5 Sep 2017

To Linux Mint KDE 18.2… and back

Linux Mint KDE is just one of several flavours of Linux Mint, and obviously not the flagship of this distribution.

However, I liked that distribution in my test of the Live version of Linux Mint KDE 18.2. I liked it so much that I decided to give it a go in installed mode.

How was that? Let’s check.


Preparation

To start with, I need to tell you that my current laptop Dell Inspirion 17 currently runs two operating systems: Kubuntu 16.04.3 and Windows 7. The HDD has 3 partitions, not counting some technical for Windows restore and Linux swap. There are home partitions for each operating system plus one large partition for shared data. The data partition is large enough, so I decided to create a new partition specifically for Linux Mint by chipping a part out of it. That was an easy task. I used Windows partitioning tool just to avoid loss of any data on this NTFS-formatted partition.

Once the separate section was created, I booted my laptop from Live USB with an ISO image of Linux Mint KDE on it.

Installation

The installation process of Linux Mint is very easy. The most difficult task was to explain to the installer which partition to use for root, and which ones to mount by default. The remaining steps were trouble-free and self-explanatory. The installation itself took less than 10 minutes including the requested installation of codecs and non-free firmware.

First boot

Linux Mint KDE installed its own GRUB and made itself the default operating system during boot. I don’t remember if I asked the installer to do so, so I was a bit annoyed. But that was the least of my worries.

There were no issues in booting up the system. Of course, the first step was to update it. There were a lot of updates ready to be installed, and I selected them all. Unfortunately, there were some issues with the installation of several updates, so I had to make a second round, which was more successful.

Software

Linux Mint comes with many applications that should suffice for most users, but some of them are not the ones I prefer. For example, I immediately removed Amarok from the system and installed Chromium  and Pidgin.

And here my troubles began.

Unfortunately, Chromium behaviour was below par.

The screen flickering was a usual thing in Chromium running in Linux Mint KDE 18.2. It even appeared on the start page with previews of the most often used sites. Not talking about more resource-demanding pages. Flickering was sometimes simply painful.

Second problem was in the window control elements of Chromium. You know that you can tell the browser to not use system window title. In this case, the standard window title bar disappears and all the control elements move to the Chromium’s own title bar. That happens until you… maximize the window! Once you maximize it, the control elements disappear completely. You cannot minimize or restore the browser window!
Chromium in Mint

What?

Just to clarify my thoughts, I uninstalled Chromium and installed Google Chrome instead. The problem was the same: maximized window did not have any control elements.

Further, I installed Cinnamon on top of the Linux Mint KDE 18.2 and tried to launch the Chromium browser there. The control elements were in their normal places in Cinnamon running on the same base as KDE.

The cause

Long searches in the Internet and experiments showed me that the problem was not in Chromium browser per se, but in the conflict of it with the libunity9 library. You may guess that the library is something from Ubuntu and its Unity desktop environment.

That library is a dependency for Pidgin instant messenger that I also use. Effectively, the combination of Chromium and Pidgin applications remove the window control elements in the former.

There is no solution for this issue unless you are happy to have a broken dependency in your system. If you are, then you can run 2 commands:
sudo apt-get download pidgin
sudo dpkg --force-all -i pidgin_1%3a2.10.12-0ubuntu5.2_amd64.deb
(the name of the file for the 2nd command can be different in your case)

Is it Mint?

As you remember, I also run Kubuntu 16.04.3 on the same hardware. (K)Ubuntu is basically the base for Linux Mint. These two operating systems even share the repositories, including the one with Chromium and Pidgin packages.

My Kubuntu installation has the same packages: Chromium browser, Pidgin and its dependency libunity9. But it has proper window control elements in the browser.

Chromium in Kubuntu


The problem is not Kubuntu, but only in Mint.

Conclusion

It means that Linux Mint team made some changes in the configuration of their version of KDE-based operating system that brought the problem in. And obviously that issue has not been found during the system test. That’s annoying.

It well may be that you can live with this issue, or you can switch from Chromium to another browser, or move from Pidgin to another instant messenger, or whatever else. The question for me was in the comparison between Linux Mint KDE 18.2 and Kubuntu 16.04.

Even though Linux Mint KDE 18.2 brought me some nice features in the user interface, I will still stick with Kubuntu for the time being.

The status quo of GRUB ownership has been restored.


  1. Reboot in Kubuntu
  2. sudo install-grub /dev/sda
  3. sudo update-grub
  4. The partition of Linux Mint KDE has been removed.

Bye-bye, Linux Mint KDE 18.2!

14 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Queue Tina Turner - What's Chrome got to do with it? 😍😎🤩 Linux Mint KDE 18.2 is the best KDE distro I've used this year. It's been my main OS for several months. 😒

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    1. Chrome and Chromium - both have the same issue when coupled with Pidgin in Mint KDE. Lucky you are, unlucky I am.

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  3. I agree. It is really the best. Using Linux mint KDE since version 12 and never got disappointed.

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  4. I own a Dell Inspirion 17, which I use mainly for development, general internet usage, and creating office documents. I used many distros with different desktop variations [e.g. Antergos, Manjaro, Fedora, Ubuntu, Deepin, etc.] I finally settled on using Mint with KDE, which has been my only OS for several weeks. Here are the advantages of this distro [on my hardware]:

    1. Low on resources. Although I have 16 GB of RAM, a cold boot uses only ~0.4 GB of RAM. Furthermore, the graphics driver is great; I don't have any flickering issues with any of the packages I use.

    2. Great power management; perhaps the best in terms of battery life, which hovers around 4-4.5 hours with wifi on.

    3. Snappy! The OS is noticeably faster than many others I have used.

    4. Great software repository. The only package that I had trouble installing is Anaconda Python environment [which I suspect I will find help installing if I spent the time searching]

    5. Aesthetically pleasing, with the KDE Plasma, and its widgets.

    6. Simple, yet offers a good amount of customization.

    Overall, this is a very power OS with which I am very pleased.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diaa, I have Kubuntu with about the same features as you listed for Mint KDE on my Inspirion. I only have 8GB of RAM.

      The same was applicable to Mint KDE, but I left because of software incompatibility as described in this article.

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    2. Hi, DarkDuck... Thanks for your comment. I think it all comes down to what one needs. I personally use my laptop [Inspirion 15 7000; sorry for the mistake in the initial post!] mainly to develop with IntelliJ IDEA, Python, and sometimes C++ using QT Creator. I occasionally also use Windows 10 in VirtualBox.

      Thanks for your great coverage, and sharing your Linux story :)

      Delete
  5. If you like KDE why not to try KDE neon?

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    Replies
    1. Hi, Michael:

      I actually tried KDE Neon in late 2016. However, after one of the updates, looks like some of the drivers were corrupt. So, I moved to another distro, and did not look back. I had a similar experience with Antergos [which I really liked], and I also moved on and did not give it another try.

      Thanks

      Diaa

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    2. KDE Neon review has been suggested several times already. It's on top of my queue now. :)

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  6. Mint's driver support is the clincher

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  7. Hi DarkDuck,

    Did you report yours findings to the "mint support/mainteners"? Have you any response?

    ReplyDelete