Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) – first impressions
As well as upgrading my PCs to Ubuntu 10.10 (see earlier post), I decided that I should try out Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) on my HP Omnibook XE4500 (P4M 1.7GHz, 1Gb RAM, ATI Radeon M6 Mobility and dual boot with Windows XP).
The Linux Mint community have recently decided to add Debian as a base distribution in addition to Ubuntu. Basing the distribution on Debian Testing (Mint 10 will still be Ubuntu) it is called Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) and is a ‘rolling distribution’. Whether this is a planned replacement for Ubuntu as the base build is unclear. No doube time will tell.
Linux Mint Debian Edition – Installation
Note: The screen shots below were reproduced installing LMDE in VirtualBox and not on my HP laptop.
The first thing to note with LMDE is the download takes up 874.6Mb and therefore you will need a DVD rather than a CD ROM to burn it on.
The HP laptop I was using had previously been running Linux Mint 9 (Ubuntu) so the first thing I had to do was remove the associated partitions using a GParted ‘live’ CD.
I then booted off the LMDE Live CD and clicked the Install Linux Mint icon on the desktop.
You get the usual requirements of setting your language and location, followed by keyboard type.
The first barrier I hit was the way the installer allows you to set-up your partitions. Being given a window with no partitions is fine, but then being given the only viable option to "Edit Partitions" by using GParted is far from ideal or even friendly!
Yes, you can click Forward but you will just get a "please select a root (/) partition before proceeding" message.
So with my existing GParted knowledge I set-up two partitions (when producing the screen-shots in VirtualBox I hit another problem, see footnote at the end of the blog)
and then created my main and swap partitions
I then closed GParted and was returned to the "Please select where you want to install LMDE" screen where I hit Refresh, my newly created partitions appeared.
I then pressed the Forward button and got the following message
I didn’t expect to have to see the error message "please select a root (/) partition before proceeding", considering I had just asked it to use all unused disk space on the hard disk. In the end I set the mount point as / by double clicking on the LMDE partition and entering / for the Mount Point.
I then clicked Forward and the installation asked for my credentials and then proceeded to install.
On completion and a reboot LMDE loaded. Entering uname -a in terminal produced the following information
Linux LMDE 2.6.32-5-686 #1 SMP Tue June 1 04:59:47 UTC 2010 i686 GNU/Linux
I was then told I had 514 recommended updates available, in the information notification icon, so I double clicked in the icon and started a "mini update".
and clicked Install Updated
After the update has completed and the PC rebooted you now get a GRUB menu by default, with a cosmetic bug (blue box) see below
A bigger surprise has still to come with the login screen
That’s odd, I thought I was using Linux Mint, not Debian!
Once you login you do get the normal Mint wallpaper and menus.
However, when you restart/ logout the closing display reverts to the Debian wallpaper.
First of all I accept that I was warned that LMDE had "some rough edges", being the first release. That is all well and good, but it should have been called LMDE – Beta or LMDE – Pre-Release to avoid confusing this release with the high quality product we normally see from the Linux Mint stable.
1. In this day and age, the behaviour of the installer is absolutely unacceptable. Especially when compared to the Ubuntu installer. The current LMDE installer is retarded and almost unusable for anyone new to Linux. Considering Linux Mint is targeted at Windows escapees, this usability issue really needs to be sorted out ASAP. Especially, where you have a fresh hard disk with nothing on it (see footnote).
2. There is a recognised cosmetic bug with the GRUB boot loader in that the very nice background is overlay by a horrible blue box containing the grub boot menu, but this does not affect usability so is not a show stopper. To be fair this is a known bug and is reported as such on the website.
3. The need to do a 500Mb of package updates immediately after the install was something of a surprise. But that is probably the cost of using Debian Testing and rolling upgrades.
However, I did not expect to see Debian wallpaper on my login screen after the reboot. I was initially shocked to see the standard Debian wallpaper, and though the updates had some how downloaded full Debian. However, on login the screen blanked and the standard green desktop and wallpaper of Linux Mint appeared.
Unfortunately my LG KM900 3G mobile phone still doesn’t tether properly, so no improvement over Ubuntu 10.10 and to be fair I can’t hold this against LMDE as it appears to be a kernel issue rather than a distribution problem.
Well everything else I’ve seen and tried so far looks like Linux Mint 9, so that can’t be bad. Apart from cosmetic problems post installation, all seems fine.
Despite the installation woes around the disk partitioner, I like Linux Mint Debian Edition and await in anticipation for the next release which will hopefully address the installer usability issue and some of the "eye candy" in the distribution itself.
If you create a partition on a new and unformatted hard disk in GParted, it will tell you the following:
So following what I was being told I clicked Device > Create Partition Table from the menu bar and got this
After going through the various types of partition table I succumbed to ignorance and went for the default MS-DOS.
So much for Freedom!
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