Sunday, July 12, 2009

LinuxMint 7 "Gloria"

It's been six months and time for change. I’ve switched from OpenSuSE
11.1 to Linux Mint 7. Prior to that I was running ArchLinux for a year
and it was a solid distribution with a fantastic package manager. But
after Chip Magazine came out with the 11.1 DVD I wanted to try out
OpenSuSE 11.1. OpenSuSE, overall, has been mostly stable for me and I
loved the artwork. While things like package upgrades were efficient
through the use of binary (x)deltas, the package manager itself drove
me nuts. It was way too slow on my not-so-fast connection. Over the
course of six months, I had to install a few packages from the build
service which prompted me to add a few additional repositories. Now
everytime the package manager was launched it tried to refresh the
package list. While I understand the reasons it simply was
annoying. Sometimes the refreshing would simply hang. So everytime I
had to hit Skip Refresh after launching the package manager and the
whole exercise was irritating.

Another reason was the PulseAudio sound system. This caused the
biggest pain and I din't manage to resolve the problem. Sound input
never worked and the output volume was too low. To add to the misery,
I had a skype meeting and the webcam was not working. While the camera
was picked up the device /dev/video0 had permission issues. I'm sure
these things can be fixed after enough googling but I simply didn't
have the patience for it. I had issues running virtual machines under
KVM.

Finally, my / partition had grown to 80% of its size which is a signal
that enough cruft has accumulated on my system and that usually is
when I switch to another distro :)

I had been watching the progress of Linux Mint and when 7 came out I
decided to switch. Thanks to its Ubuntu base, installation was a
breeze and post-install, I didn't have to hunt for codecs as the
installed mplayer played most of the videos I threw at it. Artwork is
as good as OpenSuSE's and even the menu was very similar. The
"mint-green on dark" theme looks very nice and overall it's a lovely
green desktop.

The package manager (mintInstall) has a list of "featured"
applications for things like Adobe Reader (stay away from it!), Skype,
VLC, Audacity etc. Handy.

Audio is still controlled by PulseAudio but on Mint7 there was a
control panel to control it and I was able to adjust the output to an
audible level. Sound input is still not working. Skype picked up the
webcam and that is a relief.

Overall, I really like the system. Boots fast, plenty of packages
thanks to Ubuntu and Debian underneath, nice green desktop, KVM
virtual machines not complaining. Happy!

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