Mint 6 Review: Meldroc

Meldroc published a nice review of Linux Mint 6 Felicia Main Edition. Happy reading everyone and here are my comments about it. 

Link to the review:


Meldroc writes: “Linux Mint is a bit of a dark horse when compared with the big distros like Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat or Gentoo.

–> I had to wikipedia that expression before I could comment it 🙂 I guess Linux Mint is much younger so it hasn’t made as much noise on the Web as the others yet. Ubuntu is young as well but it was backed by a company, with funding, with manpower, and with initiatives like shipit who were definitely going to efficiently promote it. The other thing as well is that Linux Mint isn’t made from scratch, it’s based on and tightly linked to another distribution, so no matter how popular it gets it won’t get as much attention in the media as independent distributions.

Meldroc writes: “A Windows installer, mint4win, is available, and automatically runs if you put the Linux Mint CD in your Windows system, and it gives you the option of installing Mint to a file inside one of your Linux partitions, for easier coexistence with Windows.  Unfortunately, only 32-bit x86 ISOs are available, though an x86-64 release of Linux Mint 6 is expected soon.

–> The 64bit edition of Linux Mint 6 should come soon. Credits go to Merlwiz and the Wubi project for mint4win. It’s a nice addition for people running Windows and not willing to modify their partitions. I wonder how popular it is. 

Meldroc writes: “You get a slick graphical GRUB boot menu, and a cool splash screen before X starts up and presents you with the login prompt.

–> Just a quick note about the boot splash screen (the one with the progress bar): It looks cool alright, but if it doesn’t fit your screen/resolution and you see black empty areas around it, you can either try to modify /etc/usplash.conf or replace it with a similar splash screen with a black background by installing the usplash-theme-mint-black. By the way, we could blame the upstream developers for not making usplash smart enough (I’d blame them for making it so hard to customize) but I really think monitors manufacturers are to blame here. If you buy a 1280×1024 monitor it should be able to show 1024×768, 800×600 and 640×480 resolutions without any problems and it should be able to switch to these resolutions. I first thought this was a bug in usplash but since it works on some monitors and not others it looks like some screens just can’t switch efficiently to adapt to lower resolutions. 

Meldroc writes: “[…] there’s actually two versions of the Flash player installable from the repos, and an older, buggy version is installed by default.  Uninstalling that version and installing the newer Flash version solved some Flash glitches I ran into […]

–> Felicia comes with Flash 10.0.12. The latest version, Flash 10.0.15, is available as a level 2 update in mintUpdate. The reason it doesn’t come with 10.0.15 is simply because that version wasn’t available at the time of the code-freeze for Linux Mint 6. I don’t see any other version so I’m probably missing something… don’t hesitate to post a comment if I am.  

Meldroc writes: “[…] this will cause consternation for Free Software purists who don’t want their systems contaminated with proprietary software.  Just install the Universal edition instead of the standard edition, and you’ll be free of the codecs, but left with a menu item so you can install them if you choose

–> True, although people who really want a libre desktop will probably prefer some other distributions. The Universal Edition isn’t more “free” than Ubuntu for instance, and Ubuntu isn’t featured by the FSF as a 100% “free” distribution. Our basic assumption is that our users want the codecs, that these codecs are part of what makes a “good desktop”, and that in some countries it is risky for magazines, companies and associations to distribute them. So this edition is similar to other Linux distributions, in the way that it doesn’t come with codecs (to make distributors happy) but it makes it easy to install them (to make users happy). 

Meldroc writes: “The open, though less-than-fully-featured drivers are installed by default, but you’ll get a polite notification in your system tray of this situation, and the option to switch to the proprietary drivers with a click of a mouse.  It gives you the options you need, and is pretty painless.

–> We’ve got the same policy as Ubuntu when it comes to nVidia and ATI drivers. The situation is a bit different here since these drivers more or less violate the GPL itself. Of course it’s also a grey area and some distributions use tricks to circumvent the violation (by binding the drivers to the kernel at runtime for instance). There is no question as to whether these drivers are needed, they are… and they should be included by default in a “good desktop”, but we’re still undecided about this and because a choice needed to be made I preferred to stay in the white and not include these drivers by default. I’m confident these cards manufacturers will eventually open their drivers in the near future, so hopefully this won’t be a problem anymore. 

Meldroc writes: “mintNanny is intended for families, and enables parents to do things like blocking their kids from viewing certain domains.

–> Yes, no more Facebook until all the homework is done! It’s very popular.. although we’re probably making an entire generation of growing kids hate us forever 🙂

Meldroc writes: “when I clicked Refresh in mintInstall to redownload package lists and screenshots and such from the Linux Mint servers, it took close to an hour.  Regular Synaptic refreshes its package lists in a matter of seconds (on a reasonably fast Internet connection.)  Some optimization is in order here.

–> Very good point. A fix was released in Romeo and will soon make its way to the stable branches of the reposity. It will speed up the refresh process. We might also make the screenshots download seemlessly in the background in the near future. 

Meldroc writes: “I would love to have an x86-64 version of Linux Mint.

–> That’s coming up as well. RC1 is already available.