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Questions about Linux Mint

Postby luckylinux on Mon Mar 03, 2014 5:55 am

I only recently became aware of such popular GNU/Linux distribution and I'm wondering if it would be a good fit for me.

Some background information
I started using GNU/Linux about 8 years ago and have gone through various distributions along the way, always finding some major issue that made me jump from one to another. Started with Fedora (FC6) but was slow installing packages. Then went to Ubuntu but every dist-upgrade would mean formatting and reinstalling (Ubuntu wanted to uninstall EVERYTHING including base packages, dpkg, apt, bash, ...). Then to Debian stable and then testing but was quite disappoined. Even nowadays I use Debian stable but just because it is the least-bad distro in terms of breaking. Debian testing means package updates sometimes get stuck, sometimes they broke stuff, ...

Then to Gentoo where dist-upgrade didn't cause any issue but every install was a real pain. Just to unmask all package dependencies by hand was a no go (some hours lost) and the autounmask command doesn't really inspire me (how can I control what it does?). Recently after my frustation with Debian I tried Gentoo again: spent 3 weeks trying to make it boot and when it finally did there was a sort-of-kernel panic without any debugging message or log available. Again disappointed.

I even tried Archlinux along the way (very good documentation by the way) although sometimes stuff breaks and if you don't update very often it is surely going to break.

Sorry for this long digression but it will help me explain what I look in Linux Mint.

Now to the questions
1) Is Linux Mint upgradable? I know you can dist-upgrade to a new Linux Mint release. The question is: will it break stuff? Every single Ubuntu dist-upgrade I ran would either totally break the system or even deinstall it (with no option left than to recovery important data and then reformat). Is Linux Mint more upgrade-friendly?

2) LDME doesn't receive security updates from one update pack to the other. Does Linux Mint get these updates? Only security updates or even "features" updates for packages?

3) Is there the possibility to build your own packages for Linux Mint if they are not available? How difficult would that be? I once tried that with Debian and it wasn't too bad, although there are various howtos on the net (some good ones, others very bad)

4) What would Linux Mint offer that Debian or Gentoo doesn't? What would it lack?


Thank you for anyone wishing to help me in this decision.
I already tried to install LDME and Linux Mint in a Virtualbox and was pleasantly surprised by how fast and clean the installation was.
Some aspects would however take too much time which is why I'd prefer an answer from you.
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Re: Questions about Linux Mint

Postby Snoot on Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:45 am

1# It is possible to upgrade from previous version to the next one up such as going from 14 to 15. There are numerous guides on how to do it safely and effectively on google.

#2 Security measures for Linux mint, there is a built in firewall plus the option for AppArmor, GrSecurity and SELinux, and ontop of that more security applications and measures which can be found through the repositories and on the community sites for Mint and Ubuntu.

#3 Yes you can build packages for mint and help for this topic can be found here. viewforum.php?f=31

#4 Well compared to gentoo and debian, mint is a more 'built up' linux distro derived from Debian. Gentoo is a good starting area for building your own distro. This is because Gentoo compiles everything to ensure optimization. That being said you can do the same with Mint. It is a philosphy on peoples approaches to different distro in my opinion. Other things which can be different can be the packaging system, desktop and window managers.

Conclusion: Different distros offer different starting points.
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Re: Questions about Linux Mint

Postby xenopeek on Mon Mar 03, 2014 12:46 pm

I don't fully agree with that, though you make some good points.

1) Linux Mint doesn't officially support in-place upgrading like Ubuntu does, nor is it recommended you do that. Linux Mint uses Ubuntu as a package base, so any problems you had on Ubuntu with that you are likely to experience also on Linux Mint--as it is the user's behavior that primarily determine whether there are problems with in-place upgrading or not (some users don't install any additional programs, don't customize anything, don't install anything from outside the default repositories, don't meddle with system directories; other users do--you can guess who has the higher risk :wink:).

LMDE is a rolling release instead of a point release like Linux Mint. If you want to install only once, LMDE is a better choice.

2) LMDE does receive security upgrades in between UPs. For example, Firefox and Thunderbird are upgraded around the same time as on Linux Mint (sometimes a bit earlier, sometimes a bit later). Linux Mint gets security upgrades through its Ubuntu package base, as released by the Ubuntu security team. Security notices are here: http://www.ubuntu.com/usn/. Note that by default Linux Mint's Update Manager doesn't blindly install upgrades and by default holds some back that are deemed unsafe (as in, could bork your computer--like kernel and xorg upgrades). It's up to the user to choose the balance between stability and security (see Update Manager -> Edit -> Preferences).

3) Yes. Whether you are on Linux Mint or LMDE, just install the package build-essential and that will usually satisfy to let you compile programs from source. If you could manage it on Debian, you can manage it on Linux Mint and LMDE (Linux Mint uses Ubuntu as a package base, which in turn gets most of its packages from Debian; LMDE also gets most of its packages from Debian).

4) Linux Mint and LMDE both are intended to give you a smooth experience out-of-the-box. The installer has but a few steps, you'll find programs already installed for most common tasks, you can easily install new programs through Software Manager and apply security upgrades through Update Manager, and most multimedia content will play without you needing to find codecs or other additional software.
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Re: Questions about Linux Mint

Postby Monsta on Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:04 pm

xenopeek wrote:LMDE does receive security upgrades in between UPs. For example, Firefox and Thunderbird are upgraded around the same time as on Linux Mint (sometimes a bit earlier, sometimes a bit later).

I wouldn't count that as a security update. It's just the regularly issued new version of software. What can count as security updates are the flash player ones; but they are not issued very quickly - usually we have to report to Clem that it's time to pack a new flash player release.

But that's all about the Mint repo, packages.linuxmint.com. If we speak about the Update Packs themselves, there are no security updates. In fact, there are no any updates until another UP is released. Update Packs are static, still, frozen, set in stone. No out-of-band updates.
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Re: Questions about Linux Mint

Postby xenopeek on Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:20 pm

You might not think much of it, but getting new releases of Firefox and Thunderbird I consider a security upgrade. Especially Firefox. Mozilla includes security fixes in new releases of Firefox. That's the application most exposed to malware on the average LMDE install I think--so having that up to date with security fixes is from practical security perspective most important.
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Re: Questions about Linux Mint

Postby luckylinux on Tue Mar 04, 2014 5:37 am

Thank you all for the answers. It seems topic notification isn't enabled by default which is why I haven't replied until now.

Snoot wrote:#4 Well compared to gentoo and debian, mint is a more 'built up' linux distro derived from Debian. Gentoo is a good starting area for building your own distro. This is because Gentoo compiles everything to ensure optimization. That being said you can do the same with Mint. It is a philosphy on peoples approaches to different distro in my opinion. Other things which can be different can be the packaging system, desktop and window managers.

What do you mean exactly?

Snoot wrote:#3 Yes you can build packages for mint and help for this topic can be found here. viewforum.php?f=31

Thank you for the link. Very informative :D

xenopeek wrote:1) Linux Mint doesn't officially support in-place upgrading like Ubuntu does, nor is it recommended you do that. Linux Mint uses Ubuntu as a package base, so any problems you had on Ubuntu with that you are likely to experience also on Linux Mint--as it is the user's behavior that primarily determine whether there are problems with in-place upgrading or not (some users don't install any additional programs, don't customize anything, don't install anything from outside the default repositories, don't meddle with system directories; other users do--you can guess who has the higher risk :wink:).

I don't remember if I used custom repositories in ubuntu or not. All I remember are screw ups during dist-upgrades ...
Debian (stable / testing) with custom repositories is **sometimes** a recepy for disaster (not only dist-upgrades but also updates).

xenopeek wrote:2) LMDE does receive security upgrades in between UPs. For example, Firefox and Thunderbird are upgraded around the same time as on Linux Mint (sometimes a bit earlier, sometimes a bit later). Linux Mint gets security upgrades through its Ubuntu package base, as released by the Ubuntu security team. Security notices are here: http://www.ubuntu.com/usn/. Note that by default Linux Mint's Update Manager doesn't blindly install upgrades and by default holds some back that are deemed unsafe (as in, could bork your computer--like kernel and xorg upgrades). It's up to the user to choose the balance between stability and security (see Update Manager -> Edit -> Preferences).

So unless it is fixed upstream (Firefox / Thunderbird / Flash / ...), no security update is provided. And even then it takes quite a while, right?


Thank you again for your help.
I'm still trying to decide if I should install Mint/LDME, Debian Testing or Gentoo (Stable or probably Testing). Gentoo compile time is secondary because I could setup a build server in my LAN to do the "dirty work". What matters most to me is stability in updates / upgrades. Also some recent version of softwares (not so old such as Debian stable for instance).
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Re: Questions about Linux Mint

Postby xenopeek on Tue Mar 04, 2014 7:55 am

Moved here as you're opening the floor for considering other distros.
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Re: Questions about Linux Mint

Postby Snoot on Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:32 am

Snoot wrote:#4 Well compared to gentoo and debian, mint is a more 'built up' linux distro derived from Debian. Gentoo is a good starting area for building your own distro. This is because Gentoo compiles everything to ensure optimization. That being said you can do the same with Mint. It is a philosphy on peoples approaches to different distro in my opinion. Other things which can be different can be the packaging system, desktop and window managers.

What do you mean exactly?
.


What I mean by this is that Linux Mint from my own view is more on the 'out of the box' approach, where you can boot it up and you have general packages to meet the needs of a large group of people. Compared to Arch or Gentoo where you will have to be more hands on and install the packages and such to your desired needs.

However you can remove packages that you don't want and personalize and tailor mint it to your specific needs.

If you were looking to make your own Distro of linux you would be looking at different areas to begin such as Arch because it has a quite basic install and then you can install packages to what you would like. Or you have the chance to use Gentoo and optimize it to your sole computer.
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Re: Questions about Linux Mint

Postby skywolfblue on Wed Mar 05, 2014 3:05 pm

Another distro you might want to consider may be http://solydxk.com/.

I've heard good things about it, people are saying it's very similar to LMDE. I'm interested in trying it myself as soon as they add support for GPT/UEFI.
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