Updated: January 16, 2009
I have already reviewed Linux Mint about a year ago - and already loved it back then. With version 6 out for grabs, I decided to see what new changes the latest version of Linux Mint brings.
Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, which means you're in for rock-solid stability, an extremely friendly experience, rich and fast software repositories, and lots of support. Most Ubuntu solutions work for Mint, too, plus it has a tremendous User Guide, almost as good as my own tutorials. Linux Mint also promises support for popular multimedia codecs out of the box, which should definitely appeal to Windows users mulling Linux.
Definitely whets the appetite ... But hey, why not use Ubuntu? you might say. Well, no reason. You can use anything you want. Linux Mint is another superb choice for Linux users. While it shares a lot with Ubuntu, it has its own unique features, which makes it an excellent candidate of becoming your favorite desktop distro. Join me for a ride with Linux Mint Felicia. Let's see what this Irish pixie can offer you.
Ah ... If you can't hold your horses and really must know, well we're going to do all of the following: Check Compiz on both Nvidia and ATI cards on two different laptops, Wireless, Skype, Web camera, and multimedia support. Next, we'll install Mint. And then, we'll review Gnome Do, Giver, APTonCD, and other useful features and applications. So come on, follow me!
Live CD impressions - Impressive!
Linux Mint 6.0 Felicia loved my hardware. I tested it on T42 and T61 laptops, the former with an ATI graphic card and the latter with an Nvidia graphic card and an integrated web camera.
The live CD boots rather quickly into the live session. Felicia has a classic Gnome desktop, with soft, calm green and blue colors. It's not spectacular or eye-catching. It oozes with serenity and simplicity.
Until you power up the bells and whistles and shamrocks, that is!
Linux Mint detected the Wireless networks and connected to both my WPA2-enabled routers without a hitch.
After that, it was the Compiz test.
After changing the Appearance to Custom, Linux Mint informed me that it has to download restricted drivers. After a few moments, the drivers were installed and in use, allowing me to play with 3D shenanigans (sounds Irish, don't it).
And it worked flawlessly!
For a strange reason, Linux Mint did not detect my Wireless adapter, although Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex did. However, Compiz and the web camera worked great.
I downloaded Skype and installed it while still booted in the live session. This worked well.
If you happen to recall my Web camera support article, three distros did support this camera device in the last round of testing, including Ubuntu 8.10 and gOS 3, which is another Ubuntu based distro. The third contestant was Fedora 10 Cambridge. What made the three stand out was the fact they were all recently released.
And now, we have Linux Mint 6.0, also recently released and - Voila! - it has webcam support. As I've written then, the Linux is becoming more and more oriented toward multimedia and gadgetry. Felicia is a testimony to that.
Compiz purred most nicely too.
Here too, Linux Mint 6.0 performed quite well. MP3 and Flash worked flawlessly. However, there was a sound issue with my Windows-made moron video.
You may notice that I did a Youtube search for Wild Cats for Kilkenny, which is an appropriate music score considering the distro origins. But I had to "settle" for the finest musical piece ever, the Crockett's Theme. But since both were used in Miami Vice, it made it the right choice.
The nefarious Windows video:
Overall, the impression was almost perfect. Except for the sound stutter in the Windows video and no Wireless on T61, it could have been a total 100% score. But even so, Felicia proved to be "go hálainn" - that would be beautiful in Irish (thanks Meghan!).
The Windows video problems can be solved by using VLC. And I believe the driver issue can be solved by manually tweaking. Nevertheless, I will be waiting for the next release to see if this problem gets resolved.
If you've seen one Ubuntu-based install, you've seen them all. A handful of clicks, 15 minutes and Bob's your uncle.
The standard partitions layout:
And after a few minutes, you'll be happily booting Linux Mint:
BTW, if you do feel a need to learn more about how to install Ubuntu-based distros, then you may want to read a few of my other articles:
Installing Linux Mint - Full tutorial - this one also explains how to compile, add programs to the session startup, install VMware Tools, and several more useful tricks.
Linux Mint has a few perky items that you won't find in other distros. These are elements that set it apart from other similar distros.
This handy application is a sophisticated Alt + F2 search you normally find in distros. But instead of just looking for commands, which, frankly, you need to sort of know to be able to find, you can use generic terms and tool tip strings to try to locate your applications.
Linux Mint 6.0 comes with a very friendly frontend (GUI) for the iptables firewall, called Gufw. It allows users to quite easily control and monitor their traffic.
This program allows you to share files with other users on your network. It's kind of an Instant Messaging program, only used for the exchanging of files rather than idle chitchat.
Felicia has a very friendly update system. mintUpdate allows you to configure your updates in a rather unique fashion. For one thing, it displays updates with a severity level, telling you of the potential impact a particular patch might have on your system.
Furthermore, it allows you to specify a proxy specifically for the updater, helping you resolve difficult networking setups.
Here we have updates ready for the installation:
This is another useful function. It allows you to define what actions you can run from inside the Nautilus file manager. For Windows users, think of it as an interactive context menu.
This feature allows you to create an installation CD with cached packages and additional downloads. You can then use the CD on systems with slow Internet or no Internet connection at all to help resolve problems or keep them up to date.
Linux Mint 6.0 Felicia is a fabulous distro. It's complete, well-polished, fast, simple, rich in features, and offering solid hardware support. It worked well with both my Nvidia and ATI cards and even loved my web camera. There were some small issues with a Wireless drivers and some mundane Windows media formats, but other than that, the performance was spotless.
Compiz, MP3, Flash, even Skype worked out of the box. Reading and writing to NTFS drives was a breeze. The distro was beautiful and stable. The installation was simple. Superb.
Felicia is a great choice for everyone, be they Windows users of all persuasions, new Linux users or even veterans. It has something for everyone. Combined with the healthy Ubuntu community that sort of shadows Linux Mint as a sort of an unofficial chaperon, a well written User Guide, and the now standard friendliness of Ubuntu-based distros, you're in for a great, minty treat.
I hope you enjoyed this review. See you around.