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Linux Mint Debian Edition 201101

January 11, 2011
By

I did a full review earlier of Linux Mint Debian Edition and loved it. Now there’s an update to it and I couldn’t resist doing a quick look. If you aren’t familiar with the Debian version of Linux Mint, you’re in for a real treat. LMDE has quickly become my favorite Linux distribution. It’s a great blend of Debian and Linux Mint.

Before I get into this quick look, please be aware that there were some problems with the 32-bit version of Linux Mint Debian Edition (201012) that was released earlier. These problems do not apply to the 64-bit version. For this quick look, I downloaded the 201101 release.

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Please see the Linux Mint announcement for full details on why 201101 was released. Here’s a brief snippet that explains the problem:

A re-spin of the LMDE 201012 32-bit ISO was made available under the name “201101?.

The new ISO comes with an up-to-date live kernel which addresses the following issues:

“Black screen of death”, live session hanging with a black screen.
Installer hanging while configuring Grub.

Explanation of the problem:
A liveCD contains two systems: One that is decompressed, copied during the installation and eventually used post-install, and another one (smaller and with minimal functionality) which is used to boot the liveCD itself, decompress the filesystem and get an operational live session running on top of it. As such, the liveCD comes with two kernels, one of which is used for the live session and the other which is actually installed on your system. In theory, these two kernels should be identical to avoid mismatches since the live session uses the live kernel but relies on the kernel files present in the compressed system.

In practice this was never an issue (until now) for the following reasons:
On a frozen base (Ubuntu for instance), kernel changes and updates are minimal and the difference between two kernels could be insignificant in the scope of the liveCD.

Linux Mint is extremely conservative when it comes to changing base elements such as the kernel and as a consequence, Linux Mint ISO releases based on Ubuntu always use the exact same kernel as their Ubuntu base.

The Debian live CD we’re basing LMDE on is built by us from scratch. Unlike Ubuntu-based releases, LMDE doesn’t rebase itself with each release, it continues to use the same base which is simply updated using the repositories. LMDE 64-bit is relatively new and so the difference between its two kernels is insignificant. LMDE 32-bit was built in August 2010 and the difference between its old live kernel and its modern embedded one were quite dramatic and affected modesetting with the “nouveau” driver. On some hardware, it also affected the configuration of Grub.

The problem was hard to spot but easy to fix. The live kernel was updated in the ISO and after a lot of testing we were happy to see the 201101 successfully boot and install on a large variety of hardware.

What’s New
Here’s a sample of what’s new in this release:

All Mint 10 features
64-bit support
Performance boost (using cgroup, the notorious “4 lines of code better than 200? in user-space)
Installer improvements (multiple HDDs, grub install on partitions, swap allocation, btrfs support)
Better fonts (Using Ubuntu’s libcairo, fontconfig and Ubuntu Font Family) and language support (ttf-wqy-microhei, ttf-sazanami-mincho, ttf-sazanami-gothic installed by default)
Better connectivity and hardware support (pppoe, pppoeconf, gnome-ppp, pppconfig, libgl1-mesa-dri, libgl1-mesa-glx, libgl1-mesa-dev, mesa-utils installed by default)
Better sound support (addressing conflicts between Pulse Audio and Flash)
Updated software and packages

If you aren’t familiar with any of the changes in Linux Mint 10, you might want to browse my full review of it on DLR. Bear in mind that LMDE actually only comes in the 1 GB DVD version, so you don’t need to worry about upgrading to the DVD version in the Linux Mint Welcome Menu (one of the new features in Linux Mint 10).

Desktop

Desktop

System Requirements
Here’s what you’ll need to run this update:

x86 processor (for both 32 & 64-bit versions)
x86_64 compatible processor (for the 64-bit version)
512 MB of system memory (RAM)
3 GB of disk space for installation
Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution
CD-ROM drive or USB port

Install & Update
The ISO file is about a 1.03GB download.

The install is pretty painless, with the exception of partitioning the disk. I had no problem with that but if you are totally new to doing then you might get a little confused. It’s a good thing to learn though, it will serve you well when installing other distros.

This release features some installer improvements such as multiple HDDs, installing grub on a partition, brfs support and swap allocation.

Install 4

Install 4

It’s a good idea to run MintUpdate after you do your install to make sure your system is completely up to date. My updates took a little while to download, but I had no problems updating my system. I’m not sure why the download seemed a bit slow, but eventually all the files were downloaded and installed properly.

Software
LMDE comes with a very good selection of software. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find after you boot into your LMDE desktop:

GIMP
F-Spot
Firefox
Gwibber
Pidgin
Transmission
OpenOffice.org
MPlayer Media Player
Rhythmbox
Brasero

The Software Manager has tons of other applications available, so you should have no problem finding what you need and easily downloading it to your LMDE system. Software is broken down into the following categories:

Featured
Accessories
Education
Games
Graphics
Internet
Office
Science
Sound and Video
System Tools
Programming
All Packages

I recommend taking a look at the Featured category first, that will let you snag some of the best apps available. Some of the featured applications are already installed by default, so you’ll have them at your fingertips once you start using LMDE. But there are others worth considering too.

Software Manager Categories

Here are a few of those:

Chromium
DropBox
minitube
Scribus
Skype
Opera

Chromium

Chromium

Using LMDE 201101
My experience with LMDE 201101 has been overwhelmingly positive (big surprise!). I haven’t seen performance problems, bugs or crashes.

I’ve found it to be very comfortable and reliable to use as a daily distro. The Linux Mint tools add a lot of value to LMDE and, frankly, spoil you once you get used to having them.

Welcome

Welcome

Final Thoughts
As I noted above, I really enjoy Linux Mint Debian Edition. It really has become my distro of choice, for now. It combines the power of Debian with all of the Linux Mint tools & features. Of course, I will still continue to distrohop because you never know when another distro could tickle your fancy just a bit more.

As much as I like LMDE, I understand that it might not be for everybody. Some folks might prefer the Ubuntu version of Linux Mint, and that’s fine. I just happen to prefer LMDE for my daily distro at this point. If you aren’t familiar with the differences between the two, here’s a brief FAQ from the Linux Mint site that highlights some of them:

1. Is LMDE compatible with Ubuntu-based Linux Mint editions?

No, it is not. LMDE is compatible with Debian, which isn’t compatible with Ubuntu.

2. Is LMDE fully compatible with Debian?

Yes, 100%. LMDE is compatible with repositories designed for Debian Testing or Debian Squeeze.

3. What is a rolling distribution?

LMDE constantly receives updates. Its ISO images are updated now and then but users do not require to re-install it on their systems.

4. How does LMDE compare to the Ubuntu-based editions?

Pros:

  • You don’t need to ever re-install the system. New versions of software and updates are continuously brought to you.
  • It’s faster and more responsive than Ubuntu-based editions.

Cons:

  • Although it’s using Romeo for unstable packages, LMDE continuously changes as it receives updates and new software. Compared to a frozen version of Linux Mint which changes very little once it’s publicly released, it’s not as stable. Things are likely to break more often but fixes can also come quicker. For this reason, LMDE requires a deeper knowledge and experience with Linux, dpkg and APT.
  • Debian is a less user-friendly/desktop-ready base than Ubuntu. Expect some rough edges.

If you aren’t sure which one you should use, try them both for a week and then see which one you like better. You really can’t go wrong with either one of them. At some point you’ll settle in comfortably with one or the other.

What’s your take on this distro? Tell me in the comments. For full distro reviews, visit Desktop Linux Reviews.

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18 Responses to Linux Mint Debian Edition 201101

  1. gregzeng on November 24, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    OP: “Debian is a less user-friendly/desktop-ready base than Ubuntu. Expect some rough edges”

    So we do less WORK, trying to debug a bad operating system.

  2. Dinesh on July 6, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    I have downloaded Linux Mint 11 dvd for 3 times but…
    it’s the worst …
    a corrupt file.. when i boot that dvd,
    all the three times i got a corrupt file only…
    Why…???
    and there’s no other link to download it …!!!

  3. Roger on January 27, 2011 at 9:14 PM

    So, is this version based on Debian or Ubuntu*? I may be mistaken, but I had thought they based their releases off of Ubuntu, but perhaps this has changed since the last time I checked?

    If it is the Former, I think this is fairly awesome and a step in the right direction.

    *I realize Ubuntu is debian based too

  4. Brian Masinick on January 22, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    Things are looking positive for Mint once again, at least LMDE, but I am assuming that the things I was seeing have been addressed across the board – I certainly hope so. I noticed a thread in the Mint forums commenting on keyrings associated with the repositories, and someone was able to guide the topic, explaining how to resolve things, offering several options, depending on the output of what was attempted.

    I went into the very newest edition of LMDE and tried it out again and was pleased to see that the things that I had been complaining about so much, at least to my eyes, appeared to be completely resolved. In addition to that, some issues that affected the December release of the 32 bit version of LMDE were also quickly resolved and explained, resulting in another mastered release of LMDE just after the first of the year. That one looks pretty solid.

    For long time Mint users, the LMDE release still has a couple of differences that they have not yet completely resolved; these are neatly outlined in the documentation. They do not appear to affect every day usability a bit. Looks like LMDE, in a responsive manner, dealt with the concerns and issues, and it sure looks like LMDE is here to stay as one of the Mint variations.

  5. radu on January 19, 2011 at 10:06 AM
  6. P Morton on January 16, 2011 at 2:36 AM

    Tried the 32-bit on a Thinkpad z61m but it wouldn’t install. Kinda off-putting.

  7. P.Woods on January 15, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    > x86 processor (for both 32 & 64-bit versions)
    > x86_64 compatible processor (for the 64-bit version)
    -
    Just to be pedantic, I think you mean:
    -
    x86 processor (for 32-bit version)
    x86_64 processor (for either the 32 or 64-bit version)
    -
    HTH

  8. Justin on January 15, 2011 at 4:46 AM

    Hello,

    Thanks for the review, it’s nice to see something we worked hard on get such positive praises.

    I can inform you the downloads were slow likely because you were using the default Debian mirror, which is capped at a low speed. An aim for the next release is to localize the mirrors so you should be able to gather the best speed possible from your closest mirror. This is an acknowledged fault. There are several planned fixes with this being one of them — just something we need to get the time to settle down and figure out a good way to do so :)

    @Dean – I’d be interested in your failures so we can try to improve the user experience for LMDE. I personally have not seen many complaints for 64 bit compatibility issues aside from Skype, which the fix is known for. Please feel free to post on the forums, swing by the IRC, or even drop a bug report with the relevant details one of us will look at it.

    Thank you again for all the positive notes and comments.

  9. Dean Clemmons on January 15, 2011 at 2:43 AM

    So how goes 32 bit support under the 64 bit install? This was the deal breaker for me. I have a number of 32 bit apps and games that run fine under Mint/Ununtu/Arch that absolutely refuse to work under 64 bit Mint Debian due to lack of 32 bit library support. I tried Mint Debian and really liked what I saw until I tried to install Foxit and Doom3…

  10. tfosorcim on January 14, 2011 at 12:28 AM

    Very good review; extremely informative, concise, and complete as was your original (referenced at the beginning of this one).
    I have made them both “saves” in my collection of useful Linux literature.
    Keep up the good work.

  11. PrinceCruise on January 13, 2011 at 6:39 PM

    Hi,

    A big and silent fan of your reviews plus the expert comments of Brian Masinick.

    A long time Linux user/RedHat loyalist but then switched to others for ease of daily tasks, I’m currently using Mint 9. So far So good. This one was the ‘best’ desktop for me so far.
    But I always wanted to have a rolling release structure and LMDE was the greatest gift for me.
    Already burned the DVD a while before, just spending some last days with Mint9, then will see what LMDE has got for under the hood. :)

    Keep up the good work.
    Regards
    Prince (India)

    • Jim Lynch on January 13, 2011 at 6:55 PM

      Thanks, Prince. Glad you enjoyed the review, glad to have you as a reader. :smile:

      Yes, Brian always has interesting thoughts to share. I always look forward to his comments after a review or column.

      I think you will enjoy LMDE, post back after you’ve had some time with it.

  12. Tom Roche on January 13, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    Brian Masinick January 12, 2011 at 6:12 PM: “I also do not care for the Mint update tools. I find them to be very sluggish and I detest the way they disable the default tools used in Debian – synaptic and the package repository keyrings used to authenticate package changes.”

    I’d like to get more information about this. I’m currently running Ubuntu Lucid and am considering moving to LMDE to go release-free (or at least, to get “rolling releases,” which seems like a misnomer to me, but I digress).

    I typically use `aptitude` CLI for package management (e.g. install, update). Does LMDE “disable” this workflow?

  13. contortionist on January 13, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    I installed the 64 bit edition on my desktop and laptop. Due to problems with ati hd2400 pro graphics card and proper functioning graphics it was pulled off my desktop. Works on the viao laptop well – this has intel graphics which seem better supported by linux.

    I am a long time slackware user – but with slacky 13 and 13.1 there has also been problems with artifacts on the screen and low fps, which needs a reboot or two or three to correct the problem, and the official ati catalyst drivers wont install on slackware.

    The LMDE is completely different to slackware. Nothing much has to be configured by hand – you can have a functioning system in less than an hour – a complete revalation. Definitely a rival to windows. :cool:

  14. Brian Masinick on January 12, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    I tried the first version of LMDE back in early September and it worked quite well. Looking forward to seeing what had changed, I tried the next version in December, only to encounter the 32 bit version issues that were mentioned, so I dumped that one like a hot potato. When the 201101 version came out, I decided to give it a look. It started up and runs OK.

    I’m not as gung ho about it as some other people are. I am a big Debian fan, but not a big Mint fan. For one thing, I just happen to prefer other login environments rather than GNOME. I also do not care for the Mint update tools. I find them to be very sluggish and I detest the way they disable the default tools used in Debian – synaptic and the package repository keyrings used to authenticate package changes.

    This version is better and faster than the usual Mint, but more sluggish and less secure than any of my other Debian based systems, so I’ll stick with them. I am running Debian Sid, a safer bet, even with the more volatile packages.

  15. Rodney on January 12, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    I love this new 64 bit distro. I have been waiting for a rolling-release, debian sid based distribution that uses gnome to appear. I use to use Sidux (Now called Aptosid) but things would often break and the developer’s were less than willing to help.

    So far, everything is working fine and LMDE is super fast compared to Ubuntu. I highly recommend.

  16. alex on January 12, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    I tried the new LMDE 64 bit recently too – I really liked it, and was planning on switching my pc and laptop to it. Unfortunately, I ran into an installer issue that I couldn’t figure out, so back to Ubuntu/Kubuntu for now. If SimplyMEPIS can figure out the installer problems in 11, I’ll probably switch to it instead, 10.5 looks and runs incredibly well on my machines.

  17. cabreh on January 12, 2011 at 7:09 AM

    Might I suggest that a DVD-ROM drive is required since a CD-ROM drive will not read a DVD?



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