Part one of a multi-part series about my experience switching to the Debian Edition of Linux Mint.
I’ve used Linux Mint for about two years. It has several versions, but the main one has always been based on one of the most popular Linux distributions – Ubuntu Linux. Mint takes Ubuntu, adds its own tweaks and branding, and releases it. I like to call it “Ubuntu done right”. Ubuntu itself is based on one of the main 3 “core” distributions in the Linux community – Debian.
Last year, developers at Linux Mint decided to try creating a spin based on Debian directly, rather than on Ubuntu. Although considered to be in a testing stage at first, this edition proved very popular with many people using Mint who were starting to disagree with the direction Ubuntu seemed to be heading.
Today, the Mint developers have announced that they are almost ready to release a newer version of their Debian Edition, in this post on the Mint Blog. They have made available a release candidate through mirror download sites or torrents listed on that page. You can also read about known problems, check the changelog, and look at the F.A.Q. One thing to make note of is that the Mint developers have made it possible to install LMDE from a USB stick, via a special program called “UNetbootin”, whose website is here. (UNetbootin is not associated with nor developed by the Linux Mint folks.)
Since the final release is still a couple of weeks away, I decided to go ahead and install this RC. Unless you are comfortable with having minor quirks or bugs, I recommend that you wait until the developers announce the final release of this new version.
[I did the initial installation in a virtual machine, so I could get screenshots and describe the process better. After this posting, I’ll actually install it directly to my laptop.]
The first 3 questions ask for the language, your time zone, and then the desired keyboard layout.
Next comes partitioning. I will make a post specifically about partitioning soon, but I will point out that this is a little more complicated with Mint Debian than it is under the main edition of Mint.
(There is an excellent disk partitioning guide with lots of pictures at LinuxBSDos.com. If you aren’t familiar with creating partitions, I definitely recommend you read it.)
The next screen asks for your full name, username desired, and your password. This last will be used with the “sudo” command – like Ubuntu and regular Mint, the Debian Edition will not ask for a root password but use your usual one for all administative commands. There doesn’t seem to be an indicator of password strength (certain Fedora-based distributions DO show you the relative strength of a chosen password).
The next screen lets you choose where to install the GRUB bootloader. Unless you have good reason to override, leave it at the default.
Caution: if you have a dual-boot setup, you will want to check your Control Center after installation to make sure that the Startup Manager is in there. If it isn’t, use the package manager (Synaptic) to install the “startupmanager” package. Then, go into the Startup Manager and make sure to set the default operating system to the secondary one. If you don’t do this, then on booting into your computer the system will go straight into Linux Mint Debian without letting you choose between each time.
After this you are shown a summary to ensure that all your choices are correct, before actually starting the installation process. While it installs, you get a splash screen similar to the one for regular Linux Mint. The process took me about 15 minutes. The default background proudly displays a 3d Debian logo next to the Mint name.