WTF? Been seeing a lot of recommendations for Mint Linux to newcomers, why?

This topic was created by MyBackDoor .

  1. Anonymous Coward

    WTF? Been seeing a lot of recommendations for Mint Linux to newcomers, why?

    Why do people push Mint over something like vanilla Debian to try to turn Linux on to people? I can't figure this out. I couldn't imagine knowing nothing about Unix besides what I have seen in Mint, then something going wrong, then trying to find help for the particular problem on Mint. The available help for a newcomer to any system is more serious than people think.

    Compare these 2 search strings on google: "linux mint samba configuration" & "linux debian samba configuration"

    The first result for "mint" adds worlds of misunderstanding to someone who has never used Unix...

    Pretend you nothing about Unix, now click install. OK, later on something goes wrong, where is the webpage that has the "Fix It" button? Hopefully what went wrong wasn't internet access (poor soul), but this is how little a newcomer would understand. Almost certain they would actually look for a "Fix It" button.

    Now go look at the first result for the debian string. How many differences do you see? ( )

    So, again, why is Mint Linux coming up more and more as a suggestion to expose someone to Unix?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF? Been seeing a lot of recommendations for Mint Linux to newcomers, why?

      Recommendation is everything, I think. I followed the recommendations recently and tried Mint out on a VM and decided I liked it. I then found it worked very nicely on my eeePC, so I was sold. Agreed samba doesn't work right, but that isn't what I wanted it for anyway.

      Now Debian may be superior - and I'll find out soon, on your recommendation - but people aren't going to know unless it gets the same groundswell that Mint has had.

      Some observations on the Debian site that might partially explain the problem :

      - the word 'Linux' doesn't appear at all on the home page.

      - there doesn't appear to be a download for Intel 64 bit PCs,

      - live distro download is torrent only.

      - site isn't as flashy as the Mint one.

      None of the above are big deals, to someone who knows what they're doing/what they want, but to the inexperienced they might matter.

      1. Mike Flex

        Re: WTF? Been seeing a lot of recommendations for Mint Linux to newcomers, why?

        > - there doesn't appear to be a download for Intel 64 bit PCs,


        Use amd64 for Intel and AMD 64-bit PCs

        (IA-64 is for Intel Itanium, not ordinary PCs)

      2. Mage Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: WTF? Been seeing a lot of recommendations for Mint Linux to newcomers, why?

        Samba server is fine on Linux, if you DON'T use nautilus or any other GUI to set it up!

        Samba Clients on GUI to an ordinary NT server (or pre-Active Director Domain Controller) or Linux server are fine and have been for years.

    2. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: WTF? Been seeing a lot of recommendations for Mint Linux to newcomers, why?

      I think it contains Ubuntu goodness, avoids the fashionable but controversial UI innovations, and comes with all the codecs and libraries for media play without a second installation step.

      1. Martijn Otto

        Re: WTF? Been seeing a lot of recommendations for Mint Linux to newcomers, why?

        I really wonder what you consider to be Ubuntu "goodness". I am forced to use Ubuntu at my workplace and it works about a gazillion times worse than my Debian 8 setups at work. It's not nearly as stable and the LTS versions actually have older software than Debian (their libstdc++ has annoying bugs preventing c++14 compilation).

        All the "goodness" in Ubuntu is the stuff they got from Debian and didn't manage to mess up (yet). Everything they touch turns sour.

  2. Phil W

    Because it's easy and it works

    Ubuntu used to be thing for noobs. and Mint did used to be an Ubuntu remix of a sort so still got recommended on that basis.

    These days Mint is for the most part a Debian remix, not that it makes a huge difference from being an Ubuntu remix. As a desktop OS Debian/Ubuntu and remixes there of are the easiest for beginners to approach. Forum support for both is very good, and for the most part (non-gui related) advice that applies to Debian can also be applied to Ubuntu and remixes of either.

    Mint has an advantage for beginners over Ubuntu these days because of Ubuntu's move to it's Unity desktop system.

    There's nothing fundamentally wrong with Unity, but Mint comes in KDE, Xfce, MATE and Cinnamon desktop variants. All of those desktop systems by default feature a taskbar with a system tray on the right with the clock in and a menu button on the left containing all of your programs.

    As I'm sure I don't need to point out that this gives them, at point of looking at the desktop, a striking similarity (superficially anyway) to the layout of Windows. An OS which most linux newbies have quite probably used before and are comfortable with.

    Yes of course you could install KDE, Xfce, MATE or Cinnamon on some other distro but that's extra work a newbie doesn't want or need.

    As an additional bonus, Mint comes with media codecs installed by default, something which Debian and Ubuntu do not. I think it may also come with Flash browser plugins already installed but I'm not certain on that one.

    Essentially it comes down to the fact that freshly installed Mint presents a slightly more familiar desktop environment that looks pretty, has software in that will play all your media by default and lets you browse your favorite web pages without having to do any extra fiddling. Exactly what desktop linux newbies are after.

    I've often heard it said jokingly

    "Ubuntu is actually translates to 'I can't configure Debian'"

    Well as an experienced used of various distros I would only half jokingly say

    "Linux Mint actually translates to 'I don't WANT to configure Ubuntu'".

  3. Phil W

    Worlds of misunderstanding

    Oh and just to address your point of the results for Mint adding worlds of misunderstanding.

    Most linux newbies aren't too worried about misunderstanding to begin with, they just want to be able to get it to work. They pick up the real way things work later on when they have a more solid grasp of using the OS.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Worlds of misunderstanding

      @JustaKOS: Don't switch! Stay with Mint. Please don't think I'm implying you should switch. Switching between distro's might be one of the major reasons people don't stick with Linux. The shear amount of distro's available is good, but it also has a down side.

      @Phil W: True about the newbies, but do you think the default ease of use presented in Mint will give a newcomer a solid grasp?

      Maybe I'm looking at it wrong, maybe too much of my personal persona comes through. Maybe it really comes down to 2 types of newcomers: those that want to know Unix, and those that don't. We do know these types exist in many aspects of things, not just computing. However, with the type of newcomer that doesn't want to know, is there now Unix distros that are currently building a future class of users that will take their PC's in for repair because they just can't be bothered to sort out simple problems? Is a new breed of "Geek Squad" being created?

      New users that don't want to know anything more than games and web browsing on Unix, just might build a future PC repair sector, which is good, but is that what the community wants? On one side of the coin I feel that is fine, make Linux a equal to all the "others" we currently have. But on the other side, are the "others" really the standard to be met?

      There shouldn't be a prerequisite of knowledge that you have to possess to take advantages of certain luxuries that distro's offer, but it certainly wouldn't hurt.

      Citations: "Geek Squad" is a computer repair service offered by a corporation called "Best Buy" in at least the USA. "others" is you know who.

      1. Phil W

        Re: Worlds of misunderstanding

        You're right to some degree, there are a few types of people who get into Linux. I'd say three.

        Those that want to get into it to use it as an alternative desktop OS to Windows. They just want it to work to browse the internet or play games or what ever. Maybe cos they don't want to pay for Windows, who knows.

        The second group would be those that want to learn the actual OS side of things, they want to understand how it works be able to configure all the different aspects.

        The third group would be those that HAVE to learn Linux for work purposes. These people may or may not actually want to learn it, and if they don't ease of use is really paramount for them.

        As for if I think the ease of use will give newbies a solid grasp. No but that's not what's important about it.

        If you're a newbie venturing into Linux for the first time you've potentially got two things to contend with. Not knowing how it works or how to use it, and not being comfortable with the feel of it.

        If you can eliminate, or reduce, the issue of them being comfortable with the system, learning the actual inner workings of becomes that much easier due the confidence the comfortable experience will give them.

        Considering that idea, look at the state of Debian vs Mint after a clean install.

        The desktop environment you get from Debian is stark and lacking in a variety of features and options, to get a decent desktop experience you immediately have to start learning.

        The desktop environment you get from Mint is polished and smooth and has everything you need to get started.

        1. Hungry Sean

          Re: Worlds of misunderstanding

          think there's another type missing from your catalog: Power luser-- knows linux, can make stuff work if needed, but really prefers not to.

          For example, I have no interest in fighting with my inetd configuration or figuring out how to install the right driver for my graphics card (what? need to escape to console, gdm stop, run some crap, and gdm start? grrr. @%!*). I use Linux because I love the tools-- gcc, make, bash or tcsh, vi, perl, man, pipes, etc. Once properly configured, it is a great environment for getting stuff done. There is a lot of complexity in this environment, but it is ultimately rewarding to use.

          The less configuration I need to do because some kind person (either sys admin or distributor) figured out how to make it work, the happier I am. If said kind person wants me to work through their guis rather than directly hacking config files, fine, I don't care, as long as there's a way to print without spending hours fighting with cups, listen to audio without fighting with some awful combination of alsa, lame, oss, gstreamer, etc. The low level configuration is totally distribution dependent too, so while I can transfer my knowledge of code development from SuSe to Centos to Ubuntu and never notice much change, if I have to create a service on each of those, the work will be different. Does knowing all these little weirdnesses make me a better or more effective developer? Probably not. Give me a distro that comes with all the dev tools, productivity stuff, and generally nice things like codecs that I want and let me get on with my life.

          Note: Ubuntu fails at this-- it takes a decent amount of searching to figure out where the man pages for the c standard library are, the system doesn't come with development tools like gcc, and it replaces perfectly fine free tools with poor open source replacements, like open-jdk and evince that almost but don't really work. It also doesn't ship with proprietary drivers-- why on earth can't they detect that I have an NVIDIA card during install and set it up correctly for me? Where are my microsoft fonts so I can view documents reliably in Libre Office? (I know, I know, it's a political thing about GPL and free software, but shouldn't the purpose of a distro be to serve users?). I can't say if Mint fits the bill since I haven't used it, but the general description sounds about right.

          1. Anonymous Coward 15

            Re: Worlds of misunderstanding

            sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

            Or use Mint?

            1. Hungry Sean

              Re: Worlds of misunderstanding

              cool, didn't know that existed-- still doesn't give me full-fat acroread, sun java, nvidia drivers, etc, but good to know about.

              Thank you mr(s?). penguin, have a beer.

              1. Phil W

                Re: Worlds of misunderstanding

                Mentioning Nvidia drivers made me remember a distro.

                Linux Ultimate Edition, based of Debian/Mint, it's very prettified and last time i used it (2-3 years ago) it was one of the better platforms for Linux gaming.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @MyBackDoor - Switching from Mint

        Don't worry, I'm not switching :)

        I use VirtualBox on Win7 to try out the various distros. Mint is the first one in a while that I liked enough to try out on my netbook, and I'm pleased with the result.

        Debian looks good in a VM and I'm thinking I'll install it properly on another box. It doesn't hurt to have two distros on the go - especially as the Ubuntu experience has shown that a distro might be great today but pants tomorrow.

  4. Anonymous Coward 15

    I use Xubuntu myself

    Still part of the Ubuntu ecosystem, but with a more familiar UI style. What's not to like?

  5. 1Rafayal

    one thing I have been using lately is andLinux.

    I dont really know to describe it other than say its a bit like a Linux VM that has a contextual relationship with Windows. It isnt like Cygwin, it goes one better.

    The only draw back is that it only works on 32Bit Windows - which is fine for my work laptop which is still XP.

    Its an interesting thing, and I would urge anyone who doesnt think they need Linux to take a look at it as well as die hard Cygwin fans.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mint - Linux for Mum

    As an OS is works almost out of the box.

    I put it on an old laptop for my Mum to use. She does not give a flying rats ar*e about anything other than:

    a) Does it work?

    b) Is it easy to use?

    c) Can I watch kitten videos on YouTube and dailymotion?

    If it goes tits, she gives me a call (I live 300miles away) and I tell her to stick the CD in and get my brother to thump the keyboard every time the on screen instructions asks him a question.

    Bob's your inappropriately dress aunty! New OS.

    So in summary, its a Windows replacement were the user doesn't need to know a thing about how it works. But unlike Windows, I only need to talk for 2min on the phone to fix the issue.

  7. MJI Silver badge

    A few questions.

    Firstly got Mint on a P4 and the NVidia graphics crash on TF2.

    Not sure where to look for drivers, how to install them, this is the first Linux PC I have had dealings with.

    Secondly what is the best way to learn Linux, as an example what is Linux CD, DIR, NET USE, DEL, RD, MD ect?

  8. Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance



    Firstly got Mint on a P4 and the NVidia graphics crash on TF2.


    What version of Mint are you using? It used to be that generally speaking most people found nVidia cards worked better than ATI cards. But that situation seems to have changed a bit lately. Bottom Line - you can get lucky with graphics drivers, but it is a common bugbear along with wireless drivers. You will just have to post or search on the relevant forum and someone will probably have had the problem before you and possibly got a workaround. Not sure what TF2 is though, so can't help you there.


    Not sure where to look for drivers, how to install them, this is the first Linux PC I have had dealings with.


    Go to 'All>Additional Drivers' in your mint menu. It should detect your basic hardware and give you options for downloading any proprietary drivers it finds for them. 3rd party Graphics and Wireless drivers that can't be distributed with the distro usually. Follow the instructions. Restart. Or you could open the Package Manager or even Software Manager and download from there after ascertaining what exact hardware you have and what drivers go with it. The hardware manufacturers websites are a good place to look for this info. System Profiler from the mint menu should tell you what exact hardware you have.

    Or you could open a terminal and type in this command:

    lspci (l is a lower case L) lists units connected to PCI

    This will pick up your graphics/audio card, inc. ethernet controller/wireless etc..


    Secondly what is the best way to learn Linux, as an example what is Linux CD, DIR, NET USE, DEL, RD, MD


    All of those commands are covered in this excellent and concise tutorial -

    The 5-Minute Essential Shell Tutorial

    Just learn as you go, don't be afraid to search before you ask a question that has been answered a hundred times before. Don't be afraid to ask a question that has never been asked before. Don't be offended when some body is rude to you for asking that question even though you have searched and the question HAS never been asked, let alone answered. The Mint community is a good place to start. They can be a bit indifferent but they aren't as all out brutal as say the Debian forum. Then again, I have had good experiences at the Debian forum. If you show them that you have searched and give them all the info they need and not expect them to be mindreaders, they will at least be civil to you.

    Have a look around the Mint forums for your particular distro and read the general F.A.Q.s. There is a wealth of to the point info there. Make use of it.

  9. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    My take on this as a Mint user and an ex-Ubuntu user is...

    The Linux Mint devs get it and Canonical have lost the plot. I get a faultless web experience with mint XFCE out-of-the-box. Its actually easier to use than WinXP, never mind Win8.

  10. TheSkunkyMonk

    After many years of tinkering on the edge I pretty much moved over entirely to linux It wasn't easy nvidia optimus cards weren't really supported but I managed to make it all work in the end and started to love the experience, updates came things kept getting better and better, I discovered Gimp, blender and geany and was a happy dev with more toys than I knew what todo with.

    Then it happened the greatest mistake I had ever made was about to happen, I'd happily been using my Microsoft Mouse for over ten years but as all things its was starting to give up the right click was temperamental and the mouse wheel shortly followed, I don't often say this about microsoft products but their hardware used to be top notch! So I decided to treat my self to a shiny new mouse it was a Zalman 401 quite comfortable and not to far from the feel of the familiar Microsoft counterpart, Ubuntu however was not amused one little bit, it picked up my graphics tablet fine, my midi keyboard works a treat and it didn't even think twice when I connected my external soundcard.

    But a high DPI mouse, no. No sir you are not allowed one of those, well not unless you are willing to edit and recompile the kernel which to me seems way overboard and not a real solution to make a bloody mouse work!

    1. M Mouse

      Can I suggest ...

      ... starting a fresh topic rather than dragging up an old one (albeit, moderately interesting), because I have little doubt a thread "Warning - Linux Mint may not handle your latest device" might well get the message across to Mint users (and potential users) in a far more direct way than a discussion which inevitably gets into a 'version vs version vs version' comparison.

  11. Mage Silver badge

    Plus 1: Linux Mint + Mate

    Mate with suitable adjustments seems to be closest to a decent pre-Kool-aid Ubuntu and pre Vista/Ribbon Redmond if you tweak it. (less effort than removing eye candy Aero stupidity on Vista or Fisher-Price Theme on XP to have a more NT4.0 / Win 2K / Win98 sane GUI)

    Excellent on 4G CF card Aspire One Netbook (switch off the stupid slide show on Login screen!) and on a uber cored 8G RAM 2.4GHz desk top with 2T HDD. As I'm doing nothing needing 64bit, I'm using 32bit mate (the 32bit OS will host a 64bit VM on suitable CPU & Mobo). Unlike MS crippling of RAM on Windows since NT 4.0 Enterprise, it uses all 8G bytes RAM, I think NT 4.0 Enterprise was last 32bit window to allow more than 2.5G app and more than 4G OS space on 32bits?

    Been using

    UNIX since 1986, inc Xenix and Chromix

    CP/M 1979 to 1991

    MSDOS since 1981, also DRDOS and DR Multidos

    Win Shell on DOS from 1990 till 1996 (WFWG 3.11) Used Win 95 & win 98 for games machine.

    NT versions from 1994 (NT 3.5, 3.51, 4.0, NT 4 Enterprise Cluster, Win2K, XP, Vista (rubbish, Win 7 is a bug fix), Win 8.x. Seen 10, don't want! I have old laptops and PC with DOS 3.3, Win3.11, Win2K and XP for legacy uses and old HW I/O).

    Used & maintained OS/2 for a while

    Regular Linux user since 1999. (Redhat, Barak, Clarke Connect, Suse, Debian, Ubuntu, Mint).

    Used Max OS9. OS X seems an expensive way to buy an eye candy version of BSD?

    Mines the one with Z80 handbook in pocket.

  12. sisk

    I can only tell you why I, personally, recommend Mint to newbies.

    Put simply, it's easy and it works. The interface will be familiar to anyone coming from Windows (which, let's face it, all Linux newbs are coming from Windows. Even if they're coming from Mac, they know Windows too). It's less buggy and requires less tinkering in the terminal to run than Ubuntu. And it's got a GUI for just about everything your average user is going to need.

    Debian might indeed be better for the seasoned Linux user, but user friendly it isn't. Debian is very much a foundation distro, which is great for those of us who know how to put together the system we need from such a foundation, but newbs need a little more hand holding than it provides in my experience.

    I used to push Debian because it's what I used, but I've found that the people I've started off with Mint have had much more success with Linux than the ones I started with Debian. Some of them have even been people I wouldn't have considered moving to Linux before because of a lack of computer skills and them being too far away for me to provide support.

    One in particular, a friend who lives about 2000 miles away, has proven to me that Mint is the way to go with computers. This is a man who can barely run Windows, but when when he ran into a problem (caused by a shady tech selling illegal copies of Windows) and his choices were to spend money he didn't have or move to Linux to get his computer running again I mailed him a Mint CD and talked him through the installation on the phone. That was pretty close to a year ago and he has neither needed my support except for once (he had trouble updating a program that's not in the repository) nor regretted the move. That's the sort of success story I never saw with any other distro I've ever helped people set up.

    And that, my good sir, is why I push Mint for newbies.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020