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Linux Mint: the New Ubuntu? 685

MrSeb writes "In the Linux world, a war has been raging for a couple years. At stake are the hearts and minds of its user base. The combatants: the various distributions of Linux itself. For some time, Ubuntu Linux has been the clear leader in the fight, amassing more users than any other. Canonical and its baby seemed poised to take over the Linux desktop/laptop market completely — until it released Unity. Unity has caused an uproar in the Linux community — especially amongst the power users who decry its lack of customizability and inability to scale on big- and multi-monitor setups — and users are defecting in droves to Linux Mint, now the second most popular Debian-based distro and gaining fast on Ubuntu. Mint has very similar commands and shortcuts to Ubuntu, runs most apps the same as Ubuntu, and you can customize it to look and feel exactly how you want — which, for most users of Linux, is exactly what they want."
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Linux Mint: the New Ubuntu?

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  • by locokamil ( 850008 ) * on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:10PM (#38026624) Homepage

    I wasn't aware that FreeBSD was a Linux distribution. At least it appears to be on the ranking site linked in TFA...

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:5, Informative)

    by tokul ( 682258 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:15PM (#38026718)

    Is there some specific reason I don't see?

    You did see it. For some reason your mind interpretered apt as annoyance. Debian package management was and is way ahead of any rpm distro.

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:17PM (#38026748) Homepage Journal

    That page is distrowatch. It is more about Open Source distros than Linux.
    Linux just tends to top the chart.

  • Fixing Gnome3 (Score:5, Informative)

    by fnj ( 64210 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:17PM (#38026760)

    The big promise of Linux Mint lies in the upcoming release 12. They are trying fix what the Gnome developers fucked up so royally and no one else has been able to do: fix Gnome3. They have a set of extensions that, at least judging from a static desktop screenshot [], look like they will actually make Gnome3 usable like Gnome2. The release candidate due tomorrow [] should tell the story for these MSGE (Mint Gnome Shell Extensions).

  • by fnj ( 64210 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:21PM (#38026824)

    The reference [] in TFS actually shows Mint is THE most popular linux distro of ALL distros at the moment. Look at the last column (1 month).

  • Re:Fixing Gnome3 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Daniel_is_Legnd ( 1447519 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:21PM (#38026832)
    Mint 12 RC as actually already been released. They recently took it down to reduce server load.
  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:4, Informative)

    by sourcerror ( 1718066 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:21PM (#38026840)

    Fedore isn't very stable according to my own (very limited) experience.* Also, Ubuntu sports a mediaplayer by default and downloads the required codecs without hassle (doesn't bend over for patents, it just shows a warning screen once that what you do might not legal in all countries, and you might have to get a license for the relevant patents).

    Also, dpkg/deb repositories are richer than rpm repositories.

    * even non LTS Ubuntu releases

  • Ubuntu hatred (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:24PM (#38026890) Homepage

    Hatred towards Ubuntu seems to be focused on Unity and Gnome.

    I use Kubuntu LTS and am more than happy with it. Sure, the LTS is pretty far behind (still on Firefox 3.6), but I don't have any real gripes besides this.

    From the looks of things Mint supports KDE, but is there any real reason to jump ship?

  • Re:Fixing Gnome3 (Score:4, Informative)

    by gshegosh ( 1587463 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:26PM (#38026916)
    Having tried the RC for a few dozen minutes, I can tell that MSGE is quite good in making Gnome3 feel more "like home". Having the bottom window task list bar and sane alt-tab experience doesn't magically fix what is broken in Gnome Shell (configurability is still missing), but it's a step in a good direction IMO -- it lets people used to "old" ways upgrade their systems with less fear.
  • by scharkalvin ( 72228 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:26PM (#38026926) Homepage

    It's actually blown Ubuntu away for the last 6 months!

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:28PM (#38026948) Journal

    So why is Ubuntu more popular than Fedora? Is there some specific reason I don't see?

    For me it was RPM Hell. Before YUM, installing software using RPM's was a nightmare. You first had to download the RPM you wanted. Then you tried to install it, only to find that you needed more RPM's to fulfill dependencies. You would search and find those RPMs, only to find out they had their own dependencies, and the number of RPM's needed increased exponentially as each level grew. Well, this sucked!

    Then I tried Debian. I typed in apt-get install app-name, and it found all the dependencies needed and installed them. There was nothing more for me to do. I vowed never to go through RPM Hell again! The problem with Debian, of course, was that it was always dated. Deb Stable was years behind everything else.

    Then came Ubuntu. It was up to date and came with apt-get. That was it! I was done! I vowed never to go back to anything that used RPM's again, even after yum came out.

    I tried Mint a few years ago. It was buggy as hell for me. Whenever the machine rebooted, about 2/3 of the time, I received a BusyBox prompt that really allowed me to do nothing. While onsite, I could simply reboot until it came back up. This was not an option when I was connecting remotely. Ubuntu never had this problem, which really confused me because Mint was based on Ubuntu.

    Right now, I'm running the latest Ubuntu with either XFCE4 or Trinity KDE. Unity sux IMHO. It's not so much that I can't configure it as much as it that I can't figure HOW to configure it. With the old Gnome, I would click System and it would pull down a menu that either allowed me to edit personal or system configurations. I have no idea how to do that in Unity and I really don't care to learn. Hell, it's almost easier to type "gedit /ect/configfile".

  • Re:Small Error.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vanders ( 110092 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:30PM (#38026986) Homepage
    Kill it with fire:

    sudo apt-get remove overlay-scrollbar liboverlay-scrollbar-0.1-0
  • The real winner... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sfing_ter ( 99478 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:34PM (#38027076) Homepage Journal

    The real winner of course is Debian. Being a devout debiate for many years (12), both the distros you speak of use debian as it's base. I use Mint myself for my desktops, it works well and their kde version was always better than kubuntu. I have even softened on my Gnome-hate somewhat with Mint's Main version and have even setup clients and friends with it.

  • Re:Wait ... (Score:4, Informative)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:38PM (#38027140) Journal

    Windows is way more maintenance-intensive than Linux. It's only the initial setup of Linux that's more work.

  • Re:Ubuntu hatred (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:52PM (#38027338)

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-stable

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:55PM (#38027380)

    Deb Stable was years behind everything else.

    Then came Ubuntu. It was up to date and came with apt-get.

    Come over to sid. It's "unstable" in terms that it changes a lot. Sid is almost ALWAYS newer than Ubuntu. Because every 6 months Ubuntu draws a line in the sand and says "Nope, we're stopping here." Sure you get bug fixes and can go through and find a ppa that backports. As long as that ppa developer doesn't stop. Then you find another PPA. But it has a different naming convention and it's a (@#* nightmare.

    Plus, Debian leaves my system the way I WANT IT. If I do an apt-get dist-upgrade I won't find XFCE replaced by Unity.
    And to grandparent you don't get sudo and apt? It's nothing short of black magic. They debian developers have pretty strict guidelines. And now they even had a kfreebsd kernel that has zfs built in, all with apt-get. If I'm trying to compile something on my own and I get a "can't find" 99% of the time I don't even look for it before doing a "apt-get install libXXX4".

    I went through years of RPM hell when friends tried to tell me "Oh you really should try out linux." Then I discovered debian on my own. (Mainly because it was started at Purdue). And... it was like the clouds cleared and it was amazing. Want something? Apt-get install. Don't want something? Apt-get remove/purge.

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:02PM (#38027500) Homepage

    Ubuntu became popular for several reasons:

    1) It had a well maintained package system of configured packages. There was a time where most distributions configured the base stuff but other applications weren't fully configured.

    2) At a time when all the competitors felt the need to be Gnome and KDE and traditional window managers, Ubuntu was able to be Gnome only and configure for Gnome giving a unified feel. The choice of Gnome was also good. Gnome had started to do very well around 2002 and KDE floundered, especially with respect to United Linux. Ubuntu along with distributions like Progeny and UserLinux came along at a time when the Unix community was ready to standardize on Gnome while early distributions had user bases that were much more divided.

    3) Most distributions were trying to make money on their desktop versions and were discouraging free distribution. Ubuntu has never tried to make money off the distribution which led to two major advantages:
    a) Ubuntu would mail CDs with the distribution, which was useful for for install fests.
    b) But beyond that, you could access their repositories for nothing.

    4) Ubuntu choose to build off Debian testing which is very high quality and reasonably up to date. Most other major repositories have failed in one or the other area.

    5) Ubuntu focused immediately on hardware lists. Simple easy instruction to resolve problems on hardware, rather than opaque instructions. The Ubuntu forums were a huge step forward in Linux to the masses.

    6) Ubuntu embraced the open source ideology with things like the circle of friends logo. Many of the early Linux companies were more focused on business acceptance at the time.

    7) Many of the other distributions in the easy desktop space were going bankrupt. Ubuntu had deeper pockets.


    So why is Ubuntu more popular than Fedora?

    a) Easier to install
    b) Far fewer bugs
    c) General direction dictated by Debian and the distribution itself rather than by the needs of an Enterprise server distribution.
    d) A novice friendly community.

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:4, Informative)

    by hduff ( 570443 ) <<hoytduff> <at> <>> on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:11PM (#38027638) Homepage Journal

    For me it was RPM Hell. Before YUM, installing software using RPM's was a nightmare.

    Mandiva's URPMI solved those problems very well and early on.

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:25PM (#38027870)

    dpkg --listfiles package
    dpkg --search file

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tyler Eaves ( 344284 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:28PM (#38027912)

    apt == yum
    dpkg == rpm

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:29PM (#38027914)


    apt-file list {package_name}


    apt-file search {file_name}

    Debian's package management system is just that, a system, not a single app. You've got a few different apps involved. dpkg handles the package installation/removal, apt-get (or aptitude, or synaptic, or whatever) handles repository stuff like dependency management (dpkg checks them, but can't resolve them), apt-file and other utilities provide other functionality.

  • Re:Wait ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by greg1104 ( 461138 ) <> on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:39PM (#38028068) Homepage

    Uh, no. The time consuming initial setup is one of the major reasons I don't use Windows. Let's assume both OSes take about the same amount of time to install from media. Once that's finished, applying all necessary Windows patches takes several rounds of download/reboot work. And I have to install each application individually.

    Once I've got a new Linux system running, it's exactly one command and reboot to get all of the updated packages. And it's trivial to write a script that installs all of the packages you use, or just tick them off as checkboxes in a GUI package installer. Web browser, e-mail client, chat program, one program can install every single one of those. The same task on Windows takes hours of downloading individual programs, running their installers, and often rebooting yet again in the middle most of the time.

    The only way Linux takes longer to setup is if your hardware isn't supported by your distribution, while being supported by your version of Windows.

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ttong ( 2459466 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:42PM (#38028106)

    apt is analogous to yum and dpkg is analogous to rpm. With that out of the way:

    • dpkg -L package
      Lists files in package package and
    • dpkg -S file
      searches for file in all packages (may list multiple packages).
  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:3, Informative)

    by ttong ( 2459466 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:52PM (#38028226)

    apt has never fubar'ed any of my systems without my explicit consent. You get a warning and have to type in 'Yes, do as I say!' before shit happens.

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:4, Informative)

    by dondelelcaro ( 81997 ) <> on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:18PM (#38028540) Homepage Journal

    I have always preferred RH's system-V-like way of doing things.

    While there are slight differences, Debian has been using SysV as a default for a very long time. [Probably even since the beginning.] We also have file-rc and various other init systems available as options; while they may be the default at some point in the future, they're not the default now.

  • Re:Fixing Gnome3 (Score:4, Informative)

    by dballanc ( 100332 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:28PM (#38028648)

    Gnome shell does work great... if you install all the user extensions to actually make use bearable. With a few silly warts it's the best desktop experience I've had on linux in the last decade or so. Unfortunately out of the box it is a lot like opening a new toy on christmas and not having any batteries for it. It looks nice, and you can see the potential... but it's useless without the batteries.

    Batteries to make gnome3 useful;:
    install gnome-tweak-tools to get user extension support
    install applications menu extension
    install shutdown menu extension
    install native window placement extension
    install bottom panel extension for taskbar (to taste, I prefer the alt-tab)
    add back the minimize/maximize buttons via obsure gconf settings

    After all that, it starts looking pretty good. The multi monitor support could be better (Why don't new windows open on the screen with the mouse?, Why virtual desktop only works on one screen?)

  • Popularity (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dennis Sheil ( 1706056 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:45PM (#38028862)

    Let's look at a better popularity metric - what percent of which OS hit the servers of Wikipedia [] in October 2011.

    Ubuntu was 0.41% of all Wikipedia traffic with roughly 16.9 million hits in October. Mint was 0.01% of Wikipedia traffic, with roughly half a million hits in October. Ubuntu traffic dwarfs Mint traffic by many multiples.

    In terms of the popularity of Linux distros hitting Wikipedia: Android was #1. Ubuntu was #2. Fedora was #3, just barely surpassing SuSE which is #4. Debian was #5. Mandriva was #6. Then comes along Mint at #7. In fact, Mint is barely even beating Kubuntu. Hits to Wikipedia is not a perfect metric, but if anyone knows of a better one I'd like to hear it.

    Things can change, and Mint may be gaining popularity, but we have to be realistic about things. I like a lot of things about Debian and Trisquel, but I'm also aware of the fact that for every Debian desktop hitting Wikipedia, there are 20 Ubuntu desktops hitting Wikipedia, including my own. That number goes to 1:30 for Mint to Ubuntu. So no, Mint will not be surpassing Ubuntu any time soon.

  • Re:How about Fedora? (Score:5, Informative)

    by znerk ( 1162519 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:49PM (#38028912)

    Ubuntu has tended to "just work" "out of the box" for the past several years, for me. As a matter of fact, when I became frustrated with Unity and began looking for another distro that suited my needs, I ended up reinstalling 10.04 (the Long Term Support release) because it didn't have Unity, but detected and interacted with my hardware setup with no issues, out of the box.

    Other distributions' LiveCDs have failed to work on my system, or didn't feel right. I tried many of them over the course of about 10 days before giving up and going back to Ubuntu LTS.

    Fedora 15 didn't like my dmraid, nor my audio card. It also felt weird, because it has Gnome3, which doesn't suit my workflow. Among other things, my brain visualizes multiple workspaces in a horizontal row, rather than a vertical column. I also don't particularly care for the new applications menu.

    Plain Debian also had issues with my dmraid, and it just felt... well... clumsy and slow. Some of the slow was due to running from a LiveCD, I'm sure, but there's no way all of it was due solely to that.

    Admittedly, Gnome3 is probably a lot of my issue with most of the current distros. I don't feel very friendly towards KDE, though, and XFCE isn't "shiny" enough for my tastes - it feels like stepping back in time about a decade.

    Ubuntu 10.04 "feels" good - partially because I'm used to it. I'm used to the way the desktop environment is laid out. I'm used to having the system monitor in the center of my top panel, so I can see at a glance whether to expect my next operation to be a little laggy, or if I can expect the blazing speed I've become accustomed to receiving from my system. I'm used to the "eyecandy", with its wobbly windows and sliding desktop helping me not break my concentration when I'm in the middle of something. Having a window subtly react visually when I grab hold of it and drag it around; having the desktop visually slide across my screen when I switch workspaces; these things gives me the feeling I'm working with sheets of acetate on a horizontal line of projectors, rather than working with windows on a stack of workspaces. It's like the subtle background flow of information in a good novel or movie; it helps keep me from losing my suspension of disbelief, so I can perform the tasks I bought the computer for in the first place instead of wasting intellectual processing time fighting the system to get it to do what I want it to.

    Ubuntu appears to "just work" with my hardware, and the current LTS version has a desktop layout I'm familiar with. Admittedly, I had to uninstall totem to get nautilus to allow vlc to be my default media player, but I haven't really had any major software snafus other than that and the buttons being moved to the "wrong" side of the application windows. Speaking of which, gconf-editor: apps/metacity/general/button_layout="menu:minimize,maximize,close" puts the buttons back where they're supposed to be.

    I know I appear to be contradicting myself in the previous paragraph by showing how to "fix" things in the default Ubuntu LTS while saying that it "just works" with the default install, but moving the buttons doesn't "break" the system, whereas the changes inherent in Unity makes the system unusable to those who are only familiar with the previous versions. Ubuntu was stealing Windows users in droves when it looked and acted very similarly to Windows XP. This new change appears to be an attempt to snag the hordes of OSX users... which, in my opinion, is the wrong userbase in which to be looking for new converts. Canonical should have realized that their immense growth has been due to the fickleness of the users - continuing to build a solid base of users would have been smarter than alienating all the users they managed to steal from Windows when Microsoft decided to drastically change the UI.

    To sum up, the majority of Ubuntu's users are stolen from the Windows camp, which is not surprising considering that they make up the overwhelming majority of desktop users. Many of them switche

  • Re:Small Error.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by znerk ( 1162519 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @06:43PM (#38030264)

    Or if you prefer to leave the system's software as stock as you can, use this:

    # echo export LIBOVERLAY_SCROLLBAR=0 > /etc/X11/Xsession.d/80overlayscrollbars

    It turns them off without ripping them out (in case something else "needs" them, and reinstalls them for you).

May all your PUSHes be POPped.