Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Distro Hoppin`: Linux Mint 7 KDE Edition

Ah... Linux Mint! The Ubuntu-made-even-better operating system that everybody loves to praise. And for good reason, in my humble opinion. The latest version of Mint, dubbed Gloria and bearing the 7 suffix, was released quite some time ago, so why am I talking about it? Well, recently, the team behind the project, with Mr. Clement Lefebvre as the leader, made a highly anticipated announcement: "Linux Mint 7 KDE released!".

So good news for all of you KDE fans out there! I still am not part of that group, but hey!, Pardus left quite a good impression on me, so why not try this one too? First of all, see if you have an empty DVD lying around, 'cause the KDE version of Mint 7 (about 1.1 GB) won't fit on a CD. There are plenty of mirrors available for direct download and a seedful torrent, so it shouldn't take too much time to have the image on your hard drive. Once you have it on the disc, it's pretty much a straight-forward job: boot from the DVD, wait for the desktop to load, double click the "Install" icon and go through the easy-as-pie installation steps, identical to those of Ubuntu.

Once I had it installed, I quickly rebooted the machine and admired the simple yet beautiful blue and white, icy kind of bootsplash, perfectly suited for a hot summer day. The first time your desktop loads, it will take a bit more time, so don't worry, it's normal. If you recall, Gloria's default green wallpaper was quite a star when revealed by Clem. If you liked that, you'll certainly like this one. It's basically the same, except it's blue. The same sky, the same water drops, but blue.

mintWelcome, which immediately popped out at startup, is an excellent tool for finding out about Gloria's exciting new features, read the user guide or seek support either on the forum or through the pre-configured Quassel IRC client.

The latest, 4.2.4 version of K Desktop Environment certainly feels more stable and less of a resource-hog than previous ones, so using it didn't make my good ol' single core Pentium 4 machine develop an inferiority complex.

What's the first thing you need to do after installing an Operating System? Make sure it's up to date! So that's what I did. The mintUpdate tool was already working in the background, retrieving all of the 76 updates that needed to be applied. About ten minutes and a rather harmless Plasma workspace crash later, Linux Mint 7 KDE was ready to be explored.

As I knew Canonical didn't bother to update their repositories with the latest version of Pidgin in order to be able to connect to Yahoo, I wanted to see if Mint did something about that. Nope, still at 2.5.5. Before adding the third party source, I downloaded and installed it, just for the heck of it and, surprise, surprise, I was online. Apparently, the Mint team couldn't include the latest version so instead they changed the server in the account preferences. Still, that isn't a permanent solution, as certain features (such as avatars and file transfer) don't work, but it's better than nothing. Oh, and yes, before all that, I've tried connecting with the included Kopete IM client, but had no luck.

If there is one thing that I find highly annoying about Kubuntu-based OSes, it has to be this: NVIDIA drivers installation. Though it quickly recognized my chipset and recommended the 173 series, when I clicked "Activate", the selection grayed out on me and nothing happened. NOTHING! Restart the application, try again, restart the system, try again. Nope. Still no response. Usually, depending on your luck and how the planets are aligned that day, the darn thing will work after a few tries. Luckily, the Minties (is it too wrong if I call the Linux Mint team that? :) ) are probably aware of that issue and included the awesome EnvyNG driver installation program that quickly and smoothly took care of the problem.

One of the applications I love using when running KDE systems is Amarok. Though the latest version is 2.1.1, Linux Mint gives you 2.1, which is just as good really, works like a charm.

When you open the most awesome software manager available for Linux, mintInstall, for the first time, you'll notice that it doesn't take as much time to load as it used to, as screenshots for the most popular applications are preloaded; for the rest, the pics are downloaded as you access them. If you want 'em all, click the "Refresh" button and they'll slowly but surely be loaded. That's a great improvement if you ask me, as waiting several minutes to access the repositories for the first time was a bit frustrating in the previous version. Another important change is the "Featured applications" button which will take you to a small software portal, comprising of applications that are known to be used by a lot of people. Some examples: aMule, Audacity, Skype, Opera, Google Earth of Picasa. This is a great way to put your "computing lifestyle" back together in no time.

Of course, Flash videos, MP3s and most video formats play out of the box in Linux Mint 7, so yay! The bundled Dragon Player, VLC, GNOME MPlayer and MPlayer will provide the means for that to happen. It was a bit sad to see no games available out of the box, considering the fact that the distro had already “spilled” over the 700 MB CD limit, so 1.5 GB instead of 1.1 wouldn't have been such a big difference.

On the office front, there's nothing out of the ordinary: the now old 3.0.1, a couple of smaller text editors and a few KOffice 2.0 (great product, by the way) components, such as Krita and Karbon.

If you have kids (I used that instead of children because it starts with a K! Get it? K! From KDE? How funny is that? - don't answer) and you feel that they may be surfing some inappropriate Internet waves, you can call mintNanny and do some good old fashioned domain blocking. But with today's highly computer-literate youth, they will probably blaze past your wall of protection. Nonetheless, a welcomed addition.

Another tool straight out of Mint's laboratories is mintUpload that unfortunately wasn't pre-configured to use the default Mint server. If you use any other upload services, you can add them to this nifty interface too. Beware though, you won't find mintUpload in the applications menu, as you can access it through the right click context menu on individual files.

But there are more hidden treasures in the context menu: image conversion, file encryption, open/edit as root, change permissions, etc. Some true time savers!

The glorious conclusion

Linux Mint 7 KDE is a worthy addition to the Linux Mint family and is much, much better than the previous KDE release. I still prefer the main GNOME version over it, but there's definitely an ascending path going on. Oh, and with the 4.3.0 version of KDE just released, I can't wait until Linux Mint 8!

Update: As Google kindly helped me translate the Russian comment below, I realized I actually did not post any download link for the distribution. Silly me! Oh well, here they are: Direct download and torrent. Enjoy!


  1. There wont be a 64 bit version of the KDE Release tho ... so its pretty much useless.

  2. I installed it on my 32 bit backup computer and its very nice, but its a no go for my triple core AMD. I must have 64 bit. Be sure to tell people not to update while using Synptic. Their system will become unstable.

  3. I'm sorry, but what's the big deal about 64 bit? Don't most people use 32 bit, and can you not run a 32 bit OS on a 64 bit computer? I'm sure you can.

    You may want a 64 bit OS, which is fine, but that doesn't make the 32 bit release "useless".

  4. elcaset of KenmoreAugust 5, 2009 at 10:20 PM

    Mint KDE 7 works great for me on my main PC. It does everything I expect of it. Kool review!

  5. the 4.3.0 version of KDE just released, I can't wait until Linux Mint 8!

  6. Quit complaining and be thankful that there are hardworking people such as Clem that give you FREE OS that is a hell of alot more stable and faster than anyting M$ charges you for. M$ is dirty and will do anyting to secure there grip on the market. Charging people for Beta software(hint Vista) and then recharging you for the final version (Windows 7) which still sucks and cannot compare to any distro of Linux. If you want to read about how low M$ has gone this time read this link:

    Microsoft has been caught installing exploits into Firefox through Windows Update!

    The article is about half way down the page and shows just how dirty they really are. Now after having this knowledge why would anyone pay a company for software when they are willing to jeopordize your security just for there own gains. Like they really care about you or your safety when computing. All they care about is $ and they will do anyting to get it. And there OS is always garbage. I just bought a new notebook and came home and booted it. Upon restarting it the whole integrity of the harddrive was screwed. I took it off instantly and put Mint on instead. Microsoft makes garbage and charges you for it. Clem and the mint gang on the other hand provide you with an alternative for free that outperforms anything M$ puts there hands on in everyway.

    Some will complain of the lack of somethings being able to work on Linux such as printers, graphics cards, and wifi. But this is changing and the more people that finally see M$ for what they are and stop supporting them and using Linux instead will force these compaines to start supporting linux even more.

    Although it is a windows world out there, it doesnt have to be that way. Convince your friends and family to give Linux a try and I can guarantee anyone with half a brain will see that its faster, more stable and doesnt suffer from viruses and other security exploits and will make the switch. After all, the learning curve for linux is not as much as people think it is. when i first started using Linux within 3 days I removed windows and have never looked back.

    1. Linux has Not "Arrived" to the non-geek Public Yet! Despite over 3000+ versions of Linux......Why???? We Non-Geeks have to work for hours [hundreds of Hours?] whatever the case; "SIMPLY" to get a printer to work, as easily as using a Mac or Windows.
      Enough said. Gerald S.

  7. Too bad the release date of the Mint KDE 4.2.4 desktop coincides with the KDE 4.3 release. The difference between 4.2.4 and 4.3 is quite big. Only some eye catchers, but overall just about every bit of KDE has improved in 4.3, wielding a polished, smooth, even less resource hungry and highly usable desktop. I am using it on MEPIS (via the Debian unstable repos) and it is lovely. Let's hope Mint offers updates from their repos as well...

  8. If you're impatient and don't mind using the unstable repos then Jaunty repos + Mint romeo (dev) repos may have what ur looking for

  9. The thing I have come to love about Mint releases is the quality. If things aren't up to scratch, Clem and the team have no hesitation about holding the release back a few days or weeks until things are sorted.

  10. No 64 bit? I was looking forward to trying. Guess I will pass.

  11. To all the moaners up above me here, ok, 64bit would be nice, and as time passes it will come.

    You're obviously not much of a computer user anyway, if you can't do anything other tha post anonymous comments.

    This, and all other Versions of Mint, are possibly one of the most polished distros out there, and all those wingers about Printers, and other things "not working" sorry, but thats an old ht, out of place moan.. I've not had a driver issue in Linux for years. across 10 different PC's ranging in age from 7 years to 1 month..

  12. mint its a best for me........

  13. Mint 7 in KDE or Gnome flavour? 32 or 64 bit? Oh the choices one has to make and all for free !! Wonder what premium Micosoft would charge for that level of luxury? Viva Mint !!

  14. on the yahoo thing, all they did was rename the server, its a quick fix in kopete and gaim or pidgin, google it I can't remember the exact name but i believe they just added a one to the end of the prefix. Cause pidgin sucks on kde, no taskbar icon.

    And to the 64bit comment. KDE 4.2.2 seems to have some audio bugs on 64, on 32 as well, but 64 seems like to fail over when using more then one imput on an audio channel. Kubuntu is a nice 64 kde enviroment though, suse is too if your into that.

    Wish they'd release a deb of their themes and wallpapers. I don't care for the distro, but I really like the visuals.

  15. "on the yahoo thing, all they did was rename the server"
    Yeap, I also said that in the article.

    "Cause pidgin sucks on kde, no taskbar icon."
    If you go to "Tools --> Preferences --> Interface" in Pidgin you can select to show the system tray icon (if that's what you meant with "taskbar icon" :) )

    Thanks for the comment and thank you all out there for reading my article! :) Have an awesome morning/day/evening/night!

  16. Excellent review! Made me laugh too. I agree that the Gnome version is better IMHO but KDE does look more 'clean' as a M$ rival.

    The only reason I have never made the full switch to linux, although it is the main partition, is due to the lack of compatability with a lot of games and apps (wine is OK sometimes, but the problems with new releases breaking old fixes drives me nuts!).

    I will keep on with mint but even though i dont want to use m$, i have no choice!

  17. Mints awsome, so much nicer than windows...just a pitty that their are not that many good games for linux..and that wine really does blow atleast crossover works well ^^ either way Mint rules.

  18. И где его можно скачать? (Russian)

  19. Thanks for the heads-up Mr. Russian Anonymous. I have updated the article.

    Есть великий день!

  20. lol! don't try to translate english to russian.
    you tried to say "have a great day!"
    and what you wrote was "there is a great(as big, not as good) day!"

    nice try..

  21. Haha. I knew that would happen. :) What did we learn, kids? Do not put too much trust in Google! Next time, I'll be sure to ask my grandpa, as he studied a bit of Russian when he was in school. :)

    Thanks for the correction, Lirik!

  22. I've been with windows from the very early days but as of late became a little peeved at spending a lot of time combating malware,spyware,virus and "potential security problems ". My last windows update was a fine 320mb of security patches. I am a total newbie to Linux but took Mint for a test drive and a week later I'm converted ( with a little xp running in VB for the few specialist programs I need ). Fast, lean, secure and free. What's not to like. Mark

  23. If you think that Firefox m$ exploit is weird, try looking at the xbox 360, there are 1500-2500 boxes being returned for repairs every single day...if these were cars or most other goods there would be a recall, but because its Microsoft they get away with it..god help us when the day comes our cars are using ms products/systems...imagine the insurance companies, we cant re imburse you as its a software fault by MS you have to claim off them, and MS says, its not our fault its a hardware problem....then your only hope would be to find if anyone has a hacked linux system for your model car....dont laugh its not funny and more than likley going to happen.

  24. I just started using Mint 7 64bit (gnome obviously) and it is really, really, really good. Best Linux distro I've ever used. I'm still a newb but I've tried Ubuntu, Kubuntu, CentOS, Fedora, PClinux, Mepis, ScientificLinux, openSUSE (all the latest versions) and Mint is by far IMO the best. A frakking dream actually. I loved PClinux the best before because of it's ease of use but with it and I couldn't get Intel vid drivers to install right or on others I couldn't get drives to mount right. Fedora 11 for instance would crash so hard trying to update the system I had to hard reboot. Plus I need to use 64-bit so that limited me a bit more.

  25. oh, and I just have to comment to all the windows haters - make Linux as easy to use and you will find more people trying to use it. Even though I'm not an advanced linux user I guarantee you I'm more knowledgeable than 90% of the population on it (I'm a scientist and I use it for data analysis). Poor wireless support as well as other drivers, definite need for command line use which means you have to learn lots of new language and man this man that which rarely solves the issue. Took me days to scour the net to figure out how to automount a network drive right. Windows=easy: map network drive, check the box, score.

  26. and Win7 is just a release candidate now but I've been using it for months. It is solid. Not a single problem. Runs every program I've thrown at it no matter how old (except a flash drive encryption utility from like 1999. Best Windows yet. Faster than XP. Looks nicer. I preordered a copy (lifelong pirate here) cuz it's that good.

    But I will admit, with Mint, wow. It's been EXACTLY what I've been hoping for all along for linux. Bravo. MS has a competitor IMO (and OSX but I don't use it). If it could run Photoshop and Illustrator natively.....

  27. Gotta agree with captainentropy. Geek out and call everyone else n00bs if your wish, but he speaks the truth.

  28. Not going to geek out - and if anyone is a noob it would propbably be me, having used Linux for only 6 months or so - but have to say, wireless support flawless on every distro I've used (Puppy, Fedora, various Ubuntus from 8.04+) Only time I had an issue was when I had to reinstall Windows on someone's laptop in school - try finding a working driver and downloading it then - much harder than the simple click to activate restricted drivers in Ubuntu!
    Also had no problems with graphics cards, printers, scanners, bluetooth etc.etc.etc.
    Mint looks great with the MP3 etc. working out of the box, but even on other distros its only a click or 2 away. And as for photoshop - well I know some people swear by it, but for the limited amount of photo editing and graphics work I do, then GIMP is fine for my needs. Of course, you should buy a system suitable for your needs though and if what you need is Photoshop and Windows only games and other software (I know Cpt.Entropy didn't mention games, but others regularly do), then you'll have to have Windows and not one of the Linux distros - just like if I need a truck to haul my furniture to my new place, I wouldn't try to blame Ferrari for not giving me a big enough boot!
    Linux may not be mainstream for everyone yet, but for those who want a computer based on its ability to do a job - Ubuntu started it, others including Mint have picked it up and run with it, and the popularisation of Linux is moving ahead - in direct opposition to the amount you need to do on the command line: note the 'need' I haven't 'needed' to do anything on the CLI on any of my recent trial OSes or my main one (currently Ubuntu, but may switch to Mint after trialling recently) Everything I've wanted to do could be done in GUI - the fact that I have the option to use command line and have done so to learn a bit about it is my choice rather than 'need' - that's not to say that there aren't things that need CLI, but an 'average' user, even what MS has previously called a 'power' user doesn't really need it and I'd debate whether any home user would need it if they didn't want to use it - now big system administrators are a different thing entirely, but then I've run a small home network with server off mine again without resorting to CLI, except when I chose to for my own education.

  29. I must have been really unlucky then. Of course, there is something to be said for buying quality hardware too. I tried three wireless adapters on three distros (PClinux, Mepis, and Fedora) and on OSX 10.39. Never got any to work. Granted they were "cheap" USB ones (I shoulda said USB before) - one from Rosewill, one from Dlink, and one from SMC (all between $10 and $30) Point is every one will work on windows. That's the manufacturer's fault I know but it does make making the leap to Linux that much more frustrating. And it's great the last commentor hasn't had to use the CLI. I guess s/he's never had to automount a drive or install a java app, etc (I only recently found out about the GUI pysdm for automounting which, AFAIK, I still have to access via CLI). Of course Windows is easier because they invest $billions in making their software (same with Apple). Linux will get their I think because of dedicated people like we find all over the linux world But it's still a domain for programmers and nerds (kinda like myself). Mint is an awesome step in that direction IMO. PC games? Meh, I have a PS3 ;)

  30. I agree with the folks about 64bit. I would love to see the kde and xfce community editions releasing 64bit mint edtions.
    I am willing to donate a 64bit amd machine to project
    I am waiting on response from merlwiz on the xfce edition.

  31. Hi folks,
    Considering my country, I guess, the education system is largely to be blamed for the huge Windows dependancy we have. I have not used Mint yet, but reading your reviews feel tempted to use it. Just after a week of being on Ubuntu (my second attempt with a separate HDD, since my first attempt on it dual booting with Windows got me frustrated with some partitoin errors, and I scraped the idea of going Linux. Now back on track :D ) I have learned to love it.
    Now with regards to GAMES for Linux, what can we say. But another thing I miss here is the IM cam and photo sharing problems. Please don't tell me about Pidgin, it SUCKS for me. With regards to plugins, I don't want to break my head over them. I am right now following a tut somewhere on the Web about installing the linux yahoo with cam and photo sharing. Hope it works.
    BUT, apart from that, in spite of being a lifetime windows user, it is great to see there are men and women out there who are making NON GEEK stuff that works better than Windows. I think, apart from the GAMES edge, Windows does not deserve to be called an OS. Apple might be costly, but at least it works near perfect. LInux, gives you BOTH :)
    And with regards to finding Ubuntu, Mint or such distros STILL difficult, all I can think of, is a friend who told me she is all for Windows, since she could not get her head around MAC. Now, everyone who is knowledgeable knows that Mac is anyday easier to understand and use than Windows. So, this is a good example, no matter how easy something is, you cannot expect to learn it after a lifetime of CRAP OSes!!
    thankyou OPENSOURCE!!! Thankyou!!!

  32. Alright well... If we could figure out how to run more Games Natively we would be doin really good lol. Seems to me we need a program that runs in the background providing a STABLE environment for running windows games and other programs. Havent had much experience with Wine ect... (Downloading Mint As We Speak) My only Linux experience is with Fedora Core 6... Nifty but slightly confusing for a Windows only user.
    I Do like the way windows 7 runs but I just dont like windows all the way around. Hopefully someone will provide me with the game support for linux I desperatly need. Thanks in advance to whoever gets that issue ironed out. and If such a program exists...(I'm a Noob to Linux I beg for forgiveness!) lol. later.

  33. I am part of teh computer club in Central Florida. We are a non-profit corporation. Our goal is to convert 'everyone' to run Linux in schools, governments, businesses, Ham Radio, and at home.

    The evolution to stability, freedom of choice, and security is working!

    A local private school has run Linux since 2005, and is now upgraded to Linux Mint 7 'Gloria', on 48 donated Compaq Evo computers (Thanks, Disney World!!!)!

    I give instruction and help in the switch to Linux Mint, and distribute hundreds of Linux Mint CDroms each year, providing FREE demonstrations at warehouse clubs, like Costco.

    Sorry Sam's Club SUCKS!

    When 7 of us went to Sam's Club in 2006, to purchase 35 to 40 complete computer systems, with a dozen Laser Printers, for 8 businesses, we coordinated with a manager, a conflict arose with a higher up female manager (suffering with severe PMS!)!

    Permission to demo Linux Live CD on a Sam's Club demo machine evaporated. Everyone was directed to go to a computer outlet for our purchases! We all surrendered our 'Sam's Club membership', to shop online, and, at Costco.

    The road to FREEDOM of speech (in computer software, and use) starts with handing out Free Linux CDroms.
    Linux Mint is a great introduction to real FREEDOM!

  34. I am a long time user of Mint Gnome. I recently tried the KDE version. Quite disappointing but I am biased. Mint has implemented gnome so nicely, there is no way that the KDE release compares to the ease of use of the gnome release.

  35. Мне понравилась, хотя не без глюков, но все же стильная штучка получилась :)

  36. Just tried Mint 7 KDE, and it's my first KDE distro. my crunchbang break last week, so i think i might as well try other distro. this is a great, polished distro. thank you mint kde ce team.

    and for m$ hater, don't bash m$ too hard. just show them how great linux are nowadays. linux aren't exactly for geek anymore.


  37. Mint 7 is a serious contender. It is every bit as good as Windows 7. I'll get this out of the way real quick. Be patient folks. Mint 64 is due the first quarter of 2010. Quality takes time.

    I actually like Mint more than Ubuntu. Mint has
    alot of potential. Like it or not, until Windows
    collapses from cardiac code blote, it is going to be a thorn in the side of quality computing.

    Linux, any flavor, has to find a way to solve
    the compatibility issue. Make it native. Don't
    force us to resort to arcane solutions. There
    already are software solutions.

    Make compatibility native in the distro. That
    will kill Windows market share almost overnight.

    The mainstream computer user is looking for an
    easy to use, intuitive operating system. Well,
    that damn sure isn't Windows. W7 comes close.

    Mint .. Please solve that one nagging issue

    Who Wants To Be That 800 Pound Gorilla ..

    Mint 7

  38. Compared to Windows 7, Linux Mint 7 has better features. They made it even better with the new edition. I'll consider it instead of any other operating systems.

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