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 wonâ€™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 revenueâ€™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 weâ€™re hoping to provide users with the following commercial search engines: Ask.com, Google, Amazon, eBay, and the non-commercial Wikipedia.
It wonâ€™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:”Â 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.” Â 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: â€œHow do we make people like Gnome 3? And what do we provide as an alternative to those who still do not want to change?â€Â 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, weâ€™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.