The question "what is LMDE" might sound stupid, but I couldn't come up with anything better. It is simply not very clear to me what exactly LMDE is, and how and in which context you would use it.
To give you some background... I am basically a long time Debian user. I am a pretty advanced user in the sense that I normally use Debian Testing, with extra packages from Debian Unstable and Debian Experimental (and external packages from for example deb-multimedia.org) with a specific configuration in an apt preferences file.
Lately however, I'm not very happy with my linux "desktop" anymore. Personally I think the linux desktop was in a better state several years back around 2007 or something like that. Either way: I have never used KDE.. it just doesn't "click" with me, I've used Gnome2 for a long time, but also things like e16, e17 and XFCE. I also checked Gnome3 and Unity, but none of those I like. I've tried Cinnamon which is included in Debian Testing now, and even though I think it's not bad... it still seems a bit buggy. I am really looking for a nice integrated desktop environment, that just works. I've spent lots of time messing around with linux systems, but nowadays I just wanna have a system that "just works". (Even though it's hard for me to not look under the covers and get annoyed about certain things I don't like..
In that context, I first tried a livecd from Ubuntu: I think it's a nice system, but I really don't like the Unity interface. Next I tried the livecds from Linux Mint (the Linux Mint 14 and the LMDE one), and I think Linux Mint is pretty nice. I really do like the MATE environment, based on Gnome2. It's nothing really fancy, but it's looking good, and it just works. Since I have a lot of experience with Debian, LMDE seemed like the edition to go for.
From the description on the main Linux Mint page, it says that LMDE is a rolling distro based on debian testing. That looks like the perfect thing for me: I was already using Debian Testing... now I get Debian Testing with a nice integrated desktop environment. The first difficulty was trying to find how I can install LMDE on my hard drive. Once you know, it's easy, but if you don't know you have to be looking for something like "install to hard disk" it's pretty hard... it doesn't mention this anywhere on the website for as far as i could see. Ok, then I got it installed. But then I notice that it is not really using plain Debian Testing: from reading on the forums it seems that at some point it was decided to build in some kind of "buffer" for the debian testing packages, to ensure a more stable LMDE, a "more stable" and a bit less "rolling" release with the use of Update Packs. Then with that system in place, another feature was added: the difference between "incoming" and "latest", with "incoming" some kind of beta channel for the Update Packs so that they can be finished and polished before releasing them in the "latest" channel. And when one goes reading even more in the forums... it also seems a lot of people are combining the linux mint repositories with the official debian testing, unstable and experimental repositories.
So, I'm a bit confused.... at first I thought to just use the Linux Mint package repositories, but it seems those repositories do not contain everything that is included in the debian testing repositories. For example, I wanted to install emacs24. This is a package that is available in Debian Testing already for a long time, but when I search it in the Linux Mint repositories, I only find: emacs24-common-non-dfsg. This is really weird, since that package is not useful at all on it's own, with the emacs24 package.
So, what exactly is included in those Linux Mint repositories? The full Debian Testing, or only a subset of Debian Testing?
What exactly is included in the Update Packs? A full "diff" of Debian Testing, or only a diff of a subset of Debian Testing?
Do the Linux Mint repositories also included repackaged Debian packages?
LMDE with official Debian repos, is that still considered "LMDE"?
Which packages are included in the "core" LMDE package repository? Only the desktop environments like MATE, Cinnamon together with things like package for artwork and all?
Also, I don't really understand the Update Packs... the packages that end up in Debian Testing, already went through Debian Unstable and even though it's possible, there rarely are any problems. I understand that using the Update Packs enables you to ensure a nicer and smoother experience... but on the other hand... the people that use LMDE are probably already more experienced anyways. What happens when some problem is discovered with a Debian package? Is upstream Debian contacted to fix it there, and then later an updated package is imported in LMDE?
Either way... as you can see, I still have a lot of questions... I already installed LMDE from the available ISO and I also upgraded to the most recent update pack. But I'm really tempted to use LMDE with the official Debian repos, and just reuse my previous sources.list configuration, with the added Linux Mint repo.