Mint: Experience After A Few Months
I most recently discussed my life with my new installation of Linux Mint in Living In The Mint Field. Since then, I have had a couple of months to use it.
- Multimedia: There have been a few online videos that I could not watch, primarily either QuickTime or Windows Media videos. No real understanding why, since I can watch many others of the same type. I haven’t had any issue with audio files.
- Opera Browser: I have been using KDE more than GNOME. Both the download from Opera’s site and the version available from the Mint repositories have some issues with Adobe’s Flash Player. As long as you only have a single tab open and there is only one Flash item on the page, you can see and hear. As soon as a second Flash item is embedded on that page (or any other page that is simultaneously open in Opera), the first becomes a non-functional gray blur. Since a number of obnoxious banner ads use Flash, it is quite common for me to re-open a page in another browser if it has any kind of Flash content I want to see.
- Firefox: Version 2 of Firefox has one highly-annoying problem (which isn’t exactly Mint’s problem, but it is still annoying). No matter how you try to make it follow version 1.5.x’s behavior and open new pages in a new tab in the existing window, version 2.0.x insists on opening a new window. This has been one of the key features that had been driving people to convert from IE6 to Firefox, so I don’t understand what Mozilla was thinking. (And by the way, on the NOAA satellite page on Windows, Firefox acts as though it is waiting for the applet to fully load and start before it will respond, while IE6 gives the ability to stop loading or go back. The site’s applets have an intermittent crashing issue with Java 5 and 6, so when loading appears to hang, hitting the back button can keep the browser open. Firefox doesn’t give users the opportunity to forestall such a crash.)
- RSS Readers: I haven’t found one yet that isn’t subject to crashes or preloaded with piles of unwanted junk that I have to remove before I can use it. Bottom Feeder crashes upon trying to read almost any item in any feed. I do use Google Reader, so a client application is not a necessity. Still, I have some feeds that I want to check daily (the ones I use Google to read) and others that I want to check weekly (which I’d like to do with a client app).
- Text editors and other important accessories: As a loyal vim user, I am happy with the selection of text editors, including Gedit and Kate. Digikam works far better than the generic photo editor and album software that usually comes with a camera. Both GNOME’s Terminal and KDE’s Konsole are great tools for the times when you need to use the command line. And yes, you need it. Even on Windows, the first thing I do is clear all the unwanted programs out of the Quick Launch toolbar and replace them with CMD and Windows Explorer (pointed to “My Computer” instead of “My Documents”), because a command line console is the single most important part of a GUI.
- Konqueror: There was a time when I actually liked this file manager and browser combination. Krusader works better for managing files, while Galeon, Epiphany, Opera, and Firefox are all better browsers. I now use it mostly when I suspect unusual but not malicious behavior for a Web site.
- Upgrading to the next version: Rick Jelliffe’s experience is probably not typical. Still, the process is not painless yet. The best bet is to copy all of your data onto external storage and then install the new version from scratch. Since this has been my experience with Fedora as well (up through the upgrade to version FC6), it isn’t a big deal. I followed the upgrade instructions. I ended up with a Bianca-Cassandra hybrid.
- The installer did not, as I recall, offer the chance to hand-configure the disk partitioning. If using logical volume management (LVM), in effect you have a single partition with everything in it. This makes it more difficult to retain anything during upgrades or reinstalls.
I still love my Mint-powered Dell. I am not sure about the recommended hardware. I would say that 512MB of RAM is the bare minimum you will want. That is what I have now, and I occasionally have to wait for an application to respond (most frequent offenders: Web browsers, where a banner ad in another tab will signal a reload while I am trying to scroll a page or type something into a box). OpenOffice.org will love you if you have more RAM also. I tend to have five or more applications open at once, so a less intensively-used system may be fine with 256MB.
If you use your computer a lot, you will have to customize it, just as you do for Windows, Mac OS X, or any other operating system. The defaults are expected to be sane for most users, but you are probably just a little different in some area.
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Entry filed under: Software.