Black God

Review: Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE)

I always see the Debian as distro born for Linux, with its top class package management, stable system performance, huge repository, less customization of applications and easier configuration. Once it was my main development system at home. When Ubuntu was introduced I switched over to Ubuntu, seeing it as “user friendly Debian”, with the features of Debian. Recent trend in Ubuntu development, has made me to think of another distro as main system after 5 years of Ubuntu. Unity and aesthetics of Desktop at the cost of stripped down basic features of a linux distros has moved me in this direction. I want my bare bone Debian + features missing (proprietory codecs, drivers and Desktop fine tuning) in one Linux distro. Since Linux Mint Debian edition looks like fitting my requirement, I tried and here is the review. Let’s see how it works out.

What is Linux Mint Debian Edition

Linux Mint is basically a Ubuntu based distribution. Recently Debian derivative has also been introduced named as LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition). It deserves its own name than this descriptive one :-) The beauty of this distribution its rolling in nature. The software is keep updated once it comes to Debian Testing branch. So you need not to upgrade once in 6 months, which many of leading distros like Ubuntu and Fedora use to release. On top of Debian Testing, Mint adds its own tools and customization to make non techie users to get started with Linux distros. Let’s see how it behaves in my laptop.

System Specification

  • Sony Vaio VGN-CS15GN/B Laptop
  • Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P8400 (2.26 GHz)
  • Memory 2GB
  • Hard disk Drive 250GB
  • LMDE (Linux Mint Debian Edition) GNOME 64-bit 2001109

Linux Mint links

  • Web site: http://www.linuxmint.com
  • Download: http://www.linuxmint.com/download_lmde.php

Under the hood

$ uname -a

Linux blackbox 3.0.0-1-amd64 #1 SMP Sun Jul 24 02:24:44 UTC 2011 x86_64 GNU/Linux

$ cat /etc/lsb-release

DISTRIB_ID=LinuxMint

DISTRIB_RELEASE=1

DISTRIB_CODENAME=debian

DISTRIB_DESCRIPTION=”Linux Mint Debian Edition”

Linux kernel: 3.0.0-1 x86 64-bit

GNOME: 2.30.2-2

Firefox: 5.0

Since it is a rolling distro, the above versions are as of this writing (Oct 2011).

Installation

Installation is pretty straight forward, highly user friendly. Inclusion of GParted for advanced partition management is good choice. I don’t have much to talk on this.

Linux Mint Debian Edition Desktop

Hardware detection

All the hardware was up right out of box. No tweaking. To make it specific, Graphics (Intel Corporation Mobile 4 Series Chipset), Audio (Intel Corporation 82801I ICH9 Family HD) Ethernet (Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88E8040 PCI-E), Wi-fi (Intel Corporation WiFi Link 5100), Bluetooth (044e:3017 Alps Electric Co., Ltd BCM2046) were just ready. Usually in Debian installation, I use to spend time on this side to make it up. Mint makes it easy. Another one important aspect is working of Special Function Keys in laptop such as Volume and brightness keys. External Sony 32″ TV detected and main display mirrored by default out of box. Adding a printer was cake walk with Printing tool in Control Center, I configured my HP Photosmart C4588 printer in wireless mode.

Software management

Mint addresses this important aspect of a OS in a nice way. Highly user friendly mintInstall Software Manager and Synaptic Package manager for power user. Though I use command line tool apt-get for all my purpose, Synaptic is my pet when we consider GUI. mintInstall is a well organized catalog based software manager. I like it more than Ubuntu Software Center. For installation of .deb package file, GDebi is there always.

Software Manager

It is powered by Debian Testing repositories. Apart from Debian repositories, it has its own repository serving many of the proprietory and customized applications. It includes Opera, Skype, Firefox, Thunderbird, Dropbox, VirtualBox, Flash plugin and Mint’s own developed applications. This makes it easy to install these applications and stay up to date. Chromium browser is available in Debian Main repository itself.

IMHO Software update manager (mintUpdate) in Mint is the best compared to any other OS. It has source selection, selective update and history features.

Update Manager

System management

All system configuration can be done from one control center.

Backup Tool (mintBackup) does the job neatly. It can backup and restore files and package selection. This package selection feature is a good one for every distro hoppers. The file backup can be archive or standard file system hierarchy mode. The archive can be .tar, .tar.gz and tar.bz2. The update is optimized with criteria based sync like MD5Sum mismatch, Size mismatch or Modification time mismatch.

Backup Tool main screen

Backup Tool - File backup

Nautilus File browser has been provided with my favorite two features – “open as administrator” and “Open in Terminal”. No unnecessary customization, just to the point.

Domain blocker is another tool, which blocks a domain for users. It is highly useful as a child safety tool. I tested it with Google Chrome, which is not default browser out of box (Firefox is the default one) – it works well.

Domain Blocker

Simple user friendly firewall manager available, which works in terms of applications, services and network ports. This is really a easy to use tool for any home user. Must have.

Firewall manager

System Services can be managed with “Services Settings” in Control Center. But there is no runlevel selection for each service (BTW Desktop runs at run level 2).

Services Settings

In most of the other distros PDF Printer is configured as hidden one (can be seen in print dialog only that too not user friendly). Here it is shown as a dedicated printer in Control Center. Good touch.

Desktop customization

I very much like the custom Mint Menu (mintMenu) tool. Neatly orgainzed categories like Applications, Favourites, Places and System makes it easily navigable. All the categories can be enabled/disabled. In short entire menu is highly customizable. Context menu items for shortcuts is worth mentioning here. Apart from Menu preference tool it has usual alacarte Menu editor tool also.

Mint Menu

Menu preferences

Mint has customized Faenza icon theme with greens shade. It is one of the complete and colorful icon theme for GTK based desktops. It looks neat and clean.

Nautilus Actions Configuration tool is worth to get mentioned here. I was looking for such tool. It makes context menu extensible for power user. One example is already given in this tool – MD5Sum option.

Nautilus-Actions Configuration Tool

Desktop settings tool does some of the frequently used gconf entry based settings. Identifying this kind of small but most demanded customization is the strength of Linux Mint.

Desktop Settings

Giver is a file sharing tool, I am yet to try. As I have understood, this is another value addition to make file sharing simple at least in home network.

Pros

1. Stable and robust Debian base

2. Huge Debian repository and Mint’s repository to add value to it

3. Perfectly balanced customization to satisfy both Power user and beginners

4. Highly responsive applications

5. Mint developed system tools add value to this desktop

6. Aesthetically pleasant workspace

Cons

Minor glitches here and there such as Seahorse (Encryption Key manager) asking for Master password occasionally, absence of splash (personally I consider this as Pro), Occasional misfire of Mint Menu through Ctrl+Super_L key.

Summary

Linux Mint is the best value addition to Debian compared to any other Debian derivative. This is how Ubuntu started, but it has taken its own direction now. Though Ubuntu has contributed enough to fine tuning of Linux desktop, I have to admit that it has stripped down all necessary features and trying to imitate OS X. LMDE is my new Ubuntu. +1 to Linux Mint Fan Club :-)

11 comments for “Review: Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE)

  1. stolennomenclature
    June 25, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Best Linux distro I have ever used so far. Both Unity and Gnome Shell are strange aberrations, seemingly based on the idea of “a change is as good as a rest” – well it is’nt in this case. For me what would make LMDE perfect is if it used the very latest Kernel. I see no reason why the Kernel needs to be frozen along with the apps. Perhaps a Linux Mint Debian Unstable Edition (LMDUE) would be an idea?

  2. Labeljohn
    March 1, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Thanks for the Review. I am going to download Mint LMDE right now. I have been using Ubuntu since at least 7.xx and I was loving 10.4 lts until packages became unbearably out dated. I wish 10.04 lts was a rolling release. I would keep right on running it with Gnome 2. Not a fan of unity. I tried debian sid but found it too puritanical. I tried arch which was fun but it is probably better suited for students, savants or the unemployed. I mean I have work to do… I want to save the heavy sys-admin stuff for a server. Based on your review LMDE sounds perfect. I am a little nervous about Mint in the long run because their distro with all the different flavors seems bi-ppolar. I want to be able to install this puppy and not even think about a reinstall until my desktop is boat anchor material.

  3. BC
    December 28, 2011 at 6:42 am

    I have used mint since Cassandra. Not much of a fan of Gnome before and really don’t like Gnome 3. I feel like the only way you can make Gnome 3 worse is to install it from Ubuntu with Unity. Tried LMDE XFCE, but it wasn’t quite right. After install after install one distro after anther over a 2 week period I finally did what I know works. I installed Debian with XFCE. Used the repository generator and replace my squeeze /apt/sources.list with with wheezy’s. apt-get update, and apt-get dist-upgrade and I was up and running. Installed compiz, cairo, winff, devede, synaptic, gnucash, and gedit. Now all is good. I have a rolling os and everything on my laptop is working like it is suppose to. I guess at the end of the day it boils down to your experience level, and what you are willing to do. Sometimes there is do replacement for a terminal, su and aptitude and a little less flash, but not everyone is willing to take the extra time to work through issues and learn how the wheels turn. I think that is a residual attitude from the Ms generation. I also see that starting to fade as people are starting to find out that you don’t have to spend a half years wages to have a functioning system with a nice array of applications.

  4. December 23, 2011 at 6:18 am

    Yep, currently the best OS out.

  5. December 9, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    “When Ubuntu was introduced I switched over to Ubuntu, seeing it as ‘user friendly Debian’, with the features of Debian. Recent trend in Ubuntu development, has made me to think of another distro as main system after 5 years of Ubuntu.”

    Word! I’m trying LMDE first thing after Christmas! Ubuntu – even with XFCE – can go suck camel gonads.

  6. Noah Duffy
    November 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Have you experienced any trouble with audio? I have the same chipset in one of my laptop. I used to have trouble with the speakers not muting when headphones were plugged in. That eventually was fixed with newer kernels, but now the problem for me is that the mute button does not work correctly. You have to hit mute and then hit one of the volume keys for it to mute.

    • bitflow
      January 30, 2012 at 10:05 am

      i have the same problem..when i plug headphones the audio is still coming out from the speakers..Linux Mint 12 Debian on a Sony Vaio

  7. Steve
    October 25, 2011 at 6:36 am

    LMDE is my new Ubuntu.

    +1

  8. October 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Great post. I hate to be that guy, but in the second paragraph you wrote
    “Linux Mint is basically a Ubuntu based distribution. Recently Debian derivative has also been introduced named as LMDE (Linux Mind Debian Edition).” I believe you meant Linux Mint!

    • Anonymous
      October 24, 2011 at 9:20 pm

      Thanks, corrected.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *