Great Vision, Great prospects, but losing some it somewhere in the crowd.
Mint Linux is a buntu derivative. According to the project website; "Linux Mint's purpose is to produce an elegant, up to date and comfortable GNU/Linux desktop distribution". Mint Linux is currently ranked #6, on distrowatch. Celena (codename for Linux Mint 3.1) boasts about mintAssistant, mintUpload, proprietary drivers, plug-ins, stability, performance and usability.
My workstation is a dual core 3.4 GHz intel processor, with 4 Gig RAM and 512 MB Nvidia 7950 graphics card. I have a 19" wide screen monitors which supports 1440x900@75Hz.
Like Ubuntu, mint offers a live CD environment where you can see how the distribution works on your computer before actually installing it. On my machine live CD booted at 1280x1024@60Hz instead of native 1440x900@75Hz. The live CD environment seemed too slow to me. The new artwork introduced with Celena was with black theme and looked nice.
One point I would like to mention is about the drivers. Mint boasts about proprietary drivers but nvidia graphics drivers are missing from the selection. Module nv was configured for my nvidia graphics card and thus native 3D support was missing. I tried to manually change the driver in xorg.conf, but xorg refused to start because nvidia module was not installed. Finally I have to manually install proprietary drivers for nvidia. This is somethings that needs to be looked at by the distribution developers
The installer is the same 6 step installer used by Ubuntu. And I personally feel that the installer is bloatted and does unnecessary operation that seem to make you feel that your computer is slow and outdated. But this is rant is directed to Ubuntu instead of Mint.
The installation process is fast took around 15 minutes to finish and comparatively fast. On first boot user is shown mintAssistant.
I was really exited about it but was greatly disappointed . The number of configurations for a new machine are enormous but only three options are provided by mintAssistant, namely root password, disk configuration and fortune. I feel that all these options are extremely irrelevant. sudo is far better, nobody cares how the disks are managed (as long as they see the contents) and fortune is stress reliever.
I really liked the earlier blue theme found in Mint. But now with new black wallpaper and green logo, I feel really bad about the looks. Its good to stick to two colors at max, otherwise the theme feels disconnected.
The first thing to notice is custom application launcher. The launcher is well organized and easy to use.
Being a single CD installation distribution, the application set is limited and oriented to a desktop user. Tomboy notes is a noticeable addition to Accessories. Gimp is present for image manipulation. The latest version of firefox, thunderbird, sunbird, pidgin, java runtime are installed by default. Open Office version installed is the outdated 2.2.0. instead of 2.2.1 or latest 2.3.0.
Multimedia I was able to watch videos, DVDs. and listen to music.
Both Beryl and Compiz are installed be default, leading for more confusion for a novice. come on guys even beryl and compiz agreed to merge back why are we still having them differently in Mint?
The default configuration for xorg crashes beryl and you have to manually edit xorg.conf to add special parameters in order to make beryl work. I think it will be long time before we actually see a distribution with runs beryl/compiz out of box.
Version 3.1 is supposed to be minor update over 3.0, but even the kernel remains the same. With gibbon around the corner users would have been more happy with a new version based on gutsy. The changes made in Celena do no warrant a new version. Why does mint need to frequent releases? Have a better release plan for Mint. Mint needs more focused efforts.
I have to admit that Mint is one of the most beginner friendly distribution out there. It is the only distribution that I installed on my dad's machine and he is really happy with it.
But with the current release I feel that Mint is getting derailed. It is emphasizing on frivolous decorations instead on usability. Mint has a great vision and have fulfilled it so far; it reached the distrowatch top ten. It just need to make sure that good work continues.