Linux Mint 17 Qiana - Take 2: Cinnamon + SSD


Updated: June 18, 2014

If you've read my first review of Qiana, just a couple of days back, then you already know where you stand with the latest Mint LTS, more or less. But to reinforce that feeling, we should probably test on yet another laptop, to be on the safe side. My second review, shorter, less exciting and less detailed than the first one, is going to take place on an older T61 machine, with its two SSD and Intel graphics.

So far, Linux Mint 17 has delivered a very decent, very complete desktop experience, almost boringly so. The excitement of having to tweak the system is really not there. Now, we did encounter a few small problems plus a major one with suspend & resume, so let's see how the distro behaved on this new hardware. After me.

Teaser

Live thingie & installation thingie

Much like Ubuntu, Mint manages with a 100% hardware detection, which is very neat. So far, everything was working very smoothly, including Wireless, Bluetooth, Samba sharing, and all the other details you can think of. Naturally, you have the full multimedia support out of the box, plus a range of decent program, so you're all set.

Live desktop

When it comes to the installation, what I normally do is: displace the fourth distro of the quad-boot setup, while retaining the instances of Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Mint. This time, I decided to try something else. I decided to upgrade the Mint 13 available on the disk, and wipe out the home partition used by it and all the temporary test distros. In essence, this is not that much different, but still worth mentioning.

Begin partitioning

Partitions ready

Going silky nylon with Qiana

I really couldn't find any other funny reference, so there's that. Compared to my earliest test with the LG laptop, there's a marked difference in performance. Both the CPU and disk response, in favor of the Lenovo machine. Furthermore, the utilization of resources is much lower, down to just 300MB, just 60% of what Ubuntu took on the same hardware. So we see a consistent pattern, where Cinnamon tolls two thirds of what Unity does. Now, this also translates into a sharp, smooth and fast desktop experience.

System info

Resource usage

Stability, suspend & resume

Not a single error or system glitch, I must say, on this particular set of hardware components. Suspend & resume worked like a charm, a second to sleep, a second to wake. For those bothered with the old Firefox close thingie, it's gone too for those who did have it or see it now and then.

Visual stuff

Now, I did encounter a few more visual quirks that ought to be polished as the distro matures across its five-year span. Let's begin with the good stuff. The new Cinnamon framework is getting along nicely, and you can see improvements everywhere.

System area

However, when editing the panel, I encountered some OCD-hostile elements. For example, the show and hide delay boxes are not aligned nicely. Then, if you play with the panel height, some of the icons and text may get blurred. Worse yet, at certain sizes, which are only shown as a slider position without numerical values, icons change size and shape, and they no longer all conform to a standard height, and the default theme does not have the right thumbnails for display. This must be fixed, it ain't professional.

Panel edit

Icons bad

Icons good

Other stuff

Overall, I am pleased by the improvements in the network stack. This is also true for Ubuntu, but still. Faster Samba speed and response, faster downloads in general. Remember, my home setup does not change, and when it does, I am always going to tell you. With the laptops resting always in the same spot during the testing and the average signal noise in the neighborhood remaining pretty constant, there's a notable boost in the overall consistency and quality of Ubuntu-family network speed behavior, especially on Wireless networks. Drivers, system tunables, who cares, but it works. Oh, please do not tell me it's random luck and NSA probing me, I know what I'm talking about.

System updates

Battery life

The system reports only 36 mWh remaining out of 84 that the battery pack had when brand new. This translates into almost two hours of normal usage, comparable to most other distros in the past couple of years. So overall, decent but not phenomenal.

Battery life

Printing

Works just as fine as before.

Cool imagery

And utilizing the fine repository of backgrounds that ship with the distribution, then we can pimp the basic gray-dominated looks of Linux Mint 17 Qiana with some rather neat wallpapers. Kudos on the selection.

Nice desktop

Conclusion

On the T61 laptop, Linux Mint 17 Qiana behaves even more civil-like that it did on the Nvidia-powered box. It's a little faster, a little snappier, and there are no problems with the hardware, whatsoever. By that, I mean suspend & resume. Some visual quirks remain, but this is true for the entire range, regardless of what system you choose to test.

All that said, and taking some of the previous experience into account, Mint delivers a predictable outcome. It's a very good, very well-rounded distro for all purposes. I guess the only downside is that it does not ship with enough wow. In fact, it's a very humble and underwhelming distro with more than the sum of its pixels. Therefore, I guess something like 9.8/10 is deserved, but I want, no I demand that extra edge to make me wanna shout Sparta at the top of my lungs. Still, wicked and good. Do test yourself and see.

Cheers.

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