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Linux Mint 5.0: Usage Points June 13, 2008

Posted by NAyK in Firefox, Linux, Linux Mint, PCLinuxOS, Recommendation, Reviews, Ubuntu, Windows, Working with Linux.
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Unlike my previous review of Ubuntu 8.04, in which I both compared it to PCLinuxOS (which is not fair to both distros) and also criticised it’s GNOME-ic flavour, which I agree is a matter of taste. Instead, I’m focussing simply on my current use of Linux Mint 5.0 and rate my experience (positive/negative).

Note that I remain a Windows-bred beginner… a noob if you will… and so I’m not the typical linux user who goes to Forums for help. I usually expect things to work, and when they don’t I waste time gripping about it in blogs like this! rather than actually finding constructive solutions for myself and others. See, I’m a terrible person, but heck, that’s me. So here’s my gripe. Read with caution.

Points : 10 (highest) to 1 (lowest). Usually I would never use 1 or 10, except in exceptional cases, so in effect my rating is between 2-9

1. Ease of installation =8

Linux Mint 5.0 was pretty easy to install and apart from a little slow response when I clicked “next”, it was painless and error free.

2. Out of the box experience =9

Unlike Ubuntu, which I kept having to install plugins that I desired, I’ve never had to install any plugin or closed-source device apart from what is already installed…. and yes, everything works. I’ve watched DVDs, listened to music and even played flash movies with ease. In fact, it’s easy to take this for granted… and matches something like my experience with PCLinuxOS. Linux Mint has a stellar “out of the box” experience.

3. Nags (problems (bugs?) in the system) = 3

a. Biggest flaw so far… when I load Linux Mint, I get 800×600 resolution. I then have to log out and re-loggin, and then I get the right resolution I desire. The fact that I use VIA chipset (why, oh, why?) could be the problem, but I certainly didn’t face this problem in previous editions.

b. The other biggest flaw is that it doesn’t allow me to hibernate, saying that I don’t have enough memory. Ubuntu said the same thing. Now if it is a “swap” drive problem, and I have 500 MB for my swap, I would think Linux Mint should advise SWAP size while installing, don’t you think?

4. Windows inter-operatability =5

As expected, the GRUB worked perfectly, and recognised my Windows partition. However, like Ubuntu, Linux Mint cannot mount NTFS partitions if Windows is hibernated. Since I usually hibernate my Windows, this is a real pain!

5. Firefox 3 = 5 (but somehow better than Ubuntu)

Perhaps Firefox has updated its Beta version, but somehow the Mint Firefox 3 works better than the Ubuntu Firefox 3. I still find myself longing for Firefox 2+ because so far I haven’t seen anything that great about 3, and perhaps that because it’s still in Beta (I think). It would have been nice to keep 3 optional.

Anyway, the biggest problem in the Mint Firefox is that it messes with the default Google search engine, customizing the look-and-feel and in the process losing some of the traditional Google search links (like images etc).

6. Operating System Navigation = 6

I like the look, even of the Menu Bar, but somehow it’s still difficult to find everything, because of the limited space for each section in the menu bar (we have to scroll down to find what we want, in “system” for instance). This is a pain, and actually makes you wish for more shortcuts (eeks!) or even the Windows ‘open-everything’ taskbar (double eeks!)

TOTAL: 8+9+3+5+5+6 = 36 / 60 = “6” … which actually looks worse than I actually found it. Without this mathematical rating, I think my actual new Linux Mint 5.0 experience is about a “7”… or even “7.5” out of 10. Certainly I would recommended it for the easy-solution seekers (like me).

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Comments»

1. ubuntucat - June 14, 2008

I think Linux Mint not mounting a hibernated NTFS partition is a safety feature so as not to prevent you from resuming your hibernated session when you boot back into Windows.

2. NAyK - June 14, 2008

To ubuntucat: yes, I know. But it is darn inconvenient, especially when you need to get one file stuck in Windows. PCLinux allows NTFS mounting, even on hibernated windows, and I have never had a problem with windows using that.

3. ubuntucat - June 14, 2008

I’m not sure I agree with PCLinuxOS’s policy on that, then. You may have never had a problem so far, but it seems a good idea to play it on the safe side.

You can always force the mount with a command like this: sudo mount -t ntfs-3g /dev/sda1 /mnt/windows -o force

4. evets - June 14, 2008

…or you could do like a normal person does and *shut down* windows instead of hibernating it. Hibernate may be faster, but you still need to reboot windows every once in a while since hibernation doesn’t go through the reboot sequence, which cleans out you computer. Just continually using hibernate all the time is like never rebooting your computer. Just shut it down and forget about hibernation, it causes more problems than it’s worth.

5. Blue Knight - June 14, 2008

evets, you can be right but for a laptop, hibernation is an important feature…

6. Anurag Panda - June 14, 2008

Reply to “nags”
(3a) It is not exactly fair to “review” Linux Mint on a VIA chipset based computer.
(3b) Did the swap size was automatically generated or did you resize it to “save” space. If you did it was common sense to assume that of swap size is lesser than RAM size OS will not hibernate. How could it be a “niggle’ for Linux Mint.
(4) Well I think the developers deliberately did that.
Anyway whenever you hibernate you are expected to use the same OS on power on. If you want to dual boot shutdown Windows anyway.

7. NAyK - June 14, 2008

To Anurag:

3a. hey come on man! what nonsense that it’s not fair on Linux Mint on a VIA chipset. VIA had drivers (supposedly), or are the VIA users not important enough to think about… yes, let’s all support INTEL! I think it’s more than fair to say that Linux Mint does not work well on a VIA chipset (especially since PCLinuxOS does!).

3b. SWAP size was set to 500MB since I had openSUSE running earlier. When I was formatting the drive… the Linux Mint Partition editor had no advisory about whether SWAP should be equal to RAM. How the heck should I know??? (what common sense are you talking about?) At least there should have been a guide or a suggestion; rather than giving me an option to hibernate and then telling me that I don’t have enough memory. Worse… I’m assuming it’s swap memory… couldn’t it be something else. Why isn’t it being clear what the problem is? Certainly a NAG!

4. Oh sure, like MS, let Linux do our thinking for us! Come-on. It’s a problem if you can’t mount hibernated NTFS, though you can mount hibernated FAT. If Ubuntu/Mint was actually trying to “help” then it should have disallowed NTFS/FAT mounting altogether… or at least even BAN FAT mounting. Basically, I think they got it wrong… didn’t want to take the risk. I’ve never had any problems with my NTFS mounting… in PCLInux… or even openSUSE. So thank you Ubuntu/Mint… for thinking of my BEST interest.

And thank you Anurag for that lesson in computing… that “you are expected to use the same OS on power on”… I certainly don’t want that habit to infect me!

8. Anurag Panda - June 15, 2008

“And thank you Anurag for that lesson in computing… that “you are expected to use the same OS on power on”… I certainly don’t want that habit to infect me!” – NaYk

Have you ever installed two versions of Windows together? Say if you have a dual boot of Windows XP and 98 and you hibernate XP.
Then you power on your system. What happens? The Windows OS menu list does not come and Windows XP is loaded automatically.
Do you see the point? Why did not MS not give the menu to load Win98?

9. NAyK - June 15, 2008

To anurag: I really don’t understand your argument. Because obvious I wouldn’t want to dual boot between two different Windows. And I know it’s dual-boot unfriendly (though I have done it once or twice). But I certainly have dual-booted it ALL THE TIME (between Linux and Windows), ever since I started Linux. The USP of Linux for me was that you could easily dual boot, and also work with some Windows files. The Linux flavour that better facilitates the dual environment process gets better “points”. Which is why many of us rejoiced when NTFS partition mounting became easier (only recently).

Yet, why would someone want to mount a NTFS windows partition in the first place? To change system settings? Or get to a much-needed file from Linux? Obviously, most of us just want to get a file… or access a music folder… thus, most of our NTFS usage is harmless… just getting a file… and usually it’s in read only mode so no damage, anyway.

Plus, if you have used PCLinuxOS regularly, you’ll know what a convenience it is. I regularly use PCLinux, even though I usually hibernate my windows. The grub menu allows me to choose which distro, and then, when I need to use PCLinux, I do it without having to fear that my Windows is hibernated or not.

It’s a simple feature that has huge value and increases efficiency. Instead of saying it’s not safe… and thus saying that we should NOT do it… (remember that’s what they said about NTFS mounting in the first place)… let’s try to do it better.

Listening to you, I’m now more convinced that Linux will evolve superior technology (better than what it already is) as it works even better with Windows (ie. better than Windows at the Windows game).


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