Minty Taste Renewed:
Among the ancient and nearly-extinct beasts found in my family's dwelling is a Dell Inspiron 2650. This computer overheated, killing its hard drive. However, we had another laptop, a Compaq, whose power supply had died a spectacular, flaming death. It made sense to me to take the two parts and join them into one, sitting the hybrid laptop on a cooling pad for however long it lasts.
The Compaq ran Windows XP. It contained the sole existing copies of some files that had sentimental value to a family member. When I threw the Compaq's 20GB drive into the Dell, Windows would not even boot. Unable to utilize the pre-existing Windows installation, I used a Knoppix Live CD to mount the hard drive and copy out the "My Documents" directory, where the data of interest resided.
Once I finished, I wiped the hard drive of the now-useless Windows installation. (All of the above happened in November.) This week, I went back to the Linux Mint site, looking at the requirements for Mint 4.0. The computer in question has 392 MB of RAM, so some distributions would be intolerably slow, assuming that the installation even completed.
Unfortunately, the Mint site does not make it easy to find out the system requirements for any particular release. For Mint Bianca (Gnome), 256MB of RAM is good enough to boot the LiveCD and should be enough to install. For Mint Cassandra (Gnome), your computer should have more than 256MB to boot the LiveCD and install. This according to the forums. Following this advice, I also chose the Fluxbox edition of Mint.
The installation was simple. I took all the defaults and then just waited while it ran. When it came time to download language packs, I clicked "skip".
GUI Look and Feel
The Fluxbox GUI is really minimalistic. I like the almost icon-free desktop and the relatively uncluttered bar at the bottom of the screen. The mostly black desktop looks fresh, like your neighbor's new all-black pickup truck. There is still a little lag in starting applications.
This edition comes with Firefox 184.108.40.206. This is preferable to SeaMonkey, which comes with Puppy Linux. For office use, AbiWord 2.4.6 and Gnumeric 1.7.11 are preinstalled. AbiWord is a decent light-weight word processor, more powerful than WordPad, without the complex interface of either Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org Writer. It also has some support for .odt OpenDocument Format text files. As for Gnumeric, well, some people use it. I do not use spreadsheets very often, and I am glad. The e-mail client is Thunderbird 220.127.116.11 with Lightning 0.5. There is an IM client (Pidgin); Transmission, a BitTorrent client; XChat, an IRC chat client; a dialer program; GPaint, a paint program; GPicView, an image viewer; Exaile, an audio player; and MPlayer, a video player.
I’m expecting that computer to finish dying soon, so I’m not really planning on using most of the applications. One thing is for sure: thanks to Mint, however long it lasts should be enjoyable.