Tuesday, February 26, 2008

LinuxMint (K)Ubuntu Made Better

Many people know I have used Kubuntu for some time. Though there are many things about it I am not thrilled about it does have the largest software repository collection available. So when a friend said try LinuxMint I looked at it but I didn't jump into it immediately.

LinuxMint, at first, was Gnome based. Now I have nothing against Gnome but I am a KDE man and so I didn't give LinuxMint a try. I did however pay attention to what was going on with it since I was hearing nothing but good things about it. LinuxMint released a KDE Beta version and I am now using it instead of Kubuntu.

First LinuxMint is an unofficial Ubuntu version. They use the very same repositories plus a couple of their own. However, its what you get when you initially install LinuxMint that makes a difference.

As far as I am concerned the KDE version of LinuxMint is what Kubuntu should have been to start with. The script and configuration files are much leaner and better written. With Gutsy my video driver would get buffer over run errors and lock up. With Daryna (LinuxMint's release based on Gutsy) I have zero issues with the video now. OpenGL applications do not lock up my system and I can even use Compiz-Fusion on my Intel 965GM based laptop, cube and all. Daryna is basically Gutsy
on some serious steroids.

Because Daryna uses the same hardware base as Gutsy I had no issues installing it onto my laptop. My 1280 X 800 widescreen was setup perfectly as was my sound and USB.

Multimedia setup is an absolute breeze and LinuxMint is much easier to get it going in as well. Not that it was all that hard to begin with in Gutsy. You can even use Automatix2, but I caution people to be careful using it as you are apt to find more up to date packages in the repositories since the Medibuntu trepositories are part of the apt sources used in LinuxMint.

I was able to update KDE to 3.5.9 by adding the following to my sources.list file:

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/kubuntu-kde-3.5.9/ubuntu gutsy main

I updated without a hitch and I was also able to install Kickoff 1.

The KDE version of LinuxMint uses Tasty Menu as its default but you can use the standard Kmenu, KBFX, or Kickoff 1.

I also like the mintUpdate and Software Portal apps in LinuxMint which are really much better than the standard Kubuntu issues, even if they are GTK based. (Just so everyone knows, I am not opposed to GTK based software in KDE and I use a lot of it. It's more important to me that the software I use fulfill the needs it supposed to than how it appears or what file manager it uses.)

The final win me over feature is LinuxMint will ask you if you want to setup a root account. (This is not recommended but at least you have the option.) As I am a traditionalist I think that's great. The sudo only thing never thrilled me and even though I still use sudo I also like having access to my admin account separately in case something goes wrong in my main user account. Trust me with all the playing around I do I have blown up my user account a lot and having access to a root account is, for me, vital. This also fixes, what to me is, a glaring security issue in standard Ubuntu based distributions.

Last note: I am not sure why but the Synaptic Package Manager, though part of the initial install, does not have a listing in the menu. I had to go in and make one so I wouldn't have to launch Synaptic from the run command prompt. Since all of the LinuxMint update and software install tools
rely on Synaptic I found it a bit odd that they don't list in the menu. Adept is there but I am not a fan of adept. (See previous statement about GTK based software.) I like Synaptic a lot better.

I have got to say LinuxMint scores a 10. This is what I have been wanting in a Debian Based distro for a long time. The LinuxMint motto is "From Freedom Came Elegance" I say "With Intelligence Came
Reliability" at least with LinuxMint.

Notes of Interest: I removed the Generic Kernel and replaced it with Real Time kernel. I also changed the tray Icons used by the update notifier to get rid of the Tango look. I found some appropriate Icons easily enough and to be honest they actually make it easier to determine what's going on. I also changed the update check from 5 to 60 minutes. Mostly because I don't need to have my system eat bandwidth that often and every 60 minutes is appropriate enough.

Also in todays KDE news there was note of a major problem with a Gnome update that literally broke Gnome. Seems like many Gnome users will be going to KDE to fix it or replace Gnome altogether. Hmm support calls anyone?

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