Linux Mint RC 13 Mini Review

Discussion in 'Other Operating Systems' started by Psychotria, May 17, 2012.

  1. Psychotria

    Psychotria (Banned or Deleted)

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    Linux Mint 13 Release Candidate - Mini Review

    1. Introduction and background

    I've never used Mint before so now seemed like a good time to see for myself how this distribution (distro) stacks up (this thread prompted me to download it). Downloaded the ISO (linuxmint-13-cinnamon-dvd-64bit-rc) and installed in a VM. I chose the cinnamon version of the distro because I've never used it either; I prefer KDE (although I had to take a long vacation from it until 4.x stabilised, but that's another story). Since I've gone to all the "trouble" of downloading and installing the Release Candidate I thought I'd share my thoughts and impressions.

    First, let me state that I am not a "typical" (whatever that is) desktop user, especially when it comes to Linux. What I mean by that is I don't use Linux to do the typical things an end user might often do (like word processing, photo editing, playing movies, etc); my usage of Linux leans more towards a software development environment or as a server. Mint is aimed squarely at the "desktop" market so I've tried to look at the distribution in that light.

    2. Installation

    Mint comes on a LiveDVD and once booted you can use the live environment to explore the distro, use it as a rescue disk, or use it to install Mint onto the HDD. Obviously installing it onto a HDD will be the primary use of the DVD for most users (settings and everything do not persist when using the "live" environment). So the first thing I did was start the install process.

    [​IMG]
    Figure 1 The DVD "live" environment

    *NOTE* I installed on a VM, so my experience of the installation process and device detection is based on this. Installation on real hardware; i.e. on a seperate HDD or partition on a computer with non-virtual hardware would (likely) give a different experience, especially in regards to device detection.

    The installation is straightforward: (a) choose a disk to install on; (b) choose a disk layout; I chose "use the whole disk" because I wanted to see the partition layout Mint created on the disk; (c) choose timezone and keyboard layout; (d) choose a computer name and a user name; and (e) have a break -- the rest of the installation required no user interaction.

    Step (d) presented me with a problem (see Figure 2). I couldn't choose a name for the computer. No matter what I typed I was presented with "That name already exists on the network." The fix was simple: I typed the computer name, clicked back, clicked continue to get back to step (d)'s dialog and the computer name was accepted. I am not sure if this is a side-effect of installing on a VM or not.

    [​IMG]
    Figure 2 Problem choosing computer name

    After navigating past that minor hiccup, the rest of the installation proceed smoothly and the computer soon rebooted and I was presented with the login screen.

    3. The desktop and first impressions

    After logging in for the first time you are presented with a welcome screen with a bunch of icons that will help familiarise yourself with the new environment, especially if you're new to Linux. I think it's a good idea and it's well presented. After exploring those items, if you choose to do so, close the dialog and you are faced with the desktop. My first impressions? It's clean and uncluttered, it's fast and it looks elegant. There are no extravagent bells and whistles. In my opinion it's *very* nice and looks polished.

    [​IMG]
    Figure 3 The welcome screen

    Normally the first thing I do with a new installation (if I am using X; my usual disto is Fedora) is update the freetype library (which does the font rendering) so that the patented features are enabled. I cannot tell for sure (does anyone know how to check?) but it appears that freetype in Mint already has the patented rendering features enabled. The fonts look fine.

    Virtual desktops and the other expected features a Linux desktop "must" have are all present. I have not tested dual monitor support.

    4. Applications

    All of the expected end-user applications are installed, for example Libre Office, Thunderbird, GIMP, XChat and many more. More than enough to cover the needs of most desktop users. gcc* is installed so if you need to install non-free drivers (such as nvidia drivers) or applications that require compiling to suit the kernel you don't have to manually install gcc first.

    *If you don't know what gcc is don't worry, just trust me that it's good that it's installed.

    Installing and removing applications is undertaken using the Synaptic Package Manager (or on the command line).

    5. Conclusion

    Overall, I think it's a very nice distro. It conveys a polished feel and I really like the simple, classy, elegant presentation (although this is somewhat subjective). Bear in mind I am making these statements based on just the installation experience and less than an hours use, but if first impressions count then the distro is a surely a winner and well worth checking out.

    6. Tech notes

    Note: The root user is active and the password is the same as chosen for the user created during the install process.

    VM Settings
    2 cores, 4GB RAM, 20GB Disk

    Memory usage
    Code:
    craig@mintvm ~ $ uname -a
    Linux mintvm 3.2.0-23-generic #36-Ubuntu SMP Tue Apr 10 20:39:51 UTC 2012 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
    craig@mintvm ~ $ free -m
                 total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
    Mem:          3951       1834       2117          0        114       1316
    -/+ buffers/cache:        403       3548
    Swap:         4093          0       4093
    
    Default disk layout (on a 20GB disk)
    Code:
    Craig@mintvm ~ $ sudo fdisk -l
    [sudo] password for craig: 
    
    Disk /dev/sda: 21.5 GB, 21474836480 bytes
    255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 2610 cylinders, total 41943040 sectors
    Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
    Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
    Disk identifier: 0x0007f792
    
       Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
    /dev/sda1   *        2048    33554431    16776192   83  Linux
    /dev/sda2        33556478    41940991     4192257    5  Extended
    /dev/sda5        33556480    41940991     4192256   82  Linux swap / Solaris
    
    Code:
    craig@mintvm ~ $ df -h
    Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
    /dev/sda1        16G  3.9G   12G  26% /
    udev            2.0G  4.0K  2.0G   1% /dev
    tmpfs           791M  932K  790M   1% /run
    none            5.0M  4.0K  5.0M   1% /run/lock
    none            2.0G   76K  2.0G   1% /run/shm
    
    Number of installed packages installed by default (may vary depending on hardware)
    Code:
    craig@mintvm ~ $ dpkg --get-selections | wc -l
    1636
    
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2012
  2. cleary

    cleary Mental in the Face

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    Thanks for taking the time to write the review -

    I did some distro development in a previous lifetime, so with that perspective in mind, I have a couple of comments/questions:

    * did you report the bug in the installer (or at least check if it had already been reported)?
    * most widely used non-free kernel modules are built automagically by dkms these days - do you know if this was included in this release?
    * something that almost everyone leaves out of a review - getting support. Did you try and get any? Was it hard to find? How helpful/friendly were the support community?
     
  3. OP
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    Psychotria

    Psychotria (Banned or Deleted)

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    Thanks for the feedback and suggestions, cleary!

    This really should be mentioned in my review. The biggest reason that distro developers (and other software developers) release beta (or even alpha) and Release Candidate (RC) versions is so they can get bug reports from users that use a huge variety of hardware and configurations. If you come across a bug, do them the courtesy of filing a bug report.

    To answer your question, I think the bug is the same as https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/ubiquity/+bug/924511 so I confirmed the bug affects me as well.

    dkms is installed by default. I have not tested if the auto-magic works.

    vrms reports the following "non-free" packages as being installed

    Code:
    craig@mintvm ~ $ vrms
                   Non-free packages installed on mintvm
    
    libfaac0                            AAC audio encoder (library)
    unrar                               Unarchiver for .rar files (non-free version)
    
      2 non-free packages, 0.1% of 1637 installed packages.
    
    I'm not sure how accurate that is because all of the (non-free) codecs do seem to be installed (or maybe dkms takes care of it!)

    It was a mini review, so I didn't seek support :) If anyone wants to comment on that, please let me know and I'll add it to the original post.

    The only thing I can say is that reporting the bug mentioned above was a pain in the arse. I don't want to register with a website I may never use again to report a bug ;)
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2012
  4. OP
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    Psychotria

    Psychotria (Banned or Deleted)

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    Nice ones oclockforlyfe. Ahh, good old Code::Blocks :D I've moved on from wxWidgets and use Qt (and associated qt-develop et al) mainly now... which is sad in a way because wxWidgets and Code::Blocks are very, very nice pieces of work.
     
  5. OP
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    Psychotria

    Psychotria (Banned or Deleted)

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    I installed it using VMWare 8.0.1 (site license for work). I'll try again when I get home and see if I get the same error/warning using VB.
     
  6. OP
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    Psychotria

    Psychotria (Banned or Deleted)

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    Thanks heaps for the additional screenshots, oclockforlyfe. They really show what Mint is capable of doing
     
  7. slobber

    slobber Member

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    Thanks Psychotria for the review :thumbup:

    I started dl'ing this distro about an hour ago (region 2 dl speeds :rolleyes:) as I haven't used mint for a year or so, hoping its as painless for me as it was for you
     
  8. cleary

    cleary Mental in the Face

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    Yep, and too often I see users just dismiss the bug since it's a non-final release - hence the question ;)

    dkms doesn't manage all non-free packages per-se, it simply builds kernel modules (drivers) against your installed kernels, and is handy for blob-type drivers eg non-free nvidia driver, or even free packages like virtualbox-ose host and guest modules.

    the non-free codec support is probably provided by an ffmpeg package.

    Fwiw I've spent a very small amount of time chatting in the dev channel and found them very responsive and helpful. Not related to this release though, it was a couple of months ago now


    Launchpad is a great site imo. It's good for searching, reporting and tracking status on bugs, it's good as a support mechanism, and it's good as a source of very interesting software via the PPAs. And if you have your own interesting stuff you want to package/build for ubuntu and derivs, and distribute via a standard repo mechanism, it's also excellent for that.
    Registering is a small price to pay for the benefits
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2012
  9. OP
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    Psychotria

    Psychotria (Banned or Deleted)

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    Yes, you're right. I should have qualified my comment a bit better. All I meant was that since I had no plans using Ubuntu or Mint, other than to try them out, registering _for me_ seemed a hurdle. BUT now that I've used Mint for more than a few hours I'm seriously thinking about installing it on my laptop, so maybe I will become a regular user after all -- in which case launchpad will be an invaluable resource.

    Additionally, even though I was just "trying it out" I *was* using a Release Candidate and it's The Right Thing(TM) to report bugs, so you're doubly right that registering is a small price to pay.

    My experience with launchpad (let's just forget I ever mentioned the registering thing) was very positive. Searching for reported bugs to see if it was already reported was a breeze and the site was intuitive to use.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2012
  10. Dimtar

    Dimtar Member

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    Do you size your windows or use a program to snap them into those positions?
     
  11. Airquarious

    Airquarious Member

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    Gave Cinnamon a spin. Looks very nice. Fast and problem free 72h. :thumbup:

    Not bad for RC.
     
  12. OP
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    Psychotria

    Psychotria (Banned or Deleted)

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    Since you haven't done anything in Mint yet, I'd suggest reinstalling. If after reinstalling things still aren't working then I (or others here) can give instructions on how to install GRUB manually from the LiveDVD.

    PS. Thanks oclockforlyfe for continuing to show screen shots!
     
  13. fatall

    fatall Member

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    I just installed mate over the weekend and from memory the grub install is mention somewhere about the harddisk partitioning. I did a side by side with windows 7 and it worked fine for me.:confused:
     
  14. slobber

    slobber Member

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    Been trying various methods to install onto an E350 platform with no luck, I can boot into the live DVD but trying to install to HDD is a no go :confused:
     
  15. fatall

    fatall Member

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    [​IMG]
    Click to view full-sized image!
    Hosted by UGBox Image Store

    At the bottom of the screen, there is a section

    Device for boot loader installation:
    /dev/sda xxxxxxx

    This is is where you specify where to put grub, obviously you put grub on the primary boot hard drive.
     
  16. cleary

    cleary Mental in the Face

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    Start a new thread next time please, or even better, post it in the recommended support channel for Mint Linux (the mint forums/irc etc).

    Also, since you're obviously new to these things, can I suggest posting first and get some assistance in getting a plan together so you don't wind up guessing at what to do and destroying your setup beyond (your ability to) repair.

    Things to understand and plan for when dual booting multiple disks include:
    * boot drive - which one is it currently (ie pre-linux install)? what is it's device node name in linux - make sure that's the device where your bootloader gets installed to MBR
    * what's the device node name for the disk you are installing the operating system onto? this is not necessarily the same as the boot disk

    Also it would pay to make sure you have an understanding of the architecture of a multi-boot, multi-disk system (mbr/pbr/chainloading) before you try and wing it next time.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2012
  17. cleary

    cleary Mental in the Face

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    I'm not going to delete the posts.

    It's a great example of what ignorance and complete lack of planning can achieve (which is sweeping generalisations and the complete misconception that the problem is linux and not the user).
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2012
  18. OP
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    Psychotria

    Psychotria (Banned or Deleted)

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    I've installed Mint 13 RC on a real machine (dual boot with Win7) and had no problems. This is not to say Elyzion is making anything up, I'm just presenting another view. Maybe I've done so many dual-boot installations that I unconsciously avoid problems. Having said that I have no idea why restoring the Windows MBR didn't work for you.

    For others planning on installing using dual boot, read clearly's post. Be sure to know your current hard drives and partitions (print them out if necessary) and know how the devices are mapped in GRUB and Linux (plenty of info regarding this on the 'net).

    If I were unsure I'd also make a drive image before installing. If you don't have Acronis True Image or something similar you can use "BartPE" and "DriveImage XML" (both free) to make an image of the drive(s). If disaster occurs then you can then restore the disk image to disk.

    Back to Linux installation, it might be nice if during the installation of a Linux distribution the install procedure prompted you to make a backup drive image and do so if you choose yes (should be easy with dd and bz2 to compress). I'll throw that idea around on some of the forums I hang around in.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2012
  19. Airquarious

    Airquarious Member

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    ...yep. Same for me, no problem. Installed from Live DVD on a spare HD.

    I think some people can get confused because when you install Windows there is nothing else on your computer. You can not f@k up install like that. With dual booting you need to do some homework. For fun try installing Linux first and then Windows and see how that goes...lol :lol::D:leet:
     
  20. OP
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    Psychotria

    Psychotria (Banned or Deleted)

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    Well, yeah. It is possible to do it that way and a good way to learn how the boot process works (Edit: well, a tiny bit of the process); not something you'd do for the first time you've ever installed (and used!) Linux though ;)
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2012

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