Linux Mint team works hard on making Linux as much user-friendly as possible. They even managed to improve usability of Ubuntu which holds position because its high degree of userfriendliness.
my thoughts about this Linux Mint version.
But every beginning has its own story. Mint team also released KDE, LXDE and XFCE remixes. All of them were based on Ubuntu. Were... Until recent.
Another twist in the story started with LMDE which stands for Linux Mint Debian Edition. I have also reviewed that release in my past. LMDE, as opposite to all previous Mints, was based on Debian. Mint team applied Mint ideology, menu and everything else to pure Debian. Of course, GNOME was the core of LMDE. That could not continue for long, and Mint team decided to go further. Result was... Linux Mint XFCE. What does it mean to us? Mint's elegance and user friendly interface multiplied by XFCE performance? Or Mint's overload of tricks multiplied by XFCE complexity? That's what I wanted to check when I first heard of Linux Mint XFCE.Current version has number 201104. Is version number relevant? I do not know because Linux Mint XFCE is based on Debian Testing, which is rolling release. It uses Debian's repositories.
Before testing Linux Mint XFCE, it has to be downloaded. You may be surprised, but wonders starts right at the downloading phase! Linux Mint XFCE weights 958Mb. This is more that SalineOS (926Mb) and far more than XFCE-based Xubuntu (696Mb).
Unetbootin lovely helped me to "burn" the Linux Mint XFCE image to 1Gb USB stick. I activated persistence in Unetbootin "just in case", even though I had barely 30M of free space on the stick, and Unetbootin only promises persistence for Ubuntu-based distros.
Finally, I am ready to set off to another adventure with Debian-based distro. Has it become my idee fixe recent time - to make Debian based Linux to work on my Compaq laptop? I don't know...
Reboot. Choose to boot from USB.
Linux Mint XFCE boots itself extremely quick. Just 67 seconds to the full desktop readiness. It is even less then pocket-oriented SLAX! There are 2 factors which help this: XFCE itself is light desktop environment, and also USB boot is always quicker than CD or DVD based.
As I expected, WiFi card (Broadcom 4311) was not activated by default. That was expected, because Linux Mint XFCE is based on Debian Testing, and Debian does not allow any restricted package to go with distribution. Even Mint's karma cannot help here. Let's distract ourselves from network facilities for few minutes and look what else is in the Linux Mint XFCE toolbox.
- Keyboard layout. I need both Russian and English keyboard layouts for my work. That's why I have to have both of them activated. You can add layouts in XFCE configuration panel, but there is no option to customize key sequence for switch between them. What is the point to have layouts which cannot be switched? Is there any solution!? Sure! It is not so obvious though. Right click on the panel, then Add New Items, then select Keyboard Layouts. This combination calls up configuration window where keyboard layouts can be added, plus switch options selected.
- Office. Linux Mint XFCE features full Libre Office set version 3.3.1. Hmmm... very fresh one!
- Graphics. Not big selection here, but usual suspects like Libre Office Draw and GIMP are present. Linux Mint XFCE also includes F-Spot, but it did not work for me when I started it from Screenshot tool. Although, F-Spot started OK standalone.
- Multimedia. Hey, here is the selection! Several player including Totem, Rythmbox and VLC. Brasero burning tool gives finish touches. And basement for all these beauties is Pulse Audio configuration tools.
- Network tools. Not a bad selection. Firefox 3.6, Transmission, Gwibbler, Pidgin. What did I forget? List is very impressive. I think each tool is selected to serve its own purpose, as opposite to overlapping functions of Multimedia tools mentioned above.
- Games. Nothing. No one. Empty. Call it as you like, but there are no games in Linux Mint XFCE menu! Why? I don't know what were developers thinking about when composed a list of software for this home computer oriented operating system. I'd say couple of games would be nice bonus and would not add that much to distro weight.
Saying that, I still want to remember SalineOS. In my opinion, SalineOS worked faster, even being booted from DVD.
It is time now to come back to my idee fixe. As you remember, I was very close to realisation of it last time, when I tried Aptosid. The issue was in saving updated Sources file in run mode of Aptosid. Was I successful this time? YES! YES! YES!
Here are 9 magical steps which I had to make in order to activate Broadcom 4311 card in Debian based Linux Mint XFCE:
- Connect to LAN cable.
- Select Software Manager.
- Type b43 in the search box.
- Install b43-fwcutter and firmware-b43-installer from the list.
- Type in command sudo ifconfig wlan0 up in terminal.
- Click on icon and then manually deactivate and re-activate Wireless Networks. Why? Don't know. Next step was not possible without it.
- Click on icon on the panel and select network.
- Type in access code.
Sure enough, I'll try to repeat those steps if I try another Debian-based Linux distro in the future.
Once connected, I could fully check Internet and multimedia facilities of Linux Mint XFCE.
Youtube worked fine out of the box. Although, no audio controls goes on the panel by default. It surprised me, because sound started loudly. I had to act quickly. Volume control widget can be added the way similar to keyboard controls, see above.
Linux Mint XFCE comes without Samba in default version. I had to install it using the same Software Manager tool. Unfortunately, it did not help me in mounting my network drive. First of all, I did not find any graphical tool for network drive mounting in XFCE. That's why manual CLI-based command mount was the only available option for me. But it gave me bad result: error
CIFS VFS: cifs_mount failed w/return code = -22This error message is about inability to supply username for mounted system. This is very strange since my mount command always includes options guest,nolinux.
That was a reason why I could not test audio playback from network. But Totem Movie Player was very good in playing music files from local NTFS partition, even with correct display of Russian filenames and tags.
And now that is time to return back to the start of this post. Does Unetbootin support persistence of Linux Mint XFCE? The best way to find this out is to reboot the system and see the result.
So... Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Select default option of Unetbootin menu... 67 seconds to wait and... Linux Mint XFCE waits for me... young and clear. All the changes have disappeared.
What are my general feelings about Linux Mint XFCE?
Does it mean I can recommend this system for beginners? Probably not. From my perspective, this is good system for those who has some knowledge of Linux and want to move further.
What do you think of Linux Mint XFCE? What is the "niche" for it? Would you like to try it yourself or use it as your system #1? Or maybe you are already using it?
Story continues here.