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View Full Version : Following NZ Post's lead - My first impressions of Linux Mint



Chilling_Silence
02-09-2009, 11:51 AM
Hi all,

After chatting with a friend briefly about how NZ Post have just switch to Google Apps and how they're investigating Linux Mint, I decided to give it a whirl myself.

I've been a happy Win7 user for the past month or so now, have a large variety of desktops all running it, and I'm eagerly anticipating release so I can buy a few licenses. That said, I'm always open to try something new. With that in mind, I'll constantly be referencing back to my recent dive into Win7, comparing the two.

I decided to install it on my work laptop, a Toshiba Satellite P200, 2GB Ram, dual-core 2Ghz. The HDD was already dual-booting WinXP & Win7. Downloaded the ISO in Win7 (My primary OS -- XP is just used for diagnosing specialist equipment because the software doesnt fully work in Win7) and burned it to a CD.
Time to re-partition. The Win7 Disk Management would let me shrink about 11GB off the first primary partition where XP was installed, but no more, even after defragging. No worries, I decided that'd be enough to "test" Mint out and get a feel for it.
Rebooted and immediately liked the sharp & sexy looking graphics. Didn't boot into a Live CD, I dived right in for the install.

It was smooth & straight-forward, asking little more than the Win7 installation. When it came to partitioning, it had already asked me to shrink the XP partition and dual-boot with all existing OS's. A nice touch, I was able to simply drag the "start" place of the Mint partitions along to the left a little further and made it shrink the XP partition by a further 30 GB. Something that for some reason Win7 was unable to do.

Installation was a breeze, it repartitioned non-destructively (Though there was no indication during partitioning that it *was* going to be non-destructive), and it took only a few seconds, less time than Win7 did to even analyze how much could be shrunk. Already off to a great start in my books.

I rebooted post-install and was greeted by a very sleek looking login screen. The artwork is top-notch, again a lot of work has gone in to making it look attractive, and I feel they've succeeded.
The first popup on my desktop was the standard "Welcome to Mint, here's a link to whats new, here's a link to getting started etc" and about a second later another window popped up over top. I was a little concerned that I was going to be bombarded at this point, but the new window was a warning that the Sony Battery used in my laptop may have been recalled, and "Would I like to go to the Toshiba website to check if my Satellite is one of the affect versions?". Talk about impressed!!

I threw in the Wireless WPA2 key and was online immediately, the joining process very similar to Win7's and quite unobtrusive. A little confirmation window appears in the top-right of the screen once connected, and it's a good touch in my books.
Firefox fires up, and lucky for me, my laptop isn't one of the affected models, but nonetheless I'm pleased they alerted me.

So, my boss asks "Does all the hardware work though?". Good question, lets go try it out. Heading off to YouTube I figured would be a great way to find out. I look up the Numa Numa dance and to my amazement it starts immediately, no downloading plugins or anything! Full-screen Flash playback even works out of the box! Usually it doesn't, so another "well done", no need to even download Flash :D
It's worth mentioning that it *did* take a moment to exit from fullscreen, but only about a second, so it didn't really bother me, but I noticed it regardless.

There's a little icon showing me "restricted drivers available for install" so I install the nVidia drivers and it prompts me to reboot to install them. I know I coulda just killed X and avoided the reboot but I don't really care, I'm pretending 'Im a Linux virgin.

I quickly reboot in to XP to make sure it hasn't fried the disk, nope, everything appears 100%.

Booting back in to Mint, it loads up quick and I test the Flash playback again. It's even smoother now and instantly goes in & out of full-screen mode.

Thunderbird was there in the "Favorite Applications" menu, so I loaded it up, connected to my Exchange mailbox (through IMAP) and all my mail is there, so I'm a happy chappy.

Plugged in my USB Wireless Logitech mouse. Instantly works, no waiting 10 seconds for drivers to install, it was off straight away. Plugged in a USB HDD and that took about 3-4 seconds (FAT32 formatted) but it was there on my desktop in a flash.
I wanted to confirm my CPU speed so I opened gnome-terminal and the it has quirky little "sayings" or "fortunes", and it says to me "You will get divorced soon". Not quite what I was hoping for seeing as I've only been married 8 weeks now ;)

It's still early days between me & Mint, but thus far it looks nice, its quick & snappy, and has everything thus far working out-of-the-box, with one exception: Fingerprint reader.

Oddly enough it only works in XP -- Not even Win7 works with the fingerprint reader, so I'm not really holding it against it. However, had it worked, it would have been one up on Win7 there.

Haven't tried a myriad of other things, like Wine, gaming, bluetooth (I've got a USB dongle here somewhere), but if NZ Post were to go with a generic Desktop OS, then this one works *great* out of the box, better than Ubuntu (Mint is based off Ubuntu), and less config needed compared with the likes of Fedora / Ubuntu / Debian etc to get it to a "n00b user" usable state.

Anyways, just thought I'd throw that out there, maybe to balance my rantings on Win7 a little ;)

Cheers


Chill.

SolMiester
02-09-2009, 12:10 PM
You should convert the XP into a VM, to shrink and run in 7...

Chilling_Silence
02-09-2009, 12:25 PM
:D

A few other things:
Mint comes with support for h.264, h.263 (XviD / DivX), MKV containers...
Easy to install Evolution which works perfectly with all my Exchange contacts / mailboxes / calendar.
It would be slightly confusing for a n00b, there's two Package Manager apps in the Mint Menu. One called Software Manager, one called Package Manager. The Software Manager with the Mint Logo icon is a cut-down 'official' list which also grabs screenshots of the app you're looking at. Very cool.

wratterus
02-09-2009, 12:31 PM
I'm impressed... :thumbs:

SolMiester
02-09-2009, 12:37 PM
Downloading now.....perhaps its time to have a good look?..

Chilling_Silence
02-09-2009, 12:41 PM
My thoughts exactly, I figured "why not?" :)

I'd be keen to hear how others go, trying it out, first impressions, likes / dislikes etc.
...and don't worry, I'm not going to try and "justify" X, Y & Z. Just genuinely interested in others thoughts :)

Sweep
02-09-2009, 01:08 PM
Hmmmm... Another O/S

Your very well written first impressions have persuaded me to give it a go.

I will unplug all my hard drives and install it on another.

Thanks.

Chilling_Silence
02-09-2009, 01:12 PM
;) Choice, would be interested in your thoughts too :)

Here's the link to the CW article:
http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/tech/83C4710E299C3A1BCC257623001997DC

notechyet
02-09-2009, 01:28 PM
My experience with Linux is similar with the PCLOS version.
Have used an older PC, cleaned the HDD and loaded PCLOS for a neighbour. He's very happy with it.
Everything was easy to install, including a HP printer from his basement.
:thumbs:for Linux

convair
02-09-2009, 03:14 PM
Chill thanks for the heads up on Linux Mint. I wonder if it would go okay with my laptop?

wratterus
02-09-2009, 03:31 PM
It's great. Seeing as my Linux knowledge extends about to the point of editing grub to get windoze to load first, I'm not all that qualified to talk about the finer points of it, but its quick, looks great and out of the box has amazing compatibility for just about anything I can think of. Definitely recommended for anyone starting out. They have even made grub better this time, the spacer doesn't count as a line! :lol:

What are the specs of your laptop Jimm?

Chilling_Silence
02-09-2009, 04:32 PM
Hey Jimm,

Chances are good, but the best way to find out is to give it a whirl and see how you go :) It's only a ~500MB download, give it a try :)

wainuitech
02-09-2009, 04:33 PM
Have not tried it - but after looking at the screen shots -- thank god they didn't call it ----GREEN (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpiIWMWWVco&feature=fvw) :lol:

Errr
It's only a ~500MB download You're missing a couple of Hundred MB Chill -- Its just on 700 - just finished downloading it - 697MB.

wratterus
02-09-2009, 04:46 PM
:lol: :lol:

Errr You're missing a couple of Hundred MB Chill -- Its just on 700 - just finished downloading it - 697MB.

:thumbs:

Chilling_Silence
02-09-2009, 04:55 PM
Why on earth did I think it was less...? Oh well...

A few other nifty things I've noticed:
It comes with Java -- I don't use it much, but choice!
Ready-to-go with all the composite window features
Browsing windows file-shares is not an issue
APTonCD is a nice way to backup all the apps / updates you've downloaded and pop them onto another machine
Comes with FireFox 3.0, but apparently 3.5 is an update
I've not used Thunderbird in a while, but it's got nice Calendaring and things now too :D

Netsukeninja
02-09-2009, 05:17 PM
I've been using Linux Mint for a while now, it is truly a great OS

gary67
02-09-2009, 06:07 PM
I have it running on an old P3 with only 256 RAM bit slow but everything works with no fiddling, one day I might even try installing my Pixma which is on a print server, guess I'll need wine for that though

Chilling_Silence
02-09-2009, 10:13 PM
What makes you say that ? You shouldn't do ...

razzarphenix
02-09-2009, 10:23 PM
I used linux mint for awhile, think I wanted to use it with a microsoft wireless mce keyboard for an office music player ended up using Ubuntu in the end but that was a year ago maybe time to revisit it :)

It was handy though how it had all the codec's etc.. installed.

gary67
03-09-2009, 07:51 AM
I use the software that came with my Pixma to do a lot of the printing jobs I need, so just using the default drivers in Mint would be ok for documents but the other stuff will require Wine, and I need the software for my print server as well

Chilling_Silence
03-09-2009, 09:07 AM
I wouldn't think other types of documents would require Wine.

Running the software for a standalone printer server on the other hand probably would.

+1 for razzarphenix comments, they've even got 1 up on Win7 with MKV container support ;)

Edit: Forgot to mention, oddly enough this is the first time I've ever seen a linux distro successfully implement Hibernation out-of-the-box!

SolMiester
03-09-2009, 09:15 AM
I'm trying to get Mint to talk to the internet through our proxy server, however havent had much luck with a bridged or NAT connected NIC in virtual environment on my Win 7 box, however, might need more than 10min trying...LOL!

Other than that, it looks real good.

Blam
03-09-2009, 10:17 AM
I'm trying to get Mint to talk to the internet through our proxy server, however havent had much luck with a bridged or NAT connected NIC in virtual environment on my Win 7 box, however, might need more than 10min trying...LOL!

Other than that, it looks real good.

I've got a VM running through the school proxy server and its on the internet. What VM software are you using?

convair
03-09-2009, 02:58 PM
What are the specs of your laptop Jimm?

Its Compaq Presario with a AMD 3000 Sempron, 512mb RAM.

SolMiester
03-09-2009, 04:54 PM
I've got a VM running through the school proxy server and its on the internet. What VM software are you using?

VMware blam, I have internet via firefox working, however getting the system to download through squid proxy is not working.....and the proxy box is in Gissy!

nofam
03-09-2009, 05:51 PM
Yeah I'm connected to the internet, but buggered if I can get mintUpdate to work behind our ISA server with proxy challenge! :blush:

Sweep
04-09-2009, 12:18 PM
Writing this on a new Linux Mint install.

I am reasonably impressed so far but I don't think I will use it as my only operating system.

convair
04-09-2009, 12:26 PM
Writing this on a new Linux Mint install.

I am reasonably impressed so far but I don't think I will use it as my only operating system.

Does Linux Mint seem to be running faster than Windows?

KarameaDave
05-09-2009, 01:28 AM
Indeed it should,
don't forget no antivirus on access scanner
or other freaky big brotherware.

Tux Rules O.K?

beeswax34
05-09-2009, 11:08 AM
No.

Erayd
05-09-2009, 12:00 PM
Does Linux Mint seem to be running faster than Windows?That would depend on the task. For most day-to-day stuff, you'll usually find that they're reasonably similar.


Indeed it should,
don't forget no antivirus on access scanner
or other freaky big brotherware.

Tux Rules O.K?OK that's just rubbish - you can't simply give an unequivocal yes to such a subjective question.

paulw
05-09-2009, 05:42 PM
Well I downloaded this and burnt to a CD but when I try to run it up I see the splash screen for a few minutes then a black screen with
"Buffer I/O error on device sr0 Logical block 136588" and so on. This is an older Compaq P4 that I have tried every thing from Win NT4 to PCLinix that was installed prior to this attempt. Fdisked the HD even formated it with DOS. Oh well another Linux disk is put in the draw..

jcr1
05-09-2009, 06:03 PM
I'm going to give it a try. I've put this new computer together, with racks in the optical drive bays so that I can change HDD's very easily. I thought this would be a great solution to try different OS's, backup etc; and it is.
But big frustration, I can't get Debian or Ubuntu to install (in the past I've had absolutely no problems with these two, possibly Ubuntu has been a bit less satisfactory than Debian.
Probably hardware issues, never mind, I'll investigate further one day. In the meantime I'll give this one a go.

gary67
05-09-2009, 06:07 PM
I going to run it once my new CPU arrives on Monday and then make a decision whether to go with Win 7 once it comes out. Then I am going to try Mint on the replaced computer as a media server hopefully

Blam
06-09-2009, 07:07 PM
I going to run it once my new CPU arrives on Monday and then make a decision whether to go with Win 7 once it comes out. Then I am going to try Mint on the replaced computer as a media server hopefully

Why use Mint as a media server?

Its not bad or anything, but there are plenty of other alternatives that could do the job better.

gary67
06-09-2009, 07:48 PM
Well I will probably try a few not just Mint but from what I have used of it so far I like it. I have to build the Rimu case for it yet though so could be a while. Working and studying takes up a lot of time, I don't have much left for caving and stuff