Ok, I must start with a review of Linux Mint 10
Linux Mint. Now number two on distrowatch’s list. Is it just another Ubuntu knockoff, or does it really offer something that sets itself apart from the crowd of Pinguys, Zorins, MoonOS’s and untold others? Well, for my money (ok, there’s no money involved), Mint is by far the most advanced and “out-of-the-box” usable distro available. So… you need multimedia codecs, proprietary drivers for your video card or wireless… the best menu system ever? Mint is for you. The install is just as simple as Ubuntu… and since I’m new at this whole blogging thing, I’ll not be providing screen shots. The only hard part for the great unwashed may be disk partitioning… and even here, Mint offers to resize your windows partition and install side by side. It could not possibly be easier. For serious geeks, there is no LVM or entire disk encryption, but seriously, do we need to confuse the yokels with that? When you first boot into the newly installed system, you will see a boot menu that allows you to fall back to your warm and snuggly windows home (which will work perfectly) or maybe actually try Mint. Ok… now it’s possible that your graphics card wasn’t properly configured. You have two options here. One is to wait for the handy behind the scenes wizard thing to ask you to search for the appropriate driver. If you don’t wanna wait, just click on “Hardware Drivers” under the administration menu and you become golden. You just clickety-click and bang zoom, upon a reboot (yes, a reboot, rare in linux, but necessary for this purpose) you will be happy. Now you are a linux user… My first move would be to run Synaptic Package Manager and click on “Status” and then grab all updates. After that, the Mint Software tool is your buddy. You can search for whatever you might need or want and be satisfied almost always. Me? I prefer Synaptic, but I’ve been doing this for quite a while now.With the Software center you’ll be able to browse by category, read user reviews, etc. Probably best for the uninitiated. Synaptic is superior in that it allows you to update ALL of your software with just a few clicks… but I have probably said enough on this topic.
What can Mint do? Well, upon initial install you will be able to play multimedia content like all get-out, open pdf files no problem, play dvds, surf the web and use youtube thereon. This is a lot, considering that if you install WIN7, some of this functionality will not be there without extra effort. Also, Mint (and any other linux for that matter) really doesn’t need anti-virus, anti-spam, anti-malware, firewalls or anything else of the like. When you install it, it will ask you to create a user account (note… USER account… not an administrative account like is the default even for Win7). If you provide a halfway decently strong password, you need not worry about being pwned by some Croatian or Nigerian dude or dudette. If you need to make serious changes to something that requires administrative privileges, you’ll need to type in your password… not just click something as in windows 7.
What differentiates Mint from plain old Ubuntu (a word that many even in the windows world may be aware of)? Well, Ubuntu is pretty cool, but seems to want to become OS X (Snow Leopard) aka “the Mac” lately. Also, there are some pretty huge changes coming in the next version of Ubuntu, which will almost certainly break many users’ computers. Mint has committed to stay with what works to a large extent, and may ultimately usurp Ubuntu’s spot at number one on Distrowatch for just this reason.
As further background, I have installed Mint 10 on my main desktop (Compaq Presario with an nvidia graphics card), my laptop (Toshiba 4036 with amd/ati graphics), and my fave little computer, an Acer Ferrari 11.6 inch (netbook, but not really – dual core Athlon processor and 4GB ram, along with ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics). It all works with absolutely no command line fiddling, as so many windows adherents will tell you is necessary with linux. And I haven’t even mentioned yet that this is all free… as in you don’t pay, and you are free to improve anything you want (in most cases) and post the results to the entire world of linux geeks… who will more than likely to improve upon your improvements and make program x work better within hours of your suggestion. Granted, most of us (certainly me) don’t have the skill to do this, but it really does happen on a daily basis, unlike windows’ bi-weekly, maybe we’ll fix a huge hole that was opened several months ago a few Tuesdays from now.
In summation, Mint, and even plain old Ubuntu or their rivals Fedora, openSUSE, or even Slackware or Debian all mostly work out of the box. It’s only the fact that windows comes pre-installed and configured by OEMs that makes people think that windows is superior in hardware detection or general usability. The truth is the exact opposite of this. Linux will find and work with more of your hardware than a raw windows install in many cases, and is so much more secure that it becomes a serious question… why would you run the world’s most hackable and insecure OS when there are so many great alternatives? The main one being Mint 10? Mostly it falls back to ignorance, fear, uncertainty and doubt. All keystones to Microsoft’s modus operandi.
Mint 10 is for my money (or lack thereof) the best OS ever. There are limitations (Netflix does not work on any linux, and if you actually need MS Office rather than the pretty decent openoffice, you are mostly locked in to the evil empire… oh, and all you idiots that play games on windows? well, yeah… you deserve whatever malware you acquire, but then, if you can afford sli/crossfire insanely fast machines, you should be prepared to lose it all to some hacker in Algeria with mad coding skills). Just my 2 cents… and I can barely afford that.
I remain – claudecat