Updated: March 19, 2014
Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) is an important sub-project of the Linux Mint domain for two big reasons. One, it is sort of a de-duplication of effort. Using quantum notation, Linux Mint proper is based on Debian and Ubuntu, which itself is based on Debian, therefore its quantum charm is (De)(Ub)(De). On the other than, LMDE has just (De).
Two, given the growing rift between Mint and Ubuntu, there might come a moment where Mint proper shall be no more - and you should utter this last bit in the style of Del Boy Trotter, when Rodney stumbles drunk into their old Peckham apartment, in the last episode of the sixth series: "How can I put it, you don't live here no more." Like that. And then, your one and only Mint will be the Debian edition. Future doom here we go, a review.
De-de-Debian, lover of the Linux queen
That's a horrible pseudo-Rasputin joke, but I'm in a singsong mood, hence this review will be replete with stupid media jokes. The live session booted fine, without any issues. The one visible difference between Mint Les Originales and this Debian edition is the presence of a tiny Pokemon-like shield leaning against the distro name on the wallpaper. Other than that, the Cinnamon environment is identical to what we've seen with Petra and previous versions.
No worries, all is good. Wireless, Bluetooth and Samba worked just fine.
Likewise, all of them components behaves swell. I tested Flash on Youtube, MP3, high-def video encoded with Xvid and Lame inside a Webm container, plus an Apple trailer, which prolly means iTunes or QuickTime or whatnot.
It's very much Debian, but not convoluted like we had with Makulu last week. You get a handful of cool menus. The only tricky part, I think, is the partitioner, which can be a little less ambiguous.
One of the options offered when selecting install media is manual configuration. But unlike your standard Mint experience, this is proper geek stuff. No tomfoolery. Don't get confused, and don't do this. Just select one of your disk and move forward.
The partitioner will name installed operating systems, so if you have a complex setup like me, with a pair of identical-sized SSD in your laptop or desktop or whatnot, you can safely move forward without manually mounting the partitions to check the contents. After this, the procedure is quite like what we saw when testing LMDE the last time. The magic is to right click and assign partitions.
There's no fancy slideshow. You get a basic one, but it's a little boring overall. However, there were no problems. Fifteen minutes or so, it's all it takes to install the system. My quad-boot setup worked just fine. An Ubuntu instance rules the bootloader, just like Jay rules the thingie wossname censored in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
Use it don't lose it
Let us play. LMDE 201403 installed fine and booted into the final system without any issues. If you didn't know you were fiddling with a Debian-based edition, you would not really know any difference.
I will break my usual flow, oh little rebel like me, and start with the system behavior. Stable, dandy and all that. But most importantly, the memory consumption was rather low overall. Approx. 285MB is a decent figure, and much better than most other 64-bit systems. I did not test on an Nvidia-powered machine yet.
You might be disappointed or bored with the rock-solid collection, but that's what you get by default, and that's pretty good. Firefox, Thunderbird, Transmission, VLC, LibreOffice, GIMP, a handful more, really neat and useful. No bytes wasted.
System look & feel
Again, even after a bunch of time fiddling, I didn't find any great discrepancies with the original. Perhaps it's more polished. Even the little Firefox thingie where it asks you about quitting all the time is not there. All of the system and Cinnamon settings are organized in a single view. The system menu is crisp and usable.
By default, the system asks you your password during login. And it's a pretty login, with that graded vertical stripes wallpaper used in openSUSE until recently, and still present in various MATE versions of this and that distro, but you can change the option to autologin if you want, instead.
Cool and the gang - desktop effects and such
Subtle and neat. For example, slam the mouse into the right corner, and you get the workspaces expo. Click to add or remove, that simple.
Again, there were no problems. Things were fast and true. The one difference is the lack of the severity rating present in the Ubuntu version, so you're okay there, and no confusion as to what ought to be upgraded and when.
Aha! There was one of course. There had to be. The printing is borked for some reason, despite the fact all the packages are there. But for Samba sharing, the Browse button is grayed out.
My fruit of the loom, sort of:
Here we are. Overall, LMDE 201403 is an excellent distro. Rather tidy. Much better than I expected, and it rivals the main edition without breaking into a sweat. Except the printing curse that is. And the installer could be a bit friendlier when it comes to partitioning.
All that said, it surely is converging fast toward the point of no difference, or rather total independence from Ubuntu, AKA great distros can be made even without Ubuntu as the baseline. This is good. Freedom! I'm quite pleased. And if not for the two little bugs, this would surely be a perfect score. Hence the aforementioned disclaimer. Ergo ipso facto, we must grade less than a round 10, something like 9.7/10. Something like that. Very good and quite recommended.