Linux Mint 4.0 (Daryna) – The Best Beginner Distro

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One of the best things about Linux is all the different flavors that you can get in – Mint is one of my favorites. Based on Canonical’s Ubuntu 7.10, Linux Mint 4.0 (download) takes Canonical’s prodigy and makes it even better. And if you thought Ubuntu providing everything out of the box was impressive, Linux Mint provides everything out of the net. In addition to that, Linux Mint developers improved the usability by changing the menus and desktop layout. On top of that they added a software portal that makes installing the your software faster and easier. All of this put together brings about the finest beginner distro available to date.

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Installing Linux Mint is just as easy as installing Ubuntu thanks to the live CD format which allows you to even surf the internet while everything is installing. Although there is an extra step added in which seems pointless to me – the MintAssistant. The MintAssistant asks you if you would like to add a root account and if you would like to see some random jokes added to the output produced in terminal. I don’t see anyone looking for any permission issues through an added root account, nor do I see people looking for laughter in terminal. None the less, when first starting, the install wizard will guide you through the whole process in less than 25 minutes. When you get to the partitioning step, you might want to select the ReiserFS as your file system as it has shown to be faster than the default ext3 file system.

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Just like in Ubuntu, Compiz Fusion is pre-installed to give you some eye candy, and just like in Ubuntu you will have to install the Compiz Fusion control panel (sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager) to take full control of it. Naturally, to take advantage of Compiz Fusion you will need a driver that provides 3D acceleration. Users like myself that have an Intel graphics card do not have to adjust one setting. Anyone using an ATI or an Nvidia video card will have Envy automatically install the appropriate driver for you. At the end of your install you will have one of the most aesthetic desktop environments in front of you partially in thanks to the Red Hat Liberation fonts that were added to this version. I actually didn’t even bother to change one theme setting as I found the default settings just right for my liking. Nor did I have to delete the top panel to gain extra screen real estate, as is the case with most other Gnome distro’s. To make things easier for Windows expats, there will be little learning involved as the desktop layout is almost identical to that of Windows with the addition of some beneficial Linux touches which will be described later on.

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Before anything else, you will be notified by a flashing padlock notifying you to update Linux Mint. Once you click on it, you can then click on preferences to modify what packages you would like to install based on the security level of each specific package; this is a unique feature to Linux Mint. If you would like to configure your desktop at this point, MintDesktop allows you to modify settings that previously required additional tweaking software. With this application you can select what shortcuts you want on your desktop, turn on or off network browsing and modify other less commonly used features which I won’t mention right now. Now you know what to expect from Linux Mint as a whole, but in actuality most of the unique features are under the hood.

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Almost every single necessary application and codec is pre-installed in Linux Mint. All of my Xvid movies played and I was able to watch Stage6 videos thanks to MPlayer; Quicktime, RealPlayer and Windows media codecs are also pre-installed. After I downloaded some rar files, I was surprised that I did not have to install unrar, as is the case with almost all the other distros. Mind you, extracting rar files on Linux is much slower than on Windows. To speed things up you can install the Windows version of WinRAR through Wine. Your browsing experience is complete and ready for any website that you might want to visit thanks to the pre-installed Java and Flash. Those of you with a large music collection will be pleased to know that Linux Mint comes pre-installed with all of the major audio codecs: everything from MP3 to OGG. As complete as this package is, there are still some caveats. For example, it’s not possible to view certain Windows media streams (MPlayer flaw) and the AAC codec is missing preventing you from listening to some radio streams.

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The software packages for Linux Mint have been chosen wisely to say the least, but there are still some valuable omissions. Linux Mint does include one of the best music players for Linux – Amarok. It certainly is the most popular music player and better than the player that comes with Ubuntu – Rhythmbox, but I would have rather seen BMPx in Linux Mint, as it is more user friendly and feature rich. Yet the biggest omission in my opinion is the lack of any CD/DVD authoring software. Why they would leave this software out I don’t know, but if you are going to add CD/DVD authoring software, add K3B. Skype also would have been a welcome addition, as it is officially supported in Linux and I now find more people are using it versus any other instant messenger client. Also, a decent bit torrent client like Deluge would also would have been appreciated. Either than that, all of the standard packages like Open Office, Firefox, Pidgin and Gimp are all there.

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When you do need to install some applications, it really couldn’t be any easier. Linux Mint offers you a software portal via your web browser where you can download and install software with a single click. The database is small (94 applications) at the moment, but it is growing and it offers the best interface that I have see that comes with any distro. What I really like about the software portal is that other users can write their own reviews about the software, so you don’t have to Google for hints of what the software can do for you and you won’t have to wonder about how it will act on your system. Of course you still have access to thousands of other packages via the Synaptic package manager, and GetDeb which is my favorite. No matter what install route you take, you will have access to thousands of free applications.

The user interface and menu structure provides users with a fresh look making Linux Mint probably the most intuitive to use out of all the distro’s that I have tried. When you press the Daryna button a menu pops up divided into three sections: Places, System and Applications; right of the bat you have access to everything with one click. Under system you will find one great feature – Control Center. Control Center lets you adjust all of you settings, the great thing here is that all of your settings are nicely categorized with no sub-menus to get lost in. Under Places you have easy access to your network and files; NTFS files included. The applications box has one unique feature that I constantly found myself using – Favorites. Instead of digging around through sub-menus to get to your favorite application, you can set the apps you want to have in the Favorites box which can be interchanged with the Applications box when needed.

If you are new to Linux, there really isn’t a better distro than Linux Mint around. If you are an experienced Linux user, you won’t be disappointed. The biggest plus is that everything is set-up for you ready to go after the install. The chances are that you won’t have to install one driver or adjust one setting to use it properly, and all of the apps and codecs that you need are pre-installed. When you do run into some problems, the Linux Mint support community is ready to help; it is surprisingly big for a relatively new distro such as this one. In addition to the Linux Mint support forums, you have access to the largest Linux support community – Ubuntu forums, all thanks to the fact that Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu. As you see, Linux is evolving quicker than any other OS right now and Linux Mint 4.0 is proof of it.

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31 thoughts on “Linux Mint 4.0 (Daryna) – The Best Beginner Distro

  1. Pingback: Geek Lectures - Things geeks should know about » Blog Archive » Linux Mint 4.0 (Daryna) - The Best Beginner Distro

  2. Pingback: Ipod and MP3 players » Blog Archive » Linux Mint 4.0 (Daryna) - The Best Beginner Distro

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  4. Well, is it good enough for programing…any difference b/w ubuntu n mint regarding programming packages n libraries…..just a thot…cause ubuntu has been so far perfect….in tat sense…

  5. I am not a programmer, so I really couldn’t tell you what programming packages and libraries are included with Linux Mint.

  6. I think it is best to jump right into the Linux experience. When you install Ubuntu, you have it all right at your finger tips. If you want it simple Ubuntu does just that. And for the advanced user, it delivers!

  7. The valuable ommisions you point about sofware are only due to lack of place on the CD.
    Most of the software you would like to see on this distro are a mouse click away with MintInstall. As you write it, there are 94 applications you can install by this way. And for others Synaptics works well.
    I’ve isntalled Mint on 2 desktops and 2 laptops for me and my children, and i can tell you that they enjoy linux and switch from Win XP to LinuxMint with no fear.
    Should i add the forums are active ?
    My best experience with Linux.

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  9. Hi,

    Thanks for the nice review, and thanks for pointing out the codecs/software omissions. We’re planning to remove Amarok in Linux Mint 5 “Elyssa” and this should allow us to add new applications to the default software selection.. we’re looking at Rhythmbox, Deluge and Brasero in particular.

    Clem

  10. Just like Rick Dean said, I second the motion for inclusion of K3B in Linux Mint. I’ve been a Linux convert for the last three years and have found K3B to be so good and so intuitive and so easy to use that I’ve asked myself a time or two “why don’t they port this program to Windows for those still using it?”

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about changing distros, and last night, I finally settled on Linux Mint Xfce edition. Excellent distro, Clem!

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  12. “Beginner Distro”?

    Hey, for me, Linux Mint just plain works. Oh, I could eventually get the wifi card in my Dell Vostro 1000 to work with Ubuntu, Debian and even SUSE but, Linux Mint took me about 2 minutes to get my wifi connection up and running. I’m used to command line stuff and can get around pretty well but, I’m getting tired. Tired of the endless hours configuring. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still like problem solving but, I’d really like something to work. Right off. I’ve been using Linux since Mandrake 7.1. I’ve tried every freakin’ distro there is. I am partial to Debian based distros. But, I really liked Linux Mint’s software site which allowed one click installs of plenty of good apps. Google Earth is a pain in the ass on Ubuntu. Linux Mint installed it perfectly the first time.

    Easy wifi setup (one click restricted driver install for my card which it correctly ID’d).

    Absoutely rock solid and snappy. Reboots in under a minute. For now….it’s Linux Mint. IMO, it’s a more correctly called “Ubuntu Done Right” rather than “Best Beginner Distro”. I stick with Gnome lately. In fact, I don’t even install KDE. I find it runs better with less conflicts. For me anyway.

    I agree about BMPx. Love the radio. Amarok always acts neurotic to me. And yes, Debian rules. But…..Linux Mint is Debian with polish. Great job Linux Mint.

  13. thank you for this wonderful review, since I have linux mint installed I love it more and more, it is really the best and easiest linux, it should be on first place in distro watch.
    It is stable and all works ou of the box, no problems, thank you for this wonderful Distro, I prefer gnome, eventhought in the past I was a kde lover, but now gnome is my favorite, it works best with mint.

  14. I was shocked by this version,
    because I come from Taiwan,
    while the first I install Linux Mint 3.1 and download the chinese supportt
    , it spent lots of time,
    but in Daryna didn’t.

  15. To be honest with you, I have never written any comments or posts in the Internet. This is my first time. Why did I decide to post? The answer is simple – all information here is so amazing and interesting that it’s hard to imagine someone wouldn’t comment it.

  16. hey guys i m new to linux ..there r so many problems that we noobs have to suffer from .one of then is installin softwares .As i have dc++ linux version installer file but i m not able to run even after installin it ..l

  17. Most PC users aren’t software programmers. As such, they have zero interest in solving PC software problems.

    They want to be able to insert an installation disk and have a fully functional operating system an hour later.

    They don’t want to spend time solving PC problems. They want their PCs to save them time by solving their problems.

    The creators of Linux Mint, unlike some Linux zealots, understand this.

    If one day Linux rivals or surpasses Windows, credit will go to those who created such distros as Mint and PCLOS.

    If, on the other hand, the Linux zealots who equate using the terminal with membership in MENSA have their way, Linux will remain a “coulda, shoulda, woulda” curiosity.

  18. Thanks for the review. It pretty much sums up my own feelings about this distribution. Over the past few years I have become increasingly dissatisfied with M$, not only the quality of their products, but also their business policies, company direction, and general philosophy on a boatload of issues. For some time now I’ve thought of abandoning this sinking ship for a different O.S., but all the Linux distros I tried fell short in their ability to function with completeness “out of the box”……. that is until now. Enter Linux Mint. Wow! This is one eye opening distribution, and is, in my opinion, the best effort to date to lure others wanting to to make a glass smooth transition from M$ to Linux. I am anxiously awaiting the release of Linux Mint 5 in May. Yes, smitten by the lovely Elyssa!

  19. You Sir are exactly right about Linux Mint! I installed it two days ago on my laptop and absolutely love the interface! I use Ubuntu at work and two other machines in my house run Hardy now also, but I’ve thought about just reloading them with Mint b/c of the special care and time spent making it visually appealing and very functional. Everything works right out of the box, just like Ubuntu, but beautified and cleanly laid out. Outstanding work Linux Mint team, way to go!

  20. I first started in Linux with Mepis6.0, then 6.5 came out and I couldn’t keep it running, probably user error. Then i distro hopped for about 2 months then i found PCLinuxOS and loved it for about 6 months and then I did an upgrade and the whole thing went Kabblooy! I reinstalled it again and upgraded, but again with the Kabblooy. So I heard about Mint and after a day or so of putting personal tweaks I found the program to make my own live CD of Mint and made a backup, so when i crashed it removing some stuff that Mint couldn’t live without, my reinstall was completely painless and the system was exactly how I had it before I went stupid. I’ve been running it for a couple of months and I’ve been Mint’in it every since. Thanx to the folks who came up with this wonderful distro. I do still check out other distros but for now Mint is my main Amigo.

    can’t wait to see where these magicians go from here.

  21. How did u get warcraft 3 the frozen throne working on linux (mine is ubuntu). i have the ISO’s file..is it possible to install?

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