Samuel Wang wrote a detailed review of Linux Mint 8 Helena for Raiden’s Realm.
Link to the article:
Happy reading everyone!
Samuel wrote: “Linux Mint has really broken the tradition of poorly made custom respins and has nearly became a whole complete distro of its own.”
–> One of the most heated discussions in the Linux community is whether it is good or bad to have so many distributions available. I personally think it’s good and if the maintainers behind them continue to maintain them it’s simply because their work pleases a part of that community. More options means more choice, some distributions aim at being themselves while others have for purpose to bring specific changes to their base. As tiny as these changes can be, if they bring something to people and make them happy, no matter how numerous these people are, then we shouldn’t try to discourage their efforts. The purpose of the Linux Mint project isn’t to improve Ubuntu or to bring specific changes to it, in fact it’s got nothing to do with Ubuntu, it’s to develop its own vision of what a desktop operating system should be. The same way it uses Gnome, Firefox, Open Office, it considers Ubuntu as one upstream component that it uses to achieve its own goals. Now, from a technical point of view, I won’t debate the fact that Linux Mint “is” an Ubuntu derivative, but from a project point of view there’s a radical difference between bringing changes to an upstream project and developing something by reusing upstream components and I guess it’s unfair to compare other Ubuntu derivatives with Linux Mint if their purpose is specifically to modify aspects of Ubuntu.
Samuel wrote: “Well, Linux Mint shares a few key items that it inherits from its parent. The installer, Ubiquity, is still employed in the installation process. Thumbs down to Ubiquity. Ubiquity takes so much system resources ( okay not that much but a minimum of 512 mb ram is required to install) that it makes it unsuitable to run Mint on older Computers…( what a pity…).”
–> That’s true, you need more RAM to install Linux Mint than to actually run it, and it is a pity. But I think it also has to do with the fact that there’s about 2.5GB of data on the CD, compressed with squashfs to a total of only 700MB. Decompressing all this and having it available live takes a lot of resources. I’m not sure the Ubiquity installer is to blame here.
Samuel wrote: “I don’t seem to fancy those self-advertisements that come with the installer…( reminds me too much of MS ) but I do appreciate the part where they said almost finish copying.”
–> We can’t ignore good ideas just because Microsoft used them as well. Ubuntu came with these new slides in the installer and I personally think they did a fantastic job. From a technical point of view also, as a developer, I was impressed with how they implemented it.
Samuel wrote: “Another thing that amazed me was the boot time. It is really fast (about slightly less than 20 seconds on my old rig)“.
–> Again, credits go to Canonical for the work done on the boot sequence. They’re dedicated to making it faster and faster and we can appreciate this a bit with every new release of Ubuntu.
Samuel wrote: “The new Gdm is a thing to look out for. Sure it doesn’t allow you to use all the old themes available at gnome looks, but it does give an overall nice and coherent theme to the system.”
–> I was disappointed by the fact that they broke backward compatibility with the themes and also by the new configuration of GDM. You need to use Gconf as “gdm” to change it and this is really awkward as users tend to do interact with configuration only as themselves, or as root.
Samuel wrote: “Finally at last, the desktop. I love it when they give a welcome pop up.”
–> Wasn’t that idea used by Microsoft as well? 😉
Samuel wrote: “Finally, this is the fancy and shiny app that you should look out for: The MintInstall software manager. Things to look out for: Applications can be and are ranked according to users liking. Applications are well-placed into each category making search for apps rather convenient.”
–> mintInstall got some drastic improvements in Linux Mint 8, but we’re only half-way there. We’d like users to be able to vote and review applications straight from the Software Manager and I also think there isn’t enough choice within the current selection, packages in particular should be visible in this tool so that users don’t need to switch back and forth between mintInstall and Synaptic. We’ll continue to bring improvements to this tool in the upcoming releases.
Samuel wrote: “Linux Mint and Linux Mint does really work great with older computers. They just need to do something about Ubiquity.”
–> We’re happy with Ubiquity (it is, after all, among the best installers in the Linux world) and we don’t have plans to replace it. We’re working however on a Debian edition and in the scope of this project we’re developing our own installer. I don’t expect it to be as mature as Ubiquity anytime soon and especially not for Linux Mint 9, but it will catch up eventually and so when the time comes we’ll have yet another option to choose from, between keeping Ubiquity in the main edition or replacing it with our own installer.
Samuel wrote: “The MintInstall software manager is really great, making installing applications really a breeze. IMHO, Mintinstall is what we need to break those biased opinions that installing software is difficult for Linux.”
–> It’s one of our most popular tools and we’re really proud of it. I personally think it’s the best application for the job at the moment, and yet I don’t find it good enough yet. Software Management is going to improve in most distributions, we’re not the only ones innovating in this regard but we’ll work really hard to improve it even further for the next release.
Samuel wrote: “I personally would recommend it to any one who just came out of the windowed world or any one who is looking for a light and simple system. Linux Mint 8 is really on the right track on making Linux user friendly..”
–> Many Linux distributions are now user-friendly enough to please Windows users and to convince them to make the transition and it’s nice to think that we’re contributing to making this happen. Launchpad’s number #1 bug is “Microsoft has a majority market share“. At the moment, its status is at “Confirmed” and we’re all working really hard to move it to “Fix released”. With every new release we’re bringing people more and more good reasons to make the switch, whether it’s in Linux Mint, upstream projects or other distributions.