I remember the first time I heard of Linux Mint, I wasn’t that impressed. There were several reasons for this. First, it was based on Ubuntu. At that time, I despised Ubuntu. It wasn’t until recently that I began to appreciate it. The second reason is heavily tied to the first. At the time, Linux Mint seemed to be nothing more than Ubuntu with a new color scheme and logo. Despite the fact I find the green and grey scheme far more appealing than Ubuntu’s fascination with orange and brown, that was not enough to make me want to use it over Ubuntu. So even as I found an appreciation for Ubuntu, I still had no desire to try Mint. With the release of Ubuntu 10.10, and subsequently, Linux Mint 10, that has, I’m happy to report, changed.
After a few days of giving it a good sampling, and getting all my programs set back up, I can only think of 3 things I don’t like about Linux Mint. The first issue I have is one that is shared with Ubuntu. Being the lover of eye-candy that I am, I like to be able to manipulate as many aspects of the GUI as possible, including the log-in screen. While this can be done, it is a convoluted process; and unlike Debian, from which Ubuntu, and therefore Mint, are derived, there is no direct way in the menu or from the log-in screen, to manipulate the visual aspects of the log-in. I find this terribly annoying and wish both Ubuntu and Mint would put the full GDM configuration tool back into their distributions.
Second annoyance is that the “Mark All Changes” button has been removed from the Synaptic Package Manager. I personally don’t like using automatic updates as they always go off at the most inconvenient times. Therefore I do the updating myself. I prefer to use Synaptic over the other package/software management that is natively installed. I also don’t like having to use a second program to do easy updating. Of course, now that I have everything set up, it isn’t likely that I’ll be changing my software configuration, so I guess I can just get by with the update utility, though I’d still rather just have my button back.
Lastly, there is the issue with having to use sudo. Again, this is shared with Ubuntu. When I first started using Linux, the distro I chose (and Debian is this way as well) required entry of the root password to take care of administration tasks. While I can set a root password and have the ability to use root from the command line (or even log in as root from the log-in screen), Mint still uses sudo for GUI authentication of administrative applications. Personally, I find this annoying. Perhaps it’s just an odd quirk, but I don’t see how providing a way for an account to gain super-user access helps protect the system. I’d much rather have to put in a different password from the one I use to log into my computer for daily use when I want to perform administrative tasks.
All that said, those are the only things I have found that I don’t like about Mint. What does this mean? For one, many of the things, such as DVD play-back, that are a pain to configure in Ubuntu are set up automatically. Also, the Compiz configuration utility is installed by default. It may seem petty, but I don’t like having to hunt that thing down when setting up Ubuntu. Mint sets it up automatically. The menu used is far more appealing and doesn’t chew up over half of the panel. There are other minor changes here and there as well that make Mint practically everything Ubuntu should be. Also, unlike Ubuntu, I was able to get a stable install on the first try. In the end, Mint is about as close to a perfect distribution as I have found.