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18 Aug 2015

Linux Mint 17.2 KDE: do you have the hardware?

August 2015 is only half-through, but it has already seen releases of two popular Linux distributions.

DarkDuck has already reviewed Zorin OS 10 Core.

Today is the turn of Linux Mint 17.2. Yes, you are right. Linux Mint released the version 17.2 in August 2015. Of course, they are not their "major" Cinnamon and MATE editions, but rather slightly less popular flavours: KDE and Xfce.

Image size of Linux Mint 17.2 KDE is about 1.6 Gb, which is 0.2 Gb more than the Cinnamon edition. I downloaded it using the torrent link available on the web site and "burnt" onto the USB stick using the built-in tool of Ubuntu 14.04.

So, the USB stick is in the port of my Toshiba Satellite L500-19X laptop. Reboot. Choose to boot from USB. Let's go!


Booting up

Linux Mint 17.2 KDE gives you 10 seconds delay between the time it wakes up and the actual boot sequence starts. You can press any key at this time to choose an alternative non-default option like boot from HDD instead, check the media or force PAE option.

When booting starts, you can see a familiar Linux Mint logo in the centre of the screen. However, it is in blue tones and cogwheel-ish shape this time, which gives you a hint about the KDE flavour of this distribution.

Once booted, you are on the pretty much standard KDE screen with a big Linux Mint 17.2 KDE logo on the wallpaper. There is a panel at the bottom of the screen and a Plasma Toolbox indicator in the top-right corner.

The menu button shares the left corner of the panel with the "Show desktop" button and the file manager icon in the quick launch panel.

The right corner of the panel has clocks with the calendar, network, volume, USB, battery and Messages indicators along with notifications icon.


Linux Mint 17.2 KDE welcome screen

Once booted, Linux Mint 17.2 KDE takes about 400 Mb of memory in Live mode, which is very decent taking into consideration that usually KDE-based distributions are quite memory-hungry. This is less than Fedora 22 GNOME and Ubuntu 15.04 use in the same scenario.

Linux Mint 17.2 resource usage
If you are bored with the default wallpaper, you can right-click on the desktop space and choose an alternative wallpaper from the set of several dozen that come with Linux Mint 17.2 KDE. That's too many for my taste. Of course, you can download and install your own wallpaper too.

Linux Mint 17.2 KDE comes with standard KDE widgets that you can add to your desktop. My favourites are CPU, Network and Memory monitors.

There is no virtual desktop switch by default in this distribution. If you want to have several desktops, then simply add the Pager widget to your panel and configure it with the desired number of virtual desktops.

Network connection

Linux Mint 17.2 KDE had no issues in finding and configuring the Realtek 8191 SEvB wireless network card in my laptop. A click on the network indicator on the panel brought up a list of the available networks in the vicinity, after which I only had to choose my home network, enter the pass key and click Connect.

Keyboard layouts

Keyboard layouts configuration is in the Input devices section of System Settings panel, available in the Settings part of the menu. Alternatively, you can call it up by searching for the keyword "keyboard" in the menu search field.

The configuration steps for keyboard layouts in Linux Mint 17.2 KDE are the same as described in my how-to. I will not repeat them here.

The only thing that I would like to mention is that Keyboard Layout window is not properly sized to display all of its components. Just a little bit bigger window would get rid of all the scroll bars. That is a problem of KDE 4, not Linux Mint, to be honest.

Network Drive

I was able to navigate to my network shared drive using the Dolphin file manager in Linux Mint 17.2 KDE. Moreover, I had no need to type anything to do so! All was done with just a mouse: search for the servers in the network, showing shared folders and adding my share to the list of Favourites on the Dolphin panel.

I think that was the very first time in my memory when I could do this operation without a keyboard touch! Love that!

Multimedia

As usual, Linux Mint comes with a full set of necessary multimedia codecs. Once I navigated to the music file on my shared drive, I double-clicked it. It made the file copy to my local machine somewhere in /var directory. There was a notification about that. That's not something I would prefer, but nevertheless this operation enabled file playback in Amarok, the default multimedia player in Linux Mint 17.2 KDE.

If you don't like the file copying from the network location, simply use VLC. It is also included in the distribution and it plays files straight from the network location.

Of course, video playback is enabled in Linux Mint 17.2 KDE too. You can watch YouTube videos, either embedded on the page or on YouTube itself.

Multimedia facilities in Linux Mint 17.2 KDE
Here I must mention a problem I faced in my Live session of Mint 17.2 KDE. When I opened several separate windows of Firefox browser with multimedia-enabled content, like you see on the screenshot, the system became very unresponsive. It was almost impossible to resize the window with YouTube. The Blogger window that I opened to draft this post became blank. Does it mean my hardware is not powerful enough to deal with this OS? The issue went away when I closed the windows with video. That's a big resource issue, in my opinion.

Applications

Linux Mint 17.2 KDE comes with a large but reasonable set of applications. Some of them are from the default KDE set, which is version 4.14.2, some are added externally.

Firefox 38 is the default and the only browser in this distribution, although you may find traces of Konqueror in there. Firefox's neighbours in the Internet section of the menu are Akgregator RSS-reader, KMail, KTorrent, BlueDevil bluetooth manager and some more. Kopete instant messenger supports the new way the Facebook chat works, which is an issue for the outdated Pidgin messenger.

Productivity tools are represented by the full LibreOffice 4.4.3.2 set, including Math and Base components. There are some more KDE-specific office applications like Okular and KAddressBook.

I have already mentioned VLC and Amarok multimedia players. You also get DragonPlayer, K3B burning tool, KMix mixer and PulseAudio control centre in the Multimedia section of the menu.

The Graphics part of the menu includes GIMP graphical editor, DigiKam photo manager, GwenView, KSnapShot and some others.

Of course, there are many small utilities like Kate text editor, Ark archiving tool, KCalc calculator, Konsole terminal, KDE Partition Manager and so on.

As Linux Mint 17.2 is based on Ubuntu 14.04, you have all the Ubuntu's vast repositories under your fingertips if you need to add applications. Linux Mint includes both Software Manager (mintInstall) and Synaptic tools that help you navigate through the repositories and search for what you may need. That's not mentioning the standard apt-get tool in command line.

Conclusion

Linux Mint 17.2 KDE felt solid and responsive to me, apart from one occurrence that I mentioned above.

It is based on a solid distribution and adds some useful features like necessary codecs.

KDE always had its fans for the convenience, high level of integration and the ease of navigation. On the flipside, KDE is usually considered a Desktop Environment for high-performance hardware.

I would highly recommend Linux Mint 17.2 KDE to the wider community, subject to resource requirements.

If you are interested in getting Linux Mint 17.2 KDE, or any other Linux Mint flavours, or in any other Linux distribution in general, why not visit BuyLinuxCDs.co.uk site where you can order a disk with your favourite operating system? The disk will be delivered right to your mailbox!

Video used on the screenshot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0MT8SwNa_U

4 comments:

  1. "Linux Mint 17.2 KDE takes about 400 Mb of memory in Live mode, which is very decent taking into consideration that usually KDE-based distributions are quite memory-hungry."

    Never found that to be the case. As installed older Mint KDE 14? SolydXK KDE and now running Manjaro Netrunner rolling. And all always chimed in to desktop in the 390-440mb range. And always chimed in lighter than Unity,Gnome or Cinnamon for me.

    So never understood all the "KDE-based distributions are quite memory-hungry or Resource hogs" Talk. Found all the KDE flavors running smoothly and quickly. With Firefox 5 tabs,Dolphin,Terminal,Clementine,Okular or Calibre open for reading magazines or books. DreamChess playing chess or other games,etc.. Rarely pushed past the 1.5gb mark on my 4Gb system.

    Everybody keeps attaching words like Bloated or Hog to KDE. When in fact there are other DE's that fit those labels closer than KDE. But never seem to see those labels used much for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, my experience is very similar actually. I never experienced big issues with KDE systems. Though, there was a problem with Mint 17.2 KDE - described above.

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  2. kde actually "feels" more sluggish out of the box than alot of DE's because there is a setting (cant remember where) where you can take the animation time down to 0....most of the spinning/bouncing cursor animations actually have time set aside for them even though you dont need it. Once you get that turned off your in good shape.

    I use xfce these days but when I was using kde that was what made the difference.

    ReplyDelete