Yesterday I decided to take a peek at how Linux Mint performs on my DELL Inspiron 1501. In reality, this is as much a tacit acknowledgement that it is time to abandon Natty (at least until the bugs are ironed out) as it is about personal curiosity.
Because Mint is an derivative of Debian and Ubuntu, I don't have much drama to report! Downloading the OS and burning it to a CD is exactly the same as for the Ubuntu distro - I chose to install Version 10 (Julia) which is based on Maverick and supported until 2012. First impressions are generally favourable but that's not entirely unexpected - this is essentially a fork of the Ubuntu project.
The good news is that the hardware drivers for my wireless network card were painless to install (and WiFi now connects at boot rather than needing to be started manually) and media such as DVD work without the need for restricted drivers - nice! Another nice touch is the MintMenu but I have decided to forgo this particular feature as I prefer using AWN rather than Gnome-panels - and even the patched version of the dockbar applet (using Docky) wouldn't load properly (or quickly) and it wasn't worth the bother to persist.
However, there are some surprises: for one thing, the Update Manager doesn't appear to manage OS updates (only patches) and the recommended approach seems to be a fresh install every time users want to upgrade (perhaps that's not a bad thing!). Another notable omission is the absence of Libre Office from the Software Manager and Thunderbird is the default mail client. However, all the usual suspects (Scite, Chromium, Shutter, etc) are in the Software Manager so getting the machine into a familiar look and feel took only a few hours.
So, in summary, this distro is easy to install, runs perfectly on my 1501 and looks the part! I'll be playing with Mint over the next day or so - doubtless, I'll have more observations in the near future.
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