What about Mint’s not so impressive features?: – There is just a handful of those. Let’s begin with the installer
- Installer – With Linux and BSD distributions, it all starts with the installer. I generally prefer Linux distros with installers that gives me access to all the features I know are available (in Linux). Unfortunately, Mint and other distros spawned from Ubuntu comes up short in that regard. The installer is very basic, lacking the features that some consider “advanced,” features I think should be standard on all distributions. You can’t, for example, install an LVM-based system, or configure full disk encryption, or even password-protect GRUB, the boot loader.
mintWelcome – This is the application that welcomes you into the world of a minty-green desktop. While I think it’s a good idea, it is filled with links that not necessarily the most useful for new users.
What would be nice to have on mintWelcome are links to:
- Enable and configure Gufw, the graphical firewall management tool
- Configure the system to use NTP, the Network Time Protocol
- Customize various aspects of the desktop, etc
Pardus is the one distro with a welcome application that has, in my opinion, the right set of configuration options that a user may use to customize their desktop. A shot of Kaptan, mintWelcome’s equivalent tool on Pardus is shown below.
Software Center – I wrote favorably about the Software Center on Mint 9 in the previous page, but it (the Software Center) has its share of “bugs.” The most obvious is that it does not provide version information about applications. In the image below, for instance, clicking on any application will bring you to another page which has all the information about the applications except for the version number. Even for applications installed on the system, the Software Center does not provide version information. Like the suggestion I made per Ubuntu’s Software Center, I think it would be nice for Mint’s Software Center to have a “Security” category, too.
- Where are the games? – Linux Mint is one of the few (I think it’s probably the only one) distributions that does not ship with the usual set of desktop games. The DVD iso image is only 757 MB, so there’s ample room for a good selection of games. This is not exactly a show stopper, but it’s always nice to have a few games pre-installed.
Recommendations – Linux Mint is one of the most new-user friendly desktop Linux distributions available. If you are looking for a desktop Linux distribution with basic functionalities and that just works right out of the box, it is very highly recommended. If, however, you are in the market for a distro with more advanced features (LVM and RAID support, full disk encryption, etc), then you are better of with a distribution like Mandriva. Looking for even more advanced features like the ability to install to Storage Area Networks, or to storage devices attached to Mainframes, then you wont find any better than Fedora 13 and Sabayon 5.3.
What I’m really looking forward to in the next upgrade (Mint 10), is for the developers to jettison the current installer and bring Anaconda, Fedora’s excellent installation program, aboard. That’s the most important feature the developers of Sabayon incorporated into Sabayon 5.3, the latest release of the Gentoo-based, multi-purpose distribution.
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