Mint 8 review: Linux Critic

Helena was reviewed by Mike Johnston from Linux Critic:

Happy reading everyone.


Mike wrote: “Linux Mint has turned into such a popular system, in fact, that a lot of people wait for it to come out as opposed to adopting the latest Ubuntu release.

–> Most users do, but a small part of our user base also runs Ubuntu during the month separating the releases of the two distributions, or at least until our RC releases come out. For instance, our traffic share on Distrowatch was 4.1%, it dropped to 3.5% after Ubuntu 9.10 was released, and is now at 4.4% a few days after Helena’s release. Between 10 and 15% of Mint users usually jump on the latest releases, including Ubuntu releases and Mint release candidates.

Mike wrote: “Personally, I prefer this menu style over the existing Gnome default and find it both easy to navigate and well organized. Hovering over an option opens its submenu and all of the main apps are easily accessible. Of course, if this isn’t for you, it can be removed and replaced with the Gnome defaults with minimal effort.

–> It also comes with advanced features such as filtering and software management. You can use it to launch applications without the mouse, to remove software installed on your system or even to install new applications. The concept of this menu originally came from SUSE and was adapted to Ubuntu by a project called USP. We forked it a few years ago and we add new features to it with every release. For instance, in Linux Mint 8 Helena, you can now define shortcuts to your own custom places.

Mike wrote: “Just like Ubuntu 9.10 brought about a revised software manager (see our Ubuntu 9.10 Review) so does Linux Mint. They have taken it one step further, however, by introducing voting and popularity to the software manager.

–> I don’t want to be too controversial about this, but I think the Ubuntu Software Store comes short of what we had in our previous release and I think it’s a pity Ubuntu didn’t learn from our experience in that regard. They do have interesting ideas though and I’m sure this application will get better and better with time. Popularity and reviews were already there. What we introduced in this release is the ability to select multiple applications and to remove them from the system. What’s for sure is that software management is going to be improved significantly in both Ubuntu and Linux Mint in the near future.

Mike wrote: “The voting mechanism is a nice addition as well and the integrated reviews can assist new users in deciding which package may best suit their needs.

–> Votes and reviews are made online on the Linux Mint Software Portal ( but they appear also within the application. In Linux Mint 9 we’re planning on giving users the ability to vote and review applications straight from the Software Manager. We’re also planning on bringing “applications” one step closer to “packages”. One of the main reason why experienced users prefer to use Synaptic is because they can’t find “everything” in the Software Manager, so the idea in future releases will be to consider each “package” as its own “application” and to enrich theses “packages” with information related to which “application” they relate to. For instance, “googleearth” really is “Google Earth”, it has screenshots, people have opinions about it and as a user, you have an opinion about it.. it’s a package but it’s also an application, novice users like to deal with applications, experienced users like to find the packages they’re looking for, and so we’ll try to make the distinction between the two more subtle by letting people interact with every package while making it easy for people to find the applications they’re looking for…. I’m not sure I’m explaining this right… anyway, it’s a big thing, it’s going to work and it’ll significantly improve software management in Linux Mint 9. In the meantime, the Ubuntu Software Store will also innovate (I think Canonical is thinking of bringing update management into it) and we’ll learn from it as much as we can.

Mike wrote: “Software selection is a bit minimal in comparison to the Ubuntu software manager (they are of course all compatible but less are shown in the software manager on the mint side of things).

–> We’ll be adding more software very soon. For instance, I recently got in contact with 2D Boy and we agreed on the inclusion of the demo version of their game, World of Goo, within the Linux Mint repositories, the software portal and of course the Software Manager. That’s just one aspect to it of course and I understand that there is less choice of applications in the Software Manager than in the Ubuntu Software Store, or the Synaptic Package Manager. It’s incredible how many quality applications are developed for Linux and many of them aren’t known at all. We’ve started implementing the reviewing system to give users a voice and to let them tell each others what they like, we’ll improve it, and we’ll widen the range of available software by including all packages within the Software Manager and by continuing to import new applications within our repositories. We’re actively innovating in that area, Canonical recently joined the game with their Ubuntu Software Store, a huge number of ideas were put on the paper and both projects understand the importance of this so expect to see big improvements in both distributions very soon.


  1. You guys continue to release solid and well-thought-out distributions, and I will continue to rage-install them on every machine I can get my hands on! I have converted several old-school MS users over to LinuxMint on their Home PC’s and they all love it! You guys have really outdone yourselves with this latest release, thank you 1000x over for your contribution!

  2. hum i hesitate between this distro and mandriva 2010. In fact i heard lot of people saying that grub2 was buggy and so son…
    im kinda confused

  3. there needs to a revolution of sorts to get gaming going on linux distros. world of goo is an awesome game. i loved it on wii. Hope there will be more games sometime in the future, that work in linux.

    mint is better than the old basic ubuntu. not THAT much different, but enough that i wont load ubuntu on my computers, only mint

  4. Clem, please remove one world from the previous comment: HAIL.
    Proposal: substitute is with VIVA (if you want).
    HAIL is dirty forever…

  5. I have been an avid Mint user since the release of 3.1 (Celena), and I won’t switch back to Ubuntu under any circumstances. Hardware that doesn’t work in Ubuntu usually work under Mint. Linux Mint gets my laptop’s hardware working 100%, even with the LiveCD. I’m on an HP TX1000 Tablet PC with an upgraded 4GB ram, Turion64 X2 @ 2.3GHz, and an upgraded Wireless card (since the Broadcom 4311 never worked right for me in Ubuntu or Mint). I’m currently using the GigaByte AirCruiser Mach G as the replacement wireless card, and everything works flawlessly in Mint. Gigabit Ethernet, nVidia 6150 graphics acceleration, Wireless, Full LCD native resolution, Touchpad, Touchscreen, SD(HC) card reader, HD Audio, Media keys, and even the webcam. Mint is the only Linux distro I can get to boot on almost any machine, so I just want to thank Clem and the gang for such a polished distro. THANK YOU DEV TEAM!!! They took a great Linux distro and perfected it. I wish more dev teams took the time and care to polish up other distros. My only gripe is no PPC (PS3) version like Ubuntu gets… -_-

  6. I’m loving helena (never even looked at 9.10, I tried 9.04 and realized mint spoiled me)
    a world of goo demo would be very cool in the software manager. and limited software, where am I seeing the little search box with apt, mint and getdeb, doesn’t that find everything?
    It did take me 3 releases to warm up to the mint menu, now I love the mint menu. Even love the wallpaper

  7. I enjoyed reading the review and the comments are helpful especially about new apps e.g. world of goo coming to the mint repository.
    It is good to have easy access to some of the quality applications available for Linux.

  8. I moved from Fedora to Mint as I was having problems with the Nvidia driver install (i.e. in Fedora 12 it wouldn’t install) I love mint now and Love the fact that it’s Irish too 🙂

  9. I have just read the review by Mike Johnston from Linux Critic and I jumped right here. I must say it was a perfect review for a perfect release. I believe such a review is just what the other distros usually desire.
    I like the idea that reviewers (with their respective review) and Mint team usually communicate to each other like this. This is a good approach to both of them, but mostly to the users. Through this, the team will have to take more responsibility and caring for user’s opinion which in turns help making the next releases more polished toward the users’ needs. On the other side, this makes Mint team look overally “friendly and be open” to the community which again is very encouraging as opposed to some distro teams who never listen to the community and just do what they think is needed to do each release.
    In summary, we can see that this 8th release of Linux Mint is a success, IMO.
    Keep doing good job! 🙂

  10. I can’t wait for Mint 8. I have to go buy some DVDs to back up my info first lol. I haven’t even bothered with Ubuntu since Mint 5 because Mint is always better. I used to bring people over to Linux and set them up with Ubuntu but they always end up liking Mint better..Long Live Mint!

  11. Thanks!! a lot to the mint team for bringing another version of this great distribution.

    I am eagerly waiting for the updated mint 8 iso with wubi support. Can someone tell me when to expect the updated iso?


  12. I’m a newbie to the whole Linux world, I’ve been a Apple guy for many years. I enjoy Mac OS X 10.6.x but I’m looking for something else
    to twist my aging brain around. After spending the past 6 weeks downloading and burning every copy of Linux distro’s that I could find. Now I think that I really found a something that I could really enjoy learning! I was also most set on OpenSUSE 11.2 but finally packed it in.
    when I had endless issues with the wireless. I’m running this on a “MacBook” and connecting via Apple Airport with all the security set.
    I’m also doing a triple boot with Mac OS X 10.6.2, Windows 7 Pro(don’t ask!) and Linux. After downloading, burning, and installing I was connected and sending this in under 1 hr via the wireless, no drama!
    Thanks for the great OS and I’m really looking forward to getting to know Linux Mint (very Mint!)

  13. The only thing that is preventing me from switching completely to Linux Mint is that fact that I play games on my computer. I have a kickass machine which would be wasted if I didn’t use to play the latest games. I would switch to Linux Mint completely in a heartbeat if someone developed a method to run games like Modern Warefare 2, Borderlands and Crysis in Linux Mint flawlessly.

  14. Regarding Clem’s responses to the review:

    Many of Clem’s updates about Mint are about mintUpdate and the Software Manager. It’s clear that these are important and sources of pride.

    But their role in the Mint ecosystem is still the most confusing thing about using Mint, for me, after years of Mint use. And I bet it is worse for many others, such as new Windows converts. Can this situation be improved?


    Where are newbies supposed to look to understand the relationship among
    (1) mintUpdate [an icon in the taskbar tray]
    (2) Software Manager [a choice on the main menu]
    (3) Package Manager, aka Synaptic [a choice on the main menu]
    (4) apt [what the command line tells you to use when your command isn’t installed yet]

    I’ve been using Mint productively since Daryna, but I still don’t know the answer to this question myself! I am not sure when to use each of these tools, and I am not sure whether it is okay to go back and forth among them. For example, can a package installed in one be seen by another?


    I try just to accept the defaults in MintUpdate (i.e., apply all patches of level 3 or above). But I don’t really understand what the model is and whether it is safe just going with the defaults.

    MintUpdate always issues all kinds of mysterious warnings about how packages have been held back and not upgraded. It doesn’t say why not or what I should do about it. Will these packages be upgraded at a later date when they become safe? Will level 4 patches eventually stabilize and become level 3?

    I also don’t know how often I should be invoking mintUpdate manually. If there is a critical vulnerability, will I be actively alerted, or do I just have to get lucky and not get compromised before the next time I think to run mintUpdate?


    I would also like to know the interaction of the various package managers (see (1)-(4) above) with
    (5) dpkg –get-selections
    (6) aptitude-create-state-bundle

    At present I use dpkg –get-selections and dpkg –set-selections to save and restore my package list when I do a fresh install. It would otherwise be intolerable to do a fresh install and have to reinstall all of my packages manually.

    But oddly, none of the upgrade/install instructions ever suggest any kind of backup. And I am not positive that dpkg is the best way, or which packages it lists. It’s just something I found on a blog post somewhere.

    (As far as I can tell, dpkg seems to list all installed packages. But this seems suboptimal. Really I only want to get a list of the ones that I DELIBERATELY installed, so I can reinstall those (along with their dependencies). I don’t want to reinstall something only because it was FORMERLY a dependency of something I deliberately installed, or because it FORMERLY shipped with Linux Mint but I never used it. It would also be nice to be able to identify packages I installed but whose files I never accessed (perhaps using atime).)

  15. I agree with Question 2.
    Very confused by which updates apply ie.
    (1) mintUpdate [an icon in the taskbar tray]
    (2) Software Manager [a choice on the main menu]
    (3) Package Manager, aka Synaptic [a choice on the main menu]
    (4) apt [what the command line tells you to use when your command isn’t installed yet]

    Also look fwd to x64 version.

  16. This isn’t related to Mint 8 itself but to Ubuntu 9.10.
    There’s a nasty bug network manager that prevents people with DSL to access internet. My advice for them is: Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT UPGRADE TO MINT 8 or UBUNTU 9.10 until this bug is solved and fix is included included in distro itself.

  17. Will Mint 8 Helena be installed with Grub2? I hope not. I suffered little bit with my dual-boot computer coz after i had istalled Ubuntu 9.10 i installed also Mandriva 2010. And Mandriva’s bootloader didn’t find Ubuntu. So i had to put off Grub PC and installed the older Grub-version. And then i had to make so changes also with Mandriva.

  18. Thank you for this , very nice distribution and tout fonctionne a merveille!

    Je l’ai installé sur mon laptop, GREAT!!!

  19. I think I’m the most advanced Mint user (obviously, I mean “advanced in biological age”). I began with Gloria, and after a few days trial I removed from my five home computers (ah, age age…) and threw into the virtual trash-basket all the other OS (in primis, MS ones). Never a minimal difficulty in the installation phase, never a minimal problem with WiFi (also the Broadcom 4311 worked right for me in three different HP notebooks – see, however, Rizzo’s response n.9), my Ricoh internal webcam worked fine with ahixon (many thanks!) userspace tool. I have only a small hair on my stomach: when, after using the dictionary applet I installed in the taskbar, I close it, the borders of its window tenaciously persist over the desktop (ugly, very ugly scar, not appearing with Ubuntu 9.10; but perhaps it’s I that made undesired errors). A big big big thank to Clem and his coworkers for the marvellous gift they offered to the most advanced Mint user (in age…).

  20. At 66, I’m in retirement, but still busy trying out, and looking for, the ideal OS for my needs (which are, to be honest rather conservative: E-mail, writing articles, and converting my classical CD-collection to travel and everywhere-in-the-home use.
    This means, that I’m using different OS’s all the time: a Dell Windows Vista for music, a MacMini for E-mail and run-of-the-mill internet-surfing, and last, but not least Linux on a Dell notebook. These three systems interact closely by network.
    As regards Linux: I’m very happy with Mint, esp. the new version, and prefer it to all other Linux distros, even to (X)Ubuntu 9.10. It’s elegant, flexible, stable, error-tolerant, and best of all, easy in use. The drawback for me is, and this goes for all Linuxes, the thin support for music. Yes, I know about audacity and all that, but here the Windows programmes are superior. (Mac is even worse in that respect.)
    My wish: What about some Linux programme that delivers good CD extraction plus tagging/FreeDB support and is integrated into the next Mint version?

  21. @Jason: I agree, pkg management is at best, a little confusing.

    @Clem: Is it possible to script some logic into the mintupdate manager? For example– to prompt user, “do you wish to update installed packages, or look for new packages?” …then, “Do you only want to update for security vulnerabilities, or would you like to update all pkgs?” …the queried perspective could lead the script to make the right choices for the end user’s needs.

    I love the new Mint 8!!! Each new release becomes more refined and I think Linux Mint sets the standard that all other distros should endevor to attain.

    Thanks for all the effort that goes into bringing Mint to mint.
    I cant imagine the linux world without Mint 🙂

  22. To 25. Jason:

    I am completely according to doubts that explains in your comment. In the world of the GNU/Linux distros this is one of the bigger problems: Do Not talk in language “dummy” for the “dummies” as I and LinuxMint is not exempt from they, although is the distro more amicable with the newbies.

  23. After battling the settings for connectivity today on a Lan with Ubuntu, I gave Mint 7 a try and it connected immediately. Set the proxy and I am on! I can’t wait to play with v8!

    Thank you everyone for the work it takes to make this happen! I am building a mini ibot using old MS CDs for the body and wheels.

  24. Well well
    The very best of Mint is out. As for my opinion Linux Mint 8 is an A (or a 5 star) 🙂

    I have Mint on a Virtual Box under Vista, another Virtual Box under Win 7, on a Dell Inspiron and an a MSI Wind….and on the computer back at work.
    It works just perfect. That is it…perfect. Right out of the box
    The only reason to deal with MS Win ..issss..DirectX. To be honest OpenGL (3.2 if i remember well) is good buttt….DirectX is the king.
    Anyway for a FREE OS Mint is great. You have one click away all you need for 99% of the jobs/tasks of an average user. What to ask more?

    Well with this financial crisis i am just curious what will be the market share of Linux Mint 9 or even 10 🙂

  25. To Damir,

    What bug are you talking about????

    I’ve been running 9.10 Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and Mint 8 on various computer and on various DSL lines and haven’t had a single problem. Where are you getting this from dude.

  26. +1 @Radimir (#34)


    @Jason (#25):
    Some of it is explained in release notes, like mintUpdate

    Thanks clem and the team!

  27. I am new to Linux and after trying several distros (Mandriva 2010, Ubuntu,etc.) on this old machine as a learning platform I will admit that it is easy to install and to use unlike problems with some of the other distros that made me want to stay with windows forever this one is a dream to use and operate.
    Thank You for your time and hard work in making this distro.

  28. I am using Mint 8 live CD with a Dell Dimension desktop on a DSL connection right now; I also use Mint 7 RC1 upgraded to 8 on a Toshiba Satellite laptop and have no problems with DSL. Mint 8 RC1 was the first to set up the wireless; all I had to do was add the WEP encryption code for the router.

  29. @31 (koko) & @36 (dyfdd)

    Yes, DSL connection works perfectly if your modem is in router mode. But some of us are using pppoe witch doesn’t work. For some users pppoeconf works, but for me it’s working randomly.
    So, DSL user that has to use network manager (pppoe) shouldn’t upgrade jet. I’m going back to Gloria.

  30. Too many bugs for now particularly wrt update and reliable adsl access…
    Back to gloria for now
    Even spell check is bad (despite my spelling)

  31. ACER Aspire 4520G; AMD Turion 64×2; 2MB RAM; NVIDIA 8400MG

    I’m a LINUX newbee coming from VISTA which put me off for same reasons as many…So I tried Ubuntu 9.04 six months ago, liked it but got a bit confused with Codecs so I moved to MINT Gloria which worked out of the box, except for the WIFI.
    Digging a bit on the forums I discovered that my laptop was not exactly the best machine when it comes to LINUX compatibility so when WINDOWS 7 came out I got it only to find out that my laptop was not upgradable to it! Definitely pissed off with Redmond I came back to (already dear) Gloria.
    Then came Helena which I downloaded (torrent) from the internet and installed. Unfortunately I never got to make the DSL connection work. I read here that someone got the same problem.
    By the way I was surprised not to find the option “Start the installer only” in Helena drop down menu (it definitely exists in Gloria). This obliges to start a live session then click on the “install” icon.
    I am now back to Gloria and waiting to read somwehere that this prb has been fixed with Helena.
    In the meantime one thing is sure: I shall never go back to Windows.
    Next time I buy a laptop I will only ensure that all hardware can work under LINUX and will probably stick to MINT which I find beautiful and extremely easy to use.
    Congratulation to Clem and the whole team.

  32. I was a faithful Mandriva user for many years. I never did like Winblows and gave up on that some time ago. I do keep a copy of XP installed through Virtualbox because I do like Encarta……..but that’s it.
    Anyway, I tried Mint 7 and loved it, despite some random crashes of the entire OS. Being so overly faithful to Mandriva, I just “knew” Mint wouldn’t be for me. After all, no other distro was. I couldn’t stand Ubuntu for some reason(mostly the brown). OpenSuSe has always been nice, but just….you know……not me. I’ve kept with Mandriva ever since the days of Mandrake 7.

    Their 2009 Spring edition was really nice, despite an annoying screensaver bug that never got fixed. But when I left Mint 7 to try Mandriva 2010…..NO. One thing that I hate about that distro is the way it looks after installation. It is just boring and very ugly. Sure, it is customizable, which I’ve always taken advantage of. But leaving beautiful Mint 7 to Mandriva 2010’s ugly appearance…..Nope.
    That and 2010 was just full of terrible bugs, including in the software installer, a program I prefer above all others, including Mint’s.

    Anyway, Mint 8 was released the very day I tried out 2010. I didn’t have any more Cds on hand, and was too sick to go out and buy more. SO, I installed my Mint7 and ran the upgrade to Mint8 before installing any other software…..worked like a dream.

    Mint 8 is beautiful. I love it. It just has the right feel, the joy, uhh, well, it’s just that good. Should I ever decide to try out another distro, I’ll just do so through Virtualbox. I don’t see myself leaving Mint ever again.

    Thanks Clem and your entire team for all of your hard work making such a beautiful, very much workable distribution.

  33. Downloading Mint 8 as I type this. What I love about Mint 7 is that it DOES NOT FALL DOWN. Am very tired of updating my machine in Fedora and re-booting to a brick!

    Mint doesn’t ever do this to me! Limted selction of software, but I find it almost always the best software for me. I can’t thank you enough, I’m sure I’ll be pleased with Mint 8.”:O}

  34. I’m still running Gloria in Gnome and KDE on a second partition. Both seem to work perfectly on my old Dell, even graphics installed automatically.

    What Ubuntu lacks in appeal, Mint makes up. The menu is easier and more familiar for X Windows users too.

    I’m kinda’ liking things here in “Mintland”.

  35. @52
    “Mint 8 is beautiful. I love it. It just has the right feel, the joy, uhh, well, it’s just that good. Should I ever decide to try out another distro, I’ll just do so through Virtualbox. I don’t see myself leaving Mint ever again.”

    My sentiments exactly!! There’s a quality, polished feel to Mint 8 that I can’t describe…a certain ATTENTION to DETAILS here and there…this hardware being detected off the bat…nice little touches that make u say “kool!!” It’s sort of the way Michael Jordan played bball: He just did EVERYTHING right.

    I’m done with distro hopping.

  36. hi I´m glad using mint8 but i´m having problems with aircrack (wireless card rtl 8187 usb) i´ve using mint since helena and I´m still a novice, I had problems with the audio in gloria edition, bus since i upgraded to helena I´m have nop problems except with aircrack
    so I have both distributions on my hp mini I hope mint9 can do something for me but I may say that I´m very glad with mint, in fact I´m thinking that I won´t use another distribution hehe gracias linux mint viva linux mint!!

  37. I have been saying to my friends..”I’ll never go back to windows!!!”. All my laptops are Mints and I love it. I was not a gamer kind of guy, so basically I have no use for windows. Then I said to myself, I kinda like to build a killer desktop for my linux. So I build one three weeks ago, I bought Antec twelve hundred, I7, GTX260 and the works. Then, I saw Crysis…yeh man…Crysis. That was my downfall…my waterloo. =( It is so kick-ass that I have to get Win7 and another GTX260 for SLI. I actually parted half of my harddisk for Mint but up until now, I still have to do it. Win7, honestly, works fine (and also I my add, Skype in windows looks far better than in linux). Oh my…oh my…my mint laptops are relegated to just on-line bill payments and uninteresting web browsing. Get into the games linux!!! i beg you!!!

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