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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 Beelzebud ( 1361137 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:15PM (#38026714)
    I can not recommend Ubuntu to new users at all at this point. For having things "just work", Mint is where it's at, these days. Canonical got too full of themselves, and dropped the ball. Unity isn't the only problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:18PM (#38026780)

    And this kind of thinking is why the year of the linux desktop never comes >.>

  • Small Error.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:24PM (#38026886) Homepage

    "and you can customize it to look and feel exactly how you want"

    no you cant get rid of the non standard 2 pixel wide scroll bars that pop up to a scroll tab when you get over them. I hate them. I have spent hours trying to disabled the damn things and they stay there on the File manager and the settings apps.

    Make the damned things go away and back to NORMAL scrollbars.

  • Re:Wait ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:30PM (#38026990)
    Use Windows 7. It's the OS-use equivalent of giving up on that low-pay non-profit job that was somewhat rewarding but required massive investments of time and effort and getting a nice, cushy day job that lets you relax on weeknights and weekends. And let's face it, the only reason you didn't do it earlier was because you didn't want to admit that your parents were right, and you should have just gotten the office job in the first place. Then you could have moved out of their basement a long time ago.
  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:32PM (#38027040)

    No, people are abandoning the distro because it's become painfully obvious that the people running it are batshit insane. It wasn't that they moved to unity, it's that they released an alpha quality Unity with a release. But, it's more than that, have they ever fixed the bug that made it impossible to log in via bluetooth keyboard? I temporarily dropped them because of that bug. OpenSUSE isn't afflicted by that particular problem.

    Unity itself probably wasn't that much of a problem it was just obvious, up front and hard to ignore, I suspect that most of the folks that dropped it afterwards had been contemplating it up until that point.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:37PM (#38027120) Journal

    It has always felt a bit annoying distro to use, especially with sudo and apt.

    What's annoying about sudo and apt? You don't have to use sudo if you don't want to, adding a real root user is easy. But using sudo is good practice on any Linux system. And apt? Apt is one of the major reasons to use a debian based distro.

  • Re:Fixing Gnome3 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:37PM (#38027134)

    Problem is, GNOME Shell doesn't need fixing, GNOME Shell actually works. Unfortunately geeks stubbornness too :)

  • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:44PM (#38027222)

    Agreed. I have two issues with Ubuntu in recent releases:

    (1) It's getting too buggy for my likes. I think this stems from (a) a focus on UI innovation rather than quality, and (b) they follow a bugs-be-damned 6-month release cycle.

    (2) Lots of people, including me, hate Unity vis a vis Gnome 2. To be fair, many of us also hate Gnome 3 vis a vis Gnome 2, so Ubuntu didn't have many good options for people who like Gnome 2. But a lot of us think Ubuntu would be far stronger if they put their effort into making Gnome 3 be as good as Gnome 2 (like Mint did), rather than developing Unity.

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:45PM (#38027236)
    Ubuntu wasn't always annoying. I think until recently it was one of the most polished user friendly experiences there was. I think with their recent missteps that it is becoming annoying. Unity sucks and there is no indication in the latest release that the penny has dropped in Ubuntu land what they need to do to fix it.

    A lot of people might contemplate going over to Fedora. It works pretty well with GNOME Shell. I doubt the different package manager means anything most of the time but yum has one pretty compelling feature - the presto plugin for yum which downloads and applies delta rpms. For the life of me I do not understand why deltas haven't been a standard feature of every dist for the last decade. Downloading a 30MB file just to apply a fix which probably only touched a few lines makes no damned sense.

  • by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:55PM (#38027398)

    One reason: Mint's heavy handed tendency to replace the default Google search with a 'Mint-ized' version of Google search

    Last time I tried Mint, I typed '' in the browser and got Google. Have they changed that? Or are you just referring to the easily-changed default home page?

  • by rtkluttz ( 244325 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @02:56PM (#38027414) Homepage

    --It wasn't that they moved to unity, it's that they released an alpha quality Unity with a release.

    No, for most it pretty much IS simply that they went with Unity. If you are power user with big monitors (or multiples, or big multiples etc) where desktop space isn't at a premium, then why the hell would anyone want to hide buttons and options? Why make multi-tasking so hard? Why SEARCH for applications rather than hierarchical menus grouped logically by task?

    My desktop isn't a damn phone thank you very much. I don't want it to be a phone and I don't want it function like a phone. And in the case of Windows 8 metro, it is just a blatent attempt to wrest control away from the OWNER of the device/computer. They envy the fact that apple users have given up every last semblance of control over look, feel and function of their electronic devices and that that control can be monetized. They can finally lock out apps they don't like and with UEFI they can finally lock you in to their OS so you can't weasel out of it after the fact.

    No thank you. I will control my own devices, I'll be a power user with menus and widgets, multiple screens and multiple windows that AREN'T maximized.

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:06PM (#38027562) Journal

    That is the tradeoff, in a nutshell. For most people, who don't want to dick around with the internals of their PC to get it working, Windows 7, and even moreso Mac, is the right choice.

    For people who instead enjoy optimizing their PC - setting it up "just right", and then having it work forever after that, Linux is the appeal.

    And that is why Canonical shot itself in the foot with the latest changes - a less customizable experience can only possibly fly with an OS/distro that "just works" out of the box. There's just no one who both wants to labor to get their PC working, but then doesn't want to customize and tune it.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:12PM (#38027656)
    Yum is still pretty bad (disclaimer: I cannot get away from Fedora and I was once a Red Hat employee). Installing packages in a user's home directory is poorly supported (if you can even call it "support"), and removed packages that are not needed (e.g. libraries that are not dependencies of any other package and that do not need to be on the system) is still a giant pain. It is certainly better than plain RPM, and it beats the urpm system we saw in Mandrake/Mandriva, but there is a lot of work that will need to be done before we can be proud of it.
  • Re:Fixing Gnome3 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:28PM (#38027908)

    It works for me and my friends. Propably won't for you, because it seems that you have already decided even trying it seriously :)

  • Re:Fixing Gnome3 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:37PM (#38028016)

    Ah yes the fanboi excuse of "But you didn't try it with an open mind!" just because someone doesn't share your opinion.

  • by sherriw ( 794536 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @03:49PM (#38028198)

    I've been dual booting Ubuntu on a laptop alongside Windows for quite a few years now. I'm using an LTS version and haven't been exposed to Unity yet. I just checked out the online tour on the Ubuntu website and I'm just.... well, depressed.

    Linux won't expand drastically into the home PC market unless it can accomplish the following:

    - Make navigating my files and applications easy and intuitive. Finding installed applications should not be difficult.
    - Make installing any new application easy.
    - Let me configure the OS, my preferences and my hardware and drivers easily.
    - Extensive help within the application.
    - Extensive hardware and driver support. The current state is not good enough.

    Sadly even though Ubuntu has been the nicest one I've used, it seems to be dumbing down some things while others are still difficult. If a normal user who is not doing anything unusual has to open the command line, this is a fail.

    I know this will cause a big flame war to say this, but as a long time Windows and Linux user... I have to say.... just make it work like Windows! Windows may be popular due to a monopoly on the industry, but they are now the standard and despite the MS hatred, they have over time developed a clear and non-complicated way of doing most things you need to do on your computer. I haven't opened the command line on Windows for years... not even sure if it still exists. I can find all my settings under Control Panel, and my applications are nicely organized and I can add shortcuts and organize files however I like. For all it's flaws, Windows is the standard in the industry. If Linux deviates too far away from this, it will forever remain a fringe option for technical or very determined users.

    I say all this as someone who has no love for Microsoft and very, very much wants to see Linux grow in popularity. I've been dual booting Ubuntu to see if I could ditch Windows and use it exclusively. So far my answer is no way, and will be sadly getting Windows 7 on my next machine, and probably dual booting some distro of Linux. I might try Mint next.

  • Mint - very good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdmV0rl0n ( 98366 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:01PM (#38028344) Homepage Journal

    And the reason is pretty simple. They *really* focused on delivering a desktop thats rounded and end-user in idealism. Not really the usual focus on devs, or linux geeks, or coders or any of the normal compromises that are often tipped in other Distros. Things like a software manager, a user menu, and having DVD and codecs from the off. Wireless drivers that tend to work (as well as they do in the landscape of linux) - and lots of effort to focus on that idea.

    The delivery of this across multiple versions has been praised, and is praise worthy, and its being rewarded by end users moving to it on one very simple thing. Merit.
    People like Mint. And the devs deserve that because of their desire to deliver something that is sometimes missed by Linux, and thats care for the end user. Somehow its a chunk of what Shuttleworth has totally lost in his headlong charge to unity. And its alos lost on the Gnome 3 devs who lost it totally as well. Now they went down a path that was more please themselves and ram it down people's throats. (Hi MS, I love how you've mimic'd the same stupid move with Metro).

    Anyway, nuff said. I predict that in fact Mint 12 even with a bit of rough round the edges - will be welcomed by one and all, and others will in fact have to have a rethink. And thats a good thing.

  • Gnome polish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:03PM (#38028354)
    The Gnome polish that Ubuntu introduced went a long way as well, including things like a working network manager that dealt well with wireless connections, supporting administrative tools like gparted, Synaptic Package Manager, and other printer/user/gui management tools was also a boon. They made sure users never had to go to the command-line, and provided defaults that were acceptable to the majority of desktop users. Their focus on the end user desktop experience really paid off. I'm not sure if Mint can carry that legacy, for now I'm happy enough just apt-getting gnome and sticking with Ubuntu. The fact that GUI packages such as Gnome and KDE want to re-invent the wheel for every major revision is a bit troubling, and I'm happy that projects such as Trinity exist, even though they are fringe products. I'm actually intrigued by Gnome 3, but that doesn't change my disappointment over leaving users who have gotten used to and like Gnome 2 out in the cold. XFCE never seems to change, only polish, and that's great. Too simple/bare-bones for me though.
  • by Microlith ( 54737 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:11PM (#38028462)

    Nothing about computing is intuitive, it's all learned. When people say "intuitive" they tend to mean "works like Windows." And Microsoft has enough of a hold on the desktop space to make Linux's entry virtually impossible, whereas fields that MS doesn't have any hold (mobile, supercomputing, embedded) it has a commanding presence (note that this is referring ONLY to the kernel, much of what we call "Linux" is not present in most Mobile or Embedded spaces.)

    Your points are basically stating the obvious, but there is one I have to call out:

    Extensive hardware and driver support. The current state is not good enough.

    Fine, get the hardware vendors to start playing ball and we'll talk. So long as data sheets are held as trade secrets and drivers are kept proprietary there's little the Linux community can do.

    just make it work like Windows!

    See, called it before I read it. My response: go use Windows.

    For all it's flaws, Windows is the standard in the industry. If Linux deviates too far away from this, it will forever remain a fringe option for technical or very determined users.

    Or instead of letting Microsoft dictate how computing is done, do it differently and don't let the complaints of the technically ignorant hold you back.

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

    by fnj ( 64210 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:36PM (#38028734)

    Why would you assume that? It took me about 5 minutes of, yes, actually trying it out seriously the day Fedora 15 came out to find out numerous reasons why Gnome3 was not going to be satisfactory for my needs:

    3) Clock - cannot change position; cannot add day-of-week; cannot add seconds.
    4) No weather applet with current conditions, forecast, and radar map all right on the bar.
    5) No drawer applet for my own common app launchers, on the bar.
    6) No sensors applet for the bar.
    7) No CPU freq scaling monitor applet for the bar.
    8) No system monitor applet for the bar.
    9) No Mini Commander applet for the bar.
    10) Can't right click desktop to create launcher or start a terminal.
    11) Numerous other problems.

    All of this stuff worked perfectly in Gnome2. So yes, if you don't ask it to do much of anything at all, and if you are satisfied with horrendously convoluted invocations for common tasks that used to be very straightforward, then yes, Gnome3 will satisfy you. Otherwise, not so much.

    When most of that stuff gets fixed, I might switch to Gnome3. When ALL of it gets fixed, Gnome3 will be as good as Gnome2.

  • by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <slashdot.uberm00@net> on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:43PM (#38028842) Homepage Journal

    And that is why Canonical shot itself in the foot with the latest changes - a less customizable experience can only possibly fly with an OS/distro that "just works" out of the box. There's just no one who both wants to labor to get their PC working, but then doesn't want to customize and tune it.

    Canonical blew their leg clean off, because not only did it become less customizable, it made my laptop less customizable, the one I had already worked to get "just right", in a way that was nigh irreversible. It's fine to make another product like Unity but goddamn, make it a different product, don't mark it as an upgrade to a very different system that plenty of people were happily using.

  • by Arrogant-Bastard ( 141720 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @04:43PM (#38028844)
    "Awful" doesn't even begin to describe it. All development on it should be abandoned, it should be ripped out of the distribution, the code should be printed out and burned, a massive apology should be issued to the userbase, and any defenders left standing should be forced to read 419 spam for a month...or until their minds crack. This won't happen, of course. But 2011 will be remembered as the year that Ubuntu began to fade into irrelevance, thanks to Unity and the fools behind it.
  • by tom229 ( 1640685 ) on Friday November 11, 2011 @05:17PM (#38029256)
    I open the command line in Windows daily. The fact that youre not even sure if 'it still exists' kind of makes your whole rant uninformed and irrelevant.

    This is further evidenced by your comment: 'Extensive hardware and driver support. The current state is not good enough.'.
    If some hardware youre trying to use doesn't work in Linux it's because the manufacturers of said hardware have not supported it's operation in Linux.

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