Oct 062012

In the last 2 days I’ve been busy with my new desktop, I’ll use it as my home computer where i browse, write office documents do some gaming everything on Linux of course.
With my requirements more or less any new hardware will work for me, sometimes i wonder why people with not knowledge of PC buys computers for more than 1500$, I’ve bought (thanks ebay) a cheap dual core pentium (G620) on a Asrock H61M-HVS motherboard + 8GB Ram (Kingston DDR3) + a Hard disk Seagate 500GB 7200RPM 16MB buffer and a Radeon Sapphire HD 5450 with 2048MB GDDR3 RAM on board, all for around 430 $.

To this list I’ve added a D-Link Wireless N 150 usb adapeter ( DWA-125 ), the piece of … hardware that has given more problens in the setup, but now it’s up and running too, in my next post a small guide on how to make it works on Linux.

As a new thing for my desktop and as anticipated by title I’ve decided to move from Ubuntu to Mint, staying on the XFCE edition.
On my desktop I’ve always used .deb distributions, and so after Debian and Ubuntu it’s now time to test Mint, I’ve heard a lot of praise on it and so i want to test it on first hand after 2 years and half of Ubuntu, to be honest this decision has been taken also after some “commercial” choices of Canonical for their next release and Unity a DE that I’ve never liked, i prefer much more Cinnamon, that i use on my Laptop with gentoo.

Mint is also a good choice for me because it’s fully compatible with Ubuntu and so I’ll be able to test software and write guides for Ubuntu/Mint, but when is Mint born and what’s its history ?
Wikipedia on the rescue for this:

Linux Mint started in 2006 with a beta release called 1.0 “Ada”. The project wasn’t well known at the time and this version was never released as stable. With the release of 2.0 “Barbara” a few months later, the distribution caught the attention of many people within the Linux community and started to build an audience. Using the feedback given from its new community, the distribution released a quick succession of releases between 2006 and 2008. 5 versions were released as follows: 2.1 “Bea”, 2.2 “Bianca”, 3.0 “Cassandra”, 3.1 “Celena” and 4.0 “Daryna”.

In 2008, Linux Mint adopted the same release cycle as Ubuntu and dropped its minor version number before releasing version 5 “Elyssa”. The same year, in an effort to increase the compatibility between the two systems, Linux Mint decided to abandon its code-base and changed the way it built its releases. Starting with version 6 “Felicia” each release was now completely based on the latest Ubuntu release, built directly from it, timed for approximately one month after the corresponding Ubuntu release (i.e. usually in May and November).

So how it’s been the installation and first setup of Mint 13 Maya for me ?

Installation and first boot

Like many modern distribution the installation of Mint 13 start from a live CD, in my case I’ve used a USB stick but this doesn’t make any difference for the final result.
The installation with the wizard runs smoothly and after the usual question about language and disk partitioning the installation process started, the only thing that I found different is the possibility to have btrfs file systems, i don’t remember if Ubuntu 12.04 has this option, the whole installation process took less than 5 minutes, amazing.

In the first boot the wireless was not working so I connected a cross-cable to my old Ubuntu and I configured it as gateway, in this way I updated all the packages (more than 400), this required much more time than the installation.

Another thing done during the first boot has been add the proprietary (not open) driver for the Video card, in Mint you just have to go in settings -> additional drivers, it will do a scan and it will propose for you additional drivers, for my PC I’ve installed FGLRX graphic driver for ATI/AMD video cards.

Once everything was correctly updated and the new video driver installed I’ve rebooted the system and this is how my desktop looks like after some small customization :


This output is displayed at 1920×1080 from the VGA adapter of the Sapphire, it looks very clean and polish, and in the next days I’ll switch to the DVI interface, that should further improve the output.

Differences between Mint and Ubuntu

Perhaps it’s too soon to tell it, but in 2 days I’ve really not found any significant difference between my former Xubuntu and Mint (XFCE Edition), probably this change of distribution would be harder for people moving from Unity to Cinnamon or Mate.
Perhaps Mint is more user friendly out of the box with more codecs and drivers (proprietary too) available and GUI to manage them, but I’m not good in reviewing these things as usually I use apt-get and aptitude to install software and vim to configure them so for most of the operations I don’t use graphical tools at all.

Anyway, in short the installation and the first approach has been nice, let’s see now how goes the process of update in the different releases, and using it in my day by day operations.

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  6 Responses to “New computer, new distro or goodbye Ubuntu, welcome Mint”

  1. I think I should try this mint version.

  2. I am using both Xubuntu and Mint 13 XFCE. Both work well, but the screenshot you have given is not of Mint XFCE, but looks like you hav installed XFCE on top of Cinnamon / MATE. Default screen has just on bottom panel and some desktop icons.

    Else you must have used same user name and hence config files of older XFCE distro must have been transferred.

    Xubuntu is also rock solid and Mint lags behind in it’s Software Manager (better word which sounds technical) then commercial sounding ‘Software Center’

    I had one issue with Mint 13 XFCE when I lost minimize, max, close buttons, but upon xfwm restart (in terminal) they came back adn till now no problems

    Apart from Distro, which is minty fresh 🙂 , it’s forums and comunity make the diference. i feel more comfortable in mint forums then in Ubuntu forums. It’s subjective.

    One thing I like about mint is that it’s staying traditional. Clem wants traditional computing, hence cinnamon and nemo 🙂

    I do not want to stratch my hand 2 ft to my 20 inch screen. I will rather use keyboard and mouse. Synpase is my favourite. Can’t live without it.

    Difference between Xubuntu and Mint XFCE is in selection of Default programs. XFCE can be used for modern desktop configurations. It’s not just for poor man’s desktop. So Mint XFCE can be used as a full fleged PC, like it’s LMDE XFCE version. It’s for those who do not like Gnome3. Clem derived it straight from Cinnamon edition and not from Xubuntu as base, as he has said, XFCE relies on some Gnome components. (Clem said in his blog)

    Xubuntu, lik Lubuntu is developed keeping in mind older PCs

    If you want a true artwork, try Voyager Live, a remastered Xubuntu 12.04. It’s not Voyage, which is based on Debain.

    Voyager Live has 21 conky control, but the dev is french. So there is communication problem. If you love XFCE, then it’s worth trying.

    Apart from beautiful visual tweaks, it has useful tools like grub restore, grub customizer, etc.

    • Thanks for the long feedback sunewbie.
      And i just installed Mint 13 XFCE edition into a new Harddisk, so this is a bit weird, the first user created (during the installation) has an XFCE desktop like the one posted in the screenshot, while the second has the panel on bottom like you said.

      Best regards

  3. It strange, because, until now, whichever mint distros I have installed, MATE, Cinnamon, XFCE, all have Linux Mint default wallpaper with Linux Mint 13 or Linux Mint Maya logo in silver-greenish colour.There is no top panel or dock-like panel like in vanilla XFCE or Xubuntu. It’s more like LXDE. Even the Mint menu is off by default, as it eats about 25 MBs more (in LMDE XFCE mint menu did consumed 25 MB extra). XFCE Menu is just titled Menu without the mouse icon.

    Even the LMDE edition has same wallpaper. XFCE is tweaked so as to be similar to venerable Gnome 2 🙂

    I am just an end user, and do not know ‘Everytihng about Linux’ 😉 so cannot figure out the problem. May be the first user name that you generated during installation is the matching with another distro. I has this problem when I installed Bodhi Linux adn even Xubuntu. I kept same username so that I do not have to spend time in tweaking DE.

    Kind Regards

  4. Thanks for this post, I really enjoyed it. I was wondering how your computer is running with the above specs? I am about to build my own PC as well so this was right on time for me.

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