Linux Mint 11 “Katya” – DVD Edition
Last time we looked at Mint’s LXDE edition, if you recall I suggested it was not a good choice for novice users. But before you hang me, let me suggest an alternative which I believe you will all agree is perfectly tuned for novice users. But let’s not jump ahead to any conclusions, let’s backtrack to the beginning..
Installing Mint DVD is super easy. I used a Lenovo W510 laptop running i7 processor, 16GB of ram and VMWare 8. Mint installed without any problems and to borrow from Apple’s vernacular – it just worked.
I created a basic VM and booted off the downloaded ISO (867MB). I started the installer and viola!
Finally after all that, you have a working Linux operating system. If you’ve installed Ubuntu once or twice you’ll be very familiar with above Installation Wizard screen shots. Some good information, but mostly to occupy you while system installs. I wish they would give you the option of Welcome Screens or a nice game of Angry Birds. That would be the ultimate installation routine.
Let’s begin by looking at the Menu.. as you can see compared to Mint’s LXDE edition this Menu is very refined and easy to use. Novice users should have no problems navigating basic menu options. Important applications like browser, email client, messenger and media player are in your face via Favorites. Very prominent easily accessible.
I really like Mint’s interpretation of Places, System and Applications over Ubuntu’s menu layout. I think its a cleaner more refined approach while at the same time makes things super easy for novice users who are typically used to Windows style Start Menu. Let’s face it, if the Linux community wants more converts it has to make it easy and I think Mint does that very nicely.
With novice users the key to success is make things easy to find, easy to operate and easy to configure. In my mind one thing many Linux distributions do not do well is a powerful control panel type solution. Windows users have over the years been taught ‘look in the control panel’ when tinkering with the OS, troubleshooting problems or anything outside of using applications. Linux users on the other hand have been accustomed to command line for most items because lets face it up to now control panel type solutions were not very good.
A powerful control centre along with easily installed applications made Ubuntu king of the hill on the desktop. Mint has heavily borrowed from this philosophy and in my mind took it to another level. They’ve taken a powerful Control Centre and packed it with Ubuntu base applets and then some. Good example is the local firewall. Ubuntu does not include a firewall configuration tool, while Mint includes (my favourite ‘Gufw’). It’s such a small thing, but yet its a huge step forward for novice users.
The Update and Software Managers, is another example of a leap forward for novice users. While the Synaptic Package Manager is straightforward I’ve heard from novice users it can be confusing. Mint’s solution is the Software Manager, it eliminates the confusion and introduces a ratings/review system. I think that is fantastic, a quick and easy way of judging whether a potential application is worth your time simply by looking at other users reviews. Such a simple addition, but yet so powerful.
Next week I’ll talk about other cool tweaks you’ll find in Mint and some final thoughts. Will Mint become my new favourite Linux distribution?