From Ubuntu to Linux Mint

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[Gachie, Kenya]
WELL, IT’S OFFICIAL, I’m now a big fan of the amazing Linux distro called Linux Mint. You see, it’s based on the fabulous work that Ubuntu (which is based on Debian) has already done; that is, making Linux easy for the masses to use, install and manage — just like Windows XP (I hear Vista & Windows 7 are a “lengthy” nightmare to install).

My "sexy" Linux Mint 8 desktop

So, you can look at Linux Mint as a more polished (take a peek at my Mint 8 desktop above!) and kinder, gentler version of Ubuntu that simply does EVERYTHING right out of the box, like:

  • Playing any video or music format (DivX, Windows Media Audio/Video, Ogg, and tons more that I didn’t know existed).
  • Detecting your Nokia celly so you can connect to the Internet with it (on XP you have to download Nokia PC Suite to do this!).
  • Detecting all of your hardware and installing the proper drivers during the install process without you even noticing.
  • Setting up Flash in Mozilla Firefox right off the bat.
  • Ditto for Java!
  • Plus lots of other “little” things that make you say, “Wow!”

Suffice to say, I heart Linux Mint. Really. Things just work on my laptop — or on any other old or new system that I’ve test driven it on. Ya don’t believe me? Well, take a peek at the following screen shot where I’m running the ever popular (and FREE) Evolution email client that was given to the community by Novell. It can connect to my GMail via IMAP or POP3 — and it’s sooo slick. By the way, it’s touted as an Outlook killer in every way — except for all those annoying Outlook bugs. Well, you know deal when you’re using Microsoft products. Oh, Evolution can even connect to a Microsoft Exchange mail server, too.

My Linux Mint 8 desktop with the "Outlook killer" Evolution mail client

Of course I do this to show peeps down here that Linux Mint is a better alternative to Windows from this point of view:

  • Your system is responsive and runs fast since it’s not saddled with layers and layers of archaic, proprietary Windows “technologies” that have, unfortunately, become a nightmare (or headache) for Microsoft in order to maintain backward compatibility — ie. millions and millions of lines of bloated Windows programming code going back to Windows 3.1, 95, 98, ME, XP, Vista and now Windows 7. I truly feel sorry for Microsoft on that note! Have you ever wondered why Windows XP, Vista or 7 takes up so much damn hard disk space?
  • No chance in Hell of catching a virus, trojan, or worm that’s so prevalent on the Windows “platform”. I really believe Symantec, McAfee, Kaspersky, Esset, Trend Micro, Panda, Grisoft and other well known Windows antivirus software companies just love the insecurity that’s built into the Windows architecture starting from the late 1980s to the present — all the way to the bank. If they had to depend on Linux, OS X, or a popular BSD Unix variant like NetBSD, FreeBSD, or OpenBSD, they’d all go out of business. No sh!t.
  • Easy system updates and software installation thanks to its remarkable Debian lineage.

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  1. BlackMambo’s avatar

    yeah I recently came across Mint myself and thought it looked refreshingly good. What do you think as to its suitability for an internet cafe in Nairobi? Is it easy to network a bunch of Linux pcs, and are users gonna shy away?

  2. MaxTheITpro’s avatar

    Hi BlackMambo,
    Although I’ve only used Linux Mint 8 on my laptop and took it for a spin on various desktops and other people’s laptops, I can say without hesitation that it’ll work remarkably well in a cyber cafe setting. Your users will LOVE it!!!
    Networking and printing is EASY to set up.
    When I tested the LiveUSB on my friend’s brand new Dell Optiplex, it detected all the drivers and it even saw her HP LaserJet 1300 without having to install a bloody driver. AMAZING!! Try that with XP or Vista.

    Anyhow, if I were opening a cyber, I’d use Mint right away. OpenOffice 3.0 is such a breath of fresh air. And don’t forget, EVERYTHING’s already installed — best of breed apps for browsing, email, Instant Messaging, Music, movies, etc. You can play ANY codec right off the bat. That’s why people prefer it to Ubuntu.

    Cheers!

  3. Ethan’s avatar

    Windows 7 and Vista are much more streamlined to install than WIndows XP.

    Linux Mint is great, however, I use the KDE version. It’s much prettier and has loads of additional useful software.

  4. MaxTheITpro’s avatar

    Ethan, they should be more streamlined…for sure. They’re newer! But don’t forget the hassles of choosing which Vista or Windows 7 you’re going to install: Basic, Ulitmate, this, that, etc.
    But I’ve heard of some long installs with the resulting system running slooow as hell. That’s why so many people choose to downgrade from Vista to XP.
    And what’s the final size of a Windows 7? How many GBs of disk space are gobbled up?

    Does the KDE version of Mint run FASTER than the GNNOME version? Does it have better support for webcams?

    Cheers!

  5. Kenneth’s avatar

    I love Mint too. Problem is; Evolution does not support the newer Exchange versions (Imap not an option – Cant browse calendar) – If it did, I would give Win7 the boot ASAP…because of that I need to run Windows on my laptop at work. At home I dual boot Mint and Win7 (Win7 for gaming).

    I would say that Win7 is a different animal than Vista and is actually quite good. I have no problems with Win7 and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to people if Linux wasn’t an option.

  6. MaxTheITpro’s avatar

    Hi Kenneth!
    I agree that Windows7 is vastly different and is more reliable, etc. However, Microsoft had no choice but to come out with a winner. The writing was on the wall (Vista had a bad mind share; Desktop Linux is getting better & better; Apple & OS/X are gaining Windows refugees) so they took their time and really made sure things worked better. I’d also recommend Win7 to someone who also wasn’t interested in Linux – maybe after OS/X!

    But I’ve been hanging out in East Africa for the past 4 years and I feel that governments, SMBs, schools, etc. simply can’t afford Windows7 when Ubuntu, Mint, Mandriva, OpenSUSE, and PCLinuxOS have compelling FREE alternatives. That money is better spent on education, infrastructure, health care, etc. Just my 2 cents!

    Oh, peek this blog article “Thunderbird and Exchange” for your Exchange Calendar woes: http://blog.dave.org.uk/2009/06/thunderbird-and-exchange.html .
    The word on the street is that Mozilla Thunderbird 3 is a kick-ass email client that’s even better than Evolution. And version 3 gives you tabbed emailing…like tabbed browsing a la Firefox. I will soon be replacing my Evolution with “T3″. Also, this search should bring up some great solutions:
    http://www.google.ie/search?q=thunderbird+exchange

    Cheers!

  7. Karo’s avatar

    I read your post on the linux mint blog Max concerning Ipod under Mint. I think you should try out the application “gtkpod”. You can find it in synaptic. Easy to use with lots of options – including backing up your Ipod data. Hope it is what you were searching for.

    Greetings

  8. prudhivi sekhar’s avatar

    Hi. I am also Linux fan. I am using linux mint for some time and found it to be great. I am also making it as server. I am also RHCE certified, which is better than microsoft certification. Now looking for job in area of linux admin.

    By the way great blog…………

  9. Kirk M’s avatar

    Hey Max – On your questions about the KDE version of Mint (I’m running Mint 8 KDE CE RC1).

    As far as speed is concerning, it depends. Out of the box, default experience, the KDE desktop tends to be just a bit slower than the Gnome desktop but still fast enough. KDE 4.3.* by design tends to be a tad more resource hungry than the Gnome desktop. On the other side of the coin, the KDE desktop allows you a lot more configuration options than Gnome does by far. Of course, if you load up the Gnome version of Linux Mint with a bunch of Compiz effects then Gnome may run slower than the KDE version.

    But on today’s equipment, with dual cores and 2 GBs of memory being the bottom end of things, I would have to say they both run equally as fast out of the box.

    And I believe that Cheese is still your best option for webcams but I’m not entirely sure on that one.

  10. MaxTheITpro’s avatar

    @Karo: Thanks for the info on gtkpod. I’m gonna take it for a spin when I get the iPod back. I knew there had to be “another” way. Synaptic rocks like no other. This is why I prefer Debian-based Linux distros.

    @Prudhivi: Dude, have you seen the AMAZING server offering from Ubuntu? It is feature rich with lots of goodies. Take a peek here: http://www.ubuntu.com/products/whatisubuntu/serveredition
    And it’s ready for Cloud computing:
    http://www.ubuntu.com/cloud
    I don’t think you’ll have problems getting a Linux Admin job with RHEL certification. Where r u located? Have u taken CentOS for a spin yet? Its a Red Hat Enterprise clone, but FREE.

    I’m glad u like the blog. I’m looking to blend writing on IT & travel with my ultimate passion: Electronic Dance Music (Tribal, Progressive, House, Tech Trance, Acid/Minimal Techno) & the worldwide EDM DJ/clubbing scene. For me, it’s all about the VIBE.

  11. MaxTheITpro’s avatar

    Kirk, I downloaded the KDE version of Mint last week. I just gotta find time to take it for a spin. I’m gonna make it into a LiveUSB and try it out on various system setups down here in Africa.
    I have no doubts that this new KDE version is going to be a winner — based on all the reports. Who knows, I might just be heading back to the KDE side of things until Gnome 3 comes out. :-)

    Is the Cheese app in the package manager? My friend has the Toshiba lappie with a built-in web cam. Mine doesn’t have one. Does Skype for Linux detect it and use it correctly?

  12. MaxTheITpro’s avatar

    For those of u running VirtualBox and are having problems with accessing USB devices, Kienan from the UK mentioned this in an email:

    ========
    i have found that the latest build of VirtualBox allows direct connection of any usb device to the VM by virtual pipes. you will need the absolutely latest version available from the dev team(3.1.2 i think). i have used this to even use the ipod touch. it works well, but you cannot jailbreak any device using this method, it doesn’t work.

    you can restore the FW and copy media files. i have used both XP and 7 as guest OS’s, they both work, but 7 seems to work better (but i cannot get sound to work). if you have any information on possibly fixing this small issue, would you be so kind as to email me back?

    Kvella
    http://www.linwin.x10hosting.com
    =========

    Does anyone know about a fix for the sound issue in Windows 7 guests under Linux via VirtualBox?

    Thanks for the info Kienan!

  13. MaxTheITpro’s avatar

    For those of you having problems connecting your Huawei 3G USB modems in Linux Mint, here’s a step by step tutorial I emailed to Maximiliano in Argentina after he sent me this email:

    ***************
    Hi Max! i’m Maximiliano (Max 4 short)
    i’m a Linux Mint user from Argentina
    sorry if I bother U, not my intention. I just wanna know how U configure the Huawei HSDPA 3G modem or if there it’s some “how to” U read to complying that.
    In Argentina, that modem is distributed by all the three companies that sells GSM and i like to make it run on Linux Mint 8. The default installer that came whitin de modem runs only under Windows XP/2003/Vista/7 :(
    Please help!!! :)
    Thanx a lot!!!!
    ***************

    ========
    Buenos dias Maximiliano!
    You DON’T need a driver at all!! :-)

    Follow these steps:
    1) Insert your modem in the USB port
    2) Wait a few seconds for Linux Mint 8 to detect the modem
    3) Move your mouse over the Networking icon in the Mint Panel (next to the AC/Battery & Volume indicators)
    4) Right Click to see options like Enable Networking/Enable Wireless. But you want to add a new connection, so choose “Edit Connections”.
    5) Click the “Mobile Broadband” tab
    6) Click th e”Add” button to add a new entry for your mobile operator
    7) The Mobile Connection Wizard will come up. Look below by the pull down list and you SHOULD see your Huawei modem in the section that says “Create a connection for this mobile broadband device”
    8) Click the “Forward” button and answer the rest of the questions (choose your country and then your mobile operator…all the settings will be entered for you once you choose your provider)
    9) Once this is completed, mouse over the Networking icon again but LEFT click and you should see the wireless network for your mobile carrier. Click it to connect.
    10) That’s it!!

    You should run the System Monitor so that you can see how much DATA you’re using. Just add up Total Received + Total Sent.

    Cheers!! :-)

    Let me know how it went!!

    - Max
    ========

    Like I always say, Linux Mint rocks!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Courtney Glawson’s avatar

    We use professional photo-scanners and filmscanners from NIKON.Resolution up to 4.000dpi.

  15. Lelah Pearle’s avatar

    Thank you! I really appreciate your article, in fact I think you deserve a thumbs up.

  16. Pallav’s avatar

    Hi Max, I just installed Linux Mint a day ago. Figured out the 3g modem too. I am on a limited data plan with this modem. Is there any way through which I can track my daily, weekly and monthly usage of internet?

    Thanks!

    Pallav

  17. Melivin Jones’s avatar

    Hello,

    I have been reading your article and i have a question on unbuntu as well. I run a cyber cafe and i usually use cafe pro to track my employees and the activities around, if i divert to ubuntu as i really need to, due to containing viruses and managing my work station properly, is there a compatible program for ubuntu that is similar to cafe pro?
    Greetings!

  18. Max - The IT Pro’s avatar

    Hi Lelah,
    Thanks for the props. I visited your site…lots of interesting articles.

  19. Max - The IT Pro’s avatar

    Thank u for the shameless plug there Courtney. No comments on Ubuntu or Linux Mint? Well now I know where to go when I’m looking for photo-scanners, etc. from Nikon.

  20. stanley82’s avatar

    I’ve just updated ubuntu 7.04 to the latest mint on my better half’s machine. Where the hell did they put evolution? I’m familiar with different OS but what and where to click I’m finding tough and my wife will give me hell. Back to Ubuntu 10.4 it’s not too different.

  21. Max - The IT Pro’s avatar

    Stanley, it appears that the Mint developers decided to go with Mozilla’s fabulous Thunderbird email client instead of Evolution. The reasoning is that Evolution is NOT cross-platform like Thunderbird and that it’d be a smoother transition for folks “moving around.” Have a peek at what Jeremy wrote here:

    “…And that’s not my only gripe with Ubuntu that Mint 9 solves. The default application set makes more sense. For example, for email it stocks Thunderbird, for browsing it has Firefox, and for chatting Mint uses Pidgin. Ubuntu also uses Firefox, but uses Evolution for email and Empathy for chatting instead. While Evolution and Empathy are fine applications, they are not available across platforms. This means that if you use Evolution in Linux, you’d have to use something else in Windows because (as far as I know) there is no Evolution port for Windows or Mac. Same with Pidgin. That’s why Mint’s choices make more sense. Firefox, Pidgin, and Thunderbird are available on all major operating systems, which in my opinion makes Mint feel more natural to users of other platforms since they can utilize the applications they are likely used to. My personal opinion is that when in doubt over which application to include in your distro, choose the ones that are available on the most platforms…” {source: Linux Mint 9: Fast, Stable, and Beautiful – http://www.itnewstoday.com/?p=1514 }

    WHY don’t you give Tbird a chance?? I use it on my Windows 7 desktop! It’s fantastic…just like Firefox on the browser side of things. :-)

  22. Max - The IT Pro’s avatar

    Melivin, have a peek at this email on the WINE mailing list. Looks like some dude in South Africa is hoping to get Cyber Cafe Pro ported over to Linux. He also gives some other alternatives…have a peek:

    ———–
    On Mon, 2006-12-04 at 12:19 -0800, vulani mabunda wrote:
    Hi,
    I’m running an internet cafe using Cyber Cafe Pro software. This software is design soley for Windows platforms. We’re constantly experiencing problems with Windows with regards to viruses and stability issues. Recently, we lost all our data and had to re-install.

    May you please help us in flawlessly porting this application so that it can run on Linux both on the server and client sides. If this happens, it could mean an end to our nightmare with Windows!

    We have already tried Open Kiosk (which natively runs on Linux) prior to making my request. Open Kiosk is free but is not advanced enough to meet our requirements. For example, it can’t allow us to control and charge for excessive bandwidth. We’ve done extensive research on what is available and so far Cyber Cafe Pro seems to meet all our requirements with the exception of running only on Windows. Hodoman works on Linux but isn’t as advanced as Cyber Cafe Pro is.

    This is the reason why we are interested in trying to get Cyber Cafe Pro to work on Linux. Cyber Cafe Pro people aren’t interested in assisting us with regards to porting their application to Windows.

    Regards

    Vulani Mabunda
    CEO
    Internet CAfe Jack
    South Africa
    ———–
    {source: http://www.winehq.org/pipermail/wine-users/2006-December/023855.html }

  23. Katelyn @ Michigan 4G Wireless’s avatar

    Hello there, just doing some browsing for my Michigan 4g website. Truly more information that you can imagine on the web. Not what I was looking for, but great site. Cya later.

  24. ezaa’s avatar

    Linux Mint look very similar to the display windows, very helpful for me who are used menggunakasn windows

  25. Max - The IT Pro’s avatar

    New ZDNet article: “My favorite Linux desktop: Mint 10″
    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/my-favorite-linux-desktop-mint-10/8337

    Go Mint go!! :-)

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