Saturday, 15 March 2014

Blowing warm and cool?

It's like a moderate version of blowing hot and cold, rather than one of the various meanings that might be used, and it's how I feel about Linux mint for the most part. Blog readers are probably bored to death with my flirtations and temporary marriages to various forms of Linux: sorry about it, but this is another dalliance.

Mint has been 'number two' in the Linux world after Ubuntu (and number 4 across all traditional OSs) despite the latter tending toward being slightly rough at the edges, possibly because for a long time Mint was a 'Buntu rework. I've tried it on and off over the years and it's always been a bit boring, dull, grey, stodgy. They never really got over Gnome desktop environment's fatal attraction to the idea of being a tablet interface, producing their not 1 but 2 replacement desktop environments, both of which looked like gnome 2. Their version of KDE was really a tail-end-charley to keep everyone onboard and was also grey in appearance and vanilla in execution - dull dull dull.

But a couple of years back they started producing a Mint Debian edition: Mint based on the Debian stable edition and available with either of the slightly dull but solid Gnome-alikes, it was lightweight, quick & a bit fresher feeling than typical Mint. I tried it a couple of times, and while I liked the low system overhead it was a bit short on the kinds of tools I've come to demand from KDE. Never the less it's been interesting to watch it progress, and I've tried new downloads on and off.

Last week I downloaded the latest version (2014.03 IIRC) and burned a disc to run live last night on the old Philips Freevents system. Ran like a charm considering it's 'live' off the drive, so I've bunged it on a 'spare' 250Gb HDD that was laying around, literally while typing this.

The installation manager was completely straight forward, as most Linux managers are these days, right up until it came to partitioning. Where's the automatic partition button? Ich habe keine. Not a problem: it offered gparted to erase the windows partition, create 4Gb swap file, then allocate the rest to EXT4 - is that it? Nope - had to go back & resize the main EXT4 partition to create a /root partition, and then, out of gparted, assign /mount point and home partitions.

Installation seemed to take forever compared to what I've become used to, probably thanks to the ancient DVD drive in the Philips, however the screen fonts are crisp enough (on a 12" 1200:800 display) and the usual dull grey wallpaper with Debian red spiral symbol looks subtle and interesting instead of dull.  Irritiatingly tap to click isn't activated by default on the trackpad, just like an Apple, even though scrolling using the right and bottom edges is, and without an *obvious* setting to change.

It feels snappy, though not quite as much as Linuxlite. Have to see how we get on.

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