A new release candidate for Linux Mint community edition has been released. Mint is based on Ubuntu but includes some free but closed source extras (codecs, adobe flash etc) in order to provide a better ‘out of the box’ computing experience (Mint does make ‘universal’ pure open source versions too).
I’m normally a Mac user but increasingly I’m using Linux Mint for sheer speed and customisation ability and even enjoy running Mint purely from CD on our Intel Mac.It can equally be installed on a USB drive or alongside an existing Windows or Mac operating system.
This new XFCE based linux desktop adds a user configurable firewall and Mint Nanny which lets people filter web sites by domain for a simple way to control where others (children for example) can roam on the Internet.
For the first time this version of Mint can be installed from within an existing windows desktop using Mint4win which is similar to Wubi used in Ubuntu.
More feature details are available on the Linux Mint site.
I got to play with an Acer Aspire One netbook recently. Netbooks are generally smaller than laptops and aimed more at the digital nomad who doesn’t need the full bells and whistles of a fully featured laptop. This particular Acer Aspire one had an 8GB solid state drive that can be expanded via an SD expansion port. A second SD card slot lets you use an additional flash card for storage. WiFi was easy to configure and the 8.9 inch screen presented a high resolution image for its size.
The OS supplied is Linpus, a version of the Red Hat derived Fedora Core linux and loads in seconds from hitting the on button. This version of Linpus uses a panels style interface rather than the usual desktop arrangement though it’s relatively easy to get to the terminal and apply some gentle hacking to allow access to the conventional XFCE based system that lies underneath.
For me netbooks are better value for money than a mobile phone with Internet access whilst being more portable. flexible and robust than many laptops. The Aspire one can be purchased for as little as £199 and competes well with the Asus Eeepc, especially the newer models that are being supplied with a 6 cell battery.
Slideshare presentation available in full screen here
Photos included by jarsjo (under this creative commons license) and Alexandre Fugita (under this creative commons license)
I currently use Ubuntu
on one of our computers but am always keen to try new variants especially if they can be deployed on donated machines and make it easier to pass on something useful without having to spend too much time tinkering under the bonnet.
Previously I had been installing Ubuntu and Xubuntu
but had spent time adding the extras needed to make to user experience as complete as possible (changing menus, configuring multimedia plugins etc).
Linux Mint Community Edition
I then heard about yet another Ubuntu variant called Linux Mint that came with multimedia components such as adobe flash and the ability to play real, windows media and quicktime already configured.
So I tried the XFCE Community Edition BETA 008 CD as a live CD (runs entirely from CD without installing in order to try out prior to a hard drive install) on our intel based Mac and it was the fastest performing live CD I’ve ever used. Web pages loaded faster than on our Mac mini and I could watch the BBC iPlayer without having to download flash (though I did have to upgrade the installed version of flash in order to use the full screen function). Linux Mint also places the program menu items in a configuration that many other people will be familiar with which is a bonus for anybody deploying it on machines that are being gifted back into the community.
I also tried the Gnome based edition that has more eye candy (rotating workspace desktops even on the live edition) and uses a slab style menu though inevitably the memory footprint is not as efficient as the XFCE based edition (XFCE being better for computers with less memory). For comparison I made a similar screenshot walkthrough that can be found here.
Update: All Flavours of Linux Mint ran perfectly from CD on our intel Mac though I’ve experienced a fair few problems attempting to load on older hardware circa PIII’s and Duron’s. A warning if you try to install alongside OS X as these editions will not give the correct boot loader and currently requires installing without GRUB (or you’ll mess things up in a big way for your Mac) and manual jiggery pokery in the Mac terminal afterwards to get a correct dual boot.