And also, post your ideas on this forum, tell us what can be done to make Mint easier to use.
I am a long-time Linux user, but I am VERY new to Debian and Mint. Please let me play newbie here.
* Where does one file bug reports?
* What is the preferred method to suggest improvements? (That the developers actually read.)
* How does one become involved with testing for the next LMDE Update Pack?
* What is the proper way to contribute to Mint documentation, such as the user guide?
I am involved in a new small business where we have decided to use LMDE with customers who want to migrate from XP. We are still fine-tuning our process and installation tweaks, but I have noticed a few things that could make Mint more palatable to XP converts.
For example, ignore the terminal. I have been using the command line since the early 1980s. I pop open the terminal a couple of dozen times in a typical day on my computer. I don't think twice about using a terminal and I write lots of little scripts that I run from the command line. The typical person coming from Windows? The terminal is frightening. Really. So one of our customization tweaks for our customers is removing the terminal buttons from panels and menu Favorites. For them the terminal remains available, but "hidden" in the menu system. Long-term geeks and Linux users will quickly add the terminal to their panel, keyboard shortcuts, and menu Favorites, so being "hidden" is not a big deal.
Likewise with IRC apps. Although Windows users might be familiar with IM, generally they are not familiar with IRC. To them, IM is socializing and IRC is a geek thing --- if they have heard of IRC.
An idea: Better consistency between the Mate and Cinnamon Control Centers. For example, the Cinnamon Control Center has a System Info applet and the Mate version does not.
Similarly, Cinnamon has a startup sound and Mate does not. Inconsistent.
Along that same thought, I am puzzled that both Mate and Cinnamon are not packaged together in one Live DVD. I have installed both desktops on my laptop and am not experiencing any problems. The Mint web servers could save some bandwidth by packaging both in one DVD.
Oops: Mint does not install a clipboard manager. Although I now am using Mate and Cinnamon daily, I am a long-time user of KDE3 and Trinity, along with the occasional KDE4. The Klipper applet is standard. I reacted like the proverbial deer in the headlight beams the first time I went to use the clipboard manager and realized none was installed.
Update Manager: the default is to check every 15 minutes. Checking once a day is sufficient.
Speaking of updates, the Mint Software Manager has been buggy for me. Often the installations halt in the middle. Often when I double-click on a package nothing happens. I think sometimes the reason is the package is 32-bit and I am on a 64-bit system, but there should be some kind of feedback. Also the Software Manager is horribly slow
to open, even on my dual core system. There is no launch feedback to keep the user informed while opening so slow. The synaptic package manager has been solid as a rock. I would prefer our customers use the Software Manager but I am hesitant because of the bugginess.
The installer: That the virtualbox guest additions are available in the Live DVD is really helpful, but the installation does not remove the virtualbox guest additions when installed to a physical machine.
The installer: When installing Mint to a new second disk rather than repartitioning the existing disk, where to install GRUB is not obvious to non technical people. They do not understand MBRs. Some instructions in the installer to install GRUB to sda rather than sdb would be helpful to such people. Or just clarify "Install GRUB to MBR" would be helpful.
The installer: When installing Mint and retaining a Windows partition for dual booting, a copy of the original MBR should be saved to /boot/xp_mbr_image.bin. I realize the hope is the user never returns to Windows but that is not always the case. After installation, would be nice if a copy of the new mbr was saved too, such as /boot/mint_mbr_image.bin. That way when dual booters play the horrible game of reinstalling Windows, they have a quick way to restore their Mint MBR.
The installer: The Time and Date section offers no opportunity to set the hardware clock to LOCAL rather than UTC. This has to be done manually after installation by editing /etc/adjtime.
The installer: Left-handed mouse users have long been ignored. I have yet to run across an installer that asks users whether they would like to swap the mouse buttons when creating the default user account. Would be nice if that was the very first question of the installer and a dialog appeared on the desktop of the Live DVD.
GRUB: That two-liner message when the system boots, "Welcome to GRUB!" is, um, dumb. Windows converts look at things like that and mumble.
GRUB: Information like "on /dev/sda1" is geeky and superfluous. Frightens Windows converts. These people don't want to be reminded they are using a computer.
Probably a bug report: Plymouth does not play well on my systems. First, the splash itself is inconsistent. A couple of times during booting the splash disappears and I see stdout. When I logout to return to the DM I see stdout. When shutting down I can flip a coin to predict whether the splash will remain or disappear to display stdout. Doesn't bother me --- but is unprofessional looking. Windows users are accustomed to seeing splash and nothing but splash. These interruptions to stdout create the impression the system is broken.
Plymouth raises havoc with the keyboard shortcuts to toggle between multiple users (Ctrl+Alt+Fx). The shortcuts should always work in tandem with the login order. Ctrl+Alt+F7 should be used to toggle to the first user, Ctrl+Alt+F8 the second user, Ctrl+Alt+F9 the third user, etc. Yet that is not how the system works. I haven't yet figured out the pattern of how those shortcuts get assigned. My solution is to edit the boot options to not use the splash at all. But guess what? All of that stdout frightens Windows converts.
I have experienced the black screen of death when logging out. My solution is to add nomodeset to the boot options.
Probably a bug report: In LMDE Mate, press Alt+F1 and the Mate menu appears (wherever the mouse pointer is resting) rather than the Mint Menu opening from the panel menu button. Might make sense to us geeks but inconsistent. Oddly, in Cinnamon Alt+F1 invokes the workspace switcher and not the menu. Coming from a KDE background, this different usage of Alt+F1 is inconsistent as well as inconsistent with Mate.
For Windows converts: I am a tad surprised no games are preinstalled. How are they going to play Solitaire or Freecell?
Likewise with gufw. Should be preinstalled. Even the "notoriously insecure" Windows has a GUI firewall tool.
Cross-platform apps: Would be really helpful if the installer detected existing user profiles on the Windows partition and copied them to the user's new Mint account, such as Firefox, Thunderbird, Chrome/Chromium, LibreOffice, GIMP, etc.
Services: rpcbind, nmbd, smbd are enabled by default. I don't know why since Mint seems focused on single users.
Caribou: No description available.
Gedit: The menu entry is void of an app description similar to all other menu entries. I edit that menu entry to 'Text Editor'. Likewise with gThumb. To a Windows convert, "What is a gThumb?"
Network Manager: The default DHCP is fine, but sure would be nice when the initial connection fails to then ask users whether they are using static IP addresses and when they respond affirmatively, present a dialog to configure a static IP address.
As already noted by the poll for this thread, automatic major updates for certain applications would be an improvement. For LMDE I am aware that doing so is based on Debian Testing, but some apps such as Firefox, Thunderbird, and LibreOffice do not depend on Debian Testing. They could be updated within a week or so. I would like to see a Quarterly Schedule for LMDE Update Packs. For example, both Mate and Cinnamon have been updated since releasing the 201403 LMDE DVD, both with nice improvements. I realize the recent Mate and Cinnamon updates require underlying system updates too, and that all has to be tested, but a quarterly release schedule for Update Packs seems sane to me.
A general suggestion to anybody wanting to improve Mint, especially to lure Windows users: spend a day in a cube farm with Windows workers. You probably will be shocked to learn how little they know about computers --- and how little they care. Most of them are task workers. They learn a task and seldom anything more. To them the desktop is only a portal to their tasks. That is why they have three dozen desktop shortcuts rather than use the menu. Applets? Desklets? Terminals? Cool screen savers? No clue. Many of them do not even know the basic keyboard shortcuts of Ctrl+X, Ctrl+C, and Ctrl+V.
Another suggestion: spend time observing non technical users with Mint. Geek feedback from tech savvy users is not the same. I don't think many tech savvy users realize how much non tech users struggle with computers.
I hope this post helps!