LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Discuss non-support related topics related to LMDE.
Forum rules
Before you post please read this

LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby mmesantos1 on Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:37 am

Here is a good article with some interesting points to think about. Well enjoy the read. :)

Rolling in Mint

Linux Mint There are a lot of things I like about the Linux Mint distribution. One is that they aren't reinventing the wheel. Linux Mint is less an independent from-the-ground-up distro and has been more of the icing on the Ubuntu cake. It's changing (I think improving) the Ubuntu experience without starting over from scratch. Essentially this means that the Mint team is able to introduce new ideas and features to the user without wasting resources on the underlying base. Another point in its favour is that I can easily slap an install on a new computer in twenty minutes and have all the basics right there with no configuring, no tweaking and no adding extra repositories. It's really the pizza delivery to your door in under thirty minutes distro.

Some people like to make their own crust or hand-pick and chop all the toppings for that truly custom exactly-the-way-I-want-it feel, but if you want a good pizza and you want it now with no hassles, then Mint is a great choice. And it's not as if they just offer one option, they have a selection which includes GNOME, KDE, Xfce, LXDE, Fluxbox, OEM and no-non-free-software editions (in 32-bit or 64-bit releases). Apparently the developers (and the Mint community) have decided there need to be more shades of Hulk available and so the Mint team has put together Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE). Where other editions of Mint rest on the back of Ubuntu, LMDE pulls packages from Debian's Testing repository, making LMDE a rolling release distribution.

According to the Linux Mint website, LMDE is compatible with Debian, but not with Ubuntu, and represents an experiment in resting the Mint icing (I call it the Mint Layer) on other cakes, making Mint more independent. This being the first stage of the Debian experiment the only LMDE flavour available is a 32-bit GNOME DVD release. I grabbed the ISO off the project's web site and gave it a test drive.

Image

The live DVD, which weighs in at about 875 MB, starts out by booting through a short series of text screens that terminate in a green-themed GNOME desktop. There are some folder short-cuts on the desktop and a link to the system installer. The taskbar and application menu sit at the bottom of the screen. Generally I found the performance of the system to be good considering it was running from a live disc.

I tested "Mintian" on two physical machines and a virtual machine. LMDE performed well in each case, detecting and properly using all of my hardware on the desktop (2.5 GHz CPU, 2 GB of RAM, NVIDIA video card) and on my HP laptop (2 GHz dual-core CPU, 3 GB of RAM, Intel video card). My tricky Intel wireless card worked without any tweaking and everything functioned properly out of the proverbial box. In the VirtualBox environment Mint had smooth mouse integration. Encouraged by the live tests, I launched the installer.

Mint's installer for the Debian edition is a little different than the regular Mint installer. It has the same feel and goes through the same motions, but there are a few minor differences. After going through a preferred language screen, selecting a time zone and confirming my keyboard layout we come to the partitioning section. This screen seems to be the most changed from the regular Mint installer. Choosing to edit partitions causes GParted to launch. Once partitions are created, setting mount points is done by double-clicking on a partition entry. I would have preferred to have an obvious Edit Partition button, but this is the installer's début. No doubt, things will get polished as feedback is submitted. After that, we're back in familiar territory with creating a regular user account and confirming where (and if) we want GRUB installed. The installer copies over the required files and we're done. Rebooting brings us to a graphical login screen.

Image

The first time a user logs into their desktop a welcome window pops up greeting the user and providing links to the forums, the project's web site and various other useful items. The next thing I noticed was there were updates available for LMDE. In fact, two days after the release was announced, I found there were 280 updates waiting. The next day there were five more and the next work day there were another four... Rolling releases are not for the faint of bandwidth.

Actually the first torrent of updates took longer than expected because after starting the download, I walked away to do something else. When I came back I found after the updates had been fetched, the system had paused to confirm I actually wanted to install them all. There was another pause later to tell me GRUB was trying to update but couldn't figure out where it was supposed to be installed. A third pause for confirmation occurred before the update process was complete. After the first giant collection of packages, future updates were applied smoothly. I'm not sure if the GRUB issue was a result of a problem with the bootloader, the installer or something else, but I think the problem revolves around the system's UUIDs.

Image

The Linux Mint Debian Edition DVD comes with a well-rounded collection of software. Included in the application menu are Firefox 3.6.8, OpenOffice.org 3.2, Thunderbird, F-Spot, GIMP, Transmission, Pidgin and MPlayer. The user can also find a disc burner, archive manager, text editors, VLC, Rhythmbox, and all of the GNOME configuration tools. Additionally there are applications for configuring the firewall, programs for uploading or sharing files and GParted. Like the other members of its family, LMDE comes with codecs for playing popular multimedia file formats and the Flash browser plug-in. On my systems all of these worked well out of the box.

I was a little surprised to see Firefox and Thunderbird labelled as they were, and at the versions offered. The Debian team refers to their modified Firefox web browser as Iceweasel and the version available in Debian Testing is 3.5.12 at the time of writing. Likewise, the Icedove package in Debian Testing is at version 3.0 while LMDE's Thunderbird package is at version 3.1.1. So it appears the Mint team is pulling those items from their own repository instead of relying on Debian's packages.

On the topic of packages, LMDE uses the familiar APT family of programs to add, remove and upgrade software on the system. The distro also comes with the graphical front-ends - Synaptic and Software Manager. These two programs have very different feels to them. Synaptic has a lot of details and options available and is more suited to people familiar with how packages work on a Linux system. The Software Manager has a simplified interface which trades out some features in favour of being novice-friendly. I used both managers to add and remove programs and found they worked without any problems.

Image

Generally, I found LMDE's performance to be good. According to Mint's web site, they expect this edition to be a little faster than the main (Ubuntu-based) Mint edition; however, I didn't see much of a difference. Boot times were about the same for me whether I was using main Mint or the Debian flavour. Once on the desktop, performance and responsiveness were almost identical on my hardware. I did find LMDE to be light on resources. I performed some trial runs with different memory settings in a virtual environment and found LMDE would boot into a desktop smoothly with 512 MB of RAM. I could also login and run applications with 256 MB of memory, though performance suffered a bit. With a swap partition turned on I was able to boot into GNOME with 128 MB of RAM, though performance at that stage had degraded to the point of being unusable.

So, for me, performance wasn't really better or worse on LMDE compared to Mint's main edition. Which I feel brings up a question: if someone installed Linux Mint (main) and Linux Mint (Debian) on two similar computers and logged me into a desktop, would I be able to tell one from the other? Without doing things like checking the repository sources, I honestly don't think I could tell the difference. Both Mints have the same applications, they use the same themes and to me they felt the same. This shows, I feel, that the Mint team has accomplished their goal of making the Mint Layer distribution independent. They've demonstrated they can switch from one base to another if they see a need, giving them freedom to choose which platform best suits their ends.

I do have a concern about LMDE, or more specifically, its timing. The Debian edition has been released at a point where Debian's Testing repository is relatively quiet. Debian development is in a feature freeze right now where they're fixing bugs in preparation for their next stable release. During this period the Testing repository LMDE pulls from is going to be comparatively calm. Once Debian "Squeeze" gets out the door, if LMDE continues to track the Testing repository, the users are going to be hit with a flood of packages moving from Debian Unstable into Debian Testing. What seems like a stable system now is likely to become a rougher ride when that happens.

I think this is an impressive release as far as an initial test on a new platform is concerned. However, I do find myself wondering if the effort put into this project might serve a proportionally small group of users. There are three key points to LMDE: the Debian Testing repository, the Mint layer and it is a rolling release. I find myself thinking people who really enjoy Mint and don't want to perform re-installs are probably better served with Mint's main edition which comes with long term support. Users who are familiar enough with Debian to know they want to run Debian's Testing branch are probably comfortable installing plain Debian. People who use a rolling release because they want to constantly stay on the leading edge aren't going to find that in Debian Testing. My conclusion thus far is LMDE is for people who specifically want to run Debian Testing, but want to have everything pre-installed and configured for them. And if that is the case then Mint now appears to have the best solution available for those users.
Image
User avatar
mmesantos1
Level 8
Level 8
 
Posts: 2280
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:14 pm
Location: VA. USA

Linux Mint is funded by ads and donations.
 

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby dawgdoc on Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:02 am

I read that on Distrowatch before logging in here and finding your post. It seemed a favorable review and then I thought in his final analysis he dwfp -- damned with faint praise.
Image

SYSTEM: Compaq Presario CQ62 Dual-Boot: Mint 13 Gnome x32 PAE, LMDE
READING: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini
User avatar
dawgdoc
Level 9
Level 9
 
Posts: 2690
Joined: Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:53 am
Location: Kentucky, USA the land of Mint Juleps

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby secipolla on Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:11 am

Well, I actually just read the last paragraph...but he's quite mistaken. Because LMDE is a rolling release, the Mint tools for it will be also constantly improving (as long as LMDE exists, of course) and so for the first group (people that want Mint without having to reinstall) LMDE will be the choice. The LTS has its niche (like Ubuntu Hardy, for instance) like, as an example, if I install a Mint for someone that I know has to have the least work with updating the system (a very non-tech user). Then three years later someone helps the person to reinstall/upgrade.
secipolla
Level 4
Level 4
 
Posts: 356
Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:19 pm

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby Mike54 on Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:37 am

Overall, the article was well-written and worth the read. Nothing in this world is perfect, so why should expect perfection from LMDE? It's already working well enough in its unveiling release to convince people to give it a try. That gives me enough faith in Clem, Ikey, et al, to stick with it for the long haul.
Image
User avatar
Mike54
Level 1
Level 1
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Fri Jun 25, 2010 6:12 am
Location: Lafayette, Indiana U.S.A.

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby mmesantos1 on Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:37 am

dawgdoc wrote:I read that on Distrowatch before logging in here and finding your post. It seemed a favorable review and then I thought in his final analysis he dwfp -- damned with faint praise.


I got the same feeling dawgdoc, it sounded like it was going to be a great review then in the end of the article it sounds as if he is saying LMDE is for a small niche of users. I do not agree with him but still an interesting read from another perspective. :)
Image
User avatar
mmesantos1
Level 8
Level 8
 
Posts: 2280
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:14 pm
Location: VA. USA

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby gotjazz on Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:19 am

Well for some part I doo agree with the review - I am about to say goodbye to an ubuntu base but I really have to think long and hard atm if the updated mint installer is worth the wait (need to have a home partition on another dirve altogether) compared to just grabbing a debian testing netinst iso, install a minimal system with gnome-core etc and everything else as soon as I need it and be done with it. Don't get me wrong - I love LMDE and I'd love to see where it's heading but I really want to move over from my distrohopping partition soon.
On the other hand the reviewer really really downplayed the performance differences. I mean come on! the memory footprint is like HALF! of ubuntu.
Image
User avatar
gotjazz
Level 4
Level 4
 
Posts: 386
Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 11:38 am
Location: Vienna, Austria

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby DrHu on Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:33 am

mmesantos1 wrote:Once Debian "Squeeze" gets out the door, if LMDE continues to track the Testing repository, the users are going to be hit with a flood of packages moving from Debian Unstable into Debian Testing. What seems like a stable system now is likely to become a rougher ride when that happens.
...What seems like a stable system now is likely to become a rougher ride..
A rougher ride, yes
--but not a tragedy

I don't think that is quite the problem the reviewer makes out
    Even for a straight up Debian installation
    --have only had one system bork due to a rolling update when using Debian
mmesantos1 wrote:People who use a rolling release because they want to constantly stay on the leading edge aren't going to find that in Debian Testing
..rolling release because they want to constantly stay on the leading edge
Of course, for such people, that could be a reason..

I have the feeling that will not be the reason for the majority to use a rolling release
    No fresh OS installations.
    --that seems to be the better reason
Overall, a good overview
--applauding Lmde for its result.
User avatar
DrHu
Level 16
Level 16
 
Posts: 6796
Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:20 pm

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby MALsPa on Mon Sep 20, 2010 10:42 am

Re: the last paragraph, the review might be making some good points there.

But I would hesitate to fully agree with the reviewer about which groups of people LMDE would be best for. I could see myself, down the road, switching from Mint LTS to LMDE, but keeping my other main distros -- Mepis, Debian Stable, Ubuntu LTS, and PCLOS -- installed.

The whole rolling release thing is no big deal to me. Seems that I normally go a few years between fresh installations of any distro anyway (in the case of Mepis, not less than a year between fresh installs). I never bought into Ubuntu's (or Mint's) six-month release cycle. I've just stayed with the LTS versions.

I'm just happy to see something else out there that has a quick and easy installation, is Debian-based, and uses Debian repos. Personally I'm still hoping to see someone put something else out there that does all those things but that's based on Debian Stable, like Mepis.
User avatar
MALsPa
Level 8
Level 8
 
Posts: 2030
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:17 pm
Location: albuquerque

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby mmesantos1 on Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:37 am

@DrHu, you seem to be very knowledgeable with Linux in general so I have a question if I may? I was wondering what you have seen update wise once the freeze is lifted and they start to send over what was once Unstable into testing? What amount of regression or breakage could we expect if any? I am going on the assumption that you have run Debian Testing for a time and had a chance to see first hand what can take place. Also I understand this can be a tough question since cases will very depending on the hardware the user has and if any customizations were done to say source.lists and so on. I would like to thank you in advance for you reply to my question.
Image
User avatar
mmesantos1
Level 8
Level 8
 
Posts: 2280
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:14 pm
Location: VA. USA

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby dawgdoc on Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:19 pm

mmesantos1 wrote:...once the freeze is lifted and they start to send over what was once Unstable into testing? What amount of regression or breakage could we expect if any?


well, I'm not DrHu and I haven't used a straight Debian release, but I saw where
hinto wrote:I've been using 64 bit (unstable) exclusively for 6 years and the only times it hiccuped was: 1) an earlier NVIDIA driver + xorg7 (resolved by using vesa for about 2 weeks) and 2) KDE3 to KDE4 (resolved by using Gnome until now)

This does not address exactly what you asked, it is not talking of the changes to testing after a stable release, but it does seem to indicate that there are issues only infrequently.
Image

SYSTEM: Compaq Presario CQ62 Dual-Boot: Mint 13 Gnome x32 PAE, LMDE
READING: The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini
User avatar
dawgdoc
Level 9
Level 9
 
Posts: 2690
Joined: Mon Oct 05, 2009 12:53 am
Location: Kentucky, USA the land of Mint Juleps

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby MALsPa on Mon Sep 20, 2010 1:06 pm

mmesantos1 wrote:@DrHu, you seem to be very knowledgeable with Linux in general so I have a question if I may? I was wondering what you have seen update wise once the freeze is lifted and they start to send over what was once Unstable into testing? What amount of regression or breakage could we expect if any? I am going on the assumption that you have run Debian Testing for a time and had a chance to see first hand what can take place. Also I understand this can be a tough question since cases will very depending on the hardware the user has and if any customizations were done to say source.lists and so on. I would like to thank you in advance for you reply to my question.


I'll be interested to see DrHu's answer. I've seen quite a few comments indicating that having LMDE based on Testing could be problematic. A friend of mine who's been running test for a few years told me that he hasn't run into a lot of problems, but the problems he's run into have been big ones -- "...caused by major changes in Xorg, Grub and a few other things -- things that probably would have left new users dead in the water."
User avatar
MALsPa
Level 8
Level 8
 
Posts: 2030
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:17 pm
Location: albuquerque

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby mmesantos1 on Mon Sep 20, 2010 1:55 pm

MALsPa wrote:
mmesantos1 wrote:@DrHu, you seem to be very knowledgeable with Linux in general so I have a question if I may? I was wondering what you have seen update wise once the freeze is lifted and they start to send over what was once Unstable into testing? What amount of regression or breakage could we expect if any? I am going on the assumption that you have run Debian Testing for a time and had a chance to see first hand what can take place. Also I understand this can be a tough question since cases will very depending on the hardware the user has and if any customizations were done to say source.lists and so on. I would like to thank you in advance for you reply to my question.


I'll be interested to see DrHu's answer. I've seen quite a few comments indicating that having LMDE based on Testing could be problematic. A friend of mine who's been running test for a few years told me that he hasn't run into a lot of problems, but the problems he's run into have been big ones -- "...caused by major changes in Xorg, Grub and a few other things -- things that probably would have left new users dead in the water."


I have had small issues when updating the kernel and xorg but easy enough to fix so far. Ya DrHu seems to have some knowledge that could benefit others so I am interested to see what he has to say as well. :)
Image
User avatar
mmesantos1
Level 8
Level 8
 
Posts: 2280
Joined: Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:14 pm
Location: VA. USA

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby axel668 on Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:50 am

That reviewer is pretty short- sighted, if you ask me ... I'm optimistic, that in the near future (Mint 11 timeframe, maybe) we will have LMDE "LTS" based on Debian Stable to accompany the current, rolling LMDE release, that everyone will use happily at home.
“A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila” (Mitch Ratcliffe)
User avatar
axel668
Level 3
Level 3
 
Posts: 183
Joined: Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:56 am

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby MALsPa on Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:26 am

axel668 wrote:That reviewer is pretty short- sighted, if you ask me ... I'm optimistic, that in the near future (Mint 11 timeframe, maybe) we will have LMDE "LTS" based on Debian Stable to accompany the current, rolling LMDE release, that everyone will use happily at home.


I think that would be a nice idea for an LTS version.

But, check out The Linux Mint Blog for Clem's reply to Steve Rosenberg's question about this:

Steve said: “I wonder if the Mint team’s next move will be a distribution based on Debian Stable (though it looks like you can easily make your Mint Debian install stick with Squeeze rather than post-Squeeze Testing).”

–> No. The choice is already here for LMDE users. If they want stability, they can switch from Testing to Squeeze and find themselves on Stable using the exact same system.
User avatar
MALsPa
Level 8
Level 8
 
Posts: 2030
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:17 pm
Location: albuquerque

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby tdockery97 on Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:29 am

From the review above:
I do have a concern about LMDE, or more specifically, its timing. The Debian edition has been bian's Testing repository is relatively quiet. Debian development is in a feature freeze right now where they're fixing bugs in preparation for their next stable release. During this period the Testing repository LMDE pulls from is going to be comparatively calm. Once Debian "Squeeze" gets out the door, if LMDE continues to track the Testing repository, the users are going to be hit with a flood of packages moving from Debian Unstable into Debian Testing. What seems like a stable system now is likely to become a rougher ride when that happens.

Those of us who have been using Mint for very long know exactly what to expect. We ARE running in the equivalent of Debian Testing. I just checked my Isadora which I haven't used in about 2 weeks since I installed LMDE. There are 19 updates waiting to be applied. We are already used to getting numerous updates per week. So what will be so different between Debian Testing opening the "floodgates" and what we have already become accustomed to? I'm not the least bit concerned. Nothing will happen we can't fix. And if it should, I run Clonezilla every 2 weeks so I'm covered. :D
Image

HP Pavilion 17 Notebook, 8GB DDR3, 2.5GHZ A10-APU, Radeon HD 8650G
User avatar
tdockery97
Level 13
Level 13
 
Posts: 4880
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:54 am
Location: Salem, Oregon

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby MALsPa on Tue Sep 21, 2010 5:39 am

tdockery97 wrote:Those of us who have been using Mint for very long know exactly what to expect.


For new users, who Mint has traditionally catered to, a different story, perhaps.
User avatar
MALsPa
Level 8
Level 8
 
Posts: 2030
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:17 pm
Location: albuquerque

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby tdockery97 on Tue Sep 21, 2010 6:02 am

MALsPa wrote:
tdockery97 wrote:Those of us who have been using Mint for very long know exactly what to expect.


For new users, who Mint has traditionally catered to, a different story, perhaps.

Point well taken.
Image

HP Pavilion 17 Notebook, 8GB DDR3, 2.5GHZ A10-APU, Radeon HD 8650G
User avatar
tdockery97
Level 13
Level 13
 
Posts: 4880
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:54 am
Location: Salem, Oregon

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby zerozero on Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:37 am

About stability or its lack and the possibility of major breakages:

I have no experience in Debian (so I don't know how thinks are handled there), but in more than one year running an enchantment of Cooker, I can tell you that breakages can and do happen.
When did it happen to me?
- In major updates of the DE, several times I had to update using the switch --keep either in KDE or GNOME to avoid break them (right now XFCE is broken, been updated to 4.7.x)
- Drastic updates in core libraries (in Mandriva, Perl is a stone-base of all its specific tolls, having Perl broken and for that reason the Control Center unusable it's a PITA.
- Mesa and Xorg updates can cause regressions. I remember once one Mesa update that didn't went well with Intel Graphics cards.

But,
1 Mandriva has a fall-back DE (iceWM) to rescue you when everything else goes wrong,
2 Cooker is probably as cutting edge as Unstable, if not more.
Image

[ bliss of ignorance ]
zerozero
Level 16
Level 16
 
Posts: 6477
Joined: Tue Jul 07, 2009 2:29 pm

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby tdockery97 on Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:00 am

zerozero wrote:2 Cooker is probably as cutting edge as Unstable, if not more.

And from my point of view that is the difference. Testing is halfway between unstable and stable. It is cutting edge but with the most serious bugs not always, but usually squashed. After all, Testing's next step is Stable. If the criteria for Stable was that nothing could ever break or have bugs, nothing would ever make it to Stable. Just like the Mint process. Ubuntu takes Sid and works on the bugs. Mint devs do their best to eliminate bugs that have been missed or ignored, and you have the Mint final release. But even our final does not ignore improvements in packages and we continue to get updated versions of almost everything, so we are pretty much always in what Debian would call Testing.
Image

HP Pavilion 17 Notebook, 8GB DDR3, 2.5GHZ A10-APU, Radeon HD 8650G
User avatar
tdockery97
Level 13
Level 13
 
Posts: 4880
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 8:54 am
Location: Salem, Oregon

Re: LMDE Review from Distrowatch

Postby MALsPa on Tue Sep 21, 2010 9:31 am

I think a big difference between LMDE and Debian Testing is that you can download weekly build CDs for the latter, right? So you might not be faced with hundreds of updates right from the start, if what I'm thinking is correct.
User avatar
MALsPa
Level 8
Level 8
 
Posts: 2030
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:17 pm
Location: albuquerque

Linux Mint is funded by ads and donations.
 
Next

Return to Open Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests