For a while now my wife has stopped using her laptop and consistently uses my son’s laptop. His laptop was a present from Santa and has a very comparable set of statistics including 3gb of dual core ram, high end graphics card etc. Needless to say it came pre-installed with Windows 7. As laptops go it is pretty impressive.
So what about my wife’s PC? Well she said it runs too slow. I tried it out and it was running Windows Vista (which is “The Phantom Menace” of operating systems). I told my wife that there is nothing wrong with the machine it is the operating system that is the problem. To be honest Vista should never have been pre-installed on that computer. It has 1gb of ram and a cpu not capable of adequately running Vista.
I therefore decided to remove Vista and install LINUX. Which LINUX should I go for? On my netbook I am still running UBUNTU 10.04 which I am very happy with although I have just downloaded 11.10 which is a project for next week.
I regularly read Slashdot and LXER and a couple of articles mentioned that MINT had overtaken UBUNTU as the most popular flavour of LINUX. I have used MINT in the past back at version 7. I did like using MINT but deep down I preferred UBUNTU.
With UBUNTU already running on the netbook and LUBUNTU running on an older PC I decided to try MINT out again.
The main issue I had with the install was that the laptop already had 2 partitions. The first partition was for Windows Vista and was 120gb in size. The second partition was a 40gb NTFS partition used as the restore segment for restoring to factory settings. I had actually used a lot of this partition for storing all my music in MP3 format. With many painstaking hours used to convert 20 gb of music from CDs to MP3 in the bank I definitely did not want to lose this partition.
Whilst installing MINT I thought I had set the partitions correctly with a partition for MINT, a partition for SWAP and the NTFS left well alone.
When the install finished the system rebooted and I was left with a GRUB error. Now this blog is called LINUX for the Layman and I am the layman. I have a lot of Windows application development experience but my home use of LINUX is usually just to do normal home computing tasks.
The brilliance of using MINT or UBUNTU is that there is always a simple solution to any problem and after a quick trawl through the forums I found the answer to my GRUB problem which involved repairing the GRUB install.
So with a now working version of MINT 12 I set about trying out the different desktops. The Gnome desktop is set by default and I have to say it wasn’t that impressive. The menus had funny characters in various places and the scroll bar looked strange. Again armed with Google I searched for a solution and the best solution offered to me was to use the MATE desktop.
The MATE desktop was really good at first. I set up two panels, one at the top and one at the bottom. I set the wallpaper and all was well. Then I had to try and be clever and change the background colours of the panels. This caused both panels to disappear and despite multiple attempts I have yet to get them back.
On to desktop number 3 which is the Gnome classic. This worked fine but is less configurable than MATE.
MINT comes pre-installed with the same software you’d find in most other Gnome based distributions but I prefer Chrome to Firefox so I instantly downloaded it.
Connecting to the internet was a breeze and unsurprisingly my wireless connection was found straight away.
Hopefully some experts who read this post might be able to help with the problems I am having with MATE because I liked it and if someone knows the answer to the funny behaviour of the Gnome desktop and also Cinnamon then I would be grateful for that too.
Will I stick with MINT. Well actually maybe but only because I’ve taken the effort to set up an account for my daughter and customised it for a 4 year old to be able to play without causing any damage.
As mentioned earlier I have a brand spanking new version of UBUNTU to try out and I have read bad things about the UNITY desktop but I’m open minded and willing to give it a go. That is for another day.