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Monday, May 14, 2007

Linux Mint 3.0 "Cassandra" : - Sexy and More User Friendly variant of Ubuntu Linux

Linux Mint 3.0 "Cassandra" : - Sexy and More User Friendly variant of Ubuntu Linux
(Digg this Story)
Over past few years Ubuntu Linux has become extremely popular owing to it's simple interface and ease , and has attracted a majority of new Linux users to it . Now a majority of new Ubuntu Linux users are people who are switching from Windows to Linux owing to their frustrations with Windows platform .Now Ubuntu because of many licensing restrictions , and nature of open source products dosn't include many codecs , applications that a windows refugee would look in a Desktop Linux Distribution . Linux Mint takes a step in addressing this problem .




Linux is mint is based on popular Gnome Desktop environment , however interestingly the first release of Linux Mint was based on KDE and then they changed to Gnome with next release.

Linux Mint is basically a variant of Ubuntu Linux , that has a closer relation ship to Ubuntu in comparative term than Ubuntu has with Debian Linux, it is customized to be user friendly with interactive wizards , a more user friendly themes and comes with most of the codecs and plug ins pre-installed thus giving functionality of Ubuntu without hassles of missing codecs/applications.


This is a quote taken from their website which sums up their philosophy
“We believe in freedom… We also prefer to use open source software rather than their proprietary equivalents. However we don’t believe in banning or boycotting proprietary software. If a proprietary component has no suitable open source alternative and is needed to produce an elegant desktop we do include it. For this reason we include things like the Flash plugin for instance.”

You can read more about their philosophy , goals and other stuff from this site .

Installation : -

Since Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu , it's installation procedure is very similar to Ubuntu only artwork is changed , Linux Mint 3.0 Beta 1 which i tested was based on latest stable release of Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn. Now , on my slow old Thinkpad Celeron 1.4Ghz with 256 Megabytes of RAM , the CD was extremely slow maybe due to lack of ram anyways cd booted into graphical environment in over 9 Minutes and then Installation program took around 4 Minutes more to start . After starting installation the entire installation was pretty smooth , the installation even had Migration Assistant wizard (seen in Ubuntu 7.04 Fesity Fawn ) which allows one to easily shift their existing Windows and Linux accounts (their settings like Wallpaper , Documents and stuff ) to Linux Mint . This is a welcome addition for Linux Newbies terrified with experimenting . Now entire installation is same as Ubuntu , Linux Mint being based on it.

Linux Mint Booting Up

Migration Assistant Wizard During Linux Mint Installation

Linux Mint Installation Going on

Login Screen

What's New in Linux Mint 3.0 "Cassandra" Beta 012: -
Important new features in Cassandra BETA012:
  • Gnome 2.18 (speed improvements)
  • Kernel 2.6.20 (better hardware support)
  • Ubuntu Feisty innovations (restricted-manager, desktop-effects, windows migration assistant, avahi)
  • OpenOffice 2.2 (complete suite)
  • Thunderbird replaces Evolution as the default email reader
  • the Gimp is installed by default
  • Gnome-control-center replaces mintConfig as the default control center application
  • Both mintDisk (for internal drives) and NTFS-Config (for external drives) are present for NTFS support
  • Support for Gnome Templates in mintDesktop
  • mintInstall replaces gnome-app-install
  • Drag & Drop support in mintMenu with many other improvements
  • Sun Java 6 replaces Sun Java 5
  • Compiz, Beryl and Emerald installed by default
How Desktop Feels : -

After Installation was over , and i booted into newly installed Linux Mint system i did not notice any significant speed lack , it worked flawlessly. I was greeted with the above beautiful looking login screen . After logging in i was pleasantly surprised to see really neat and tidy desktop , and to my surprise i found even my Windows drive automatically mounted this was a pleasant surprise , though Write support wasn't available maybe because NTFS-3g package wasn't installed.
This is How my Linux Mint Desktop Looks

The mintMenu : -

You will notice unlike Ubuntu which has Mac OS like menubar at top Linux Mint has tas bar at the bottom there is Cassandra button which open the Menu from where one can select applications . Now i really liked the menu (mintMenu), it is different from the Gnome Menu and is similar wuth the menu that comes with OpenSuse Linux distribution , the menu look more user(newbie) friendly and is better organized and gives much more professional look to the distribution. The Menu is divided into three sections , Places , Applications and System. Another nice thing about their mintMenu was the search box at the bottom which allowed easy searching of application in the menu , this can be really helpful for someone who has lot of application installed.

This is How Linux Mint's Menu Looks

Other Good Stuff about Linux Mint : -

Now unlike Ubuntu Linux Mint comes with Beryl , Compiz and all the desktop effects preinstalled you only have to enable it ( By Going to Cassandra->System Tools -> Beryl Manager) , besides these it comes with a number of calm and refreshing wallpapers and screen savers . The default theme used is extremely eye catching and attractive giving entire distribution a very professional look.

Now on my IBM Laptop most of the things worked right out of box i did not have any particular problem with hardware configuration , even my Sony Erricson Phone K750i was automatically detected and mounted . Not to mention windows and linux drives were automatically mounted.


Now Application set includes F-Spot Photo Management Software , GIMP : -Image Editing Software , Firefox 2.0 : - Default Web Browser , Thunderbird (Email Client change from earlier version of Linux Mint which used Evolution ) , OpenOffice : - Office Suite , Amarok(Media Player ) , Gaim : - Instant Messenger , MPlayer : - Audio and Video Player , Totem Movie Player , and Misc other applications. In Short it has most of the application a average computer user would require .

On the Codec side it comes preinstalled with most of the codec , i tried playing few FLV , AVI and WMV files and all played flawlessly on the Linux Mint without installing any additional component this is really something that could help new Linux users who don't have proper internet connection (Yes it is true here in India there are people without internet connection ) . Also Linux Mint comes with Sun Java 6 and Adobe Flash player Installed and plug in properly configured with Firefox making it easy to browse internet .

Now even though their website recommends 512 Megabytes of ram for using Linux Mint i did not have any particular problem in using Linux Mint on my 256 Megabyte ram computer . However Linux Mint is bit slow compared to Ubuntu owing to maybe the applications (Tomboy and Beagle(searching and indexing tool) that comes preinstalled) also because of extensive themes Linux Mint uses.

As i mentioned above Linux Mint comes pre installed with Beagle which is a powerful indexing and search tool based on Mono platform and actively supported and developed by Novell ,allowing easy searching of files in the computer . This is one killer application that could really help someone with huge amount of documents in their computer.

Beagle Search Box

Another thing that really makes Linux Mint such a good distribution for Linux Newbies is it's easy configuration , the Control Center is GUI based and is extremely simple to use and allows easy configuring of various parts of the Mint Desktop , also if you feel Control Centre is bit difficult there is a simpler version mintConfig which is even more user friendly in configuring the Mint Desktop.


Gnome Control Centre


mintConfig Control Center

Another nice configuration tool that Linux Mint comes preinstalled with is mintDisk that allows easy mounting of various partitions on your computer .
mintDisk
Also , to make Linux Mint more user/newbie friendly they provide pre defined and default locations (directories) for storing videos,photos , documents and other stuff in home directory.

Default Directories created by Linux Mint

Conclusion : -

Overall Linux Mint is extremely user friendly Linux distribution perfectly suited for someone making a jump from Windows to Linux , it combines power of Ubuntu with ease of Windows and provides a solid desktop that is worth using . It provides relief from hassles of installing Codecs and Plug ins and other good desktop applications on Ubuntu and provides all the benefits of Ubuntu.
If you are new to Ubuntu and dont have much technical know how this is the Linux Distribution to look Forward .


Helpful Links : -


Article Written by Ambuj Varshney , for Linux on Desktop blog(http://linuxondesktop.blogspot.com)
(C) 2007, Ambuj Varshney

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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great review, thanks.

What do you mean by "even my Sony Erricson Phone K750i was automatically detected and mounted"?

Is it for file transfers, synchronization, phone management?

By bluetooth, serial/USB line?

--
Alex

AMBUJ said...

Hello


What i meant by above line was , on connecting my phone through usb cable it was detected automatically and i was given option by Linux Mint to transfer photos or manage music , also the Memory Card was mounted automatically allowing easy file transfer.

Thanx
Ambuj Varshney

Anonymous said...

Hey buddy nice review...and i noticed that ur using the same 24online client that im using.....n I'm in India too...n I've 256 MB RAM too! To be honest, Ubuntu really drags on my PC...and I guess Mint will be slower...dunno why but KDE distros feel a LOT smoother n faster than gnome distros...

Yasser

Pepe said...

Nice review! :)

I now wonder if I can still have the sleek Mac/Ubuntu-like taskbar on top of my screen with this distro.

My Net pal Dave Asuncion (an Ubuntu geek)suggests that I use Linux Mint 3.0 "Cassandra" as it is very user friendly. He's actually the one who directed me to your blog entry for more info.

If it runs relatively fast on your 256 RAM, then it might run even faster on my 512. :)

fishfillet said...

Hi Pepe!

Small world! I am supposed to send you Bianca today but then I saw that Cassandra is already available. I'll download Cassandra for you.. or may send you PCLInuxOS 2007 today and send Cassandra later on.

Enjoy Linux!

Anonymous said...

Is Linux Mint Bianca a time limited demo version?
Now it is not possible to boot this distribution on my computer!

best regards

Janko

Anonymous said...

Good review!

Just a quick pointer about the NTFS drive not being writeable.

The reason for this is because during the installation, at the partition tool, it will automatically create a mount point for it and put it in the fstab, but use the normal ntfs driver instead of the ntfs-3g/fuse combo.

Change NTFS to ntfs-3g on the offending lines in your fstab and you will be away!

You could also remove the lines from fstab altogether, but in my experience I then ended up with two icons on my desktop relating to each drive I had.

Not looked at that properly yet, but just a heads up.

James said...

Linux Mint 3.0 "Cassandra" as it is very user friendly. He's actually the one who directed me to your blog entry for more info.
I saw that Cassandra is already available. I'll download Cassandra for you.. or may send you PCLInuxOS 2007 today and send Cassandra

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Date: 19th September 2007

Andy Scusting . said...

Linux has introduced a fantastic new operating system for computers . It's curtains / drapes for Windows and not to mention.........shut Gates .

Mayank said...

HI AMBUJ ... REALLY NIOCE REVIEW ..... U DESERVE LOTS OF APPRECIATION FOR THIS ...
--MAYANK KANDPAL
DAIICT

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