Mint 6 Review: TechieMoe

Introduction

TechieMoe reviews a lot of distributions and he’s consistently reviewed Mint since the release of version 3.1, Celena. He was the first to review Linux Mint 6 Felicia. Although he usually only scratches the surface (which I understand considering the number of reviews he publishes) he knows how to be harsh in his criticism and when he doesn’t like something he usually lets everyone know within his review. So I wasn’t expecting an in-depth analysis but I was ready nonetheless to get some honest negative feedback on which to improve…

Link to the review: http://www.techiemoe.com/tech/linuxmint6.htm

… in the end he actually brought up very interesting points and he wasn’t harsh at all πŸ™‚

Happy reading everyone.

Comments

Moe writes: “The origin of the code name for this one is obvious. I mean, who *wouldn’t* want to name a Linux distribution after a busty, anatomically disproportionate cat woman who moonlights as a street fighter/pop star? Or maybe I’m just too much of a child of the 90s.

–> I thought I was a child of the 90s… I never heard of that one now πŸ™‚ Anyway, the inspiration usually comes from Ancient parts of our history (Greece, Rome, Carthage…). But in this case Felicia simply is the “happy” one.

Moe writes: “The programs menu is reminiscent of the openSuSE and SuSE Linux Enterprise implementations, which is not a good thing. I didn’t like when those distros used it and my opinion hasn’t recently changed.

–> The implementations of Slab and mintMenu have absolutely nothing in common. The design has (mintMenu being an early fork of USP which initial purpose was to give Ubuntu a Slab-like menu). From a user point of view the two menus, although they could probably fit under the same category (because of the way they look and the way they integrate advanced features), are also extremely different. If I was to rank mintMenu, Gnome Menu and Slab on a preference scale, I would actually have Slab completely at the bottom… so what I like in mintMenu isn’t there in Slab and I guess Slab users probably dislike mintMenu for similar reasons. Nowadays Gnome Menu, mintMenu, USP and even Slab itself work fine under Linux Mint so the user can choose whichever menu he/she prefers, but one menu shouldn’t be ruled out just because it “looks” like another one… (tell me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the Gnome menu look a bit like the Windows 2000 start menu? … ok ok, let’s not go down that road :)).

Moe writes: “Mint also has a customized version of the Wubi installer for Windows called “mint4win.” This is the first time I’ve encountered an offshoot distro that took the time to tweak that part of the OS.

–> Credits go to Merlwiz for this (who’s famous for maintaining our XFCE Community Edition). He’s done everything to make this work, from the custom grub scripts to the exe itself. Actually, he even came with the idea. If it wasn’t for him there wouldn’t be a way to install Mint from Microsoft Windows right now πŸ™‚

Moe writes: “Adding and removing software can be handled by the Ubuntu-default Synaptic or by “mintInstall.” I couldn’t tell if the packages I found in mintInstall were from a DEB repository or their own “.mint” installer files. I assume with the inclusion of both programs, minInstall is strictly for the Mint repositories.

–> Well, you don’t really need to know πŸ™‚ That’s what mintInstall is for, it lets you interact at the application level so you don’t need to worry about packages, repositories, keys and all. Now, in 99% of the cases the .mint files you’re browsing in mintInstall actually contain a single instruction: “INSTALL PACKAGE X FROM USER’S REPOSITORIES”. But the .mint protocol also allows for more complex instructions and so a particular application can be installed differently (a .mint file could describe the installation of VMWare for instance) and put in the portal and in mintInstall the same way as any other application. We could also store tasks as .mint files and have them reside in mintInstall within a separate category. We haven’t used that at all yet and I’m sure the difference between .mint and .deb will become much clearer when/if we do in the future.

Moe writes: “When I first ran mintInstall and hit update I wondered why it was taking so long to read (what I assume to be) just a list of software off a repository. When it finished, I realized I was wrong. In previous versions of Mint you could browse their software repository from a website and look at screenshots of the program or visit the developer’s website before installing. Apparently the idea for this release was to bring that functionality down to the distro itself by way of an application. This is not a new idea (I’ve mentioned Linspire’s Click and Run Warehouse before), but the way Mint presents it is much cleaner, in my opinion. That’s not to say it’s perfect, by any means. The initial load of some 500 screenshots took the better part of an hour on a reasonably fast connection. I think the loading should be threaded so that you can at least browse through the programs that are already downloaded rather than having to wait for the whole repository to load.

–> I’m delighted with what mintInstall has become but Moe’s spot on on this: its refresh speed is simply not acceptable. The threading is a good idea. We could also use compression… at the moment we simply download every screenshot, one at a time, so the reviewer is right. We need to improve on this.

Moe writes: “I was happy that at least the screenshots stayed resident once they were loaded, so if I closed mintInstall and reopened it I wasn’t looking at an hour each time.

–> The requirement for the new mintInstall frontend was that you could browse the content of the portal directly from the desktop, but also while being offline. You only need to be connected to refresh the frontend or to actually install an application.

Moe writes: “Just out of curiosity I hit “Refresh” again after the initial load and although the process was longer than I would have liked, it didn’t take another hour.

–> That is a reviewer doing his job, ready to go through pain just to make sure about something πŸ™‚ Well, I’m glad it was faster, but unfortunately it shouldn’t have been. Maybe it was thanks to a network proxy. Upon refresh, mintInstall cleans its cache and restart loading everything from scratch. This is definitely something we’re going to address and I guess we’ll use deltas (either client or server side) to ensure data isn’t downloaded again when it doesn’t need to be. Ideally, the data being the same, your second refresh shouldn’t have been faster, it should have been immediate! We’ll definitely work on that.

Moe writes: “While browsing the repository I was a little annoyed at the lack of a package for Nvidia drivers. With all due respect to Envy NG (which was in the repo) I just don’t trust it. The *only* way I install Nvidia drivers is manually using Nvidia’s official script or through an official repository DEB like in Ubuntu.

–> That’s a good point. Maybe we should add a Drivers category and add drivers there (whether they’re .debs isn’t relevant).

Moe writes: “Some of the organizational choices in the MintInstall repo were questionable as well. For instance, does the PearPC emulator really belong in the Games section?

–> I can justify that, but it will still be arguable πŸ™‚ Most emulators relate to gaming consoles and retro gaming so the Emulators sub-category was placed within the Games category. The mintInstall frontend uses categories as filters so when you’re looking at Games you’re not only looking at all the applications which are under “Games”, you’re looking at all the applications which are in any sub-category under there as well…

Moe writes: “The number of Mint-specific additions in this release is impressive. It’s good to see that the team isn’t just focused on slapping on a different coat of paint and calling it a day.

–> Python’s much easier than Gimp… we’re just being lazy πŸ™‚ Our ambition is to make a great desktop so if something is missing or if something isn’t as nice as it should be we’re not afraid to code it ourselves. I think some people are getting bored with the look though. I like it a lot personally, but it’s been the same in the last three releases and some people are asking us to change it. Until I find something better I won’t change any of it though πŸ˜‰

Moe writes: “In the past I’ve been both impressed and disappointed by Mint because although it added several useful out-of-the-box features to a solid Ubuntu base, it just wasn’t different enough for me to justify using it over its parent. This release has a number of substantive differences that if further developed will address that issue quite nicely.

–> I understand that we need to be different and that we need to bring something unique for people to use Mint rather than Ubuntu. Our project’s purpose has never been about Ubuntu though. It has never been about improving Ubuntu, enhancing Ubuntu or differentiating ourselves from Ubuntu. Ubuntu is one of our upstream components, which we use, configure, and alter the same way Canonical does with Gnome for instance. We’re different enough, I guess, in the way we think, in the way we work and in our priorities to come with desktops which feel, look and behave differently but our purpose is to improve, not to differentiate. When Ubuntu comes with a good idea, we include it in Mint. It they knew better they would do the same. The technical level of difference doesn’t actually matter that much. Being “different” isn’t such an issue. We’re managing to achieve our goals, with every release we get closer to a perfect desktop and we do things the way we think is best. Are we a separate distribution? How different are we technically? As long as we make people happy and excited about what we do, it doesn’t really matter that much. Linux Mint 6 Felicia is the first Gnome version of Mint to be forked directly off Ubuntu since Linux Mint 2.0 Barbara… so it’s as close to Ubuntu as it can be! πŸ™‚ At the same time it’s the most matured Linux Mint desktop we’ve ever released, mintier than ever. So is it closer to Mint 5 or to Ubuntu 8.10? It probably depends on what you’re looking at, and in the end it doesn’t really matter, as long as you enjoy it more than the other two πŸ™‚

33 comments

  1. > “tell me if I’m wrong but doesn’t the Gnome menu look a bit like the Windows 2000 start menu?”

    That is precisely why I like it: simple, effective, classic etc. I hate all these slab, MintMenu, Kickoff, TastyMenu and al. (also the *new* Windows menu, e.g. for XP. I have always used and use again today the classic interface and menu in XP)

    And about .mint packages. I’m ok with you but why have you created a new format? There are already many packages formats… and Mint is based on Ubuntu which is based on Debian Unstable/Sid and thus use .deb. .deb is very good. So no need for a new format, don’t try to recreate the wheel! πŸ˜‰

  2. Guestman: .mint isn’t a package format, it’s got nothing to do with .deb and it doesn’t replace it. .mint is more like a combination of .msi (under Windows) and .torrent as it describes an installation process and it doesn’t contain the software it ultimately installs.

  3. Mint is my favorite distro.
    It is the most reliable one Ive found and I like everythng about it.
    If only I could get a good ATI driver somewhere…

  4. mintMenu is my favorite menu, of every desktop I’ve been using (including every Win flavors menus, Gnome, KDE, XFCE, etc.).
    Well organized, efficient, clean, integrates nicely, easy access to everything, …

  5. Mint is that distro I prefer over all other, even when it comes with that (….)ty nanny. It’s just the best I found till know.
    But only the 86×64. The 32 isn’t snappy enough for my compu. So I’m using ubuntu 8.10 and am waiting.

    H.

  6. after all the readings i would love to give it a try… any idea when the x86_64 version will be available?
    btw. TechieMoe does NOT review. he do “rants”…
    “Let me say that again: these are my opinions. I am not a review site.”
    http://www.techiemoe.com/disclaimer.htm

    however, 3 from 4 is a good score πŸ˜‰ (IMHO)

  7. MintMenu is also my favorite menu as well. I definitely feel like it can be improved, however. Regardless, I think it is the easiest and it looks good.

  8. I have been using Microsoft Windows since Windows 3.1’s released.
    I have been looking for a distro that would make it easy for me to
    educate and encourage windows users to use linux. I found Linux Mint as a great solution. With Application Softwares better organized/
    categorized under GNOME than KDE, easy installation with multimedia support just like windows, no doubt about it that Linux Mint is the easiest desktop I’ve ever used.

  9. After being a Windows user for many years, I switched to Linux 3 years ago, starting out with Mandrake, followed by Suse, Mandriva, PCLinuxOS, Ubuntu and now Linux Mint 6.

    Mint 6 is the first distro that just feels right. It is stable and I especially like mintMenu and mintInstall.

    I only wish that mintInstall had more applications available.

    Keep up the good work.

  10. Dear Clem, I am amazed at your instant and comprehensive response.

    I am from India and am running mint 5. I have to depend on magazine dvds to install mint 6. have only 1 gb download plan per month. so cannot download like so many others in India. Please do something so that we at India (Second largest population in the world) get it in cd from within India at reasonable price.

    Magazines in India take their own time carrying mint in their dvd. i just cannot wait or can afford the two dollar price of them. mint makes my life exciting.

    contact indian magazines like http://www.thinkdigit.com to give your mint as soon as it is released.

    thanks

  11. I just got a new Dell Mini-9 with Ubuntu Netbook Remix installed. I have been a Mint user for almost a year now and couldn’t wait to reload my new netbook with Mint. The install went perfect, and this message come from that install. I love it all. Keep up the great work!

  12. Thanks for the write-up! Although I must say a review of a review (I prefer to call them rants) does run the risk of recursion. Your points are well taken, and I’m glad mine will be considered as well. Keep up the good work.

  13. Personally all the gnome menu options leave me frustrated.

    I hate that the default gnome menu takes up sooo much space by having 3 menus side by side which aren’t even icons but words which take up loads of space, and I find having one of those menus (System) dedicated to options I never touch once the computer is set up to be yet more of waste of space.

    I prefer that the Mintmenu is just one icon but I hate that the thing takes over practically the whole width of my screen when recent documents are turned on. I wish it could be more petite somehow.

    When I used XFCE I liked that I had one icon for my applications (which included System) and another icon beside it for Places and Recent Documents. It was the perfect set up for me.

    PS. Please include drivers on Mint install!

  14. Yes, drivers would be great to have on mintInstall. Linux Mint already has the good looks, stability and personal touch. A driver repository would be he users’ wildest dream. πŸ™‚

    I really like the idea of commenting the review. Seeing how other experienced people see Linux Mint and have the author’s comments on it is just great. You don’t need to be a visionary to see that as things go Linux Mint has a bright future. Congratulations, Clem, Merlwiz and everyone else involved. And thanks for your work and effort. πŸ™‚

    Happy New Year! πŸ™‚

  15. It wasn’t mentioned in the review of this review, but I notice this quite a lot in pretty much all reviews of Mint 6 – everyone keeps bringing GnomeDo up. What’s all the fuss about? GnomeDo was already in Mint 5, I use it all the time, and I miss it significantly when it’s not installed on other machines. Do all these people ever bother to read release notes and such?! Sure, now there is a neat taskbar icon to remind people of its presence, which I find unnecessary – who would go ahead and click it, isn’t the point of GnomeDo to quickly do things without having to surf the desktop with the mouse? It is the most powerful launcher (at least by concept I guess) and pretty much eliminates the need for menus, bars, launchers, icons and whatnot. But I keep wondering why it is being brought up as a new feature.. Not that I mind, but everytime I read how “new” a feature it is, a bell sorta rings and a red sign flashes “IDIOT”. Not meaning to be offensive, reviewers do mostly good job, but for goodness sake, do your homework..

  16. I downloaded and installed Felicia and it is a very nice distro. However I am dual booting it with Daryna, which imho is the worlds best distro. I also really enjoy Mint install. I agree that drivers in Mint install would be yet another great idea.

  17. the best linux ever,
    i’ve installed mint6 on my asus eee 1000h, it’s beautifull and it works (excepted for the integrated web cam and the bluetooth, but i don’t need it)! i love it, thanx a lot for your work

  18. @ NAYANTARA

    Natayana, please send me your postal adress to ( erwinh the curly thing oleco period net ). I’ll send you then a CD with mint 6.

    It’s the best linux I ever used and so I want to spread the word.

    H.

  19. @Philip-III:

    I agree with the reviewer. It may be handy, however I never think to use it. And although it may be fine sitting there, when you have a machine that fits bare minimum (like mine), 13 Mb of memory out of 512 is a lot that can be going for other things. Also, that goes the same for Tomboy. I find I never use them, and they are memory hogs.

    But, all in all, I’ll give Mint 6 a whiz, considering I am liking Ubuntu more and more, so this should be a satisfying release!

    Thanks Clem!

  20. I’m Ubuntu user, just browsing for a change, I found that Mint have the potential of becoming one of the best distro out there. But, if Mint can have many application for us the user, It will bring up more fans outside here. I would love to see if there will be Mint DVD with many applications.. like unofficial ubuntu ultimate..

    Above all, I like mint more when I compare with SUSE.

    Thanks Mint..

  21. GnomeDo never stays on my computer, as I always remove Mono to begin with ! I have enough of my special keys on my keyboard, plus Alt+F2 is as fast as brinning GnomeDo to call for terminal for example.

  22. I think the Mint Menu is much better then the OpenSuse menu! And I like the Mint MEnu better then the Gnome main menu…
    But I use the Gnome menu cause I can’t make an extra submenu in Mint Menu πŸ™ If that will be fixed or changed, I definitely go for the Mint Menu!

  23. GoustiFruit, same here: “I always remove Mono to begin with !” πŸ˜‰

    And about GnomeDo, you’re right. Alt+F2 is excellent and effective, no need anything else…

  24. Nayantara, have you checked OsDisc.com? I saw the universal edition of linux mint there just now when I checked (http://www.osdisc.com/cgi-bin/view.cgi/products/linux/linuxmint). I think their prices basically cover the cost of the disc and the postage to deliver it. I think a lot of people use their site in order to avoid downloading and burning discs even if they have no download limits. One of my introductions to Linux was a copy of Ubuntu 8.04 from OsDisc that my father had purchased.

  25. Hello Mint-Team!

    Since 3.1 Celena I use Linux Mint as my prefered distro, because it’s easy to work with it.

    But, in my opinion, an irish distro need an irish/ celtic styling!
    From celt to celt (yes, swiss people are celts also!): I hope to see a mystical celtic style on Mint version 7. Maybe as an own theme-pack?

    Happy new year and thanks for your work!
    Best regards from Lucerne/ Switzerland

  26. I must say that I have converted to Mint this past month after watching it grow over the last couple of years. I like where this distro is headed. The one and only thing I don’t like is mintmenu. For me I feel it is to large and doesn’t look “Minty”. I do like this distro don’t get me wrong.

  27. This is the first install that had java working out of the box! Opensuse didnt work right, Ubuntu or pclinuxos didn’t either!

    Java, like it or not, is major in web surfing enjoyment!

    I’ve been stable for a few hours now. Everything is humming really well.

    My only problem is the 915GM driver for my Dell610. This looks like a problem among all distros till someone can fix it.

    Without the 3d, gaming is out of the question…

    Kudo’s to you all for the fine work. I like Mint the best so far!

    Joel

  28. In all my seekings for a desktop to replace the Win XP that came with my Thinkpad when I bought it in 2004, Mint 5 has been the most reliable and of most utility of all the distros I have tried. Everything just WORKS. Mint 5 has been running since Nov 25th of last year on this Thinkpad T-42…Grrrrrrrrrrrrrreat!

  29. I have passed several windows XP users to Linux Mint, and I have had no problems I think that for general use Mint is excellent.
    it is easy to convince xp users to switch.

    I need to have win XP so i run dual boot.
    I started with elyssa, and when felicia came out i was a little worried about loosing the lot as i wanted to update…

    all i can say … piece of cake

    I have win XP and Mint ver 6 on my toshiba tecra A7 laptop and they both run sweet.

    I am rambling now but notice that i didn’t mention “Vista” that is because it is rubbish.

    great work mint team.

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