I started my Mint adventure with Mint 10 Julia. It worked faster than Ubuntu, had some nice themes preinstalled. Then Unity appeared in Ubuntu and GNOME2 + Compiz were broken beyond repair. Then Katya was released, broken to being unusable for me. So I tried LMDE. First it didn't work very good, but after some hacking it started to work better than any Ubuntu or Mint before.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but LMDE seems to be Debian testing with Mint GUI installer and some nice tools like updater. Of course I tried to use Debian unstable repo and it broke my LMDE completely, I chose to format disk, reinstall all and do not ever try this thing again But things have changed. First updater was replaced with updater-debian. There was more and more Debian in my LMDE, or at least that's what I thought. So, about a week ago I upgraded my repo to unstable. And surprise! It works. So I disabled testing repo. Guest what - it still works, no broken packages. I install upgrades everyday.
That makes me think: why Mint/LMDE? Since GNOME 3 I don't use Mint artwork. GNOME 3 has its own updater (I couldn't make it work though).
What exactly sits in LMDE which is not available in pure Debian?
Recently I replaced some packages. First: libpixman-1-0 0.20.2-ubuntu1 with 0.22.2-1. This held xserver-xorg-core upgrade. I lost fglrx. But new open ati driver is quite usable. Slower, but works.
Then I replaced fontconfig 2.8.0-2-1ubuntu3 with 2.8.0-3. Then fontconfig-config and libfontconfig1. I cannot take it back. Apt wants to uninstall most of installed packages with downgrade. So - it has to stay.
I noticed small change in font rendering. It's less smooth, looks more like in Windows 7. But hinting slight and medium now looks usable, before they had color artifacts, and the only usable setting was full hinting.
I'm curious - how Debian and LMDE differ? What problems would I face if I tried to install regular Debian instead? I've heard Debian had problems with font rendering, and Ubuntu was the first Linux where fonts looked good from the start. Is it still true or not? What was the magic trick with fonts?