LM's intentions and philosophy: some questions

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LM's intentions and philosophy: some questions

Postby Gremuchnik on Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:33 pm


Before I ask my questions, I would like to say a few short words of where I am coming from and why I ask these questions.

I am one of the many Ubuntu-refugees which recently dumped Ubuntu in disgust and switched to Mint. Why? Well, the usual list of reasons. Bradely Kuhn does a superb job listing my gripes with Ubuntu so I will just post a link to his post about this on his blog. I will just add to this that Unity is an abomination and that the first time I saw it I had something very close to a fit of rage. When I dumped Ubuntu I decided to see what "Ubuntu done right" was and I installed Mint. Frankly, I was amazed at how beautiful Mint was, how intelligent the Mint update management system was and, frankly, how helpful the Mint community on the IRC was. Even though I came in rather skeptical I had to admit that Mint was, indeed, Ubuntu done right, and even better.

Next to Mint, I also put Debian-testing and Xubuntu one some of my boxes. Debian-testing is fantastic, and Xubuntu is very elegant (and XFCE is a sane desktop, unlike Unity). So far, I have to say that I love Debian-testing and Linux Mint most, with Xubuntu a close 2nd. What can I say, I love(d) GNOME2.x (not so sure about GNOME3.x which I have not tried yet). Okay, now my questions:

a) What is the Linux Mint main edition position on Ubuntu's Software Center which, as you no doubt know, now prominently features for $$$$ applications? Will LM also include for $$$$ applications in its Software Center?

b) What will LM do with GNOME3? It is customizable enough that it can be returned to sanity or is G3 inherently too Unity-like and, in this case, what will LM choose as its desktop?

c) LM is purely community driven. But Ubuntu, upon LM is based, is heavily corporation-controlled and profit-centered. There is a LMDE which I am looking closely into, but what about LM Main Edition. How long can a purely community run distro be based on a quasi purely corporate run distro?

d) Linux Mint does not, as far as I know, have a Social Contract like Debian. Yet LMDE is Debian-based. Is there some kind of commitment form the LMDE developer and maintainers to the Debian Social Contract and Free Software Guidelines?

e) The LM FAQ says:"We like Software in general, Free Software even more, but we do not believe in boycotting Proprietary Software" and I have no problem with that. Still, after being "burned" by my experience with Ubuntu, I guess I am trying to get some reassurances that Mint will not go down the "Ubuntu way" and end up being driven by purely commercial considerations. Can I hope that LM will remain a distro "for and by the community" and not be "infected" by Ubuntu's recent collapse into the corporate mindset?

Please do not flame me for asking these questions. As I said, I got "burned" with Ubuntu and while I do love Mint, I am nervous about its dependence on Ubuntu. I am thinking of installing Linux Mint on all my boxes (13 computers), but I guess I want to make sure that I will not have to go for another massive disappointment like I did with Ubuntu.

BTW - I know I could go with Debian or Debian-testing (which I love). The thing is that I really like Linux Mint and, in particular, its very sophisticated approach towards updates. Also, Mint is elegant, beautifully configured. Sure, Debian rocks, and value-wise I am a 100% "Debianista" and I will always keep my own, personal, box on Debian-testing. But for non-geeks like the rest of my family, or for its sheer beauty and intelligent design, Mint is probably a better choice. Besides, its just *beautiful*.

Anyway, thanks for all your questions and patience with a maybe naive newcomer to Mint.

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Re: LM's intentions and philosophy: some questions

Postby tdockery97 on Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:27 pm

Welcome to Linux Mint Gremuchnik. An excerpt from Clem's latest blog post should answer your questions in regards to Gnome on Linux Mint:

"Linux Mint 12 “Lisa” will be released in November this year with continued support for Gnome 2 but also with the introduction of Gnome 3. The radical changes introduced by the Gnome project split the community. At the time of releasing Linux Mint 11 we decided it was too early to adopt Gnome 3. This time around, the decision isn’t as simple. Gnome 3.2 is more mature and we can see the potential of this new desktop and use it to implement something that can look and behave better than anything based on Gnome 2. Of course, we’re starting from scratch and this process will take time and span across multiple releases. Until then, it’s important we continue to support the traditional Gnome 2 desktop. We’re likely to release two separate editions, one for Gnome 2.32 and one for Gnome 3.2. We’re also working in cooperation with the MATE project (which is a fork of Gnome 2) at the moment to see if we can make both desktops compatible in an effort to let you run both Gnome 2 (or MATE) and Gnome 3 on the same system, either in Linux Mint 12, or for the future."

So the only uncertainty is in how the Gnome 2 experience will be provided; whether regular Gnome 2.32, MATE, or the Gnome 3 Fallback (same as Gnome Classic in Ubuntu) tweaked to provide the identical experience as Gnome 2.32.

I for one can attest to the fact that the latter is possible. I have installed Ubuntu 11.10, and my desktop is every bit as usable as Gnome 2.32 after doing some "tweakage". Whichever way he chooses, you can bet that Clem will provide a release that the Mint Community will be happy with. He hasn't failed us yet.
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Re: LM's intentions and philosophy: some questions

Postby conslie on Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:00 am

You might get some feel for the direction of and values behind Mint by listening to an interview with Clem Lefebvre in this MintCast: http://www.mintcast.org/2011/01/episode-50-interview-with-clem-lefebvre/

My sense of things is that more of the Mint releases are being based directly on Debian, and fewer of them indirectly through Ubuntu. Try both LMDE with Gnome and Mint 11- Katya. Hard to tell the difference without looking under the hood.

What is now being done with LMDE is to pre-test new updates to the Debian repos for compatibility and breakage, and then pass them on, or not, after both checking within the LMDE user base (those who volunteer to take and test the new updates) and monitoring Debian bug reports, in monthly updates rather than immediately. Ubuntu was once relied on to do this sort of error checking as well as providing its own modifications. LMDE, in my rather limited experience thus far, does everything as well and even seems a bit faster. I can certainly see there being a point at which the Mint project can provide the advantages thus far provided by forking off Ubuntu directly via Debian.
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Re: LM's intentions and philosophy: some questions

Postby Gremuchnik on Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:12 pm

@tdockery97: first, thanks for your welcome. I have to tell you that while I really hate Unity, I have much less concerns about GNOME3, if only because the GNOME project, unlike Canonical, is responsive to the community as shown by the rapid pace of improvements made between GNOME3.0 and GNOME3.2. If you tell me that on top of that, the Mint team will tweak as much as needed, and include features of GNOME 2.32, MATE, and the GNOME 3 Fallback I am fully reassured on that aspect.

@conslie: thanks for the URL to Clem Lefebvre's interview which I will listen to this afternoon with great interest. Also, I think I will install LMDE.

I am not sure I understand one thing: will it be possible to install, say, LMDE and have a choice of *both* GNOME2.32 and GNOME3.2 at login (alongside other desktop managers like LMDE, XFCE or OpenBox?).

My main concerns with Mint are not really of a technical nature. What I want to be certain of is that Mint will not "do an Ubuntu" on its community, in particular by suddenly prioritizing commercial interests. I actually don't mind paying for software at all, but when I see how Ubuntu's Software Center now pimps only for $$$ applications as "featured" I feel a deep sense of disgust and rage: the flagship of all Linux distros is suddenly turning into a pathetic copy of Linspire (anybody remember these jokers?). I guess what I am really saying is that I would really like to hear some reassurances that Linux Mint will remain 100% 'corporate-free' :)

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