Linux Mint is an Ubuntu-based distribution whose goal is to provide a more complete out-of-the-box experience by including browser plugins, media codecs, support for DVD playback, Java and other components. It is compatible with Ubuntu software repositories. The 3.0 Xfce edition was released on August 7, 2007. Some snapshots for Linux Mint can be found here, but these snapshots are not specific for Xfce.
The test machine that I am using is pretty old and well suited for lightweight distributions like this. It is an AMD Athlon 2600+ XP, 1 Gig RAM, 64 Meg ATI 7200 with 15" LCD capable of 1024x768@75Hz
On the boot screen, user is given three choices. Default one is to open a live session with Linux Mint Xfce. The booting takes a little time as it configures all the hardware. It correctly identified the screen resolution of 1024x768@75Hz. The system seems similar to the gnome version.
The installation is the same seven step installation used by Ubuntu. It asks you about the language, time zone and key board. The worst part is the hard disk partitioning.
The partitioner takes too much time to identify all the partitions. Then whenever user changes something, it requires to rescan the whole partition table again. Why does one need to rescan the whole partition table with every single edit; this could be done at once when the user selects to write the changed partition table to disk. Anyway this rant should not be applicable to Mint as they are using the standard *buntu installer.
Then it provides you with an option to migrate your user settings from any existing operating system. It shows you the final configuration and you can go ahead with the installation. The installation was relatively fast; it took approximately 10 minutes to finish.
Now this is one of the most awful aspect of *buntu family. Three years in making and nobody could ever come up with a good grub menu. Why are users offered an outdated black & white boot loader with no image. Some distributions have advanced to gfxgrub, but if that seems a huge effort then at least provide a nice image for the grub. Again this rant is not something specific to Mint.
A lot of times, I see people referring to Xfce as "tasteless mimicking of Gnome". This is because distributions like Xubuntu and Linux Mint Xfce actually make them believe that. Come on, Xfce has its own identity, there is no difference in desktop context menu and start menu. Distributions like Zenwalk and Vector actually keep the original Xfce feel and look great.
Linux Mint shares the wallpaper and icons across all the versions; Gnome, KDE and Xfce. Other editions of Mint include specialized launchers, and I was expecting something on similar terms for Xfce edition, but there was none.
I feel that the set of applications included is very limited as compared to other Xfce based distributions. User gets standard accessories with catfish, mousepad, thunar and tomboy notes. For graphics you have gimp. For Multimedia you have mplayer, xfmedia, gnormalize, exaile, brasero. Internet applications contain, Firefox, Thunderbird, Pidgin, Java 6, Deluge. For office, you have open office.
User gets a lot of configuration options via system settings. Linux Mint XFce edition also has its own control center. XServer-Xorg application really requires an applause, it is a really nice front end for editing xorg.conf and its does its work very well. One key application missing is the one for taking screenshots. I was unable to find any pre-installed screenshot application and thus this review lacks screenshots :(
On the plus point all the Ubuntu repositories are compatible with Mint and thus you can install any application you want from the repositories.
Fortune is installed by default and displays humorous quotes every time you open a terminal. Fortune cookies are great fun, but not many distributions include them by default (the only other distribution which I know is Slackware)
As part of Mint mission statement, it is supposed to provide better out of box experience to the user and it does the same to some extent. I was able to play windows media file, MP3 file and DVDs. Flash was also enabled for web surfing. Only missing point was that my sound card was not configured properly.
Beryl is installed, which you can easily configure. For me the default driver loaded was ati and not radeon and thus I had initial problems with beryl. Once the driver was changed to radeon beryl worked great. Beryl came up with default red window borders which was inconsistent with the generic green theme.
Linux Mint Xfce requires some polishing, and in doing so it should stop mimicking gnome. It also requires lot more applications out of the box.
Linux Mint is a good distribution but I was really disappointed by the Xfce edition. There are a lot other Xfce based distributions which are far more superior to Mint. I would like to just wait and see Linux Mint Xfce edition getting polished.