Sunday, April 18, 2010

Returning to Linux, Round 2...Mint

So as I got some feedback from my last review, a couple of oddities...first, the developer himself told me that the distro had locked repositories...ummm...why would you ever put anything out and then support for only a few months? This is why I have an issue with the hundreds of distros out there, many of which are just recycled parts of main systems, removing Firefox due to hated of copyright...removing all shreds of anything that brought me back to thinking, well who had ever done this right? A couple of thoughts, first, PCLinuxOS, where Tex stripped and cleaned Mandriva like a Texas steer on a BBQ pit. Alas, I already gave them a go and will be waiting for everything to exit Beta...Then, MEPIS, another solid package where someone took bloat and made it work. Maybe, but never really 'loved' what was happening there.

Based on my efforts to get to a XFCE version that I would want more permanently, I looked back to what I enjoyed the most, researched again what was out there...seems that my first instinct of Linux Mint being something I should look back at was itching at my scalp like a long day on the golf course with no hat...

I had reviewed Mint previous, way back with Bianca...seen here with my archive on google docs. I had a great interview with Clem, it was read at least 5 times :) but I did enjoy the package back then. I saw recently that the community edition of XFCE had been released, so I downloaded and jumped through the basics of installing via the standard Ubuntu flair.

The Good
I always likes the ideas within Mint...make a good package better by adding little features and taking out what isn't necessary. I remembered from the day that everything just worked. Websites played flash, video on DVD would play with audio, documents opened without too much effort or downloading extras. So what else is here that most people would like to know about?

I love the update manager. This really helps people know what is going on, where relying on synaptic might just lead to confusion. By telling people level of changes, what the old was and what the new will be just increases what was done pretty well already.

Software manager is even one step farther ahead than update manager. This now helps people know what is available, gives linux users a way to promote software they like, thrash that which is really useless and give people an idea of what is generally available. I love what Mint team has done here. By showing off the strength of linux, being able to add/delete/modify that which we have or need to have, users control their own systems in ways that are just not capable in either windows or apple. This actually reminds me of what Linspire had years back with CNR, yet was never able to cash in like they had hoped.

The not so bad
I guess money helps everyone and I know bandwidth demands cost. So with some levels of success comes underlying costs, a lesson I learned when my limited blogging success ran up a $2500 bill on godaddy. So while I never mind seeing donation links, they are how most get by (unless they are partnered with some large company, which then has profits in mind). I was taken a bit back by the splash window. I love that the discover links are there, however the concept of donating on

I guess then when I went into some of the pages, I was even a bit more taken back from the idea of showing donations to a level of, well, a southern church showing off their needs on Sundays.

I guess if you don't mind giving your name why should it bother me? Reality is that it doesn't bother me that much, however I just see more on their websites on this than I really saw on how to make things work better. Sure, the forums are pretty solid. I just would rather see this in the forums rather than so prevalent.

I guess though this concept is working well. According to this Clem & Co. are getting close to $4,000 a month in donations. Again, I don't see this as a huge issue, I just would rather see this more internal to people who have signed up versus having a banner ad on the home page telling users some random donator and their level of how they compare to others. Again, I am reminded a bit too much of churches with slick preachers, slicker facilities and more on the church's needs versus how people can help people out in the community first. Preaching over...time to get on with the packages.

The tools for XFCE
XFCE is not the most efficient system. It doesn't have a traditional control panel like other packages. It has little packages within a settings control, so new users may not find pieces, especially the most common. Once again, Mint has a solution for this.

These simple tabs control majority of what a typical user might want to change, yet within the limited controls of XFCE would have a difficult time getting these taken care of.

Wrapping up
I looked back at my review of Bianca, now that Mint has moved on seven times over, the main question was have they really moved forward? The answer at least for the community version of XFCE is yes. Having the tweaks and tools they do improve the package and they don't try to redo so much that the base is corrupted. The community has grown by leaps and bounds and I am sure Clem is now focused more on this that his old day job. My hat is off to the team and this is a definite keeper on my main partition.



1 comment:

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