Posted by: duskfire | September 25, 2011

Welcome to Debian – Linux Mint style

Part three of a multi-part series on my experience switching to the Debian Edition of Linux Mint.

I installed LMDE with the Gnome desktop several weeks ago. I decided to return to 32 bit, to see if certain games work better. This new release of Mint’s Debian Edition already has the default sources setup for you to use the update packs that are the latest innovation from the team.

Immediately after installation, I only had 9 updates in the Update Manager to approve (this is for the RC, not final, version)

This is what the update pack window looks like:

I didn’t really make it clear in my installation guide, but LMDE is based on Debian Testing, not Stable. This means that things are quite up to date without being untested. You’ll notice that the main link is to “latest”, not “incoming”. If you really REALLY feel adventurous, you can change that, but I don’t plan to. The Mint developers are doing their best to catch and fix bugs before packages reach “latest” (which is where the update packs enter the picture), finding the middle ground between the advantages of using a rolling distribution, and the bumps that go along with that choice. Ideally, you shouldn’t ever have to re-install Linux Mint Debian Edition again!

The temperature of my laptop seemed slightly higher than it was while running regular Mint. I am hoping that it’s due to the amount of time I ran, and not a difference between Mint and Debian Mint. I have found that running Mint always kept the temperature lower than it did when running Windows 7, which was one of the unexpected benefits to using Linux.

One thing I miss in the Debian version is auto-login. I added two user accounts for my wife and my mother in law, and wanted to set them to not need to enter their passwords. While you can do that in regular Mint, it is disabled in LMDE for some reason. Hopefully that will change in one of the next update packs.

The game selection in the main repositories looks to be nearly identical to those in Ubuntu’s (which is because Ubuntu does make use of the Debian repositories as a base). I find only about 10 games missing, most of which are probably from Playdeb. It is frequently stated in forums that package files created for Ubuntu may not always install correctly on a pure Debian-based system. Use Playdeb files at your own risk. The Wine package is also not in Debian’s repositories, but you can add the unstable version’s repository to your sources.list.

The version of Super Tux Kart on Linux Mint Debian doesn’t have the bug found in the Ubuntu version, however Dream Chess does have the same bug that the one in Ubuntu has (which is odd, since an earlier version I was trying from Debian seemed fine). Also there are a couple of games I found which are not in the Ubuntu list – notably Enemy Lines 7 and 7 Kingdoms: Ancient Adversaries.

Most of the last few weeks I have not really noticed significant differences using LMDE versus the usual Linux Mint (that is based on Ubuntu). However, yesterday I decided to install the KDE desktop software, which I hadn’t been using, and got an unexpected surprise:

At the current time, with my repository list set to “latest”, it seems that the KDE applications have conflicts, where they expect certain files to be installed that won’t be. This will be resolved soon enough, and the forums have discussions about it, but it does point to one of the reasons that many people still stay with regular non-rolling versions of Linux: Although you have to re-install twice a year, you don’t have to worry that new packages added into the repository will cause problems that might take days to fix.

Partly due to this new problem (the KDE set of applications is one of my favorite things about Linux), I have decided to move on from LMDE a bit earlier than I expected, and try a few other versions of Linux. I had already planned to take a look at the upcoming Fedora 16 at the beginning of November, so that gives me about 4 weeks to try 2 or 3 distributions that I haven’t used in a long time. After Fedora 16, I will be installing Mint 12 (the Ubuntu-based one) near the end of November.

There are many people who seem to really like Linux Mint Debian Edition. It requires a little more hands-on work than Mint 11 does, in my opinion, but that is a trade-off that could be worth it for you.

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