Well I am not normally one for reviews (Usually configuration / problem solving) But after reading the Linux Critic‘s post on Mint Fluxbox edition I felt that I should go through and evaluate the XFCE version (as it is my personal favourite WM)
Now this review is unique in two ways
- I am doing this on top of workstation (this is my first graphical VM on top of it myself)
- This is absolutely my first install of Mint anywhere ever so I am evaluating both the install as well as first impression of the ease of installation and options
I have a fairly extensive background in linux, most of the majors and some of the not so. Everyone has their own views on what an operating system should be for what they want to do with it (weather that be personal or server) as well as their experience level. My normal choice for both server as well as my desktops is Debian, I feel it is a light weight basic distro with just the right configuration and tools installed by default that make it easy to expand your options easily. As such for a graphical interface on odd hardware (or places where Debian is hard to install) I have relied on ubuntu being still familiar territory with larger install footprint but also more out of the box functionality.
The installation procedure is phenomenal, like any standard bootable distro you simply boot to the disk and select “install” from the desktop shortcut to run through the installation. In this case I left the defaults in place favouring quick setup over any custom procedure, this is also likly the most common way to deploy it
Installed and setup in under 15 minutes as a virtual no problem.
I would also say that the installation of vmware tools was a breese too something that sometimes requires a bunch of extra steps. Unlike some of the Debian distro’s the kernal headers are installed as well as make and a C++ compiler so it was simply mount the tools disk, copy them to my desktop and run the installer perl script.
The tools installed are all the standards needed and seems to be very full featured with a lot of my favorite applications installed out of the gate even the ones that have been traditionally hard to install (and even harder on a 64 bit platform).
It also appears to draw on the large ubuntu repository for additional apt sources making use of a very large repository of applications.
Look and Feel
My overall impression of XFCE Mint can be summed up as “Clean, fast, responsive” While it seems to have all the base apps I am looking for it does not suffer like some of the other “Full” desktop distributions by bogging down due to the extra overhead even running as a VM.
Unlike most distros I also did not have the immediate urge to change the theme, and that is saying a LOT.
That is not to say wont do it anyways!
That being said it also uses compiz and emerald with the effects toned down, this happens to be my first time using them outside of a GNOME environment but they seem to like everything else to be toned just right and not try to be flashy by trading off performance but are there for if you want to do more of the advanced desktop features
Software updates are slick here, of course there is always the command line and with apt and aptitude this is an easy procedure
The update manager needs to be pointed out, it may seem like a simple thing but ranking your updates by the reliability of the package and sources to let a user know which ones should be safe and which ones you are pushing the bleeding edges and need to watch out for is a great feature in my book. You are also able to easily add package exceptions for the update manager to ignore if you know you have something custom or need a particular version to not be updated.
Other software seem to be a fully featured suit of your standard adons and productivity software (such as firefox and openoffice)
I did encounter a problem in my envyronment that is so far un-resolved that should be mentioned. On first setup I logged in set the root account password and installed vmware tools and rebooted. After that point I am unable to log in as my limited account that I created. When trying to log in it just cycles back to the login screen when authenticating and brings be back to the login prompt. No errors and nothing to indicate that there is a problem
I created another limited user and can log in without issue so not to entirely sure what is wrong with the first account
I have also encountered odd behavior out of the browser in the limited account, again without error so hard to track down a why but the browser has problems connecting to websites when I am logged in as the limited users. Sites like google reader and such that work just fine in as the root account or from other machines will just fail to load. Firefox just sits and trys to connect and fails out after a significant period of time. It seems to be hit and miss and if you close and re-open the browser sometimes the sites that would not work do again
I am guessing a permission issue in the browser as the behavior when logged in as root is flawless
A re-installation resolved this problem.
Great distro this one has taken over my first place ranking for favorite desktop operating system.
More efficient and clean full featured systems like this are needed Now all we need to do is have rdesktop catch up with windows remote desktop feature sets and I will have a 100 percent fully functional workstation operating system just how I like it.