Distro Review: Linux Mint 7 Gloria

Default Mint Desktop
Default Mint Desktop

Time for another distro review, and this time I thought I’d look at the latest version ofΒ  a distribution I’ve enjoyed a lot in the past. Linux Mint 7, AKA Gloria. I’m tempted to make references to Van Morrison here, but I’ll restrain myself. The last version I reviewed was actually Linux Mint 5, so I’ve missed a release. At the time I said it was the best Linux distribution I’d seen for new users, better even than the hallowed Ubuntu (upon which it is based). Would I still feel the same?

Vital Stats:
Distro base – Ubuntu (itself based on Debian)
Packaging – .deb (Managed by the mighty Apt)
Linux Kernel – 2.6.28-11-generic
Default Desktop – Gnome 2.26.2


Disk Partitioning
Disk Partitioning

I downloaded the standard Gnome edition installer CD. I’m pleased to see they’ve cleaned up all the editions on the website and organised things. It used to just list every possible variation in one go, I know that confused some people. “Which version do I download?!” was a query I heard often from poor souls I’d badgered to try Linux. Thankfully it’s much simpler now. Armed with a fresh CD and my trusty Dell m1330n laptop, I set to work. The installer is very much the same as the Ubuntu one, the only real changes I can see are some green paint over the Ubuntu brown. This release is based on Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope, and as I always seem to say when it comes to the Ubuntu installer, it’s very polished. I can’t think of many areas where it could be improved. It does it’s job well. I entered all the usual information: time zone/location, keyboard layout, disk partitioning and user details. Choosing my traditional disk partitioning scheme:

  • 12gb / (root partition)
  • 4gb swap
  • 140gb (approx) /home

It's Installing
It's Installing

This way I could keep my data intact on the large partition and just format the system drive. It saves a lot of time for a distro hopper like me, provided you remove any settings files from your home folder before switching. The install itself was quick and painless, it took about 20mins. Although I had plenty of prior experience to call on, I don’t think new users would have much trouble getting to grips with this. Possibly a little more description of what you’re doing at each stage and animated demos would help complete novices, but I suppose we have to be careful to balance accessibility to all with a complete dumbing down of the system.


Settling In And Configuration:

Welcome screen
Welcome screen

One of the great strengths of a distribution based on Ubuntu is the amount of software readily available. Fans of other flavours of Linux will be quick to point out that this isn’t unique to Ubuntu. It isn’t. I accept that point, but the sheer volume of software already packaged in “.deb” files for Ubuntu, and the array of information on how to use it, is amazing. Mint benefits from the deep Ubuntu repositories, and I found installing anything I needed was trivial. One of the reasons I’ve often said I prefer Mint to Ubuntu for new users, is the inclusion of codecs and restricted software by default. Not something Free Software advocates will be happy about, but I think you have to take it one step at a time. Let people get onto Linux and use restricted software at first if that helps, then graduate to a 100% Free Software system later if they want. A hard line approach only scares people away. It’s almost ironic in a way that Ubuntu was created as “Debian without the setup work”. I’m paraphrasing there I admit, but that was the sentiment. Now Mint has become “Ubuntu without the setup work” for me. Granted it doesn’t take a long time to set up Ubuntu, but unless you know about things like the Restricted Extras meta package, it’s not as straightforward as it could be. I talked about this issue at length in my Ubuntu 9.04 review, so I won’t go into it all again.

The MintInstall Tool
The MintInstall Tool

I installed the restricted drivers for my Nvidia graphics card when prompted, then got into installing the extra software I needed. You can use Synaptic the tradition GUI (Graphical User Interface) to Apt (the package manager), or you can use the simplified tools in Mint. MintInstall is one area where I can see a massive improvement from previous releases. You can now browse the software, get descriptions and reviews, all in one interface. They brought in the screenshots and extended MintInstall with Linux Mint 6, but I found it had some teething problems. It took an age trying to download a screenshot for every application in the catalogue at once, and refreshing the list of software could be a laborious process. I’m pleased to say that’s been fixed here, it’s a lot more snappy and responsive. All multimedia formats worked for me out of the box as I expected, and browser plugins like Flash were ready to go. It really is a hell of a lot easier than setting up a new Windows system in my opinion, but maybe I’m biased.

Custom Tools:


I’ve talked about MintInstall already, but this is only one of the unique tools in Mint. They stripped out the Ubuntu update mechanism long ago and replaced it with MintUpdate, a more secure tool in the developers eyes. It gives risk levels in clear 1 to 5 ratings next to each update. You can even filter updates automatically based on this. So for example you could set it to only install updates under level 3 if you wanted. By adjusting these settings it’s nice and easy to choose how close to the cutting – or should I say bleeding – edge you want to live. Other Mint flavoured (no pun intended) tools include: MintBackup, MintDesktop, MintAssistant and now MintNanny. The first 3 have been around for a while, but MintNanny is a little newer on the block. As the name suggests – someone’s been watching to much Mary Poppins – it aims to protect your kids online, by allowing you to restrict access to unsavoury sites. You just enter the addresses of the sites you want to block. It’s a small and simple feature but some parents may appreciate it. Another tool I’ve neglected to mention so far is MintUpload. You’re given 2gb of free storage space “in the cloud” as the marketing men like to say. That basically means on a web server where you can get at it from anywhere to you and me. Nevertheless this is quite useful and the ability to just right-click a file or folder and send it to the web is very cool. Little features like this are what gives Mint it’s polish.

Ease Of Installation & Use: 5/5
Stability: 4/5
Community & Documentation: 4/5
Features: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

My finished desktop
My finished desktop

I found Mint 7 or Gloria as she prefers to be called, a very solid release from the Mint team. I’m not sure why they choose these bizarre code names, the sound like call girls to me, but you can’t argue that they produce a nice Linux distribution. As I mentioned, the little touches like the welcome screen that pops up with help and guidance at login, all add to my feeling that this is THE distribution for newcomers to Linux. Yes it might be standing on the shoulders of Ubuntu, but then doesn’t Ubuntu stand on the shoulders of Debian? That’s how the Linux eco-system works. I think it’s all the richer for the collaboration, and occasional friendly competition between distributions. In many ways it’s the ultimate Free Market, which economists seem to think can cure cancer from the way they talk, but I’ll spare you a lefty rant. I found speed, performance and stability on Mint were on a par with Ubuntu. Some Gentoo and Arch users will scoff at that, but I think on a mid range computer or above it’s not an issue. It certainly wasn’t for me, and if you are on a lower spec you could try the XFCE edition of Mint, or even Fluxbox if you’re hardcore. Installation was quick and easy, almost everything I can think of worked out of the box. It was just a matter of adding a few of my favourite programs such as AWN, Gwibber, Audacity, Deluge and Tasque. All very simple with the Software Portal. The new theme and slight change of look works well I think, and the new wallpaper is very popular with most people I know. I did rearrange the toolbars a little and put AWN (Avant Window Navigator) at the bottom of the screen, you’ll be able to see that from the screenshot. I also like the fact they removed the code name from the menu button. It’s a stupid thing to complain about I know, but I did get a bit sick of people asking me who Felica or Elyssa were. “Is that your login name?!” queue strange looks.

Sexy Notifications
Sexy Notifications

To sum up. Whether you’re new to Linux and looking to experiment, or you’re a hardened kernel hacker who just wants an easier life now and then. I think Mint has a lot to offer. They’ve taken Ubuntu and improved on it, which isn’t as easy as some people would have you believe. The custom tools are excellent, there’s a friendly and vibrant community to help, and of course because it’s 100% compatible with Ubuntu you’ve got all of their resources to draw on too. For any fan of Debian-based distributions (like me) Mint is well worth a spin. It won’t be for everyone, but I guess it’s a case of suck it and see… sorry, that’s awful but I couldn’t resist. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think. I’d happily recommend it to anyone.


Up next…
I’m off to Germany for Linux Tag in a few days, but before I go I intend to have a quick look at Fedora 11. I’ve been planning that for a while and their delayed release probably did me a favor. It seems they’ve removed Mono and they’re really pushing the 100% freedom angle. How will that affect usablity? We’ll find out together, if you’d care to join me for another adventure…


  1. As somebody who strips down Ubuntu from a default install a bit, I can’t say Mint would save me much time. Last time I tried it Mint was slower than stock Ubuntu.

    I do appreciate the idea behind it, though, and it seems to be maturing well. And it’s not brown. πŸ˜›

    Good review.

  2. Geez I love your finished desktop pic!! πŸ™‚
    Can you please tell me how you set that up?


    • @Jordon – Sure, it’s pretty simple to do. I just move the main toolbar from the bottom of the screen to the top. Add the workspace switcher and window list, which I like to have. Then I just set up Avant Window Navigator which is the dock you can see at the bottom. Hope that helps. If you need more detailed information let me know πŸ™‚

  3. My 16 year old daughter uses the FluxBox version. We avoided the very latest “virus” from FaceBook (Dad! What’s This!?) as the XP window “scanned” the computer. The download dialogue box popped up, but we didn’t it out. πŸ™‚

  4. It was a good review and got around some interesting bits. I could imagine someone would be inclined to choose Mint because of MintNanny.
    It was good to take a screenshot of the welcome menu, even if you didn’t mention it; I really think that one is a very nice feature. Simple but useful and not too over-packed.

    • @Morten – I did mention the welcome screen in the summary but not in great detail that’s true. It’s a handy feature I think and Mint has many of these little touches that just make sense to me

  5. Although it provides more functionality than I need or want, the first distro that I show off to people seriously thinking of switching to Linux, is Mint. Out of the box, it plays peoples video and audio files and flash works. This seems to be the biggest selling point; compatibility. The second biggest draw seems to be Gnome-Do. Like I said, it isn’t for me, but it does what people need it to do, and that is what is important.

  6. I’m an Ubuntu user and long time Linux user. I’ve tried LinuxMint 7 64 bit RC1 and its a very nice distro. If I wasn’t so attached to the way I’ve gotten Ubuntu set up I surely would use Mint. Mint is what I recommend to anyone who wants to try Linux for the first time. I did enjoy its use very much and LinuxMint should be around for a long time. On a side note the only problem I found was if you use Synaptic it may want to update items that MintUpdate will not want to so its best not to update using Synaptic. Nice work Mint team and nice review also.

  7. Agree completely with your review. Switched to Linux from a Mac+WinVista tandem setup and I really like Mint!

    Im a newbie to Linux, so i guess Im the kind of user Mint wants πŸ˜‰ my current experiment is to find out if Mint can keep up with my day to day tasks in the non IT world for both work and personal use… Check out opendaily.wordpress.com

  8. please explain why this is better than Mepis, Mandriva or even PCLinuxOS which is to Mandriva waht Mint is to Ubuntu.

    From the screenshots, all distros using a desktop will look exactly the same exept for the colors.

    PCLinuxOS has worked on over 30 installs for newbies and has been flawless these past few years. Oh, and my mum and her sister are in their 70’s and have been using Mandriva2009 (KDE4 has those great zoom features tailor made for weak eyes and I can make the icons BIGGG).

    I tried the last Mint and liked it but easier?
    That’s where Im at a loss.

    I have a couple of 70 years old who NEVER used a computer before this January who havent had a problem yet so Im thinking how much easier can it get?

    Please tell me that Mint has a nicer default Grub? Nothing like installing a dual boot for someone and have them face the DOS look that Ubuntu thinks is ‘user friendly’.
    (First time we booted into this, a friend cried out “Oh nooooo”, thinkiing we had borked the system)

    And yes, we saw the AWN bar…. you Apple lover you.

    • @Chrissy Judging from your fake name, web address and email I suspect you are just trying to get a rise out of me, but I’d like to answer your points anyway. If you’d seen much of the stuff I’ve written in the last 2 years you would know I’m a BIG fan of Mandriva. It’s not fashionable to say that these days, but I do say it loudly and often on Linux Outlaws and in many thing’s I’ve written. Check your facts before before wading in on the bounce. I actually prefer Mandriva to PCLinuxOS sorry, I’ve reviewed PCLinuxOS a couple of times and I can’t see what the fuss is about. That’s a personal opinion, as I am always keen to state. It suits many others and I’m happy for them, each to their own.

      I tell all new Linux users to try Mandriva and Mint. See which they prefer. I’m glad your family like PCLinuxOS and as I always say, I think choice is our strength in the Linux world. Petty distro wars are pathetic and only damage us in the long run. I hope you remain happy with PCLinuxOS and I wish you well in future. Whoever you are

  9. G’day Dan,

    I like your review. It is well written: it is easy to see you are a writer.

    I have hopped from Mepis, Fedora, Ubuntu and Mint over the past 4 or so years. I liked them all for a time, but I have settled on Mint for a good while. However, I went back to Ubuntu when 9.04 came out just for a change; I have been on extended leave so why not?

    The return to Ubuntu was like a trip backwards in time. It took me quite a few hours to set up Ubuntu to suit my needs. I enjoyed to the experience though, learning (again) how to get the codecs (I cheated and used Ubuntu Tweak-that didn’t take long) and set things as I like them, particularly the menus and task bar. I fooled with gnomenu but couldn’t find something that was right; it was a bit unstable too. It does have great potential for future Gnome/Ubuntu releases though, if developers can come up with a more contemporary menu than the existing Gnome one (which seems dated to me).

    However, when Gloria was born, I returned to Mint and found it very easy to work with. I miss Ubuntu Tweak though, as mintInstall’s range of software is a bit narrow.

    The long and the short of it is that I find Gloria is an outstanding distro and suit me very well.

    As for the names, I think it is difficult to settle on something that appeals to all. Naming of software, distos etc is probably one of the trickiest things of all I think.

    Thanks for your review.


  10. Brand new to the Linux revolution, but getting off to a slow start. I’ve tried 1)Ubunto, 2)Mandriva, and 3)Fedora 11 in that order…I can’t get my lappie’s built in wireless to work with any, even after filling in all the wireless network stuff. Problem is none of the distros are picking up on the “HP Wireless Assistant”, which is basically a Broadcom card (Compaq Presario V2000 – it’s a HP). It turns on with XP, but not Linux. Hoping Mint will be the charm, but I kinda doubt it.

    It is refreshing to chat with folks who know what they’re talking about – if I can ever get this wireless thing cookin’, I’m never going back to the Gates chaingang.

    • @Geoff – I had a look around and their seems to be a lot of people using Ubuntu with that wireless card. It needs a couple of extra steps to get it going. I found some good information here, and a Google search for “ubuntu compaq presario v2000” turns a lot of results. The Ubuntu solution should work the same for Mint πŸ™‚ You might have tried all this so apologies if you have. I’m sure it can be made to work and I with you the best of luck.

  11. Thanks for the review, Dan. I have worked in the Microsoft IT realm for quite some time and have been attempting to use Linux since Red Hat 3 (I think). I keep checking back from time to time on the distros and I recently got wind of Ubuntu 9.04 and installed it yesterday on my work laptop which currently had the eval of Win7 on it. I am really happy and can finally do everything that I normally use my laptop for both at work and home and the install just worked. I searched around to check what other distros had advanced and I read your review. I’m downloading Mint now and I am also confident my wife will love Mint as well.

    This weekend was going to be spent doing yet another fresh install of Vista on her box cause her browser got hijacked again. This might be the last time I do a reinstall on her box for quite some time πŸ™‚

    • @JayS – Thank you very much for reading, I hope your wife likes Mint. Anything I can help with, let me know. Good luck! πŸ™‚

  12. @ Geoff – I am using a 3 y/o HP DV6119, it has a Broadcom BCM4311 b/g card and have no trouble w/ the wireless, after installing the Broadcom drivers. I have had the same experience w/ Mint 6 & 7 (I installed 6 in Dec 08 and upgraded to Mint 7 when available.)

    I installed Mint, was hooked in on lan and got the drivers, unplugged the lan and wireless was up.

  13. Good review. I just started using Mint and found it a breeze – everything works out of the box (except for cam audio in – still working on that). Quite a difference from other Linuxes that I have had – and had to tweak quite a bit on to get all the media working. I am a KDE fan though, and now have to get used to GNOME. That’s ok.
    Mint is in my opinion the best Linux there is.

    • @Peter – There are some Community Editions of Mint, one of which is a KDE version. I don’t know how good it is as I’ve never tried, but if you like KDE it’s worth a shot I’d say. They tend to trail a little behind the official version as the development is done by the community. There’s a KDE version of Felicia (Mint 6) available, and Gloria should be out soon I guess. You can download them here. Just scroll down to the KDE version. Good luck! πŸ™‚

  14. Nice read Dan – thanks.

    I am still trying to settle on a distro for general use. I am running Ubuntu 9.04 x64 now, dual booting with XP. My system board is >five years old, so Vista and 7 are out for me. Linux(es) on the other hand, run fine and quick I might add. I found running XP in a VirtualBox session, under Ubuntu, is actually faster than XP native. But I digress. I like Mint and have since 6. I like Ubuntu and have since 7.x. I Like Fedora and SuSE, but I feel that the package management is much easier in a Debian based system. So I guess the question for me is Ubuntu or Mint. Any thoughts on this?

    • @DaveC – I think it’s a personal choice really. They are both very closely matched distributions, using the same packages and all. I find Mint better for new users learning Linux, but it sounds like you have Linux experience so may not need that. My advice would be to try both and use the one which feels right to you. Everyone has different preferences. Since the software is all free to download, the only thing you have to lose is time. That’s not a definitive answer to your question I know, but only you can decide which feels best to you. Good luck! Anything else I can help with, let me know.

  15. Great review Dan,

    I just downloaded and installed Mint Gloria and this distro is “superb”. I’m in Kenya and the download took almost 5 hrs (what with the slow speeds) but after testing Gloria, I must say it was worth it.

    Clem and his team are doing a wonderful job and IMHO this is way better than Ubuntu. I’ve been installing Felicia in almost all of my friend’s computers (as a dual boot with M$ anyway since most people in this part of the world aren’t quite familiar with linux) and now the Mint team has outdone itself once more with the Gloria release.

    Got one question though. Most of the computers I’ve installed Mint in didn’t have an internet connection (yeah..still in Africa) so I had to manually install other packages (Amarok,K3B..etc). Is there anyway I can transfer the Mint Install screenshots to a computer that’s not connected to internet. This is because after opening Mint Install and trying to browse through the software it automatically tries to download screenshot and this causes the PC to freeze.

    Once again, great review.

    • @Mode – I’m not sure specifically if there’s a way to change the behaviour of MintInstall when it comes to screen shots. You could use Synaptic, the traditional Debian package manager. It’s linked on the mint menu as package manager. I think the easiest thing though might be for you to make your own respin (custom CD) of Mint, burn that to a DVD (it will probably end up larger than the 700mb standard CD) and install that for your friends. You could choose the sets of packages you want then right from the install. Many people do this with Ubuntu, and Mint should work the same way. If you have a DVD writer this could be a great solution I think. There’s a tool called Remastersys that a lot of people use. Here are a couple of useful links:

      The guides are quite old but should all still be relevant. Good luck! I hope that helps in some way


  16. Hi Dan. Thanks for the review. New to the Linux community, I have been trying some distros on my 8 y-old desktop, dual booting with XP. Whe I read about Mint and all the very positive reviews, I was quick to remove mu OpenSuse 11.0 KDE for Mint 7 Gnome and I must say: prrrfect installation, everything worked out of the box, beautiful desktop, I was so happy. But….then I wanted to change my desktop resolution from 800×600 to something higher and installed the recommended Nvidia driver for my old MX 440 card. As it turned out, the res got down to 640×400 and I couldn’t get it up (well…), only by removing the driver. I tried about everything, rewriting xorg.conf, tweaking bootloader..none of it worked. In the forums a lot of ppl have comparable complaints about the res when using old Nvidia cards. So now I am thinking of getting back to OpenSuse (no res probs) or installing Fedora 11. I have no clue whatsoever why Mint (7) has this specific problem with the resolution. If anyone here has a clue (and believe me, I read and read and read the Mint forums thoroughly on this) that would be nice. I know I should be buying a newer PC and I am about to get me a new shiny laptop, but first I want a Linux distro that suits me (well, my old PC as a benchmark, but maybe that just is not a good idea). Any thoughts on this would be welcome. Thanks

    • @Arjen – I’m afraid I don’t know much about the MX 440, but I have owned a lot of Nvidia cards and used them on Linux. I’ve never seen the resolution problems you describe. I think there’s a specific legacy driver for older Nvidia cards. You were probably using that already but if not it might be worth a try. If the card works on OpenSUSE then it must work with Linux as a whole. Seems odd that it wouldn’t work with Mint. I don’t know much about it I’m afraid but if anyone else does hopefully they’ll chip in. I hope you enjoy the shiny new laptop when you get it. I’m sure there’s still life in your old computer yet though, particularly with an OS that uses resources efficiently like Linux. Good luck!!

  17. @Dan. Thanks for your reply. One other thing might be related to my res prob. My monitor is not detected, before nor after the installation of the recommended nvidia driver. It’s not connected through a KVM switch or anything. Could that be it? And of course, what is the solution? In some reviews I read about comparable res probs after installation of various distros, but usually it’s just a setting change that resolves it. Well. Getting a new top solves it maybe, then my old desktop can keep on grinding away on XP (2-3 minutes shutdown time is a lot when you’re in a hurry…). Again, thanks Dan and other ppl for any suggestions.

    • @Arjen – It sounds as though the monitor not being detected is the problem then. You should be able to fix that in the xorg.conf file, but you said you’ve tried and it doesn’t work. You can specify the resolution you want in the config file and it should take it. I think perhaps this might be a limitation of what resolutions the card can output. You might have done this already but make sure the card can handle the resolution you’re asking it to output or it will default to 800×600. You can use the dpkg-reconfigure command to set your xorg settings in a terminal. It just changes values in your xorg.conf values as well but you never know. Give it a try. This article might be of use, it tells you how to use that command. Other than that I have no idea, sorry. I hope that information helps.

  18. @Dan. Thanks again. I will try again. I did try this before (I think), but maybe Í did not try that possibility to the max. I’ll surely check the site you mentioned. BTW, I did try reconfiguring the settings, and all I could do was reconfigure my keyboard…maybe this is also connected to the lack of monitor detection. It could be traced back to the same problem. Cheers.

    ps. I tried out the installation DVD with my work laptop, and it gives me a proper res, and detects the monitor (Laptop). And, my old desktop dual boots with XP and this gives me much a higher res, so the card itself is not the problem.

  19. Hi Dan. Well, I gave it another try with Mint, but alas, no positive news. I went back to OpenSuse and it detected my card perfectly, with all desired res possibilities. I could also get monitor installation working. This leaves me puzzled: where is the difference here in the Distros?
    Anyway, OpenSuse works like a charm but you need more tweaking and installation DIY. Mint is more intuitive, so if they would sort out this stupid res problem, I would consider “going back”.
    Cheers and keep up the good work.

  20. @Arjen – Glad too hear OpenSUSE works for you if nothing else. I have no idea why Mint would be so different though, it seems really strange. If I find anything out I’ll be sure to let you know.

  21. Hi Dan, liked the review. Will be trying Mint, but there are two versions on their site, LinuxMint-7 Universal and LinuxMint-7, which would you recommend for a newbie like myself?

    I have tried Ubuntu and Mandriva in the past but I have had the same problems with both, not playing DVD movies etc by default without having to type code in which is beyond me! Would LinuxMint fix this problem.

    My other problem with Linux is it dosen’t seem to be able to provide a way of switching displays from my laptop to my LCD tv, via the vga out, I’ve tried mirroring the display on ubuntu but when I close the laptop lid the display on the tv goes off also.

    I have tried Linux newsgroups, but it seems to be type in loads of code which I don’t understand, or its “You’re too thick stick to Windows.”

    Any help would be appreciated – Thanks.

    • @Edd – Hi, thanks for reading. I think DVD playback will work fine out of the box for you with Mint. I’m not sure the difference between the standard and universal versions, I just use the standard one called LinuxMint-7 myself. The universal version comes on a DVD rather than a CD, so I assume it has more packages included by default. As long as you have a decent Internet connection the standard edition will be prefect, you can install anything else you want afterwards. As for switching displays, I have an Nvidia card and the tools they provide for that on Linux are great. I just use the little config program to switch displays when I move around. I do clone my display to the external monitor though and it will go off if I shut the lid. I usually leave the lid open, but moving the mouse wakes up the display again for me after shutting the lid.

      I hate the “go back to Windows” attitude and I’m sorry you experienced that. Everyone has to learn sometime and these idiots forget that. It’s not what we need and I have no time for people like that, they want to feel superior or exclusive by using Linux and they don’t want more people getting into it. This is obviously against what I’m trying to promote. I don’t know a great deal about your monitor problem but if you want to try our Linux Outlaws forums, someone might be able to help. We try to create an inclusive atmosphere there. Good luck πŸ™‚

  22. @ Dan and Edd
    The universal version of Linux Mint doesn’t include the proprietary software so you will still have to do the manual downloads of the codecs in order to play DVDs. The reason why it may come as a live DVD is because it has support for various languages (excluding my native Swahili…) hence the larger size. However, it doesn’t include more packages infact without the codecs I’d say it has less “packages”.

    I’d recommend you download the main version as all the codecs are installed by default and hence plays multimedia out of the box. That is unless you’re in USA and you have the restrictions.

    Hope that helps.

    • @Mode Thanks for the information, I haven’t looked up the universal DVD. The name makes a bit more sense if it includes more language support though. Good news on the screenshots. So you can just copy the files to that folder on other machines and it works?

  23. @Dan

    Yep. Works like a charm. I’m now on the path to ensuring that all Kenyans, at least the ones in Nairobi and with computers, are using Linux.

    Wish me luck…

    • @Mode – Hell yeah, good luck!! This is a noble conquest and I hope it goes well. Free the computers of Nairobi πŸ˜€

  24. Dan,
    Great review and i’m very impressed to see that you put so much effort into answering and getting back to everyone who posts a reply. I currently use Mandriva 2009.1 powerpack, but i’m going home and installing Linux Mint. Hopefully everything works out great. Thanks for your time and great review.

    • @Am – No problem. Feedback is important to me πŸ™‚ I like Mandriva too and I’m always keen to promote it because I think it gets a rough time from some quarters. Good luck with Mint, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

  25. Hey Dan!

    Thank you for your hard work and dedication! I’ve been dabbling with some of the ubuntu/kubuntu installations but trying Mint now, thanks to you, since yesterday is a dream come true! πŸ™‚

    Just wanted to say thanks

  26. Dan,

    Nice, thorough review.

    Partly based on your review, I will switch from Ubuntu 9.04 to Linux 7. I am impressed with the live CD.

    Question: With respect to configuration settings you mention in the statement, “This way I could keep my data intact on the large partition and just format the system drive. It saves a lot of time for a distro hopper like me, provided you remove any settings files from your home folder before switching.” Exactly what configuration files are you refering to?

    Thanks in advance.

    Another Distro Hopper,


    • @David – Hi, always good to meet a fellow distro hopper. I’m referring to all the settings files that are hidden in your /home folder. You can see them in a file browser by going to the view menu and ticking “show hidden files”. They all start with “.” and this is where your programs store your settings. “./mozilla” for example holds all your Firefox settings. If you don’t clear these out and use the same home folder with a new distro install it confuses things. You end up with settings from your last install affecting the new one. I back up all my data externally anyway, so I clear out the hidden files when installing a new distro but keep the 100gb of videos, music etc intact. I can copy the small settings folders for Pidgin, Gwibber, Firefox etc off the external backup later without messing up the Gnome desktop set up or anything else important. It saves a hell of a lot of time.

      Long ago I moved from Ubuntu to OpenSuse without removing the settings files and ended up with a very messed up looking Gnome install in Suse. It even had a brown desktop. I learned my lesson then. Not having to copy over 100gb of data every time I distro hop is great, but mixing settings from different distros can cause trouble. It take a bit of practice. Hope that explanation makes some sense, it may not be the best πŸ™‚ Of course if you have a different username on the new install and hence a different home directory /home/newname it won’t mix up the settings either, but I prefer to use the same username on my machines.

  27. Good review. Thanx.
    I’m a “distro hopper” too. Been using Mepis, but having some problems with Mepis 8 so I’m looking around.
    I use a technic similar to yours in maintaining the home directory, bt since I usually have several distros on the same computer and want the same data to be available to each, I vary it slightly. I install under a different user name, but with the same home directory. Sometimes you can set most of the usage of the distro to default to your desired directory but if you can’t you still have easy access to it with most distros. In some cases the original user name defaults to a number other than 1000, in which case that user will be locked out from the ordinary default “user 1000” files, so one must set up for ordinary use a different user with the usernumber 1000 for compatibility.
    Tis is a technic that I learned from my son who caries it to another level, and defaults all of is Downloads, documents, etc. to a directory at /home/data
    I just dwonloaded Mint7 and am about to burn the Cd and install it. Thanks again

    • @Dave – That’s an interesting way of doing it. I have heard of a few people who store their data on another drive and then just symlink the folders into their home folder. Music, Video, Documents etc. Many ways to do it. Hope you enjoy Mint. I think it’s a great distro. Good luck!

  28. @Dan

    my quest for converting people into Linux just got a big boost from guess who…..M$. Recently, these guys have been moving around companies (especially cyber cafes) in Nairobi trying to ward off piracy of their ‘softwares’ and now most enterprises are ditching M$ for Linux and Ubuntu is steadily becoming the main OS in most cyber cafes (I guess because of the ShipIt Ubuntu CDs). I’m still trying to convince them to try Mint but hey..if they’ve got Ubuntu..they’re at least halfway there.

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that Mint 7 KDE version is out. I’m a little bit disappointed that it came out the same day KDE 4.3 was being released (it has KDE 4.2.4) but still this is Mint and nothing…IMHO…comes close.

    Thanks again…

  29. @Mode – Thanks for the update. I saw the KDE edition was out but I’m not really a KDE guy to be honest. I love Gnome too much for my own good. Glad too hear some of those Cybercafes are moving to Ubuntu. I think it’s a good option for them. They’ll also benefit from the lack of viruses and the fact people can’t come in and install a load of rubbish off CDs easily, not just the price tag.

    I’ve long argued that M$ answer to Linux in many markets had been to let people pirate Windows, they really do nothing about it and even seem to push it in places like China. Eventually though their business model won’t be able to keep absorbing those losses and they will have to get tough. They hope that by this time people will be so hooked on Windows that they’ll just pay up. Like a drug dealer operates. It seems though they’ve misjudged people’s options and the fact that Linux is perfectly usable for the layman now, and in my opinion better in something like a Cybercafe anyway.

  30. Just took some time out from puzzling why my own Mint 7 desktop isn’t vanilla Mint (like all the other users) when I happened across this comment thread.

    I had also reinstalled multiple distros as the same user without saving and then removing $HOME/.*.

    Serendipity, eh ?

  31. @Andy C – It can cause problems yeah, we’ve all done it don’t worry. Welcome to the club. Glad you found an answer in here πŸ™‚

  32. Hi dan. Im also in kenya. Bt unlike the other mode, i live in a town(u call them county where u r @) calld matuu (a far cry frm nairobi). I havent been lucky enuff to download Gloria. In fact im still using Ellysa(m5), and still havent gotten it to work with my tv card(an saa713). Ask mode if he could try to reach me at 721973020 to hook me up with gloria and tips on how to get my saa713 to work

  33. Dan, seriously, which linux app works with saa713 tv cards.? When i type lspci in the terminal, i always find that the tv card drivers have already been installed bt tvtime is unable to define source,mplayer is unable to locate the card and dont get me started abt vlc… Can u send me a link i should try out? Ps: someone has told me he has a mint 7 697 dvd image… I may be closer to getting gloria yet. Downloading on this side of kenya is still a dream,whilst streaming is close to impossible and maximum browser speeds are at 7kbps.:-(

    • @Mtushmode – I’m afraid I don’t know anything about TV cards as I’ve never really used them. I wish I could help in some way. Those download speeds sound pretty awful. Could you use the Ubuntu ShipIt scheme to at least get a new 9.10 Karmic install CD delivered to you? That might not be any help but it just occurred to me. I wish you the best of luck sincerely, and if I can think of any way to help personally I will.

  34. Problem is, everything is okay but every time i start mint, i’ve to change my resolution to 1280*1024. Because the resolution i set doesn’t save. Got to mention, i went to hardware manager and activated my nvidia driver from there.

    • @Raonaq Was this a completely fresh install or an upgrade? I have an Nvidia card in my laptop and it was just detected for me when I installed Mint, I didn’t have to go into the hardware manager. Have you tried setting your resolution using the Nvidia Settings tool? You can run it as root by typing “sudo nvidia-settings” in a terminal. That might help. Be sure to save the changes you make to your xorg.conf file by pressing the button. If that fails it might be a matter of manually editing your xorg.conf file which can be a pain, but is perfectly possible. I used to have to do that a lot a few years ago, but I thought that was a thing of the past in these newer distro releases. It might also be worth asking people in the Mint forums or IRC channel. Hopefully someone can fix this for you. Good luck! Let me know how you get on.

  35. Hi Dan,

    Nice review.

    However I have a question.

    I am relatively new to Linux and after trying a number of linux options such as OpenSuse (in both KDE and Gnome flavour) I decided to settle down with Ubuntu which I have been using for about 2 years now.

    So my question is how is Mint different from Ubuntu? As I am not a big fan of the brown I have removed it completely, replaced the Icons, and added an AWN bar much like yourself. All of which result in my Desktop looking just like your Mint Desktop, though it is Ubuntu.

    So what? Some say, everybody does that! Which is my point. Is mint just Ubuntu with different colours, or will I really see some differences between the two?

    • @Manny – I think when Mint started you could have said it was just Ubuntu with a green theme and codecs built in, but it’s much more than that now. It has lots of custom developments with the Mint tools. MintUpdate, MintInstall, MintBackup, MintAssistant, MintUpload and more. They’re all quite different to Ubuntu. They are built on top of Ubuntu yes but when Mandriva started you could have argued that it was just built on top of Red Hat, you don’t hear anyone saying that now. Mint has evolved, and while they owe a lot to Ubuntu still, I think it’s become a distro in it’s own right more and more. The beauty is it’s still compatible with all the Ubuntu packages you find online, you can also add PPAs from Launchpad and it all works. I recommend Mint to Linux newcomers because while Ubuntu isn’t hard to use, I find Mint a more complete home desktop out of the box. There’s no need to install Flash, codecs and other things, it’s all ready to go. The new Software Centre in Ubuntu is arguably a copy of what Mint did with MintInstall long ago, the one-click install right from a webpage has been in Mint for about 18months, maybe more, my memory isn’t brilliant. I think the Software Centre in Karmic is a slightly different take on it and it’s got a few new things though, I like it a lot and i’m not knocking it. I’d say if you’ve learned to customize Ubuntu how you want it now then some of the benefits of Mint may not make much difference to you, but for newcomers I think it’s the perfect place to start. Hope that helps explain it a bit. Maybe try Mint on a spare machine if you can and see what the differences are, it’s more than just a green paint job πŸ™‚

  36. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the reply. I think you are right. Now that i have customised Ubuntu to my liking it may be that Mint will not be so different. Though I am still inerested enough to play around with it, and will give it a go for sure.

    I suppose for ubuntuphiles like me part of the atraction of Mint is that it has an ubuntu engine under the hood.

  37. @manny – No problem, I think it’s worth a look. There’s a new version Mint 8 due out in a couple of weeks. Maybe wait for that and then give it a spin. Good luck!

  38. Hi Dan,
    I am pretty new to this new forum and i have been using mint from just the time Mint Gloria was released. I had no problems and was enjoying things till now. I am not able to hear sound on my linux OS but am able to on Windows which is on the same hard drive. I was able to hear sound without any issues in the past but now suddenly this is happening, another thing am facing is my mint is logging off frequently by itself which is irritating as i have lost my work many a times. Though i am having these issues strangely am still loving it, but just that when i want to hear to some music i have to switch to Windows…lol πŸ˜€

    • @Deepak – Hello and welcome πŸ™‚ That’s really odd, I haven’t heard of that before. Can you think of anything that changed around the time you first had these problems? A major update or some new software install. A hardware change maybe? If the sound card used to work and it still does in Windows then it sounds like it’s not the hardware. You might find your volume is muted somewhere in the system settings. Have a look for that. You can use a command called “alsamixer” (without the quotes) in a terminal, sounds complicated but it’s really not too scary. Make sure there aren’t any volumes down or channels muted in there. You should be able to find instructions for alsamixer by searching online if you get stuck. The logging off thing I have no idea about. I’m trying to think what could cause that. Is this a laptop? Is it that the system isn’t warning you when the battery is really low and it’s dying because of that? If I come up with anything I’ll let you know. Also, have you reported this on any Linux forums and asked for help? The Linux Mint forums or maybe even the Ubuntu forums could be a good place to start. I wish you the best of luck with it and I hope this information helps in some way.

  39. As an Ubuntu fan and loyalist I was eagerly anticipating the release of Ubuntu 9.10 AKA Karmic Koala. So finally when I got some free time, I decided to hit β€œthe upgrade button” and allow my 9.04 to karmically transform itself to 9.10.

    The computer was doing its thing, it rebooted, I was pleasantly surprised by the slightly newer looks and more polished background so I thought wow great! Then I decided to connect to the internet and…. shock horror, nothing was happening.

    What does one do when you cannot even connect to the internet? I know everything was working fine before so I had to face the awful truth that 9.10 broke something.

    So back into Windows to search online for a cure to my Ubuntu ills.

    After a long hard search I fount out that there was a DSL related bug in the network manager package. Something was indeed broken. At least someone at Ubuntu had already made a patch available which I decided to add to my 9.10 and hey presto it all was fine again.

    Having been disappointed by 9.10 I thought to myself: β€œWhat other Ubuntu relatives are there out there that I could try?” So I thought of Mint of course.

    So once again as soon as I got some free time, I sat down downloaded the ISO, followed their very useful instructions, burned the ISO on to a DVD. Popped it into the drive and rebooted the PC.

    All that minty green seemed like a nice fresh change to someone dealing with brown for a very long time. Played around with it for a while and was actually quite impressed. I was even more impressed with their rather extensive documentation and I thought this is great I will give a copy of the DVD to my friends whom I just finally managed to convince that they should give Linux a go.

    Then I decided to connect to the internet using my DSL modem. And to my disappointment once again I observed exactly the same behaviour as in Ubuntu.

    So what is the point of all this? Well I was very surprised indeed that none of the people at Ubuntu or Mint noticed this issue prior to release.

    And it may indeed be that not that many people use a DSL modem, but the fact of the matter is that it is a basic functionality that should have been tested prior to release. If you cannot connect to the internet your computer is useless, and whatever fix may exist out there you will not be able to get to anyway without access to the internet.

    So unfortunately for me both the Ubuntu 9.10 and Linux Mint 8 Live CDs are somewhat useless and will not be giving them to my friends after all. I will wait for the next release.

    However don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the great effort and progress that has been made. But if you really want to compete with the big boys such bugs cannot be allowed to slip through the net however small they may be.

  40. Hi Dan,

    The alsmixer worked!! πŸ™‚ Am glad am able to hear songs but the log off thing just happened before i was going to post now.

    I am not using a laptop, so power supply isn’t an issue. I haven’t posted this on any of the forums yet. I came across your forum while i was trying to google for the sound issues in linux mint. So just gave it a try and sure it worked πŸ™‚

  41. @Manny – That is a frustrating bug. I don’t normally do in place upgrades as I prefer a fresh install, but it seems that wouldn’t have mattered in this case anyway. I agree that no matter how small the user base for DSL modems is (personally I don’t know anyone with a USB modem) it’s no excuse. The big boys (as you call them) make plenty of mistakes too though, and they wait over a month to patch them usually. The best solution would be to modify the ISO images of these distros to fix the package. So people can download a working CD. I don’t know how much work that would entail but it seems the least they could do. I hope Canonical do this ASAP.

  42. @Deepak – Glad your sound issues are fixed πŸ™‚ For the log off problem you’d be best asking on a proper forum (this is a blog really) where more people can help. Try the ones I mentioned before and also try the Linux Outlaws forums from our podcast. We have some good people in there. Good luck with it.

    • @Manny – I don’t think there is no. Mint isn’t just Ubuntu with extra repos it’s a lot more. So you can’t just add the Mint repositories and change the packages, it would need a fresh install. I’ve never heard anyone say different. It might be possible they could make a migration tool but I don’t think anyone has to date. I would recommend doing a fresh install. Back up your data and you can copy some application settings over with the hidden folders in your home directory. Have a look at this article for a bit of advice on that – http://www.mygnulinux.com/?p=178

  43. I started out with a Ubuntu 9.04 Live CD that was delivered to me for FREE here in Nairobi, KENYA — within 1 week. Amazing. That installed very well on my Toshiba L305-S5944 lappie — everything was detected perfectly. I did the software upgrade to Karmic Koala without any problems. But I had a teenie issue with Gnome-panel applet because I was mucking around and so I couldn’t get back to using my desktop. Then I heard about Linux Mint, read the plethora of reviews and happily installed the new release, Helena version 8.

    All I can say is WOW!!! Mint is the freaking sh!t — period. My hats off to the Ubuntu team & Debian pioneers for making such a world class Operating System. I think 2010 is going to be the year of Desktop Linux. Already, Linux Mint 8 X64 is out and the reviews are very positive. I see Mint as taking Ubuntu and cleaning up a few warts here and THERE. Oh, I ran XP-SP2 in VirtualBox under Ubuntu and the speed was so fast. My setup is a 250 GB HD, 2.16 GHz Intel Duo Core, 2GB RAM, WIFI, etc. XP simply flew and then I showed it to lots of peeps down here in Nairobi — and they LIKED it a lot. Suffice to say that I’m now sloowly installing Linux Mint 8 on laptops and desktops because people are fed up with antivirus and spyware apps hogging their Windows memory plus all those USB flash drive viruses/worms/trojans.

    As we speak, I’m writing this comment on the laptop of a CEO from a company down here. Her specs are: Toshiba Portege A600-135, Core 2 Duo U930 @ 1.20GHz, 250 GB HD, 2 GB RAM, Webcam, WIFI, Bluetooth, Finger Print reader, SD Card reader, etc. The only thing it probably doesn’t detect is the stupid finger print scanner/reader. Big deal! I’m freaking amazed that it has the bluetooth icon showing that it’s turned on but no devices are in sight. It simply saw the WIFI connection and then I added the WEP key — connected to the Net with no problems. Then I browsed her Windows Vista partition and opened some of her Powerpoint presentions in Open Office 3.0 just to show her that she’s not losing out on anything from Windoze. I showed her RythimBox, Gimp, F_Spot, FireFox (with FLash already woriking out of the box), Open Office Spreadsheet, Writer and some other goodies — all ran crisp and looked great on her 1200 X 800 screen. And this is just a LiveUSB demo. I want her to get rid of X-Pee from her office PCs and this demo gave her something to think while she breaks for XMas.

    To conclude, Linux Mint has arrived and it deserves all the praises because its creators went the EXTRA mile to make everything run PERFECTLY out of the box. Oh, those Huawei USB 3G/EV-DO modems are automatically detected by Linux Mint (and Ubuntu too). Simply amazing. If I attach my Nokia 6070 EDGE celly to my laptop using a CA42 cable, Mint already sees it and I just have to enter the APN, user name/password for my mobile operator. Wicked!!! On Windoze, I have to bloody download a 35 Meg Nokia PC Suite just to connect to the Net. Eeew!

    I simply don’t know what the Mint guys can do for version 9. Right now, version 8 (Helena) is as GOOD AS IT GETS. And I simply haven’t felt the need to install VirtualBox on my lappie. I’m just waiting to find out if Ext4 is ready for prime time and then I’ll switch from Ext3 file system.


    – Max (aka Max “The IT pro”)

    • @max – I’m testing Mint 8 myself at the moment and it’s really well made I agree. I’ve been a fan of Mint since version 4, before that it we finding it’s feet a bit I felt. It’s rocked hard since 2007. I think it’s still the easiest distro for anyone to learn Linux with πŸ™‚

  44. Hi Dan,
    I am back this time with another sound issue, but with Helena now :p I am able to hear every sound, the pings on my messengers and other sounds work perfectly fine, but i hear nothing when i play any music file though the scroll bar shows it is! I tried the alsamixer, but didn’t work this time. πŸ™

  45. @deepak – That’s weird. So sound is working on the system but for some reason the media player isn’t sending it through. What media player are you using? Check that the volume on the player is up and it’s not muted. Have you checked the settings in Pulse Audio as well to make sure it’s not muted there? Just some things to try at first. Also have a look at a few different applications and see if that makes any difference. It might help track down where the problem is. Good luck!

  46. Yes i tried all those basic things like checking the volume of the player and also checking the preferences/properties for sound, but am afraid everything looks fine. But one thing solved it, i I didn’t try any other player other than rhythmbox and totem player which also didn’t give any output. But after you told me i tried all the players and actually its playing perfectly fine in all of them though interestingly the problem persists still in the those two players i mentioned above. I would still like to know what would be the reason, and i have maxed the volume bars on the respective players too but still no use. Thanks for the reply!

  47. @Deepak – That sounds very odd. There must be something going on between Totem/Rhythmbox and the sound layer, ALSA, OSS or perhaps Pulse Audio which sits on top. I would look at the players that work and compare their sound settings with the ones that don’t work. See what differences you can find. That might uncover the cause. Beyond that I would advise asking on a big Linux forum like the Ubuntu Forums where know more. I don’t think there’s much else I can personally do right now. Good luck, hope you track the bug down!

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