Linux Mint 11 - Katya

Linux Mint 11 has been released for a while now and it works like heaven. In the following post, I'm going to talk about how to install this distro on your computer.

First, talking about requirements. The Mint requires very less resources for installation, as with all Linux OS's.

System requirements:
  • x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors)
  • 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage)
  • 5 GB of disk space (the installed Mint uses 3.7 GB)
  • Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
  • CD/DVD drive or USB port
The biggest thing that Mint has included in this distro is the Unity desktop, aped from the Ubuntu 11.04. In the previous post, I've talked about how you can upgrade your Ubuntu to unity desktop by few commands. I find it extremely useful, though advanced applications and features remain hidden and are cumbersome to get access to.

If you want to upgrade to the new release of Mint, you can follow the steps explained here :

Download the .iso file(s) from the Mint official website depending on your requirement. I'd recommend downloading the 32-bit DVD ISO for most of your general use.

The most spectacular point of Mint has always been how closely it has been able to mimic Windows in terms of feel and aesthetics. During installation also the transitions and the dialogue boxes showed close ape-ing of Windows. That's why I recommend users who are migrating to Linux for the first time to always try Mint. It's fun and provides least learning curve among all the distros out there.

The installation process guides you well across. Select the drive you want to install Mint in. It's no hassle. Mint has focused on this aspect of the user convenience.

The main choice was how to install. You can install next to Ubuntu's Natty Narwhal, and use a dual boot to choose Mint. I did not like to dual boot my PC with two versions of same OS. I prefer to turn the computer on and proceed to my desktop in one go. So that choice was out for me.

There was one other choice in the installer entitled, "Somthing else." I was amused, and clicked on it. What came up was the partition manager, showing my current partitions, and asking me how I would like to repartition my drive. None of these choices were one way, they all had back buttons if you changed your mind. I was impressed, Mint did a nice job with their installer.

Alright, Mint is loaded. First impression. When you turn the computer on with Ubuntu, you get about a 30 second black screen where it seems like nothing is happening before the login screen loads. At first, I thought something was wrong with Mint, because instead of the 30-sec black screen, I got a screen with random, colored, horizontal lines. It looked weird, like something was wrong, but there was nothing wrong, and the login screen started without a hitch.

One of the problems with starting completely over is you have to reconfigure and load the software programs again. This takes time. I tend to do it gradually as I need new programs.

First impression of Mint, it looks more like Windows than Ubuntu. Everything starts from the Menu button on the bottom left bar, like the Windows start button. Ubuntu has a separate menu on the upper right for shutdown, Mint does it from the Menu button.

As far as different from Ubuntu, Empathy the default Ubuntu email client is not there, instead Thunderbird is loaded, which I like better. One thing I missed that was installed from scratch with Ubuntu Gnome was workspaces, usually in the lower right status bar. Workspaces are not there initially. To get them, right click on the task bar, select "add to panels" and scroll down and select "Workspace Switcher," and your back to your the Workspaces you had in Ubuntu.

Mint has panels, or toolbars, that you can use for a launcher, for example. You add a panel by right clicking in one of the toolbars, and picking "Add a Panel". You then add icons, like Firefox, to the panel as your program launcher. Although I have to admit, one of the first applications I loaded with the Mint Software Manager was Gnome-Do. Panels can be placed along the edges.
That's about it for now. Mint seems like a very nice distro. I'll let you know more as I load softwares and get more use to its interface, which is different than Ubuntu Unity and Ubuntu Gnome, but not that different.