Is /etc/hosts supposed to be missing in LMDE?
For example, "ping localhost" says "unknown host localhost", which doesn't seem healthy.
Should I just add it manually, run some configuration script(s) or renistall the whole OS?
I suspect the installation didn't complete correctly: I installed linuxmint-201303-mate-dvd-32bit-rc in the advanced partition mode (to keep my old /home partition) and towards the end of the installation process, after it asked me to edit /etc/fstab, there was a greyed out Forward button so I had to click the window close button. After clicking it the system just booted (...into Grub recovery console from which I had to manually boot the system and re-install grub).