A First Look At Linux Mint
I had been hearing over and over about how friendly Linux Mint is for new users. Not wanting to stick someone with it without trying it out, I have refrained from recommending it. I am now trying it out, but only inside of a virtual machine (VMWare & Qemu), since I am tapped out on hardware to play around with.
It used to be that GNU/Linux installation was a way you could add new life to older hardware. In the last few years, the desktop environments have greatly expanded their requirements, so that it is no longer that simple. If you are looking to use your 200 MHz K6 with 32MB of RAM, you probably will not be using any modern distribution on it. If you have a 2GHz P4 with 256MB of RAM, then you are probably at the bottom of the barrel as far as hardware goes.
In this case, I initially allocated 160MB of RAM (each) to the virtual machines. The result was that the LiveCD started and gave me a visible desktop that was unresponsive. This was even more pronounced with Qemu, which is normally quite a bit slower than VMWare already. I have not installed the Qemu accelerator, which may even things up some.
- At least 256 MB of RAM, with 512+ being recommended. This is similar to other modern distributions, such as Ubuntu and Fedora. The more you have available, the more likely you will experience the quick, responsive desktop that Linux offers.
- A reasonably modern x86-compatible processor
Mint contains a number of proprietary plug-ins already installed, such as Flash. This makes it easier for a user to view YouTube videos (like the first theme to the "Power Rangers" television program). Yes, I admit it. I watched that video a few times.
Mint also has a quick setup for wireless cards. Since I am running it in a virtual machine, I did not have an occasion to test the wireless support. It is important to recognize that the Linux kernel comes with the largest number of hardware drivers pre-built, although a lot of newer hardware tends to be more difficult to utilize, because the information needed to create drivers is secret.
Mint auto-mounts FAT32 and NTFS partitions and Windows "Network Neighborhood"s.
I noticed that even using Mint as a LiveCD in the virtual machine, it has quite acceptable performance. GAIM is fairly up-to-date, without the connection errors and crashes that MSN brings to slightly older versions. Firefox is version 2.0, which is newer than many other distributions are using (FC6 is still on FF 1.5).
I intend to do actual installations in virtual machines soon and test them out. Thus far, I would definitely recommend Mint over Freespire and Mepis for newer users. I would recommend that more experienced users that just want a usable desktop consider Mint along with Ubuntu and Fedora. Remember that Mint is based on Ubuntu, so any annoyances you have with Ubuntu are probably present in Mint as well.
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