I really enjoy Linux Mint's easy simplicity as well as its tools. I've also recently tried Arch Linux as a "learning experience" and I have to say it's great as well, but for different reasons. I have decided to use Arch as my main Linux OS, but in doing so I'm missing many of the Mint tools that I had while using Linux Mint. I've decided to try and port Mint's packages to Arch Linux. The reason I like Arch is mostly because the desktop is almost completely "vanilla", meaning un-patched/unchanged from the official programs themselves. Since Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu (which patches their packages) which is based on Debian (which might do some patching occasionally), it carries a lot of things that it shouldn't, like the Indicator Applet and applications such as Transmission, Rhythmbox, or Pidgin being pre-patched by the Ubuntu packagers to have features removed/added to support their customizations.
If we got a working Linux Mint desktop on Arch Linux or another slightly more "vanilla" distribution, Mint would be much more unique and wouldn't have to be based on Ubuntu any longer. I'm not planning on completely forking Mint. Rather, I just want to be able to create an equivalent desktop on another system easily.
Here's my original post, which I've since decided to do differently:
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Ever since the infamous "Ubuntu buttons issue", I decided to switch to other Linux distributions to try them out. The first one I tried, Linux Mint, was fantastic and fit my needs perfectly. However, over spring break, I decided to have a "learning experience" and install Arch Linux. Arch, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is a distribution that focuses on simplicity and transparency (from a developer's point of view, not a user's) as well as giving you "vanilla" packages. I find this to be very important considering how Ubuntu patches application to remove or add certain features or functionalities to better fit within its own distribution, messing up distributions that are only coincidentally based on Ubuntu. For example, Ubuntu is patching programs to remove the "minimize to notification area/tray" option in programs such as Transmission, Rhythmbox, Pidgin, etc. so people will be forced to use the Messaging Menu/Indicator Applet instead, which is very unfair for Mint users.
Arch is also a "Rolling Release" distribution, meaning that there aren't "releases" in the traditional Debian/Ubuntu/Fedora/etc. sense, and whenever there is a new version of a package, it becomes available immediately. "Releases" of Arch are just "snapshots" of the current packages. Unlike Ubuntu, Arch is very flexible. With a standard Arch installation, you only have the bare minimum required packages to set up your own system. You can install GNOME, KDE, XFCE, LXDE, Fluxbox, Openbox, Enlightenment, ROX, Ratpoison, or anything else you'd like to use. If we based Linux Mint on Arch Linux, we would remove a lot of unnecessary complexity that is normally present by basing it on Ubuntu.
I intend this to be only a "test", to see how Linux Mint would work when based on something unrelated to Debian. My first full release will be GNOME only, but editions based on other desktop environments may follow if there's enough demand for them (at least two people :wink: ). Here's a list of what to expect:
i686 and x86_64 editions
CD and USB images (plus a post-install script that will let you customize your system starting from a base Arch Linux install)
Using Mint software and artwork (with permission) where appropriate (mintUpdate and some features of the mintMenu can't be carried over at the moment)
Most packages will be "vanilla", aka unpatched
Some Arch-specific tweaks
Since this is i686 instead of i386-based, you may notice that some programs start up much faster than before (at the cost of not working on many older computers properly). You can expect the first testing release (pre-alpha) by the end of either April or May.