Hi everyone - initial impressions of Linux Mint

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Hi everyone - initial impressions of Linux Mint

Post by benthos » Mon Apr 02, 2018 11:24 pm

Hi everyone. My name is Ryan and I’m someone who has tried linux over the years a number of times but have always used Windows as my main OS. I have never used Linux Mint, which many youtubers recommend as one of the easiest and most beginner-friendly. So I decided to try it via a live usb stick on my Dell XPS 13 9360 – which is offered by Dell with Ubuntu, so must be fairly linux friendly. I thought I would offer my thoughts as someone with intermediate computer skills using it for the first time and trying to get the basic desktop set up. So here are my thoughts on using Linux Mint 18.3 Sylvia – 64 bit with Cinnamon.

Mouse and Trackpad:
The touchpad on my Dell is a Microsoft Precision touch pad. Out of the box the pointer speed was very low. I found the setting menu easily by typing ‘mouse’ in the start(or mint) menu. Upping the pointer speed acceleration to around 95% and sensitivity to 100% makes for a usable touch pad, however it doesn’t feel exactly like it does in Windows, not quite as precise. It would be nice to have a bit more leeway for playing with the sensitivity. On Windows my settings are usually somewhere near the middle. A setting to ‘enhance pointer precision’ (which I think has to do with acceleration and deceleration curves) would also be appreciated. Two nice features that are available on Linux Mint and not on Windows are ‘disable touchpad while typing’ (for which I have to rely on third party software in Windows) and the ability to change scrolling method from two finger to side scrolling which isn’t available on Windows and is rather nice. Overall my touchpad is usable and with some nice extra settings.

For a mouse I use a Logitech triathon mouse which can connect either by Logitech’s unifying wireless receiver or by bluetooth. I was amazed to find the unifying receiver was recognised and the mouse worked. I did find that like the touchpad it didn’t feel as precise and natural to use as in Windows so I switched to bluetooth. It took a while for the mouse to be discovered by Linux Mint and then a few goes to get it to pair. Once that happened the mouse worked beautifully. Better feel and precision than with the unifying receiver or the touchpad and just as good as on Windows.

But then I hit a snag. The scroll wheel. It was scrolling realllllly slowly. I checked the mouse settings but there was no option to adjust it!?! I couldn’t believe that something so basic was overlooked. After googling I discovered there was a workaround but it required the command line and multiple steps. Even after then however I was left with nice mouse scrolling but a touchpad that scrolled through pages of information with the barest hint of downward movement. This lack of standard way to control each one in the standard setting menu is unacceptable to me and would be a turn off to new users. It would also be useful if mouse and trackpad scrolling could be synced up or controlled independently.

Full tick of approval. Everything, including the function buttons for volume and screen brightness, seem to work perfectly.

My Dell has a rather high screen resolution for a 13.3” screen – 3200 x 1800.
The initial installer screen that gave me the option to run the live usb stick was tiny. But this was only one screen – could be improved but no big deal.

Once the OS was running, Linux mint had a 2x scaling factor applied by default (which I appreciated because earlier when I tried running it in VMWare it wasn’t and things were tiny, hence the live usb key). For my liking things were still too small. After some googling (new users should not have to do this) I found the setting for text scaling factor in ‘fonts’ which I set to 1.5. This helped quite a bit but firefox still displays everything too small, I have to zoom in on every website which is a pain, I tried playing with font sizes but it doesn’t seem to work for every website. Libre office had tiny icons and menus until I found the setting for user interface scaling which I set to 140%.

All in all the display is half-decent but still with annoying niggles. I would like the option to set scaling to 3x and then make the fonts scaling smaller. There are work-arounds but again, I believe a user should be able to do everything intuitively in a GUI without having to resort to google and the command line when it comes to basic operating system set up. For more advanced stuff the command line is the way to go. Don’t think I’m hating on the command line but it’s not for new users in my opinion.

This was the most annoying part of my experience so far without a doubt. Linux Mint seemed to recognise my wifi card (Killer 1535 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi and Bluetooth) and connect to my wifi network no problem but then nothing. I could not even ping my router. This had me stumped.

Then I tried to share my phones internet connection with my computer via bluetooth. No dice. The phone connected but then disconnected. Linux mint’s bluetooth settings window froze up a few times. Eventually I found a cable and plugged in my phone directly and managed to share my internet connection with it that way. Eureka, I had internet. Then I disconnected my phone, reconnected to my wifi and for reasons beyond me, I was able to get wifi internet. Why? Maybe a quirk of the live usb?

This the kind of annoyance experience that had turned me off Linux in the past (and this was a mild incident compared to past run ins).

There seems to be a low hum coming from the speakers? whenever the mouse is moved around and there seems to be much more coil whine than when using Windows. Not a huge issue but noticeable.

I quite like Linux Mint overall, but there are still quite a few rough edges to it that need to be polished off before I would contemplate leaving Windows 10 and making the jump. These include: imperfect display scaling settings, a strange a strange problem with the wifi, and no support for scroll wheel sensitivity for mouse and touchpad.

I don’t want to hate on Linux Mint at all, I’m sure that these problems won’t affect all users and that some users will be happy to dive into the forums and the shell in order to get things working. But that isn’t me, I want what I consider to be basic operating system features to ‘just work’. I’m going to try a few more linux distros now to see if I have better luck – probably ubuntu in a few different desktop environments. I might try linux mint again in at some point in the future. I hope my little review might help the developers to iron out a few of the kinks I discovered.

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Re: Hi everyone - initial impressions of Linux Mint

Post by kc1di » Tue Apr 03, 2018 7:03 am

hi Ryan and Welcome to Linux Mint Forums,
Good to have you Here :)

I believe with time that all your concerns can be fixed, but will leave that to others to help with. Happy minting :)
Easy tips : https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/
Linux Mint Installation Guide: http://linuxmint-installation-guide.rea ... en/latest/
Registered Linux User #462608

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Re: Hi everyone - initial impressions of Linux Mint

Post by WharfRat » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:01 pm

Hello Ryan Image

Welcome to Linux Mint and the Linux Mint forum :)
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