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Open Source Linux News Technology

Linux Mint Hack Is an Indicator of a Larger Problem (techrepublic.com) 254

An anonymous reader writes: On February 20th, a hacker working under the handle 'Peace' took control of the website of Linux Mint, a popular Linux distribution derived from Ubuntu (and Debian) targeted toward non-technical users and power users unhappy with modern desktop environments. While these attacks are regrettable, and part of an infrastructure problem rather than a problem with the distribution itself, it increasingly appears that the Linux Mint team is spread too thin when it comes to security. The distribution itself blacklists updates that work perfectly in Ubuntu and Debian, and the graphical utilities don't update the kernel. Because the value added by Linux Mint is in Cinnamon, why do the developers need to distribute a broken version of Ubuntu when the Cinnamon DE could be distributed as an Ubuntu spin?
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Linux Mint Hack Is an Indicator of a Larger Problem

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  • Wake me (Score:5, Funny)

    by XXongo ( 3986865 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @04:19PM (#51576855) Homepage
    Wake me up when they hack the Denver mint.
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by NotDrWho ( 3543773 )

      As long as the Franklin Mint is okay, then I'm fine. I'm in too deep with them. I've got all my entire retirement invested in their Princess Diana commemorative plates. THEY CAN'T BE ALLOWED TO FAIL!

      • You're thinking about this wrong. You WANT the Franklin Mint to fail. Look at what happens to the prices of an artist's work when they die.
  • Value Added (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JackieBrown ( 987087 ) <dbroome@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @04:25PM (#51576909)

    and the graphical utilities don't update the kernel. Because the value added by Linux Mint is in Cinnamon, why do the developers need to distribute a broken version of Ubuntu when the Cinnamon DE could be distributed as an Ubuntu spin?

    My guess would be that most - or allot - of Mint users are looking for more than just Ubuntu with Cinnamon. If that is all Mint users where looking for, there would not be a KDE version, a XFCE version, or a Mate version. If that is all they wanted, they would download Ubuntu and add the ppas for their desktop of choice. People find value with those "graphical utilities".

    The author is confusing what he wants from Mint for what others want.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I would say he's accurately describing what Mint is, not what user's want or don't want. He's saying "This is what it is, so why not do it properly?"

      I don't doubt that many Mint users want something different, but right now Mint is Ubuntu + An Extra Repo with Other Packages + An default package list that's slightly different. It's so much of a hack that a recent Ubuntu update caused /etc/issue and /etc/issue.net in Mint systems to report the machine as running Ubuntu, not Mint (in fairness we were all pr

      • Good fucking god. They are not disconnecting themselves. Mint is based on stable version of Ubuntu. How hard is it to understand that. So Mint will not be on the bleeding edge. BFD. They will release new versions as the move forward to the next stable release of Ubuntu.
        • Good fucking god. They are not disconnecting themselves.

          Who said they are? We wouldn't be having this discussion if they were.

          Mint is based on stable version of Ubuntu. How hard is it to understand that. So Mint will not be on the bleeding edge

          By "based" in this case you mean "It directly uses the stable version of Ubuntu as a base". And by "stable" version I assume you mean "LTS" which doesn't mean "stable", at least, not in a meaningful way that applies here.

          Essentially the current configuration p

          • No different than Mandrake shadowing Red Hat releases in the 90s and early 00s... RedHat 6.2 ships, a month later Mandrake 7.2 ships. Didn't even bother replacing "redhat" in the installer screens, etc.

          • Why don't you use the Mint Debian edition then? It shouldn't have these issues, right? Maybe it has different issues.

            • Because I have nothing against Ubuntu, and the issue is relying on other repos beyond the control of the distribution, not Canonical per-se.

              One thing I hate about discussions of distributions sometimes is that it descends to people feeling they need to pick sides and teams and be "Team Mint" or "Team Canonical". I'm not that way, and even if I were on Team Mint, I'd at least have the courage to acknowledge that Team Canonical made my operating system possible (just as Team Canonical member should acknowl

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        So what distribution would you recommend for someone looking for something like Mint? Less Ubuntu than Ubuntu, but solid and well supported.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The Linux Mint team should just cut their losses and focus all their resources on their secondary project, Linux Mint Debian Edition. Making this the primary project and the new default "Linux Mint" would help because they'd be less dependent on upstream changes from Ubuntu, while providing usability improvements to Debian that are not considered important enough to implement in Debian proper. Heck, it's exactly the method of how Ubuntu came about, but Linux Mint's mission goal is just to make the best desk

        • Mint Debian.

      • That would provide end users with exactly what we want - a well maintained, well supported, operating system whose desktop is actually modern and usable rather than trendy and terrible.

        This is ironic, since the whole reason I tried Mint in the first place several years ago was because I was tired of Ubuntu being "trendy and terrible," while Mint appeared to supply a "well-maintained, well-supported, operating system whose desktop is actually modern and usable."

        I'm not defending Mint. But I find this very funny, given how broken Ubuntu typically was a few years back and how they seemed to jump on any unstable crappy bandwagon to do the new trendy thing. ("Yeah, look at my wobbly window

    • I was going to say something similar. In the wake of the grand migration to SystemD... Mint was one of the few hold-outs in incorporating it into their distro. They kept using the most recent Ubuntu LTS until systemd was "proven" to work in the wild. Mint is more than just "Ubuntu - Cinnamon spin", the mint folks listen to their audience and try to make it a better Ubuntu. I haven't looked, but i find it hard to believe that people are singing Unity's praises all over the forums.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @04:26PM (#51576921)

    Actually, Linux Mint's value add was originally (and still is) providing an Ubuntu distribution that includes non-free software and codecs pre-installed and configured right out of the box (e.g. DVD playback, MP3 playback, 3D graphics drivers like then visual binary blob, Flash, JAVA, etc.). Yes, these features can be separately stalled by users in Ubuntu. But for first time or novice users, this could be difficult and Linux Mint took the approach of making sure these features were installed, configured, and working out of the box.

    Cinnamon is a separate project to provide an alternative to Gnome3. Linux Mint sponsored it and is the primary user of it. But it's not the only "value add".

    That said, Linux Mint did make some weird design decisions. I always thought it would be easier to just create and publish a custom Ubuntu spin that included these features rather than create a whole distribution from scratch.

  • by bangular ( 736791 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @04:32PM (#51576969)
    I tried mint a few years ago when I found the default install of Ubuntu desktop unusable. Could I have customized it to the desktop I wanted? Sure. Or, I could try this new distribution that has a DE that is actually intuitive. If Ubuntu shipped with Cinnamon by default I'd go back to Ubuntu. Ubuntu really shot themselves in the foot a few years ago and I got tired of being a beta tester.
  • by shellster_dude ( 1261444 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @04:43PM (#51577079)
    Linux Mint isn't just Ubuntu. They also provide Linux Mint Debian Edition, which is far superior, IMHO.
    • by Soft ( 266615 )

      They also provide Linux Mint Debian Edition, which is far superior, IMHO.

      I also thought LMDE was right for my needs about 2 years ago, but I was very disappointed when I realized they didn't do regular security updates other than Firefox and Thunderbird. Specifically, IIRC, OpenSSL's "heartbleed" hole took weeks to be (partly) patched, and I didn't see any updates of LibreOffice, ffmpeg, libnss, apt and others when vulnerabilities were announced in them.

      I switched back to regular Mint, which uses Ubuntu

  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @04:56PM (#51577165)

    The site in question used WordPress, which gets hacked early and often. Being hacked had nothing to do with how many Mint developers there are; it's more a commentary on flaws most php based platforms have.

    Linux Mint chooses to blacklist certain applications in line with the project goals; these of course can be overridden at user's choice.

    What a pile of FUD, I smell jealousy of Linux Mint's success as unlike Ubuntu the team does listen to end user needs and wants; while Ubuntu instead crams badly designed UI (Unity) down throats that neither meets needs nor was requested by anyone

    • Ubuntu ...crams badly designed UI (Unity) down throats that neither meets needs nor was requested by anyone.

      You obviously haven't visited the Ubuntu forums since Unity was introduced. According to the forums, it seems that all the diehard Ubuntu fans liked Unity so much after it was forced down their throats that their collective love for it reached backwards through time and requested it from the future.

      • yes and systemd near the end of this year will have evolved to the point where it reached back in time and demanded its creation. If we see that happen again and again we know it's just systemd doing it up/down oscillation screwup thing it sometimes does

  • I use it with Mate since day one.
    I'm not a developer but Software architect and Mint Mate just do the job without any cumbersome thing to make it works with a normal stable DE unlike ubuntu.

    And The distribution itself [DOESN'T] blacklists updates that work perfectly in Ubuntu and Debian, and the graphical utilities [DO] update the kernel when correctly configured when YRTF !

    • They were trying to portray as bad certain packages are by default not allowed, but its because of design decisions. of course that can be overridden...but I don't even get what basis their claim of no kernel updates comes from, of course it does them but doesn't jump kernel versions

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @05:09PM (#51577279)

    That's the value for me, it works out of the box for all the hardware I've used it on so far. Unlike Ubuntu which has issues of it's own lately for me. Before the hack hit I had Mint installed on an MSI laptop with and Nvidia card and the thing fired up out of the box with no issues. Only thing I had to do was turn off that secure boot garbage in the bios which was easy.

    Maybe Mint isn't the ideal distribution for people and maybe it could be done better. Still it's doing things right enough for me to use it and run Steam on it with no issues for all the games that provide native Linux ports. Could Ubuntu do it? Maybe but I hate Unity and Gnome 3. I also don't want one of the side distributions because unlike Mint I feel like they're treated as second class from the main one.

  • While I understand that the overlords of commerce like to pretend that nothing could ever be wrong with anything even remotely advertising-related, the reality is that Ubuntu foundation did itself some irreparable damage with that incident.

  • by Blaskowicz ( 634489 ) on Wednesday February 24, 2016 @06:23PM (#51577787)

    It's in "Update Manager", "View", "Linux Kernels".
    Also allows to delete kernels although that is slow, and must be done one by one.

    It has to be said, although updates to the kernel are never automatic. Thus pproximately no one does them I'd say.
    In fact, with straight Ubuntu I had to do the apt-get get dist-upgrade described in the story to update the kernel (which I did very rarely) and I did not bother with graphical tools. Now there's a likable graphical tool for updates, so instead of the graphical stuff disabled or not present I get notified for every software non-kernel update that comes up.

    I don't know about security updates held up, and I don't use Cinnamon (can't buy an Intel graphics card to run a desktop). This I believe is where's most of the hackery due to e.g. GTK3 upstream constantly trying to ruin the game for devs that are not building UIs that look like a cross of Mac OS and Windows 8.
    The article seems fairly preposterous. For me the Mate and Xfce editions are where it's at and yes the default themes etc. are a good reason, along with cross-DE tools. Not gonna using and pushing some hastily thrown together desktop with e.g. a black task bar on top rather than a gray task bar on bottom, ugly icons and wallpapers and so on.

    • by klui ( 457783 )

      I installed Linux Mint around a year back but I did not like getting a lot of conflicts whenever I perform a dist-upgrade. The conflicts had to do with branding between Mint and Ubuntu. Does it still happen with the current version?

      • been using Linux Mint since july 2011 but never saw that, which package/apps were involved with that problem? only problems I've had in past were getting nvidia driver to be stable, sometimes the one Mint wanted to install was the best, other times I'd have to manually install order or newer version right from nvidia site. in last 18 months the distro one (with updates) has been stable

  • Anon really hates Mint.

    Mark Shuttleworth, is that you?

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