Linux Mint 7 (Gloria) RC: A Review

It’s been a while since I did one of these, for one because they’re time consuming, and also because after you’ve done a couple of reviews, it’s like you have nothing new left to say. These days, it’s rare that a Linux distribution is anything else than a different repackaging of traditional open source software. When Linux Mint first appeared, it seemed that it was nothing more than “Ubuntu with codecs”, but that doesn’t explain it’s popularity (at the moment of this writing, Linux Mint is third in the rankings, after Ubuntu and OpenSuse, but before established distributions like Fedora, Debian and Mandriva).

The new Linux Mint Release Candidate, named Gloria, is based on the fresh Ubuntu 9.04. but why would anyone choose it over it’s “parent”?

Installation

Well, it can’t be the installation, because apart from the theme it’s exactly the same…which is a good thing. Ubuntu’s installer works well, is easy, and fast. In fact, the less said about the installer, the better. These days, installing Linux is as easy as clicking “Next, next, next, done”, and there’s hardly any configuration needed after install. Gone are the days where I had to edit xorg.conf or /etc/fstab to get a system working. You install, you boot into the new OS, and that’s it. Everything’s done for you, and everything works. Let’s move on.

Look and Feel

Probably the most noticable change from Ubuntu is the look of Linux Mint. I can live with the orange and brown, but if you browse certain internet forums (here’s a tip: don’t), it’s obvious that some people don’t, and would rather walk hot coals and drink boiling water than look at a default Ubuntu install.
Apart from the green, minty theme, Mint drops the top panel in favour of a more traditional (read: Windows) layout and menu, which may not be a bad move. After all, it’s what most people are familiar with.

Mint: Menu

Mint: Menu

Looks can  be debated, but I believe Mint looks absolutely gorgeous. The combination of black and green works very well, and I love the wallpaper, which features a Mint logo behind a rained-on window. The black menus work well too: they look good without being unreadable. All in all, I can’t find much reason to change the default look, but if you want to, all the other Mint themes are available.

Mint: Theme

Mint: Theme

In fact, the only hiccup here is the OpenOffice theme, which looks very…orange. I don’t know if OOo will still use the Ubuntu theme in the final version of Gloria, or if a true Mint theme will be provided. As it is, it rather stands out, and not in a good way.

Applications

Mint comes with all the Usual Suspects: Firefox, Thunderbird, Rhythmbox, Brasero, Mplayer, Pidgin, Transmission, and a selection of other interesting but not unusual software, like Gnome Do, Tomboy and Giver.

Far more interesting are the applications which are unique to mint. For starters, there’s mintMenu, which to me is the KDE4 menu done right. It offers access to Places, System and Applications without taking up too much space, it has find as you type search (so you never actually have to scroll through menus to find the application you want to start), and it even offers options to install any software you’re looking for but haven’t installed. For example, if I feel like playing Battle for Wesnoth, which isn’t installed by default, I just open the menu, type ‘wesnoth’, and I’m offered with four choices: Search Portal for “wesnoth” (which opens the software portal on the LInux Mint website), Search repositories for ‘wesnoth’ (which does exactly what it says), Show package ‘wesnoth’ (which shows the output of ‘apt search wesnoth’), and Install package ‘wesnoth’ (which is pretty obvious). It all works perfectly, and it’s a very easy way to install new software.

Mint: Looking for Wesnoth?

Mint: Looking for Wesnoth?

Other mintSofware includes mintUpdate, which performs the same function as Ubuntu’s Update Notifier, but gives updates a grade from 1 to 5, with 1 being the most critical/recommended, mintBackup, which lets you take a backup of your home directory, mintNanny, which lets you create a list of blocked websites, mintInstall, which combines every way of installing software on a debian system and combines them in an attractive GUI, and mintDesktop, which provides an easy way to configure your desktop without entering the juggernaut that is gconf-editor. All of these tools are original and provide useful features. For example, mintInstall downloads a screenshot of an application you might want to install, a feature which has since been copied by Synaptic.

Problems

None whatsoever. I’ve been using the RC of Gloria for a couple of days now, and I haven’t encountered a single problem. Everything works out of the box, including Flash, youtube, Apple trailers, mp3 playback, video playback, installing software…everything I tried to do worked as intended. Of course, Ubuntu deserves credit here too, as it’s their solid base which makes this possible.

Conclusion

Even if Linux Mint was nothing else than Ubuntu with a different look, it would have its followers, since it looks just so good. But Linux Mint does more than just provide its own theme, it tries to rethink Ubuntu’s interface, not drastically but subly, which together with added codecs for multimedia layback, should make Mint easier and more logical for new users or Windows converts. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve succeeded. A big thumbs up to everyone who made this wonderful OS possible.

San

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31 Responses to Linux Mint 7 (Gloria) RC: A Review

  1. sid says:

    Nice review, Gloria is really glorious. I love the green and black theme. Mint rocks.

  2. Eddie Wilson says:

    I can’t wait for the 64 bit version to appear. I downloaded and tried the 32 bit version and it works well from the live cd. I had to boot in compatibly mode to get a desktop but other than that it is very well put together. Nice review.

  3. OS/2 User says:

    If Gloria RC behaves exactly the same as Jaunty Desktop, then I don’t even need to bother to start my lengthy 30+ hour download, since it will not install for me as well :-(

    This my automated bug report for Jaunty:

    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/ubiquity/+bug/369048

    I would appreciate, if someone could tell me, how to successfully install with the following setup:
    – “/” on extended JFS (/dev/sda8)
    – “/home” on extended JFS (/dev/sda7)
    – GRUB boot loader chosen to be installed in PBR of either /sda7 or /sda8, so that it can be called by my primary OS/2 boot manager.

    It is very disappointing, that, judged by the Traceback logs, the history (bug #260001) of this Ubuntu installation bug is already more than 2 years and 66 bug reports old and still not yet taken care of.
    As a novice to Linux I don’t know my way around this issue and was hoping, that Mint 7 could be my way workaround, but is apparently also not :-(

    • ChiJoan says:

      With the price of SATA hard drives coming down so fast, I just shutdown and swap hard drives. You can still try that with Ubuntu Linux.

      • OS/2 User says:

        This is not an option either.
        The only available interface is PATA and being a notebook, that’s the only one as well.
        Besides, that’s what some smart people invented boot managers for a long time ago, in order to be able to switch operating systems rather than HDDs ;-)

  4. Rednax says:

    if you want to install grub on a partition i recommend you make a separate /boot partition with ext2 of etx3
    you could also try to install grub with a floppy (if the ubuntu install fails at the bootloader you should have a working system)

    • OS/2 User says:

      Thanks Rednax. I’m all but sure here, but my understanding so far is, that it shouldn’t matter, if GRUB’s (it is, isn’t it?) stage1 boot loader is located in a drive’s MBR or any of its PBRs. So using a dedicated /boot would only affect where /boot with its /grub subdir and the FS drivers and kernel boot images would end up, wouldn’t it?
      Using Nautilus after the installation failed, I looked into /target/boot and there is no /grub, which AFAIKT should be there, shouldn’t it?
      And I intentionally chose JFS for compatibility reasons, so ext[n] is no option.
      And with now 66+ duplicates of my bug report, that tells me, that there is something at fault since quite some time already and no one cares to fix something as essential as that. eye-candy and incorporating the latest gimmicks seems to be much more important than having the essential stuff working reliable.
      Almost the same as with M$ :-(

      • Rednax says:

        It shouldn’t matter but it does with ubuntu

        https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/grub-installer/+bug/185878

        If ext isn’t an option because of compatibility reasons you could use a small /boot partition with a fat file system.

        If the information on this link is correct making the fat partition you are going to use as /boot for ubuntu in os/2 is a good idea.

        http://stason.org/TULARC/os/linux-faq/053-How-Can-Linux-Boot-from-OS-2-s-Boot-Manager.html

      • OIS/2 User says:

        Rednax, thanks again very much for providing those launchpad links.
        (Now this might mess up the thread here, since your last answer didn’t have a reply option)

        Especially your reference to bug #185878 was very helpful, since its ancestral duplicates actually describe just that very problem: use of non-ext[n] file system and/or GRUB initial bootloader code into PBR rather than MBR.

        In the meantime, Colin stepped in and re-categorized above bug, so that there now finally is a fair chance for it to get fixed once and for all :-)

  5. [...] Linux Mint 7 (Gloria) RC: A Review It’s been a while since I did one of these, for one because they’re time consuming, and also because after you’ve done a couple of reviews, it’s like you have nothing new left to say. These days, it’s rare that a Linux distribution is anything else than a different repackaging of traditional open source software. When Linux Mint first appeared, it seemed that it was nothing more than “Ubuntu with codecs”, but that doesn’t explain it’s popularity (at the moment of this writing, Linux Mint is third in the rankings, after Ubuntu and OpenSuse, but before established distributions like Fedora, Debian and Mandriva). [...]

  6. Mohan says:

    Nice review, I used Mint and loved it so much. But I am keeping with Januty and I am very much used to it but I did recreate Mint’s new theme though. :)

  7. nikev215 says:

    I installed Mint-7 RC onto a 4GB usb pendrive (persistent), it only took a few days to make up my mind, it’s now installed permanently on my HD alongside WIN-XP & WIN-7 Beta. Out of these 3 I’m using Mint-7 the most, even as a RC, this is a very polished OS & fast as hell!

  8. nomad says:

    Linux Mint 7 very good distribution, it is a pity there is no x64 version

  9. Sarai says:

    Mint is indeed awesome! I switched from Ubuntu not because I wanted an easier-to-use operating system, but simply because I love the MintMenu. The default gtk/icon theme (Shiki-Mint) is gorgeous as well, but not really a reason to switch since it’s easily availble on gnome-look. :)

  10. Linux Mint 7 says:

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  11. kaddy says:

    Linux Mint is what Ubuntu Should be. Im mostly a Kde user… not because I hate the way gnome works…. but I hate the way gnome looks… Linux Mint makes gnome look beautiful. So I use Linux mint for my gnome desktop, and Opensuse for my kde desktop.

  12. susenj says:

    I am new to mint..i just wanted to know..whether it is a debian distro or what? i am usung Ubuntu9.04 right now. The same apt-get works for it or not? Please help!!
    i blog at: http://susenj.wordpress.com

  13. susenj says:

    synaptic would be working on it??

  14. Maxwell says:

    WTF!! I’m trying to put a detailed comment on my Linux Mint experience. No dice.

  15. Maxwell says:

    As we speak, I’m writing this comment on the laptop of a CEO from a company down here. Her specs are: Toshiba Portege A600-135, Core 2 Duo U930 @ 1.20GHz, 250 GB HD, 2 GB RAM, Webcam, WIFI, Bluetooth, Finger Print reader, SD Card reader, etc. The only thing it probably doesn’t detect is the stupid finger print scanner/reader. Big deal! I’m freaking amazed that it has the bluetooth icon showing that it’s turned on but no devices are in sight. It simply saw the WIFI connection and then I added the WEP key — connected to the Net with no problems. Then I browsed her Windows Vista partition and opened some of her Powerpoint presentions in Open Office 3.0 just to show her that she’s not losing out on anything from Windoze. I showed her RythimBox, Gimp, F_Spot, FireFox (with FLash already woriking out of the box), Open Office Spreadsheet, Writer and some other goodies — all ran crisp and looked great on her 1200 X 800 screen. And this is just a LiveUSB demo. I want her to get rid of X-Pee from her office PCs and this demo gave her something to think while she breaks for XMas.

    To conclude, Linux Mint has arrived and it deserves all the praises because its creators went the EXTRA mile to make everything run PERFECTLY out of the box. Oh, those Huawei USB 3G/EV-DO modems are automatically detected by Linux Mint (and Ubuntu too). Simply amazing. If I attach my Nokia 6070 EDGE celly to my laptop using a CA42 cable, Mint already sees it and I just have to enter the APN, user name/password for my mobile operator. Wicked!!! On Windoze, I have to bloody download a 35 Meg Nokia PC Suite just to connect to the Net. Eeew!

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