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LinuxMint 15 delivers smooth alternative to Ubuntu

Mint offers three versions, including a rolling update option targeted at developers

By Tom Henderson, Network World
August 05, 2013 06:01 AM ET

Network World - The crafters of the LinuxMint distro are in a ticklish position. Mint is based on Ubuntu, which in turn, is based on Debian, which in turn, has the moveable feast of the Linux kernel as its underpinning. All three have changed underneath LinuxMint, but LinuxMint 15 pulls off a new cut without missing a step (save a missing KDE version).

We found LinuxMint 15 to be smoother than the previous version, a bit heftier, yet more adept. What really intrigued us is a Debian version that's a rolling version, and although it's called LinuxMint 15, it's more like LinuxMintForever. It's also not a good choice for civilians for a number of reasons. There's also a skinny version, LinuxMint Xfce.

[ALSO: 5 things we love/hate about Linux Mint 13

Gone in the primary edition are a few clunky apps, and we found waning support for older hardware, although few are likely to complain. We still need to download replacement apps, because some of the ones that are included continue to do weird tricks.

One example is the media app, brasero, which can't seem to burn standard CDs from ISOs the second time around on our test machines (Lenovo T520s and T530s), and sometimes can't burn the first ISO correctly. We replaced it with K3B, which is vastly better in our experience. But now we can burn USB flash drives without error or drama right from the initial startup as a “pendrive” USB device burner is included.

The sheer number of post-installation updates dropped dramatically, also to our liking, as a result of an update-sources change, as they now pull from the correct repositories consistently and the system of getting updates has been nicely revamped.

Linux Mint

As the downloadable LinuxMint 15 ISO files were more complete than before, update times went down.

LinuxMint 15 (Olivia)

There are three base versions, a primary download, Xfce, and LMDE.

 The primary default download contains Cinnamon 1.8 and Mate 1.6. We currently favor this version over the LMDE release for civilian use.
 LinuxMint 15 LMDE, based on comparatively raw Debian sources and older versions of Cinnamon and Mate, is a DebianForever version - a rolling update version. You can also choose the KDE version, which sits at LinuxMint (release level) 14, and not Olivia. There is no LinuxMint 15 server, smartphone, or tablet ports to ARM that we could find. Ubuntu and Debian both cover these alternate turfs.
 Xfce runs in under 500Mb of RAM and less than 5Gb of space, a lean-and-mean version. We have nothing that small anymore, but it's a cute VM.

The basic LinuxMint 15 download installed flawlessly in both our limited notebook test beds, but also as virtual machines under both Oracle VirtualBox, as well as VMware ESXi and Citrix XenServer.

It worked on EFI boot, handily replacing or sitting as a dualboot with a Windows 8 installation. It could also squeeze Windows 7 or 8 into a smaller size, and make then use its own partition, meaning dualboot through the famous Grub2 bootloader.

We were offered five partitions in this way, primary boots for LinuxMint 15 and Windows, recovery partitions for each, and also the Lenovo supplied wipe-it-all-back-to-factory partition, as well as two boot-time memtests. If you ignore it, it simply boots the first OS, in this case, LinuxMint.

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