Linux Mint 5 Article: The Perfect Desktop

You’ve probably read an article from Falko Timme before. He’s famous for his “The Perfect Desktop” series. Falko recently looked at Linux Mint 5 Elyssa and detailed how to make a “fully-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop”. The article doesn’t try to review Elyssa but is more like a tutorial for novice users to quickly get a fully ready desktop up and running.

Link to the article:


Falko said: “Linux Mint 5 is a Linux distribution based on Ubuntu 8.04 that has lots of packages in its repositories (like multimedia codecs, Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Skype, Google Earth, etc.) that are relatively hard to install on other distributions; it therefore provides a user-friendly desktop experience even for Linux newbies.

–> Yes. This is one of the strength of our distribution. Thanks to Debian and Ubuntu we’re already sitting on one the biggest collections of packages. On top of this we’re actively trying to “import” extra packages and to maintain them in their latest version. For instance we’ve added Frostwire, ArgoUML, some GTK engines, Open Arena, Opera, Picasa, Real Player, Songbird, sunbird, Western Quake 3, Wine-Doors and we’re thinking of adding Urban Terror and Sopcast too. The more we grow as a distribution the more active we’ll become in maintaining our own packages.

Falko said: “When you log in for the first time, you will most likely see an open lock icon in the lower right corner which means that updates for the installed software are available.

–> I really like the fact that Falko recommended the use of mintUpdate rather than APT or Synaptic to upgrade the system because by using APT or Synaptic the user would also apply all level 4 and 5 updates, which is considered a risk for the stability of the system. Having said that, I would also recommend to apply level 3 updates selectively. Starting with mintUpdate 2.8 level 3 will be considered unsafe by default.

Falko explained how to install various packages via Synaptic.

–> I don’t think Synaptic is appropriate for this kind of thing. I thought Falko should have given a command line to run here, it would have been much quicker. Anyway, this is an opportunity for me to talk about something I never mentioned before: Software packs. We can easily publish a .mint file in the software portal which will install a set of applications. This way, we can define packs. One particular pack which immediately comes to my mind is one that would install all the codecs and transform a Light Edition into a Main Edition. The .mint file could even be stored on the CD or on the desktop.. it doesn’t have to be only in the portal. We’ll have to think of other uses of this but if the idea of software packs becomes popular this is something we can easily implement. Who knows, the “Perfect desktop for Mint 6” could be as simple as “install this mint file: click here”, technically we’re not far from it.


I didn’t have much to say about this article. It’s quite well written and I’m sure it will help many people in getting their desktop closer to what they want. The instructions about VMWare in particular are quite handy. Happy reading everyone.


  1. That is nice guide. also agree on the software packs

    new users would appreciate something like that.

    you could add these little guides to the desktop, people will find it handy.

    specially to get familiar with all aspects of linuxmint and make the “learning curve” a lot more faster.

    some people have fear to touch things, viewing pictures helps (is the closest thing to a “virtual” tour)

  2. I dream of making a OS system myself, and I’m new user of Linux and i find it amazing that there is an Operating System such as Linux. I use Linux Mint cause it fits me well…

    My suggestion is how about Linux for absolute programmer side, or for web designers.

    Hope one day there is a distro for that.

    But anyway thanks coz linuxmint is one of the best distro I ever had…

  3. i do not agree with all software packages.
    Just a few of them for instance:

    Adobe Reader, Banshee, aMule, Real Player

    Sound Juicer, no…
    (Asunder 1.6 is terrific – (at least for me)


    You could add these little guides to the desktop, people will find it handy.

    Yes man, i agree.

  4. However good a “software pack” is put together, it can never please everyone. On the other hand, if you prefer “X” to “Y” you can always change it. Hey, linux is about choice! We can choose what we want, and dont have to accept what Mr. Bigshot chose for us.

  5. I don’t understand the “duplicates” for example why do anyone need both evolution and Thunderbird, transmission and azureus, and four audio and video players etc…
    Why do you need adobe and vmware if there is evince, and virtualbox, and so on… A couple of KDE apps..
    It isn’t a perfect linux desktop, it is a mess… You can go to the software portal, or to getdeb, and try anything you need. It is NOT a good article.

  6. Why are level 3 updates considered unsafe if they have been thoroughly reviewed by the Ubuntu security team?

  7. Still in time (as a Mint’s user) i would like to thank HOWTOFORGE
    and the person who wrote the article ‘The Perfect Desktop’ for
    the almost complete Mint’s Gnome Main Edition 5 Elyssa screenshots
    and also for the nice article. Although i myself didn’t agree with
    a few apps suggested, thank You!

    I enjoyed the site content and now i receive your newsletters.


  8. l.e.: The Ubuntu team reviews all updates and that includes level 4 and 5. However, there is a difference in opinion between the two distributions as to how updates should be dealt with. Ubuntu believes that security is more important than stability. Their update manager pushes you to take on every single update the minute they become available. If regressions were to happen on your system then these would be fixed by future additional updates. At Mint, our philosophy is completely different. The stability of your system is what is the most important, if and only if the risk for a particular update to break your system is minimal do we recommend you take it. In other words we recommend to avoid all level 4 and 5 updates and we recommend to apply level 3 updates selectively.

  9. I bought a Sony Vaio laptop last month and I didn’t wait time to install Linux mint Elyssa. It fits me very well. Love the simplicity of the OS. Great work guys. I am still on a dual boot because I need to learn VISTA to support some people, other than that Linux is my primary OS.

  10. Read that article some time ago, and I didn’t find it all that useful. All it does is to recommend installing various software that isn’t sticky in all situations. I feel an article titled “Perfect desktop” should include more general tips and tweaks that can be useful in all situations.

    Why do you want K3B and Brasero? VLC, Totem and MPlayer? Amarok, Banshee and XMMS? And the list goes on.. You basically end up installing KDE with all those dependencies, that is far from my vision of a perfect desktop.

    However, I did read “The perfect desktop – Mandriva” ( which I found much more useful. It contained tips on how to tweak Nautilus, set fonts for LCD displays and more. Not just installing a ton of software with a ton of redundancies.

  11. you know, if we. as a Linux community,want to maintain cohesion– then it is most necessary to the growth of this community to allow individuality. I myself do not particularly like Gnome. I prefer KDE. probably due to the fact I am new to Linux and it seems to be easier to navigate in KDE. At 64 yrs. old,I feel that is my privilege. On the other hand, I am learning to navigate Gnome and feel much more comfortable in it now. But the one thing that I really like is the ability to “cram” as many applications of KDE and Gnome that I want in “MY” OS. I have been using Linux Mint 5, now, for about 1 month and I have found that it is probably the MOST stable OS release of 10-12 OS releases that I have tried in the last year,which means that I am real damn careful about level 3 apps. I value Stability over Broken reboots. If I want broken OS’s I can go back to Windows! Give it a break, people. this is much a learning curve for Newbies as it is tool for all you professionals. As I learn, I have deleted some programs that I now know to be “overkill”. It is up to the Individual. I am listening to Pandora Music on Opera right now while typing this reply on Firefox all under Linux Mint 5. I LOVE IT,MUCHLY!!! Sorry about shouting. Best wishes to all and God Bless

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