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.

The Bad:

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.

The Good:

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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21 thoughts on “Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE) – first impressions

  1. I had not difficulty with LMDE. The install was easy and very similar to the Ubuntu installer. I had to go to the Debian Wiki page to see how to activate the Broadcom wifi on the Dell Mini 9.

    Worked so well out of the box that I have abandoned ubuntu on all my machines. They are now running Debiam.

    I loved the blue box for Grub … a blast from the past. I added KDE, Fluxbox, Xfce4, Enlightenment and XFCE4 … all work great.

    Good Job LinuxMint Folk!


  2. November 14, 2010 at 20:14 | #1
    Reply | Quote

    I had no difficulty at all with LMDE. The install was easy and very similar to the Ubuntu installer. I had to go to the Debian Wiki page to see how to activate the Broadcom wifi on the Dell Mini 9.

    Worked so well out of the box that I have abandoned ubuntu on all my machines. They are now running Debiam.

    I loved the blue box for Grub … a blast from the past. I added KDE, Fluxbox, Xfce4, Enlightenment and XFCE4 … all work great.

    Good Job LinuxMint Folk!


  3. I agree that it should have been better named as a ‘beta’ or ‘rcxxxxxxxx’.
    Nonetheless, it loads very quickly, and runs in under 256MiB RAM, which is impressive for a distro with a GNOME desktop.

  4. I am disappointed as I cannot use LMDE due to LiveCD boot process hanging part way through.

    I am using some fairly new hardware though – Asrock 890GX Extreme 3 ATX Mobo (Usb 3.0, SATA 3, eSata3) – so maybe this is the problem.

  5. Same issue, it hangs while installing. I have a Pentium 4, 1 Gb ram, sata 2, usb 2.0… at first I thought that it was a hardware problem, but then tried with ubuntu 10.10 and debian with no problems… it was frustrating.

    I’m still lookin forward to try it, bored of ubu’s crashes and fixin debian problems (i spend more time working on the OS than using it).

    Any suggestions?

  6. Thanks for answering so fast, I checked the post you write about, but there are no solutions.

    About your first question, yes, i tried to install squeeze, but it went wrong, i tried to upgrade from lenny, but had issues on kernel upgrade, so downgrade back to lenny and then had problems with packages, and so on…

    now i’m gonna try a new ISO uploaded in the oficial page.


  7. Many thanks for this helpful post.
    It just got me out of a serious GParted scrape.
    Installing LMDE on a wiped system I got stuck at the
    “please select a root (/) partition before proceeding”, message.
    Thank goodness for Google is all I can say!

    Thanks again


  8. Got stuck at the same “please select a root (/) partition before proceeding” message.
    I guess I’ll have to wait until LMDE is ready for prime time.
    In the meantime, I’ll put in Mint 9 LTS which has a better install process.

    It sucks that there are no really good rolling distributions yet. I tried out OpenSuse 11.4 on live CD and it just didn’t seem ready for beginners in spite of their claims.
    LMDE is closer, loved the live dvd, but their installation gets blocked by this problem.

  9. thank you very much for this! having to manual partition sucks: I too was stuck on the “please select a root (/) partition before proceeding”, message, thanks for your help

  10. Hi ! I have suffered by the same problem “please select a root (/) partition before proceeding” while trying installing Mint Debian. I have used Macs since 1991 as a graphic designer and later I used PC. But I can tell you that early macs were so intuitive and well programed comparing to today’s Linux. I have tried Ubuntu just few days, it was so primitive so poorly fabricated that I am willing to return to macs. I have lost at least 1 week trying to install one one those devilish Linux distorts. one week means at least 350 dollars if was working 8 hours a day rather than fighting Linux.
    Linux is not for me and I will never let this scrap enter my PC again.
    Bye bye Linux community and thank you for wasting my time.

  11. Youssef,

    Sorry to hear you are struggling with Linux Mint Debian Edition. If you are new to Linux you would be better off using Linux Mint 11 rather than the Debian edition which is a rolling distribution.

    As for Macs and Linux costing your money you need to remember that Linux is:

    + a free operating system
    + it is ships with loads of free applications
    + it does not lock your down to the Apple ecosystem where you do it Apple’s way or no way, unless you go down the jail break route.
    + OSX is built on Unix and Linux is a ‘Unix like’ operating system
    + Unlike OSX, upgrades are free.

    I would gladly buy a Mac for $350, but I know I can’t.

    Good things come to those that persevere and if you persevered with Linux, and if you are open minded about doing things differently, you will be greatly rewarded.

    If you have a screen-shot of the problem (use your iPhone or any other phone/ digital camera), post the photo on to a photo sharing website like Flickr or Picasso and reference to it in reply then I’m happy to explain what you need to do.

    Of course if your don’t have the patience then may be the Mac world is for you!

  12. I am a newbie. I have installed Ubuntu on one of my computers, but I removed it because it was lacking the very things that I expected to find in a Linux distribution.
    I have installed the Linux Mint Debian OS on one of my desk tops, and this evening prior to writing this I installed it on my Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop.
    I had absolutely no problem in partitioning and mounting the hard drive.
    I must confess however that I was unable to retain the prior OS: WIN XP Pro on my 5100 laptop because I could not attain a working dual boot after several attempt, I decided to reformat the harddrive and use only Linux Mint Debian.
    I have left unused space on the hardrive in the hope that some time in the future I will be able to install Win XP Pro and have a dual boot system.
    I would appreciate help from anyone who knows how to install WIn XP Pro to run in dual boot with the Linux Mint Debian distro.
    I can be reached at:

  13. Edward, congratulations in installing Linux Mint on your Dell Inspiron 5100.

    You can install Windows XP after installing Linux. Please bear with me as I’m doing this from memory…

    When you boot of the XP installation disk it will check the PC for existing disk partitions and will give you the option to install to existing free space and format as an NTFS partition. Select the free space, format as NTFS and then install XP as per normal.

    Once installation has completed the PC will reboot into XP and complete the installation.

    Because XP does not recognise GRUB it will overwrite it in the Master boot record, talking away you ability to access Linux. This can be easily resolved by following the Ubuntu documentation at:

    I know you are using Mint, but Ubuntu and Mint are both Debian distributions so the same principles apply.

    I would try the using the Boot Repair disk first, this should re-install Grub and add your Windows XP install to the GRUB boot menu.

    Personally, I would backup your Mint installation with Clonezilla to a USB hard drive or something similar just in case something goes wrong.

    Let me know how you get on.

    Out of interest what were the things you were expecting to find in Linux which were lacking?


  14. Since my last entry here I have completely installed a dual boot ystem on my Dell Inspiron 5100.
    I first made partions as follows:

    1 Partion formatted as NTFS

    1 Partion for Linux boot

    1 partion for Linux swap

    1 Partition for Linux root

    I did this by putting my laptop in the Linux installation mode.

    I then cancelled the installation mode.

    Then I installed Win XP Pro. Made sure everything worked.

    Shut down laptop, reinserted my Linux Mint Debian disk and installed it on the prepared hard drive.

    Everything works fine, with one exception. I cannot get the wi-fi to work in Linux. I have a Broadcom wi-fi card.

    Any suggestions as tgo how I can do this. Any instruction must be explicit I am a newbie and can follow instruction.

    Thank you.

  15. Thanks for the post. I got used to how easy ubuntu and hence Mint was to install. No messing with Gparted but thanks to your post, I got past it. Lots of distros are like that. I don’t think it’s really that terrible. It will probably stick in my mind for the next time I get something similar come up. I have a system with 2 HDDs and a selector switch to choose which one I boot from, so I’m not messing with windows or anything like that.

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