Friday, 25 April 2014

Does Linux Mint exist?

Posted by Gary Newell  |  at  07:30 15 comments

Introduction

The title of this article is deliberately vague and it will become clear why later on.

A little while back I wrote an article in which I stated that I think PCLinuxOS is better for Windows XP users than Ubuntu.

Without going into too much detail the reasons are as follows:

  1. PCLinuxOS with the MATE desktop is more likely to run on the same hardware as Windows XP than Ubuntu with the Unity desktop.
  2. PCLinuxOS is a rolling release distro and if you are using Windows XP you don't like to replace your operating system often. Therefore PCLinuxOS keeps you up to date without upgrading.
  3. The MATE desktop is going look more familiar to a Windows XP user than the Unity desktop
  4. Unity incorporates adverts into the interface and whilst they can be turned off this can be a turn off for some users. PCLinuxOS doesn't have adverts
  5. Things just work straight away with PCLinuxOS without having to install things like Flash, Multimedia Codecs etc.
Whether you agree with the article or not I think the reasons were well defined.

The PCLinuxOS article was discussed by the Mintcast team in episode 193 of the podcast.

I have been meaning to write this response for a number of weeks but now I have finally had the time to do so and with Ubuntu 14.04 fresh out of the blocks it seemed like a good time to release it.

The discussion

In Episode 193 the Mintcast team were joined by the Linux Luddites.

With regards to point 1 the Mintcast host seemed to agree that MATE is lighter than Unity and therefore more likely to work on older hardware.

A follow up point was made that Xubuntu and Lubuntu would equally work on older hardware and I would have to agree.

Point 2 kind of covers Xubuntu and Lubuntu though, especially at the time of writing. Ubuntu has an LTS release every 2 years and therefore so do Lubuntu and Xubuntu.

If I had advocated Lubuntu and Xubuntu at the time that article was released then those users who had moved from XP would now be required to upgrade to 14.04 as the 13.04 and 13.10 releases have short support cycles.

In addition to the release and support cycles I would also say that Xubuntu and Lubuntu require more work to get started than PCLinuxOS.
"This guy, Gary Newell, seems to live in a parallel universe where Linux Mint doesn't exist"
I found the above quote quite amusing. The article has the title "5 Reasons Why PCLinuxOS is better for Windows XP users than Ubuntu". It has absolutely nothing to do with Linux Mint and this is why I never mentioned Linux Mint in the article.

I am of course well aware of Linux Mint and have written reviews consistently over the years including
I also have a review of Linux Mint 16 MATE that I am preparing to release in the next couple of weeks.

With regards to Linux Mint it was mentioned that 4 out of 5 of the points relate equally to Linux Mint as they do to PCLinuxOS.

This is indeed true but there is one reason left as to why I recommended PCLinuxOS and not Linux Mint.

Linux Mint will be a great choice for Windows XP users in a couple of months time but it would be silly to suggest Linux Mint 16 to users who haven't updated their operating system in over 10 years because they would need to upgrade again in a matter of a few months time.

It would make much more sense to recommend Linux Mint when the LTS release comes out later on this year.

It was mentioned during the podcast that one of the Luddites had tried to dual boot PCLinuxOS with Linux Mint but when they rebooted the computer PCLinuxOS failed to boot.

From the failed install it was determined that it is laughable that I could come to the conclusion that PCLinuxOS would be good for new users.

I have to disagree entirely with this statement.

I wrote a guide showing how to dual boot PCLinuxOS with Windows XP and it was a very easy process. I have since tried and succeeded getting Linux Mint and PCLinuxOS to dual boot using a very similar technique.

By and large the criticism of my original article was constructive even if I disagree with many of the points raised.

The one point I didn't really like was when it was mentioned that the article was link bait to link to the other articles I'd written about PCLinuxOS.

I don't like the term link bait. Surely every person who writes an article on a blog wants people to read it. I think the 5 reasons were all reasonable and even if you don't agree with them there was value to the article.

It is common practice to link to other items within blog posts and so having written articles showing how to install PCLinuxOS it would be silly not to link to them as they might be useful to people who decided on the back of the post that they would like to try PCLinuxOS.

Regular readers will know that I tend to write a series of articles at a time. For instance recently I have written a review of openSUSE with a number of follow up posts. They aren't designed as link bait but as a method of providing a more complete overview of the distributions.

I found it strange when it was mentioned that I had a vested interest in writing the article about PCLinuxOS because surely by appearing on the Mintcast podcast the Luddites had just done the same thing. They had a vested interest to talk about Linux Mint.

Summary

This is not an attack against the Mintcast podcast or the Luddites as I like listening to their podcasts and I listed both of them in my top 9 Linux podcasts article.

I did feel it necessary to respond to their critique though as I felt many of the points weren't valid or needed qualifying.

As for the title of this post, that is definitely link bait. A title so vague that it draws people in.

Thanks for reading


About the Author

Gary Newell started the Everyday Linux User blog in 2010 and has written reviews on dozens of different Linux based operating systems. He has also written a number of tutorials.

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15 comments:

  1. Likewise could somebody ask "Does Zorin OS exist?" There exist many opinions what's suitable alternative for XP. Second question could be "Does Mint so stable and reliable as PCLinuxOS for example?" FYI on Linux.com has Zorin 5* and Mint 2* even is so popular. Why? Mario

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  2. I've been a user of many distros. I like to play with a lot of them, mostly the major players. Personally, PCLinuxOS is the distro I recommend for people to start out with, and after distro hopping a bit, many like to come back and settle on it. It just plain works and the rolling release puts an end to worrying about upgrades. Let's face it: It's the same with many distros on 6 month releases that one release is spectacular and solid when the next is iffy. The rolling release isn't perfect. Things have been broken. But, like many XP owners, I'm just not into reinstalling all of the time. The rolling release gives me the latest without the hassle of it all. I'd rather use my Linux than be fiddling with it all the time. I can't even tell you about how awesome the community is. The forum is the best I've ever encountered, though it wasn't always that way.

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  3. Gary, I like the idea of a title that attracts attention, and I also think that your comments and reasoning, both in the original article and in this latest edition are sound and have a lot of merit. I did not conclude for a moment that you were necessarily ignoring either Linux Mint, Zorin OS, or any other alternative, but you were focusing primarily on PCLinuxOS and several of the main reasons why you prefer it to various other alternatives.

    If we do want to open this up to other potentially viable options for a Windows XP migration, there is at least one Linux Mint option that may be worth considering in the future, an option that generally flies below the radar, but it's actually a pretty good option, and that is the Linux Mint Debian Edition, also known as LMDE. It is, in many ways, similar to PCLinuxOS in the sense that it is, for the most part, a rolling release; there are no particular "versions" of this implementation, just occasionally rebuilds and new images when something significant becomes available, very similar to what the PCLinuxOS project does. I've found it to be stable, not necessary to reinstall frequently (if at all, once initially installed), and it is reliable. Those who just want to install and periodically check for updates get just what they ask for. Like PCLinuxOS, it generally comes with most, if not all, of what a typical user is going to need; it is easy to install and it has a strong user community and forum presence. It does, however, ride "low" on the radar, so unless you know about it, people may not even know that it is available.

    I tend to prefer Debian-based software that is based on either their Testing or Sid package archives. These are also install once and rarely, if ever, reinstall. I've had one of my systems running for the past four or five years. As far as Debian Testing or Debian Sid directly from the Debian project, these are not likely to be strong candidates for consideration by someone migrating from Windows XP. However, there are a few distributions that may be worth a look.

    The antiX project has some great systems, a few of which may be worth consideration because they are flexible, can run on new or old hardware, don't have to be constantly updated or upgraded, and they can be built using software from any of the Debian projects (Stable, Testing, or Sid). It might be just slightly off the ideal for someone with only a Windows background, but not by much, so it is worth mentioning in the discussions.

    It's original parent, MEPIS, is a really good distribution, but it is fading from view, not often updated, and it's also based on Debian Stable, so without modifications it probably does not meet all of the requirements you have outlined, but it is a really good system to use and quite a few people stick with it, even with its age.

    Looking at all of these, PCLinuxOS still stacks up quite well against all of them, particularly with the parameters that you have mentioned. Those willing to look slightly outside of the boundaries and parameters that you have laid out, especially new or potential hobbyists, may still want to take a look at some of these other alternatives, and because your articles and forums go beyond just the systems mentioned in this particular dialog, I mention them for possible discussion in other topics.

    ReplyDelete
  4. When you publish an article on the Internet, no matter how careful you are in trying to be balanced and reasonable in the scope of your article, somebody, usually because they have an ax to grind, will find some fault with that which you have written.

    [disclaimer-- Peronsally I prefer and use Linux Mint (Debian packaging system including the Ubuntu main, restricted, multiverse and universe repositories being one of the primary points in favor) and have never used PCLinuxOS athough I think I may have tried it once many moons ago and decided against because it only came with KDE]

    Really it all comes down to personal choice, and for some people, sad to say, the color of the default wallpaper and/or theme.

    And I forgot to ask does openSUSE (or even PC BSD) not exist in your parallel universe? ;)

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  5. elementary OS exists :)

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  6. I like pclinuxos and use it on my hp tower and don't have any plans to change it. It just works.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Linux users are slightly less annoying than Buntu users who take their cues from the douchey Apples fanbois.
    Everyone is soooo insulted because X doenst use MY distro and that totally invalidates MY use or MY enjoyment of my OS.

    yes, it exists. So what? there are hundreds of distros and they all exist. your precious isnt anything special so stop whining because someone didnt mention it.

    Im writing this from my uncle's Kubuntu running an old AMD Athlon 7850 Dual-Core which happens to be the distro Ive been using for newbies for 1-2yrs. Before that I used PCLinuxOS2007 for quite some time because they were among the best at doing wifi for laptops then.
    Nowadays, I dont have time to go test out distros (that are all the same) so being a Debian guy, its just easier to stick with Kubuntu or Xubuntu (no one has yet asked me for Unity and I do show them 3 different desktops when switching a newbie).
    We have both Kubuntu and PCLinuxOS running on some home computers but those are only 2 out of 6 computers. (Arch and Debian are my work machines)

    One of my coworkers uses Mint I think but he also has OpenSuse on it (the only way I can tell is because of the SUSE logo) so i cant say if Ive used it much or not. its the same programs as the other distros with the same packages but a few esthetic differences I presume.

    Maybe its age and Im getting jaded of maybe its because Ive been through Linux stages when it was usable for geeks only and know how bad it was then and how good it is now (the only thing I have left to complain is bad power management/overheating on laptops) when I have over a dozen seniors in my family that have been using Linux for the past 3yrs.

    I GET the joy of finding a Linux distro to call your own and wanting the whole world to know how great it is but ive grown weary with the mindless moaning such as does Mint Exist?
    Especially when the differences between distro A and B are so small and superficial..

    Jeff the Comic Book Guy


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you may have missed the point of the article. The point is that I wrote a piece comparing pclinuxos and Ubuntu and the question was asked what about mint.

      Delete
  8. I run both Mint and Windows. I reinstall Mint every year or so, LTS or no. The big thing with XP is not that the OS didn't need reinstallation ever, unless the user broke it, which was hard to do, but rather that XP supported current versions of nearly all Windows software right up to the last minute. That's my issue with both rolling release and so-called "LTS" Linux distros: when do the repositories go out of date. When do I have to reinstall the OS anyway, not because it isn't being updated as an OS but because I can't update VLC, GIMP, LibreOffice, Firefox, Chromium, or other essential third party software the current version because the repo is dead? That was never an issue with XP. I set that beside regular Linux problems, distro by distro, with LAN setup and peripheral support.

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    Replies
    1. Ubuntu is a good example of an LTS cycle that after just 2 years can go very out of date.

      Ubuntu 10.04 still used Gnome 2 yet had a long life cycle. Ubuntu introduced Unity as early as version 11. (can't remember if it was 04 or 10). The original version of Unity wasn't great but by version 12.04 it was fine. So in that instance the LTS users were in a worse position than people who installed regularly.

      12.04 itself was an LTS which worked well and the significant changes in every release since have generally been performance related and they have been patched back. So 12.04 users are as well off today as people using 14.04.

      Now 14.04 is out there has never been a better time to install Ubuntu.... but will we be saying that in a year's time.

      There is no right or wrong answer to this.

      Delete
  9. How about an article about LXLE Linux (LTS), which is billed as a drop-in replacement for Windows XP? You might be impressed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have been meaning to review LXLE for ages. I will get around to it though

      Delete
  10. I suppose the reason it would come up is simply that the article was about the Mate desktop and the main developers of the Mate desktop are from Mint, not PCLinuxOS. Mate is to a fair extent Mint's baby. So it's like if you were touting (Random Distribution X) as a choice for users because it ran Unity, and never mentioned Ubuntu.
    Not to say your article had to recommend Mint, but it does seem a bit rude not to give them a shout-out for being, you know, the people making it possible for PCLinuxOS to have what you're recommending it for.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is of course a fair point well made. The real overriding reason I chose PCLinuxOS and not Mint is the upgrade issue. It is the achilles heal of Mint

      Delete
  11. I had always been a pc linux fan. However I found the system unstable over time. Granted it could have been the software I was adding. But I recall some hosting issues I had to edit some files to fix. I did not pay for it so i can't be mad. Just saying. The corporate backing of ubuntu in mint has been more stable with mint 13.
    All this has been on good hardware. On older stuff anything based on ubuntu is too slow. Pc Linux or puppy are better. Open Suse was slow either way.

    ReplyDelete

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