Mint - Felicia version 8.10 RC1
As many of you will know, recently Ubuntu released its latest operating system and at the time of writing this review the latest Ubuntu offering was that of Intrepid Ibex version "8.10" Mint latest offering towards the Ubuntu flavours is known as "Felicia" so thought it useful to take a look at the Mint Gnome version or version "8.10". You should note this review only covers the RC1 version of this software this effectively is the pre-release version of there OS and not the final release
Note: All these comments are based on working from a installed version, so obviously performance may be an issue with a live CD. Please keep that in mind when reading my appraisal.
Running from the Laptop
Installation was applied in this case to a Dell 1521 Inspiron Laptop.
I'm sure most of you will be aware, you can run 32 bit software on 64 bit hardware unlike Micro$ Vista, running reliably as a Live CD installation problems where not expected when attempting to run from the CD on a dual core AMD Athlon 64 bit CPU. I am happy to confirm that there where no installation problems at all, preferring to adopt a manual installation method and preparing the hard disk in advance using "fdisk", the disk is prepared into four primary partitions one for boot then swap, next was root and finally home. I adopt this method for one basic reason to retain the data held on the home drive. Even if I where to install again over the top of this distro my data on home is safe provided I do not re-format the home drive partition.
It recognised the wireless chipset and loaded the atheros drivers automatically although I did need to connect to a live network to install the firmware and activate this which was achieved using a LG Viewty Mobile. Once installed and activated all wireless networks within a reasonable vicinity where detected and no issues or problems detected when connecting, however networks are stored in a keychain environment this registers all connected pass phrases and stores for later use.
The laptop also (like many), has a built-in card reader. This proves to be problematic in the past and again as noticed on Ubuntu's Itrepid Ibex, placing a SD card in the slot, resulted in it not being recognised or the drive mounted further investigation indicated that the SD card was not detected using "sudo fdisk -l". Lossing this facility to mount another drive for the extra bit of space it affords me is unwelcome. This worked previously very well in Hardy Heron and should work in both Intrepid Ibex and Felicia without issue, sadly it doesn't.
So it appears, it is very much down to what hardware you have, as to how this is going to run.
It is fast, considering it is running live, and although applications take time to load (as you would expect) once they are up and running, it's quite fast and robust.
It has a really nice look and feel about it, with some remarkably cool features.
You can see here, the default desktop.
The offered interface Gnome version has a familiar look and feel about it, dare I say windoz like, actually it is Gnome like.
Gnome uses Nautilus as its default file manager application. It works and works well it as does Firefox and Thunderbird which come pre-installed the plugins that enable flash and videos to run in Firefox have also been pre-installed and that dreadful Totem Plugin has been removed from the face of the earth, well Firefox anyway.
One of the best applications known to man, has to be K3b, It comes in version
1.0.5 and the screen-shot says it all. However it is not installed by default.
Office duties are dealt with via Open Office 2.4 a very capable alternative to the market leader.
Mint incorporates a really efficient real time search facility. Just like you know who, start typing a word in the search box and Mint will narrow down which application you want. For demonstration, I've started to type Thunderbird on which these screen-shots were taken and you can see after only three letters, I'm at my destination.
It has easy to change common System Settings as well.
All in all, Mint is an excellent replacement or upgrade to your current system with lots of very nice advanced features. Undoubtedly, it is very pleasant to look at and could be made to look quite stunning, particularly with 3D effects. I had only two note worthy problems after installation one with the wireless component on my laptop but this was very easily resolved the ability to detect alternative wireless connections via 3G is very much welcomed and added to my experience with Mint, and two the ongoing problem of deteting the SDCard component via the slot embedded into the Laptop. So far. All the multimedia worked surprisingly well and had no issue other some additional "gstreamers" and other applications needed to make my more specialist applications to work correctly.
From my view I had very little to do with the installation other than to install my additional and optional component packages.
Given that some tweaking will be required, some knowledge of Linux would be an advantage. But I'm sure at the end of the day, it will appeal to a lot more people than previously.