeover is very nice but for newbie’s such as myself the mention of it is like a tease that requires me to go hit google, find the Awn that Mint 8 did not seem to have. I find it odd they offer a configure utility for it but you have to go find it and install it yourself using in my case, instructions from their excellent wiki. A link to those instructions and info on the wiki as a here you go kind of thing would have been nice in that section of your article I think. Then again, it was not rocket science to go seek it out, find it, install it, etc. Perhaps Mint 8 has been spoiling me already such that I whine over trivia? Ha ha!

    I’d like to know where to get the desktop-switcher you have on your Gnome bar. I miss that like many others probably do. I really think Mint should put that back in or at least make it available via a configuration option that is easily found. It is such a handy and useful feature that has as you noted been around for many years. Why remove it and make it difficult to find?

    Lastly, Flash (Google fan here likes and uses You Tube also) does not work in the relatively new Google Chrome without some hoops jumping. This is not a Mint thing but does remind me of old Linux days when there was always some damned thing that did not function right until you walked the hot coals to make it work. Again, Mint comes so close to perfect for initial user experience of Linux that I wish Google was a little more on the ball with this unless the fault lies with Adobe. Thankfully, it works flawlessly out of the box with Firefox and so I guess I will return to old habits of using certain apps for certain things. I like all-in-one simplicity when I can get it and thus the whining about this small point.

    All things considered, I am so impressed and pleased with Linux and the Mint 8 distribution. I have a wireless router coming via UPS later this week and on that day, my again Compaq laptop is going 100% Linux and of course, it will be Linux Mint 8.

    Forgive the long post but I was hoping you find the observations of a returning user in regards to Mint interesting and I did want to ask you about that desktop-switcher as well as thank you again for such nice work here.

  64. Michael says:

    Sorry for being not only long-winded but a dunce as well. I found the Gnome desktop-switcher in of all places, the panel configuration easily accessed with a right click on the panel.

    Nothing like missing something pretty much in your face. Let’s just pretend this didn’t happen and actually I knew but was hoping to make you laugh. That works!

    I love exploring this new Linux. It’s fun to find out!

  65. Dan says:

    @Michael – No problem, these things happen.

  66. rpcutts says:

    Using Mint 8 for the first time today.

    Tried to access shared folder from ubuntu 9.10. Time spent 2 hours. result failure.

    Tried to print from printer attached to ubuntu 9.10. time spent 3 hours. result failure.

    Tried to copy photos from micro sd card. time spent 10 minutes. result sd card did not mount but all the files on the card were helpfully wiped.

    I couldn’t have had more trouble. It’s put my friend off linux for ever I think.

  67. Dan says:

    @rpcutts – That’s a real shame, I’ve not seen any of the problems you mention but that’s hardly a consolation to you. You should report the problems to the Mint devs so they can investigate. I’d be interested too hear more details on this. I’ve shared folders between machines in the house by just right-clicking and they’ve worked. I didn’t do anything special or have any secret knowledge, so I’m not sure what I did differently.

  68. rpcutts says:

    I inserted the sd into my ubuntu box and the files were all visible. So I have no explanation for why it seemed to be empty on other machines/phones.

    I’ll be attempting the network printing again today.

  69. Dan says:

    @rpcutts – If I can help in any way let me know, good luck! The SD card thing could be a couple of problems. 1.) The card is formatted with a file system the other machine can’t read, ext3 on a Windows machine for example. Or 2.) It could be that the files on there have some weird security settings and only the root (or your account) has rights to view and modify them. So the other machine doesn’t show them because it’s hitting a security snag. In which case you’d need to right click on the folders and change the owner/permissions stuff, you can do this on a parent folder and tell it to apply to everything within.

  70. Barry says:

    I have tried at least 15 brands of Linux and by far Mint is the best. I am thrilled with it. Please everybody out there try it!!!

  71. Pablo says:

    A nice review indeed that has prompted me to try Mint (in fact, I’m typing this out of the Live version of Mint).
    My main concern was the MintMenu which I found just too big, but after toying with it a couple of minutes I think I’m becoming rather fond of it :)
    But the one thing that might make me change from Karmik to Mint is Flash: it works!! At last I can close tabs in Firefox without fear of crashing flash on all other tabs!! :) (The RAM footprint also seems smaller than in Karmik)
    So thanks a lot for the review: you might have won another Mint user (Will probably wait for Mint 9 first, though)

    • Dan says:

      @pablo – Glad you’re discovering Mint and liking it. Not sure why the Flash performance would be better as I think it’s the same base package as Ubuntu Karmic. Mint 9 should be out in a few weeks and I’ll be certain to review it. It might be the perfect time to move to Mint. Hope you like it, thanks for reading.

3 Pings/Trackbacks for "Distro Review: Linux Mint 8"
  1. […] Distro Review: Linux Mint 8 Ease Of Installation & Use: 5/5 Stability: 5/5 Speed: 4/5 Community & Documentation: 4/5 Features: 4/5 Overall: 5/5 […]

  2. […] Tuesday I began writing my Linux Mint review which took a few hours and I was pleased to get that published on Wednesday. It took another couple of hours gathering screen shots and formatting it for the blog. The article […]

  3. […] Dan Lynch also does excellent reviews of distributions on his personal blog. See his recent review of the latest Linux Mint — the go-to desktop distro for any new Linux user — for a sample of his fine work. And […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


December 2009
« Nov   Jan »

I paid up to protect your bits. Open Rights Group.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons License
Unless otherwise stated all work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.