I mentioned in the podcast that I was having problems viewing Flash stuff in Firefox and I blamed it on KDE. I may have jumped the gun here, because the same issue started cropping up in GNOME. I went on the Linux Mint forums and other users were having similar issues. I’ve run the code that they suggested in the terminal, but I’m not sure if it worked because the problem doesn’t manifest instantly – sometimes it takes over half an hour before websites that run flash white themselves out.
Hi everybody! I’m Sasha, and I’ve joined the project experiment. I will be running some Linux distribution, essentially chosen without any forethought or regard for the consequences of my decision. Probably Linux Mint. It’s green, and green is environmentally friendly.
Like Tyler, I’ll be doing this on a brand new laptop, which is scheduled to ship and/or arrive August 24. Unlike Tyler, I haven’t bothered to contact Dell about the status of my laptop, so I take it on good faith that it will arrive on time and properly built (ha!).
I’m not particularly good with computers. To give you an idea: I just spent 25 minutes trying to add this e-mail account to Thunderbird. Hopefully I can learn something from this experience. Wish me luck!
In the continuing effort to find my perfect distro for this experiment I have set the goal of having finalized my choice by the end of this week. So welcome to another installment of which distro just didn’t cut it!
Looking at the remaining three candidates, Fedora, Mandriva and Linux Mint, it became apparent that the only distro I really knew anything about was Fedora. Setting Fedora aside for a moment I decided to use the power of Google to help me. I searched “Mandriva 2009 review” and “Linux Mint review” and opened the first four tabs (skipping the garbage links of course ;)) for each. This is what was said about the two of them.
While the install went perfectly well for me, other reviews around the internet are claiming some install problem, including a bizarre one where the Gnome is loaded as the default desktop. However, I am inclined to think this is either a rare bug, or something wrong done by the reviewer himself.
My take: Well that doesn’t sound very good. Hopefully that’s just a fluke.
The best part I have liked about Mandriva is that it is the only Linux distro to date… that actually runs my graphics card out of the box. Not even openSUSE or Ubuntu do that.
My take: This is excellent news, especially because my machine is also using an ATi card.
I have by now done a lot of testing, and my current impressions are slightly less positive. The hang consisted of a screen freeze when I opened five windows of Firefox. What I did not realize is that this recurred for me. I am not sure if it is the same case for others. There were also two more crashes, from unidentified causes.
My take: As a novice user who doesn’t know how to just “kill and restart X Server” this could be an issue for me…
But more so, the desktop, and plasma improvements are great. Take the time to experiment with each, they are worth it. They too, are stable.
My take: I’m not really sold on the plasma paradigm but this is still good news!
One of the most important parts of any distribution is the package management. I had not had a chance to test this earlier, but this was a big let down. I was expecting something exceptional here. What I got was an almost exact replica of the management system of the previous Mandriva, which was, let’s face it, slow and cumbersome… I had a difficult time downloading packages from online repositories – Mandriva’s package management apparently did not like my slow, albeit passable, internet connection.
My take: Installing software easily and efficiently will be key during this experiment. This person’s take on Mandriva’s package management is worrisome.
Mandriva is one of the few distributions that lets you have the XFS file system on /boot with GRUB as your bootloader, so all you really need is SWAP and one / partition with XFS if that’s all you want.
My take: Can someone in the Linux community explain to me why GRUB isn’t able to just use all of the filesystems?
You do have to edit your Timezone and monitor/video card settings or else it may reboot with the wrong resolution and using the unaccelerated VESA driver (And set for New York’s timezone), I selected 1680 x 1050 Generic Monitor with Nvidia 6100 or later, this brings the system up with the 2d accelerated NV driver until you can get around to installing the Nvidia binary module.
My take: This seems like a lot of messing around just to set up the system time and video card!
Mandriva saw my Windows shares out of the box, and could browse them through Nautilus immediately.
My take: Playing nicely with Windows is going to be one of the things I test during this experiment so this news is promising.
Mandriva One has everything that a home PC user should require, including a graphics suite (GIMP), document viewer (Gwenview), Office suite (OpenOffice.org 3.0), audio player (Amarok), Movie player (Totem) and latest version of Firefox web browser. Of course, I need not say that Mandriva 2009 comes bundled with KDE 4.1.2 or GNOME 2.24 depending upon the live CD you downloaded. So you get all the applications that are part of these fabulous desktop environments.
My take: Something that I will certainly be writing about is the ‘out-of-box’ experience of the distro. How it looks, works and feels before I add additional software.
If you have any of the NVIDIA or ATI graphics cards, you are in luck as Mandriva One 2009 bundles with it the proprietary drivers for these cards and you can use the 3D acceleration capabilities out of the box without any further tinkering.
My take: Again, by the sounds of things Mandriva has all of the graphics drivers I’ll need built right in!
Linux mint offer number of applications that are not available in Ubuntu. There are many pre-installed applications like multimedia codecs, drivers for Wi-fi cards etc. Moreover as Ubuntu and Linux Mint use the same software repositories, so any software that can be installed on Ubuntu is compatible with Linux Mint, hence it provides users access to a huge collection of packages and software.
My take: My experience with Ubuntu is that it supports most things right away. If Mint can improve upon that it is a welcome enhancement.
It is a Debian-based distribution and as such it is very solid and it comes with one of the greatest package managers.
My take: Debian is an excellent, stable distro and this bonus was inherited into Mint through Ubuntu.
Ubuntu as compared to Linux Mint have got very larger support community but at the same time every advice and help is also applicable to Linux Mint.
My take: Having support to fall back on is going to be key so let’s hope this statement rings true.
“It’s one of the most community driven distributions. You could literally post an idea in the forums today and see it implemented the week after in the “current” release. Of course this has pros and cons and compared to distributions with road maps, feature boards and fixed release cycles we miss a lot of structure and potentially a lot of quality, but it allows us to react quickly, implement more innovations and make the whole experience for us and for the users extremely exciting” –Linux Mint Team
My take: While this sounds like a neat idea I think I would much prefer a solid roadmap over feature creep.
I booted into it via LiveCD. Yikes! Gripes. Dunno why, but it didn’t boot at first. It just showed me a nice black wallpaper, and my cursor. GNOME was not starting. Reboot! Again, but this time, I saw the GNOME bottom panel, but blank, and no icons! WTF! REBOOT! Poof! This time, for a weird reason, everything loaded fine, and I got my desktop and all icons and all. Strange…
My take: This… doesn’t sound good
From the menu, I could see a whole bunch of applications already installed, most notably Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin, GIMP, Totem, Mplayer, Amarok, Open-Office 2.3 and Serpentine
My take: Sounds as though the basics are covered.
Regarding drivers, I was amazed. My WiFi (Intel Pro Wireless 4965) worked directly, prompting me for ESSID and the other usual settings, and minutes later, I was on Google. Same for my graphics driver (Intel GMA 965), giving me my 1280×800 native resolution. Sweet!
My take: Just like the Mandriva review this seems to point to Linux Mint being an excellent experience right from the start.
What I want to say is that Linux Mint is really great for users that want a simple and clean system, that is fast and efficient, and that works without hours of configuration.
My take: While this sounds nice for the beginning I’m not sure how well the lack of configuration options will play out as the experiment goes on.
The install was painless, as usual, and the theme was just as elegant and smooth as ever.
My take: Maybe I’m a spoiled Windows user but if the install isn’t painless why are we even bothering?
One of my biggest complaints with Linux Mint in the past was the mintMenu application. While I loved its functionality of allowing you to search for programs and documents all right when the menu is open, it never had the ability to open with a hotkey, until now. I found out by accident. I pushed the “Super” key and started typing Firefox because that is what I usually do in Vista.
My take: This is a very nice feature and one that I use on Vista all of the time.
The only other surprising feature to find was that Evolution was not the default mail client and instead Thunderbird still held that title. While I still do like Thunderbird I feel like Evolution is a step in the right direction and I love that it can not only manage all of my personal email addresses but it can also painlessly get my works Exchange email.
My take: I currently use Thunderbird so that’s a plus. However in order to get the true Linux experience perhaps I should install Evolution even if it is not the default?
Conclusion: It seems that no matter which of these two is chosen to stay on, the other could have been equally qualified. With that in mind I will have to base my decision on some other factors.
The Sweet Taste of Mint Just Isn’t Enough
This was a tough call but I am going to allow Mandriva the honour of staying in the race. While Linux Mint seems like a solid distro it also feels a lot like it’s just Ubuntu with a different theme. True there are the mintTools and other features but if the goal of this experiment is to truly dive deep into the guts of Linux and learn something new I shouldn’t be hidden from them. The small community for Mint only features and tools is also kind of troubling because they may not react as quickly to an issue, for example a Mint specific security flaw, as one of the big name distros would.
Well that’s all for now. I hope you made it through this giant post. When I wake up in the morning I’ll try and fix the spelling mistakes that are bound to be there :P. Don’t forget to tune in next time for the showdown between Fedora and Mandriva!
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).
In an earlier post I had said that I had narrowed down my list of potential Linux distros to a mere four contenders: Debian, Fedora, Linux Mint and Mandriva. I have since then decided that by the end of this week (or, if I’m lazy, early next week) I will have knocked this list down to my final choice. The way that I have chosen to do this is potentially the most annoying way possible: I plan on filling my post quotas by only removing one choice each post 😛
So without further ado lets kick one of these to the curb!
Debian, you are dead to me
Why I had considered it: Very stable, lots of support, lost of software, one of the oldest distros.
Why its just not making the cut: As I am somewhat familiar with Ubuntu and have read about its relation to Debian, I feel as though Debian is just simply not that different. Now before all of you bearded basement dwellers start telling me just how wrong I am, keep in mind that a large component of this experiment is about the perception of our selected distribution as well. I am sure Debian, like Ubuntu, will offer a great experience to those who use it, however I feel that my person use of it would almost be a violation of rule #1.
To be continued…
100% fat free
Picking a flavour of Linux is like picking what you want to eat for dinner; sure some items may taste better than others but in the end you’re still full. At least I hope, the satisfied part still remains to be seen.
Where to begin?
A quick search of Wikipedia reveals that the sheer number of Linux distributions, and thus choices, can be very overwhelming. Thankfully because of my past experience with Ubuntu I can at least remove it and it’s immediate variants, Kubuntu and Xubuntu, from this list of potential candidates. That should only leave me with… well that hardly narrowed it down at all!
Learning from others’ experience
My next thought was to use the Internet for what it was designed to do: letting other people do your work for you! To start Wikipedia has a list of popular distributions. I figured if these distributions have somehow managed to make a name for themselves, among all of the possibilities, there must be a reason for that. Removing the direct Ubuntu variants, the site lists these as Arch Linux, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, gOS, Knoppix, Linux Mint, Mandriva, MontaVista Linux, OpenGEU, openSUSE, Oracle Enterprise Linux, Pardus, PCLinuxOS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Sabayon Linux, Slackware and, finally, Slax.
Doing a both a Google and a Bing search for “linux distributions” I found a number of additional websites that seem as though they might prove to be very useful. All of these websites aim to provide information about the various distributions or help point you in the direction of the one that’s right for you.
- Linux Online
- The Linux Documentation Project
- Linux HQ
Only the start
Things are just getting started. There is plenty more research to do as I compare and narrow down the distributions until I finally arrive at the one that I will install come September 1st. Hopefully I can wrap my head around things by then.