Linux Mint

I have not used Linux Mint but I poked around the website to find out about it. It’s getting lots of hits on DistroWatch, apparently attracting disaffected users from Ubuntu.

  • There are a lot of good ideas on the website and indeed there is a feature for proposing and discussing ideas. However, I was surprised to find “rejected by clem” frequently. Clem turns out to be the the major domo of the outfit. e.g. “As I said when I first posted this, Clem is the final word on everything, from team formation, (if it happens), to members, and artwork itself, so I haven’t done anything, and wont until Clem decides what is what. Whatever Clem decides is going to be fine me, (and should be for everyone on the forums), after all, Mint is his baby, he is the THE MAN when it comes to Mint.”
  • I found this blog entry:”Going forward, we won’t be using a custom search engine anymore. Linux Mint is the 4th most popular desktop OS in the World, with millions of users, and possibly outgrowing Ubuntu this year. The revenue Mint users generate when they see and click on ads within search engines is quite significant. So far this revenue’s entirely gone towards search engines and browsers. Our goal is to give users a good search experience while funding ourselves by receiving a share of this income. Search engines who do not share the income generated by our users, are removed from Linux Mint and might get their ads blocked.

    In Linux Mint 12 and upcoming releases we’re hoping to provide users with the following commercial search engines: Ask.com, Google, Amazon, eBay, and the non-commercial Wikipedia.

    It won’t only be down to donations and sponsorships anymore, your activity on the web, every search query you make and product you buy will help fund our project.” Well. Funding is important but since when does funding of a Free Software project interfere with a user’s web-browsing?

  • Then there’s source code:” Linux Mint is free of charge (thanks to your donations and adverts on the website) and we hope you’ll enjoy it.

    Some of the packages we distribute are under the GPL. If you want to access their source code you can use the apt-get source command. If you can’t find what you’re looking for please write to root AT linuxmint DOT com and we’ll provide the source to you.”  That looks like source code is an afterthought, not something essential to the project.

  • Roadmap: “the future of Linux Mint is Gnome 3, the present of Linux Mint is a simple question: “How do we make people like Gnome 3? And what do we provide as an alternative to those who still do not want to change?” It’s a walled garden with another “benevolent” dictator.
  • Phoning home: “Linux Mint is currently negotiating and establishing partnerships with some of the major actors on the search market. Our purpose is to bring the best search experience to you and the technology you enjoy while participating in the income you generate while browsing the Web.

    As part of this process, we’re running a test to establish the number of Opera users within the Linux Mint community.

    A custom Linux Mint build of Opera 11.52 is now available in the repositories for Linux Mint 11, LMDE, Linux Mint 10 and Linux Mint 9.” Ick… Establishing partners with commercial interests and “bring the best search experience” don’t necessarily coincide.

  • Depth: the list of developers fits on one screen. Debian has 1000+.
  • Sexism: most of the releases have girls’ names. It may not matter, but is another indication the community is not very diverse. Debian, too, mostly has male names but release 1.3 was feminine and the “Deb” in Debian is a shortened form for Debra. Many Debian developers are female.

I was going to test Linux Mint in a virtual machine. After reading that, I won’t bother. It’s obviously an organization intent on building revenue and restricting freedom rather than allowing users to do what they want, use information technology freely. Further, while free software licences do allow one to run software with little restriction, this organization is merely following the letter of the licences and not the spirit of sharing. We should move on to better things.

Obviously Linux Mint has some good features/policies but it is still a small distribution despite recent popularity and it may grow into something beautiful or something horrible. It has a long way to go on the evolutionary trail of distros.

I recommend Debian GNU/Linux. It’s truly a distribution intent on openness and sharing. It even has a constitution and a social contract so you’re not getting a pig in a poke.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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33 Responses to Linux Mint

  1. Jan wrote, “But they aren’t ported.”

    That’s not true. Even Adobe has ported some of its stuff to GNU/Linux. Acroread was the first PDF reader I used. LibreOffice has evolved over decades from StarOffice which started out on a Z80. StarOffice 1.0 ran on DOS. Netscape was available on GNU/Linux from the beginning even when that other OS was already dominant on PCs. Many CAD programmes are available on GNU/Linux. Same with video editing.

  2. Jan says:

    “Any application can be ported to GNU/Linux. The presence or absence of an application is no figure of merit of an OS as a platform.”

    But they aren’t ported. And yes, it is a figure of merit, even if it has nothing to do with the inherent technical merit. Because the number of applications available directly correlates with the platform being seen as a viable market. Linux as a consumer Desktop OS and market is dead, it was dead to begin with.

    Interview with Linus Thorvalds in “Die Zeit” (http://www.zeit.de/digital/internet/2011-11/linux-thorvalds-interview/seite-2):

    “But there’s another problem. Most people see their computers as devices which get work done. They aren’t interested in the computer itself. For me they are toys I want to tinker with. On the other hand most people don’t want to change their computers. Changing the OS for them means having to learn something entirely new. They don’t feel like doing that, even though Linux is free and comes with many cool tools.”

    (Original starts with: “Aber es gibt noch ein anderes Problem. …”)

  3. Any application can be ported to GNU/Linux. The presence or absence of an application is no figure of merit of an OS as a platform.

    I can read. I could read even before I went to school.

  4. Jan says:

    If I voluntarily limit my choice of applications by using Linux, then yes, Linux is inferior by that very definition. I haven’t written that Linux is inferior by any other criterion, even though you try to make it look like I did.

    “I only need one example to prove you wrong and I can give many. FireFox comes to mind followed closely by LibreOffice. These are superior apps, widely known and loved and used on that other OS.”

    Examples for what? Please, learn to read. Firefox and LibreOffice, which never were Linux-exclusive products to begin with, prove my point. They’re available for Windows. They always were. There’s no need to use Linux for them. Look at comment #25, it’s all there.

    Choice is good. Windows as an application platform offers more choice. Can you understand this simple concept?

  5. Jan wrote, “Besides, I did not even write that Linux itself is inferior, but I did write that Linux as a platform for simply running software is inferior, because you are restricted to the free software the great FLOSS community offers you.”

    Invalid argument based on a false premise:

    1. apps are inferior
    2. therefor GNU/Linux is inferior
    3. GOTO 1

    Since the premise is provably false the conclusion that GNU/Linux is inferior may well be false. I would take the $billions invested in GNU/Linux and its steady and strong growth proof to the contrary.

    I only need one example to prove you wrong and I can give many. FireFox comes to mind followed closely by LibreOffice. These are superior apps, widely known and loved and used on that other OS. By your reasoning, that other OS is also inferior. It is but not because of the apps. I won’t bother to reply to your other innuendo.

  6. Waldo Frankenhammer III says:

    Jan is stating opinion as fact. That’s a common Microsoftie method of avoiding the truth.

    Jan, try shouting louder. If that doesn’t work you can increase the number of your lies. Then, you can start over with opinion stated as fact. Go round and round like that as long as you can.

    There’s are several names for people who can not or will not come clean with their agendas. You are one of them Jan.

    Robert is too kind. Other bloggers are not.
    http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2010/09/debunking-the-1-myth.html#comment-3108799

  7. Jan says:

    Irrelevant according to you, Pogson. You’re — Thank God! — not a reliable authority on anything. Besides, I did not even write that Linux itself is inferior, but I did write that Linux as a platform for simply running software is inferior, because you are restricted to the free software the great FLOSS community offers you. No, WINE doesn’t count, and using a virtualized Windows still means using “that other OS”. Except for niche markets, commercial software doesn’t exist for Linux.

    “Developers are users of software too. I would not want to use software in which the developer has no faith.”

    Developers can’t judge their own software from a user’s point of view. Most Linux developers, especially the unpaid kind who write what could be called consumer software, solely write software to fulfill a purpose for them. It’s actually of negligible importance if said software is useful to others, despite claims to the contrary. That’s why the “Don’t like it? Fork it. Here’s the code.” attitude is so prominent in Linux.

    Releasing the code is not a good deed. Releasing a good application is far more important.

    And to come back to the original topic, if Linux Mint is a better operating system by not adhering to the free software dogma, then all the better.

  8. Jan wrote a bunch of stuff all of which is wrong/irrelevant.

    I have used both GNU/Linux and that other OS and GNU/Linux is not inferior. For many purposes it is superior because it concentrates on getting the job done not marketing.

    Developers are users of software too. I would not want to use software in which the developer has no faith.

  9. Jan says:

    Your reasoning sucks, Pogson.

    Face the facts: nearly all free software is available for Windows, too. Add to that tons of Windows-exclusive free software, freeware, shareware, and commercial software. Why would anyone in his or her right mind choose an inferior platform for software, offering so much less choice than Windows does?

    The “millions of developers” the “FLOSS community” (supposedly) has are, except when they are paid to write software, primarily interested in doing what’s fun and/or useful to THEM. That most often excludes cooperation. That’s why you have endless redundancy which you try to sell us as CHOICE. That’s why you have five mediocre projects doing the same thing instead of two good applications, or one killer application.

    And your claim of not treating IT as a religion is completely ludicrous. You’re practically a worshipper of GNU/Linux.

  10. oldman wrote, “So I am going to hire someone to build an extension for my word processor Pog?”

    That makes sense if you 50K instances of the application. 50K x $100+ will allow you to hire all the programmers you need. Similarly if other businesses in your industry decide they need some feature, they can hire programmers to create the software, sharing the costs and the benefits. It only makes sense. A lot of software is made by cooperation.

  11. oldman says:

    “You can hire someone to build it or find it for you just the same as non-free software”

    So I am going to hire someone to build an extension for my word processor Pog? SO now I have to be adept in generating a specification for the code, I have to interview programmer candidates, I have to manage them, etc. etc. – All for a missing feature that I could have had simply bought the closed source software.

    “It is you oldman that keep claiming something cannot be done if it cannot be done with a particular application. That is false.”

    It is not that it cant be done, it is that when you are relying on a feature that is absent, it is unreasonable to expect people to just give up that feature regardless.

    “GNU/Linux is as rich in apps as any OS can be. As a bonus, GNU/Linux gives you the freedom to run, examine, modify etc. so FLOSS gives you more for less effort/expenditure.”

    The bonus you cite is IMHO worthless Robert Pogson. If I have a particular set of functionality in a commercial piece of software. I am not going to switch to an application that lacks those features.
    As far as your added side benefits are concerned, they are worthless to me.

    The truth is that FOSS can give less, often far less than a commercial closed source package.

    This having been said, it must be admitted that the value of the absent function or feature is in the end a personal judgement.

  12. oldman wrote, “YOU are the one who keeps claiming invincibility of linux. that it “works” as if the definition of works as evidenced by your experience is the only definition.”

    A computer is a general-purpose information-processing machine. GNU/Linux can make that machine usable for any software built for it. By definition, GNU/Linux systems can do anything along the line of creating, modifying, finding, storing and presenting information. There isn’t anything that it cannot do, generically. It is you oldman that keep claiming something cannot be done if it cannot be done with a particular application. That is false. I can replace a word with dozens of applications running on GNU/Linux. The FLOSS community has millions of developers and many of them are working on applications. If anything is challenging in GNU/Linux it’s having to choose. We even have apps to help one choose, apt-cache, grep and GUI tools.

    oldman wrote, “You build it yourself or do without.”

    Nonsense. You can hire someone to build it or find it for you just the same as non-free software. It’s software. It can be obtained many ways. On the desktop many apps are being accessed through the browser so OS is not an issue. GNU/Linux is as rich in apps as any OS can be. As a bonus, GNU/Linux gives you the freedom to run, examine, modify etc. so FLOSS gives you more for less effort/expenditure.

  13. oldman says:

    “The invincibility of that other OS does not exist”

    No said anything about invincibility Pog. YOU are the one who keeps claiming invincibility of linux. that it “works” as if the definition of works as evidenced by your experience is the only definition.

    “Free Software is returned many times over in reliable easy to maintain IT.”

    If the software doesn’t have the function and feature that is needed, then there is nothing easy about it. You build it yourself or do without. If you wish to do with out for your own personal reasons that is your privilege. I and others like me do not share that view. For us using FOSS especially desktop FOSS can be a step backwards in function and feature that we have neither the interest in nor the intention of taking.

  14. I don’t. I can back up my statements with concrete evidence. Folks who claim malware is totally avoidable using that other OS are acting on faith, not facts. Malware exists. The invincibility of that other OS does not exist.

    Software Freedom etc. are eminently sound principles for doing IT, not articles of faith. OTOH, oldman and others claim one actually gains real benefit from throwing money at M$, something not in evidence. One gains access to the enormous repository of Free Software at Debian GNU/Linux for 30 minutes of effort and for hundreds of dollars paid to M$ gets much less functionality. One might as well throw money to the wind. oldman, you take as faith that M$ will take the money and pay programmers but the fact is that fat cats like Ballmer take the money and have fun with it. M$’s entire investment in “7” is likely recouped in a couple of quarters of revenue and the rest is entirely wasted. OTOH all the money you invest in Free Software is returned many times over in reliable easy to maintain IT.

  15. oldman says:

    “IT is a commodity, not a religion.”

    Then why do you make it so Pog?

  16. The “rant” is nowhere to be found. I disagree with censorship and I may actually agree that Israel has unclean hands in the Middle East but it doesn’t have much to do with IT. I love clean, efficient IT and I don’t care much who uses it or who creates it as long as its good. Same with pencils and light bulbs. IT is a commodity, not a religion.

    BTW Trimslice, which I believe is a great product, comes from Israel. So do raids on the high seas, blockades, and occupation of territory which I abhor. Israel is not a good neighbour but neither are some of its neighbours.

  17. shawnr says:

    I could no longer use Mint in good conscience after the Isreal rant. http://abriefhistory.org/?p=774

  18. There is an overview of MGSE here.

    The key elements seem to be:

  19. The bottom panel
  20. The application menu
  21. The window list
  22. A task-centric desktop (i.e. you switch between windows, not applications)
    Visible system tray icons
  23. I get those in XFCE4 for free. No muss. No fuss. No benevolent dictator to please and a real community.

  24. Window Manager
    Manages the placement of windows on the screen, provides window decorations and manages workspaces or virtual desktops.
  25. Desktop Manager
    Sets the background image and provides a root window menu, desktop icons or minimized icons and a windows list.
  26. Panel
    Switch between opened windows, launch applications, switch workspaces and menu plugins to browse applications or directories.
  27. Session Manager
    Controls the login and power management of the desktop and allows you to store multiple login sessions.
  28. File Manager
    Provides the basic file management features and unique utilities like the bulk renamer.
  29. Setting Manager
    Tools to control the various settings of the desktop like keyboard shortcuts, appearance, display settings etcetera.
  30. Simple, useful, functional. Why add bloat just to struggle with it?