back to article Linux Mint 20.3 appears – now with more Mozilla flavor: Why this distro switched Firefox defaults back to Google

The Linux Mint distro has been busy. Not only has it pushed out release 20.3, it's also announced a deal with Mozilla, meaning vanilla Mozilla versions of Firefox and Thunderbird. It's very hard to estimate the relative popularity of Linux distributions. Aside from a couple of paid enterprise distros, they're all free …

  1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Linux

    I shall be investigating

    If only to discover whether they have done away with the ridiculously thin scroll bars that popped up in 20.2

    I concur with the author's observation "...the most usable, versatile, and feature-complete all-round Linux desktop experience..." and that's why I've been using it for years. It's just that not all changes are always for the better.

    1. demon driver

      Re: I shall be investigating

      Regarding scroll bars: forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?t=286908

      "It's just that not all changes are always for the better"—right, and a lifetime of computer usage with such changes frequently being introduced only for change's sake is what makes people wary of change as such. Even though they would never oppose change just based on some principle or ideology...

      Thankfully, Mint continues to be one of those distros which are very reluctant to introduce unnecessary changes, and that's a good thing. Still, I don't like all of the UI changes in Mint 20.3 Cinnamon, either, as limited and careful as they were. Like now having to decide whether to go full-bright or full-dark in choosing a theme. The option to choose dark window title bars ("Mint-Y-Dark" in "window borders") together with an otherwise bright theme has gone... We can still reinstall the themes we used to have before 20.3, though (apt install mint-themes-legacy), but then we don't get those new rounded corners... Ok, I guess I'll somehow get used to it!

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: I shall be investigating

        Round corners? Did they pay Apple for that?

    2. Zolko Silver badge

      Re: I shall be investigating

      the author's observation "...the most usable, versatile, and feature-complete all-round Linux desktop experience..."

      I beg to differ: I prefer MX-Linux. It's Debian-based, which makes away with 1 intermediary (Ubuntu), it's SystemD-free, and defaults to KDE. It also has a really good driver detection and setup for proprietary drives (Nvidia with NVIDIA_PRIME !, WiFi...).

      1. demon driver

        Re: I shall be investigating

        You'll never hear me suggesting not to choose MX Linux. Still, the author's reasons to prefer Mint are somehow valid: being "systemd-free" could just as well be seen as a disadvantage for deviating from what now arguably is the standard; KDE (wasn't the default in MX actually Xfce?) surely is an excellent DE, but for its complexity I wouldn't rate its usability quite as high as Cinnamon's; being Debian based is perfectly fine, but doing away with that "intermediary" reduces both versatility and usability in that it limits the inventory of software repositories easily usable with apt as the system's native package manager. Of course, nothing of that necessarily has to matter for everyone.

      2. el_oscuro
        Linux

        Re: I shall be investigating

        I have MX Linux has my daily WFH driver and it is quite nice. I have traditionally used Ubuntu at home before a co-worker suggested (right before the pandemic) that I try MX Linux.

        I have tried Mint twice - one Linux Mint 13 32bit and Linux Mint 64 bit and they both broke exactly in the same weird way: Installed perfectly, but the first apt-get upgrade clobbered the menu navigation and broke the Firefox search engine choices.

        The browser search should have been fixable by going to preferences but that didn't work, and I never found anything at all about the clobbered desktop menus.

    3. Robert Moore

      Re: I shall be investigating

      Quick fix for the stupid skinny scroll bars.

      Open a terminal.

      echo ".scrollbar.vertical slider," >> ~/.config/gtk-3.0/gtk.css

      echo "scrollbar.vertical slider {" >> ~/.config/gtk-3.0/gtk.css

      echo "min-width: 13px;" >> ~/.config/gtk-3.0/gtk.css

      echo "}" >> ~/.config/gtk-3.0/gtk.css

      You don't even have to reboot, every new window opened has reasonable sized scroll bars.

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Quick fix for the stupid skinny scroll bars.

        Good grief.

        Thank fuck for MS eh?

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Quick fix for the stupid skinny scroll bars.

          If only there were a setting for it, so one did not have to mess around with such arcana...

          Oh wait: System Settings, Themes, Settings, Scrollbar behaviour.

          1. sabroni Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Quick fix for the stupid skinny scroll bars.

            Doesn't get you the upvotes that the arcana does though.

          2. ROC
            Unhappy

            Re: Quick fix for the stupid skinny scroll bars.

            Not seeing "System Settings" on Mint 20.3, nor other recent versions (all MATE). Most comparable setting I see is "Preferences".

          3. itzman
            FAIL

            Re: Quick fix for the stupid skinny scroll bars.

            that menu chain doesnt exist in MATE

      2. ROC

        Re: I shall be investigating

        Works for everything, so far, EXCEPT Firebox. But more useful for me on T-Bird and file manager anyway. ;-}

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And this is why

    and I am NOT taking the piss.

    Linux on the desktop? Not going to happen. After all, which Linux do you choose? Ask 10 Linux users and you will get 10 different answers. And you think Windows/Macos business users are going to switch to Linux.

    I have been asked many times by my employees to dump macOS and switch to Linux. It is free. Actually, nothing in this world is "free".

    It's not going to happen. Because which Linux?

    And don't get me started on trying to the find equivalent Linux software as to what we use.

    1. FatalR

      Re: And this is why

      You're being a little silly.

      For personal use, use whatever you want, you have the choice, why should people decide for you?

      For buisness, well it sounds like it is your decision? So you need to do some testing. Corporate use is very different and it really depends on what you need to connect to etc. Most of the mainline distros already have domain join options so you have most AD work out of the way.

      As for software availability, welcome to the world, this is obviously nto a distro choice problem. And FYI, some of us have a game with people who want software on Windows that just doesn't exist for windows....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And this is why

        @FatalR

        I don't want software on Windows. We Run Macs.

        FYI people did not decide for me. I decided.

        My production machines are not connected to anything. Why should they be?

        Quote "this is obviously nto a distro choice problem". What the hell are you talking about? What is "nto"?

        You have never run a modern Mac have you?

        1. AlbertH
          Linux

          Re: And this is why

          I've run a "modern Mac" and it's truly horrible - the way they force you to use their choices, with no chance to change anything is contrary to the way most sensible people might like to configure their own computers.

          Similarly, Windows takes choices out of the hands of users, and I (generally) don't like their choices. I also don't like the performance hit of running such a nasty, bloated, unstable mess.

          Linux Mint has served my (and many of my friends) very well for year. The Mint team has (generally) made sensible choices, but if you don't like them, you can change them to suit yourself! The freedom that this provides is truly refreshing.

          1. phuzz Silver badge

            Re: And this is why

            fwiw, computers these days are so fast that there's not really any noticeable performance differences between Windows and Linux for general desktop tasks. The amount of memory the OS uses is going to be dwarfed by a web browser with a couple of modern websites open.

            Apple do make very shiny hardware, but I can't afford it.

    2. Liam Proven Bronze badge

      Re: And this is why

      [Article author here]

      I beg to differ. Choice is not a bad thing.

      Yes, there are legions of options. But there are also plenty of ways to narrow the options and simplify selection.

      Want commercial support? That significantly narrows the field, and makes Red Hat and SUSE the primary contenders, followed by Ubuntu. All based on GNOME these days, notably.

      Culture and familiarity also count for a lot. In North America, Red Hat dominates; in the German-speaking countries, SUSE dominates. So for companies HQed in one of those territories, the familiar option will probably win.

      Here in Czechia, Red Hat is a major employer in Brno and SUSE significant in Prague. (I've worked for both.) A high-tech company in Brno (and there are a lot of those) is quite likely to have some ex-RH people on staff, and that will guide their choice.

      And so on.

      But to be brutally honest, the long-fabled Year Of Linux On The Desktop came years ago and most of the tech industry didn't notice.

      It's ChromeOS. Tens of millions of ChromeBooks sell each year, the sort of user numbers that a desktop Linux vendor can only dream of.

      Just like Hackintoshes are rounding error when it comes to macOS users, people running anything other than ChromeOS on ChromeBooks are a rounding error. Basically, all ChromeBook users are Linux users. ChromeOS is a very weird form of Gentoo, I believe, and it is a significant fraction of the general-purpose computer market these days.

      It's here.

      Combine the numbers of the 2 Google Linuxes -- ChromeOS and Android -- and the entire Windows PC industry becomes the rounding error. Together they outsell PCs by 10:1.

      But this is like the "no true Scotsman" argument: Linux vendors mostly don't consider ChromeOS a "real" Linux, and PC users don't consider ChromeBooks to be "real" PCs.

      There are always excuses.

      But it's here. ChromeBooks have been on sale for 11 years. It's in daily use by many tens of millions of people, probably hundreds of millions. If that doesn't count, then nothing will.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: And this is why

        @Liam Proven

        I appreciate the time you have taken to make a sensible reply to my comment.

        But I too have to beg to differ.

        I am talking about desktop. Not Android, which will maybe, sometime, be a desktop thanks to Microsoft.

        I am not talking about home users either. They will invariably be Windows users. And who can blame them? It works for them. And they are happy with that.

        Chromebooks? Android? Just the same as Windows. Spyware, end of.

        But yes, I insist on using Macs in my business. Because, they really do just work. There is no faffing around. They don't need some sort of config or whatever work arounds the wonks on this site rabbit on about. I need to make money so I can pay my employees and hopefully, myself. And this last couple of years has been difficult. To say the least.

        So, my good Sir, I challenge you to tell me what Linux software to use to replace the software that we use...

        Wavelab pro, Cubase, Rekordbox, Finalcut, Photoshop, (please do not say Gimp. The person who would have to use it told me literally to "fuck off"). He is bloody good at what he does so Photoshop is here to stay.

        Perhaps I should have said, (here comes another deluge of downvotes), the year of users choosing to put Linux on their computer is never going to happen. And being honest, Linux users do not want that to happen anyway. Otherwise they would lose the "let's look down on the plebs" superiority complex they have. Hell, if Linux did become popular on the desktop, they would be screaming "sold out". Just like they did with "underground" bands in the late sixties, when same bands released a single that charted.

        But seriously, again I thank you for your considered reply.

        1. sabroni Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Otherwise they would lose the "let's look down on the plebs" superiority complex they have

          That's it in a nutshell.

          If you understand people as well as computers it's pretty obvious.

        2. Liam Proven Bronze badge

          Re: And this is why

          The right computer for you is the one that runs the apps you need.

          If you need Mac apps, run Macs.

          Some people need some Windows-only apps, and they should therefore run Windows.

          It's that easy.

          But what you are missing is a scenario that is not addressed by this.

          What if you don't need any apps in particular?

          For hundreds of millions of people today, they don't really need any particular software. All they need is a web browser, some chat apps, Zoom or Teams or something, maybe something let them type and edit text in some fairly generic formats, or do some spreadsheets. View PDFs, listen to music.

          The sort of basic, generic stuff that is all many people need now.

          The point is that multiple Linux distros can deliver that without any difficulty now. They're quicker than Windows, free, run even on a decade+ old PC (or Intel Mac), they support most common-or-garden hardware, they can talk to most printers and MFPs and so on.

          I recently gave away a MacBook. Not a MacBook Pro, a white plastic-case 2008 MacBook. It can't run anything newer than Mac OS X Lion, and although there are a handful of browsers that will run on that, Lion is not that much use in 2021 [sic].

          So I put Mint on it. I also put Mint on an old Thinkpad X300 I had, and I gave both away to the same person, so her kids have the same OS on 2 dissimilar computers, the same educational apps, they have Zoom and Skype and working webcams etc. They talk to her wifi, they print, they just work. The have current Chrome and Firefox, and the OS updates itself automatically in the background.

          They look more like Windows 7 than Windows 8, 10 or 11 do, they just work, they're fairly quick for decade-old hardware.

          You don't need to compile kernels any more. You don't need to faff around with Windows wifi drivers or custom networking. This stuff just works out of the box.

          If someone likes Debian, fine. Use Debian then. Ditto Fedora. I have both on a machine here and I had to go to extra lengths to get some easy stuff working that is trivial on Mint, because those distros don't like to install non-FOSS drivers and codecs. Mint's developers don't care: they just include it.

          I'm always looking at new distros and if there's anything more mainstream than this, I don't know about it at the moment. Pointers welcome.

          But my main point here is that this stuff is seriously *not* as hard as people tend to think it is, and by and large, it's getting easier all the time. Even on Apple hardware.

          My home desktop is a honking great retina iMac, and I am very fond of it. It has a more than 30-year-old Apple mechanical keyboard attached to it, because I detest modern Apple keyboards and pointing devices. For that reason, I don't own a Mac laptop. I use old Thinkpads with Linux on, because they're cheap, repairable, and the keyboards are great.

          But all the pro-Mac arguments you assert do not apply to me. I don't use any of those apps, I don't want them, I don't need them, and the single paid-for app on my iMac is an elderly version of MS Office, just for the outliner function in Word and nothing else. I use LibreOffice for everything else.

          I use the same set of apps on macOS, on Linux, and on my very rare forced excursions into Windows. They're all freeware or FOSS, and they all work on all 3 OSes. Anything that doesn't, I don't use.

          So you make the classic error of assuming that _your_ reasons for doing something are generally-applicable and that they hold true for everyone. They do not. They do not apply to me, personally. What I want out of my Mac is that it's slim, attractive, reliable, silent, cool-running, and needs little to no maintenance. It sits in my living room looking nice and being a no-hassle way to... well, basically, to watch movies, listen to music, and tell people on the internet that they're wrong, as per https://xkcd.com/386/

          Hope that clears things up. :-)

        3. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: And this is why

          Adobe did so well out of the rampant piracy of Photoshop back in the day. Countless people learnt to do image editing using a pirated copy of PS, and when they got a paying job, they insisted on using Photoshop, and Adobe got their licensing money.

          People seem to have a lot of trouble switching between different programs that do the same task which helps keep software companies in business.

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        But

        Each Chromebook has an expiry date when its software stops updating. Including no security fixes from then on. Programmed obsolescence. It's my dealbreaker. (If I was ever tempted anyway.)

        1. Col_Panek
          Linux

          Re: But

          It took little time to flash the bios and install GalliumOS on my 2013 model Chromebook (which I got real cheap). It runs Kubuntu just fine now. Check the compatibility list on the Gallium website; only Intel machines can be de-Googled.

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: But

            Thanks for the tip!

            From other online comments*, GalliumOS may be getting less maintenance done presently, but it's a place to start. Wikipedia indicates that a Chromebook can be tricky to "unlock" - you may need to replace the firmware - and the GalliumOS community has expertise for that. And if that gets you to another Linux distro afterwards - that sounds all right.

            * https://linustechtips.com/topic/1375478-thoughts-on-galliumos/

    3. demon driver

      Re: And this is why

      The only valid issue you're bringing up there is in your last line: finding all the software you need. This solved, everything else is comparatively easy.

      First thing I'd want to decide is probably whether to go with the .deb (Debian, Ubuntu, Mint...) or .rpm packaging based distro family (Red Hat, Fedora, ...). And then I'd choose one of the more popular distros and desktop environments. There are more, but you won't be doing much wrong with one of those two.

      Cinnamon, as the article describes well, would surely be a good choice for a desktop environment everyone will easily get to grips with. On the .deb based side the most obvious choice then would probably be Linux Mint, whereas on the .rpm side it might be Fedora which has integrated Cinnamon quite nicely as well, as far as I've seen.

      Of course, tastes and mileages may vary, but I think the described approach at least wouldn't be the most stupid one.

      1. Zolko Silver badge

        Re: And this is why

        First thing I'd want to decide is probably whether to go with the .deb (Debian, Ubuntu, Mint...) or .rpm packaging based distro family (Red Hat, Fedora, ...)

        that's easy: the DEB package hasn't changed for 20 years, which shows how good the initial design was, while RPM has changed many times and leads easily to the dreaded rpm-hell, where you can screw up dependencies in a BIG way: no such thing EVER with DEB packages.

        1. David Robinson 1

          Re: And this is why

          The 1990s called and want their argument back. Dependency hell is nothing to do with the packaging container but rather how careful the package maintainers are with specifying the dependencies and how many third party repos you're using. The Debian packagers were, and probably still are, anal to the extreme about such matters. I cannot recall the last time I encountered any RPM dependency hell using the officially sanctioned repos for the Red Hat systems under my control and my personal Fedora systems.

          1. Sven Coenye

            Re: And this is why

            2000's and the argument is not about application dependencies. The RPM3 to RPM4 transition caused serious pain with Mandrake when RPM4 packages started making their way into the (official) "pressure cooker" repository. An RPM3 base OS would recognize the application upgrade but was unable to handle the RPM4 package. Pretty soon, the result was an irreparable mess.

        2. Nate Amsden Silver badge

          Re: And this is why

          You certainly can get into dependency hell with debian packages (I started using Debian in 1998, I think apt came out in about 2000?).

          It's less common to get dependency hell IF you stick to the official debian repos(probably almost never if you are on stable). I think dependency hell is not common on Redhat either if you stick to their official repos. But yeah go out grab some random rpm off some random website that isn't built for your specific version of Linux and you may certainly have issues.

          Saying "no such thing EVER with DEB packages" just means you lack experience.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: And this is why

      As the article says, Mint is "...the most usable, versatile, and feature-complete all-round Linux desktop experience..." and it's not far from the top of Distrowatch.

      Also in the recent LTT Linux videos, Luke had a far easier time than Linus and he was on Mint.

      It seems pretty obvious which distro is a good fit for getting started with Linux.

    5. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: And this is why

      > Linux on the desktop? Not going to happen. After all, which Linux do you choose? Ask 10 Linux users and you will get 10 different answers. And you think Windows/Macos business users are going to switch to Linux.

      Motorbike rider here, been thinking about buying a car. Not going to happen. After all, which car do you choose? Ask 10 car users and you will get 10 different answers. And you think motorbike/scooter users are going to switch to cars?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And this is why

        @eldakka

        I have upvoted you simply because you have so deliberately missed my point. And you know it. But please enjoy your moment of snark.

        1. eldakka Silver badge

          Re: And this is why

          > I have upvoted you simply because you have so deliberately missed my point. And you know it. But please enjoy your moment of snark.

          No, I think you have missed my point.

          There are choices in everything you do.

          You need to do the appropriate level of research/experimenting/testing/life experience to narrow your choices and choose the one you want to use.

          What are you going to have for dinner (Indian, Chinese, French, Mexican, Italian... and what specific dish once you've chosen the style)?

          What drink are you going to buy (coke, pepsi, water, red bull, scotch, rum, cabsav, champagne, cognac, beer... )?

          What breakfast serial?

          What bread?

          Who are you going to date/marry/one-night-stand?

          What friends are you going to make?

          What job are you going to take?

          Where are you going on vacation?

          Atr you going to get COVID vaxxed or not?

          What clothes are you going to buy?

          Unless you want to go through life being a robot or someone's slave or 'whipped', you need to make the decisions after appropriate research - whether that means trying food you've never had before and deciding you like it or you'll never touch it again, taking a person on a date to see if you want to see them again, asking the opinino of someone you trust, or getting a PhD in a field you want to write research papers on.

          If you want someone to tell you what Linux to use, OK, I'll give it a go, get Linux Mint.

          There you go, somewhere to start. If you don't like Mint, change to a different distribution or don't, or just stay on whatever O/S you are currently on. I don't care.

    6. Nate Amsden Silver badge

      Re: And this is why

      You are right, for most folks Linux on the desktop is not the answer (I say this as someone who has used Linux on their desktop/laptop exclusively since about 1997). I wrote in another comment in another article I gave up on even the prospect of pushing Linux on the desktop when OS X hit it "big" I would say maybe back in around 2006, almost everyone I knew who used Linux switched to that for their desktop (I know of just one other person that I've worked with that stuck with Linux and I've only met him on one occasion so am not sure what % of time he spends as linux on his main system). I tried OS X back in 2011 for a few weeks and well it's just not for me, neither was the Macbook pro hardware.

      I am currently using Lenovo P50(sitting on top of a Thermaltake laptop cooler) with Linux Mate 20, it stays plugged in and sits on my desk 99% of the time connected to wired ethernet. It stays on 24/7 as well I never use sleep/hibernate/suspend). Also I use the internal LCD and keyboard(external trackball). Prior I was using a Toshiba Tecra A11(Ubuntu 10.04 LTS then Mint 17?) which I bought in 2010 and the P50 replaced it in 2016.

      Linux on the desktop may make some sense for locked down systems in schools or companies etc. I haven't worked with end user desktop support level stuff since 2001. Otherwise when someone asks me what kind of computer they should get I really don't give an opinion, because I don't care what they use. (last thing I want is them contacting me because they had some issue with something I suggested they use). I'm happy to tell people what I use, doesn't mean it would be a good fit for them though.

    7. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: And this is why

      Which Linux? Basically, it doesn't matter a duck's sphincter; pick one that meets your needs and stay with it until it doesn't any more:

      1. That's exactly how you picked Mac over Windows or RISC OS, right? Err ... riiight?

      2. It's a [invasion of duck's sphincter]'s sight easier to switch Linux distros than to switch between MacOS and Windows.

      So stop being dishonest with yourself.

      P.S. I'd suggest Ubuntu or similar, one that offers paid support options to give you that warm corporate feeling, just like your current favourite OS does.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And this is why

        @steelpillow

        I am being honest with myself. If my business does not make money, my employees (all 3 of them) DON'T GET PAID.

        So we use Macs.

        Can't find any software that even comes close the software we use.

        Why would I want to switch to windows? Or Linux? Linux is "free". Really?

        1. steelpillow Silver badge

          Re: And this is why

          So you did pick an OS that meets your needs and stayed with it because it still does. Good on you.

          Your criticisms apply to all other OS, so singling out Linux was a bit unwise really, made you look like a blinkered asshole even though you are not one.

    8. CAPS LOCK

      Low quality trolling...

      ... 0/10 see me...

    9. LionelB Silver badge

      Re: And this is why

      One thing I really don't understand: who actually gives a toss whether "Linux on the desktop" is a big thing or not, and why?

      I happen to use Linux on my desktop(s) because it is simply the best OS for my personal usage. If someone's mileage varies, good for them.

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And this is why

      @idiot taxpayer here again

      79+ downvotes - you sound like you know what you're talking about grandad.

  3. Forget It
    Thumb Up

    Better to make a MINT

    with linux

    rather than with Dogecoin

  4. Ikoth

    These two paragraphs summarise why Linux will never have true mainstream appeal, and I speak as an enthusiastic Mint user.

    "Mint was an early adopter of the MATE desktop, as well as building its own desktop, Cinnamon – which originated as the Mint GNOME Shell Extensions, which made GNOME 3 more "traditional": taskbar, start menu, and so on. It also offers an edition with the lighter-weight Xfce desktop.

    Recent versions of Xfce and MATE have both switched to Gtk3, and Cinnamon has always used it. In an attempt to reduce duplication of effort between the projects, especially the closely-related MATE (a fork of GNOME 2) and Cinnamon (a fork of GNOME 3), the Mint team develops the XApps suite – versions of the various accessory apps with traditional user interfaces: conventional title and menu bars, rather than GNOME's CSD."

    It reminds me of my first attempt to install Linux, some 15(?) years ago. I was using a Thinkpad at the time, and the installation instructions started along lines of "you first need to recompile the kernel, to support the system hardware..." After a brief "WTF!?" I went back to Windows.

    There is such a thing as too much choice. Especially when it comes to enticing non-technical users away from the cosseted, familiar worlds of Microsoft & Apple.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      It reminds me of my first attempt to install Linux, some 15(?) years ago. I was using a Thinkpad at the time, and the installation instructions started along lines of "you first need to recompile the kernel, to support the system hardware..."

      I've been installing Linux - various distros - for at least 15 years, and I've never had to recompile anything. I've never done it on a Thinkpad, but I have installed on a variety of off-the-peg and home-built kit and I'm surprised that such a popular platform would require recompilation.

      1. Adair Silver badge

        It's okay, some people just can't handle choice; and some regard personal anecdote as generic experience.

        Meanwhile reality sails on, and we all get to sail in it together. :-P

      2. regadpellagru

        "I've been installing Linux - various distros - for at least 15 years, and I've never had to recompile anything. I've never done it on a Thinkpad, but I have installed on a variety of off-the-peg and home-built kit and I'm surprised that such a popular platform would require recompilation."

        Re-compiling WAS mandatory back in the mid-90s (Slackware and its few friends). But it was more 27 years from now than 20 or 15.

        Shortly after the old years, did the kernel (2.2 I think) move to massively use modules and every distro started to modprobe HW. Also, HW started to unify a bit, was a bit of a mess those years (3DFX was still a thing).

      3. druck Silver badge

        Brand new Thinkpad Carbon Extreme, powered up once with the default windows install, download Linux Mint to a USB stick, installed Mint with full disk encryption. No more Windows ever, in under half an hour.

        1. breakfast
          Windows

          I had Mint on a dual-boot with Windows where I used the latter for my work. Upgraded Mint to the new LTS version and during the process it managed to both break grub and somehow kill all the graphics drivers so I could no longer boot into Windows and I could only get Mint up as a command line.

          No more Windows in under half an hour. And also hardly any Linux.

          That was the end of Linux on the desktop as a serious option for me - it took a couple of days to get my laptop back up and running and that was time I couldn't get paid for. Combined with the extreme difficulty of getting an Nvidia video card working and trying to make it do anything useful with audio, it really brought home the old saying about how Linux is only free if your time has no value.

      4. mickaroo

        I, too, have been installing a variety of Linux distributions on a variety of hardware systems for more than 15 years.

        I have compiled a kernel... Because I wanted to try it, not because I NEEDED to.

        NDISwrapper... Whole different story.

      5. Nate Amsden Silver badge

        I was installing Linux on generic IBM Thinkpads back in the late 90s without issue. PCMCIA modems and ethernet cards too (didn't have "wifi" as it is today then). Models such as I think the T20, maybe T22, later T30 or something like that. IBM Thinkpad was rated super high for linux compatibility for a long time, I think still is even under Lenovo (though it could be the Thinkpad brand has been abused to include less quality systems over time I am not sure). It was one of the big reasons I picked the Lenovo P50 at the time because it had solid Linux support.

        Linux Mint 17 did not support the wireless card on the P50 out of the box(didn't realize this for the first few months as I didn't need wireless), had to install a newer kernel(which was available) then I don't remember if the newer kernel had wireless support out of the box or if I had to install Intel's drivers, but I do recall being pissed that the Intel drivers(from their website) didn't work on the default kernel I didn't want to upgrade. Will forever be frustrated that the Linux kernel doesn't have a stable driver ABI across versions. Yes I know the reasons why, forever frustrated though.

      6. AlbertH
        Linux

        I've installed several different flavours of Linux on Thinkpads over many years, and have never had to "recompile" anything - ever. It Just Works™

        The lightly used Fourth generation X1 carbon thing I recently bought secondhand is just about the best laptop I've ever seen, cost about one sixth of the price of the cheapest Mac laptop, and has a significantly better specification than even their highest-end models.

        There's no longer any contest - Apple is great if you don't want to learn to use a computer properly, Windows is a waste of space in all environments, and the current crop of the major Linux distros are superb: Easy to install and configure, efficient, stable and secure.

        There's no longer any contest!

    2. JassMan Silver badge

      @Ikoth

      What on earth were you trying to install? Virtually all mainstream flavours of Linux have had decent installers for the last 20 years. Give Mint a try and I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Personally I prefer the XFCE version but all versions are easy to use and much quicker than Windows. My Laptop took over a minute to boot in Windows (the one and only time I tried it) but Mint XFCE 20.2 boots in 6 secs from OS selection to password prompt. It spends more time in UEFI than booting the OS. (Yes, the live USB version takes over a minute but once installed to an SSD it is like greased lightning)

      The only reason to use a Linux which requires you to compile the kernel is if you have extremely esoteric hardware or you want to build a machine for hacking. Otherwise just stick with an Arch, Ubuntu or RedHat derivative.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Ikoth

        Most people haven't needed to compile the kernel for Linux to get it to work for their PC for many years (about 20?)

        However, personally speaking, when updating, I compile the Kernel for my PC, but that's because I moved to Gentoo Linux 15 or 16 years ago. Back then, I moved to Gentoo from SuSE to get maximum performance from a not particularly good PC. Now, I stick with Gentoo to have a version of Linux configured the way I want in a way I am used to doing. (e.g. without systemd....)

    3. Manolo
      Linux

      Re: compiling kernels

      When I started using Linux (Red Hat 5.x), in 1997, I sometimes compiled my own kernels.

      Not because I had to, but for the challenge and the learning experience.

      1. Rob Daglish Bronze badge

        Re: compiling kernels

        I started playing around with Linux in 94/95 ish, and there were definitely times it was suggested that you could/should recompile the kernel to add or remove stuff, but my Elonex 486SX/25 seemed to work reasonably well whether I did or not. Provided you weren’t my Dad wanting to use windows afterwards…

        Now, the problem arises because in my head, that is around 15 years ago, because it surely can’t be 27 years ago, because that would just be ridiculous!

    4. demon driver

      I do see your point, somewhat

      But those two paragraphs are not supposed to be read by potential new users. All they need to know is which distro might be best to start with, and many people will tell them Linux Mint, and from then on not too much can go wrong.

      I would agree though that the whole GNOME 2 - GNOME 3 - Gtk 2/3 - Xfcde - MATE - Cinnamon affair isn't exactly something someone should have to put up with when choosing an operating system.

      Straying away from the classic desktop metaphor in its default flavour was a big mistake for Ubuntu. Until then, Ubuntu arguably would have been *the* go-to distro for new users, and over time it did attract a lot of them. Yes, it brought Linux much closer to becoming mainstream than it ever was. But with Unity and then Gnome 3, The makers of Ubuntu tore down with their behind what they had built up with their hands for so long. Ubuntu stopped becoming the obvious choice for new users, even though they could also choose the MATE or Xfce flavours. Even worse, other distros adopted the abomination named Gnome 3 as well...

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: and many people will tell them Linux Mint

        As clearly evidenced by the shit show above, eh?

    5. sabroni Silver badge

      re: and I speak as an enthusiastic Mint user.

      Yeah, but clearly not enthusiastic enough for the fundamentalists on here.

      You must venerate all aspects of linux or face the tyranny of downvotes!!

      1. Adair Silver badge

        Re: re: and I speak as an enthusiastic Mint user.

        Here, have a downwvote. :-D

        1. sabroni Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: re: and I speak as an enthusiastic Mint user.

          Oh no! I hang around here with my linux snark because I want upvotes!!

          What a disaster!!!!

  5. Binraider Silver badge

    Mint is a nice enough distro, and one I'd recommend to newcomers. After 4 years or so I found it wasn't quite customisable enough to my own tastes... Though that was only really because I insist on struggling to play games on Linux and/or run somewhat esoteric hardware.

    And yes, technically everything is customisable in more or less any distro but the point of Mint is that the user doesn't HAVE to do so. There are others options which expose that customisation capability with relative ease by comparison.

    1. Robert Moore
      Linux

      I do all my gaming on a Linux Mint desktop.

      I admit my requirements are not particularly high, but it works fantastic for me.

      My girlfriend also has Mint on her laptop.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Linux Mint is sufficient for casual home usage

        Ditto for our home computing use. My significant other and I have used Linux Mint exclusively for at least the past decade.

        Although to be perfectly honest, We don't really play games much, and the games I do play are all perfectly managable for our 5 & 7 year old laptops respectively: Solitaire, Knetwalk and Gweled - and maybe the occasional round of Supertux or the extremely rare round of ExtremeTux Racer.

  6. rfrazier

    Debian + icewm since 1998

    Posting now on a Panasonic Toughbook CF-MX4 (replacement for a Samsung Tab S).

    Touch screen works, tablet mode works, stylus works. It just works.

    Of course I've tried other setups, for example Gnome; KDE; XFCE; Enlightenment; and, recently, Pop! OS. The integration of various settings things is nice, but soon becomes a problem, if you want something tricky. So, in the end, I always come back to plain Debian, and icewm.

    Best wishes,

    Bob

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Mint has dropped Snap support since version 20"

    Suddenly it has a USP over Ubuntu.

  8. Barry Rueger

    Ten years and counting.

    Dear God I get sick of the idiotic anti-Linux FUD that always appears here. Seriously, what's the point?

    Just to be sure I went over to the Mint Forums to see how long I've been using it, and wow, it's ten years. What I do know is that the reason I switched was finally getting fed up with the endless crap that Windows forces on its users. (I also was a Mac user for several years, but that's another story for another day.)

    I'll tell you why I'm still with Mint:

    - I have yet to find a computer that can't be set up and running in under twenty minutes. Stick in the USB; reboot; answer a handful of really simple questions, and bang. It JUST WORKS. Install Chrome and disable CapsLock, and I'm happy.

    - That is literally all that I have done for at least seven or eight years. Everything that I need on a day to day basis is installed with the OS.

    - LibreOffice does everything that I need, and likely more. If I need to it will export and import Word docs, but most of what I do is "in house" so who cares. Same for Calc and Excel. And having seen how badly Apple's equivalent programs refuse to play well with anyone else, I'm really impressed with LibreOffice.

    - Printers? Scanners? Other outboard stuff? Just works. Even if it's ten year old item that makes Windows barf all over itself. And by "works" I mean "installs itself" without digging out CDROMS or downloading drivers from a website.

    - CONSISTENCY! - In a nutshell the Mint Cinnamon user interface is 98% exactly the same as it was ten years ago. Stuff doesn't get moved around every couple of years, and even better, stuff doesn't just arbitrarily disappear. It amazes me that people are still whining about Microsoft switching to the "ribbon" toolbar in Word.

    - NO ADVERTISING! NO CRAPWARE GAMES! NO UNREQUESTED TRIALWARE CRAP. It amazes me how much utter dreck gets installed on Windows machines. And Android for that matter. And how much of it can't even be removed.

    For me, and arguably for the vast majority of users, Mint is a perfect choice. Super easy to install. Fast start-up. Has all of the tools that most people need. Utterly reliable and rock-solid. Doesn't break. Doesn't break stuff. Stays out of your way so you can just get stuff done.

    Are there programs like PhotoShop that don't run on Linux? Sure. Are the specific tasks that are better handled with Windows, or even Apple? Sure.

    But those things are increasingly rare. For everyone else Mint is an absolutely painless choice for day to day work. And that's far more than Windows will ever be able to claim, and from what I've seen is also not really true of Apple.

    And did I mention: Mint is free.

    1. wub

      Re: Ten years and counting.

      Thank you for saying everything I wanted to say and more! I wish I could upvote this post more than once.

      One print support related story.

      We had a Konica copier at work that was getting an upgrade to become a networked printer - probably around 2010. I was the local contact, and provided the necessary info to the technician so he could complete the network setup on the copier. Got bored, went back to my desk and noticed that my Mint laptop had discovered a new printer on the network. A dialog box had poped up, asking me if I wanted to print a test page? I said sure, and walked back to the copier. I found the technician was standing there holding the page, looking surprised. He looked up and asked me if I did this, and how? He hadn't even gotten a chance to make a test from his own laptop, let alone start installing the driver on the various Windows systems that had been chosen as users of this device. Mint for the win!

    2. sabroni Silver badge

      Re: some regard personal anecdote as generic experience.

      Depends which way you look at it, eh?

    3. ROC
      Devil

      Re: Ten years and counting.

      I have a recent PC that challenges Mint MATE sorely at times for upgrades/updates, a Dell Inspiron 7375 with AMD Ryzen 5 2500U and Radeon Vega Mobile Gfx, which has been my main PC for the last 3 years or so, and it is a nicely capable all-purpose machine with 13" touch screen, 256GB SSD (just upgraded to 500GB (with issues), and a decent array of ports. It came with Win10, but I almost never boot that, so don't care that its Ryzen is not "qualified" for Win11. I usually have a dozen of varying configurations/ages (or more - lose count sometimes...) others for "projects" to occupy my retirement, and a couple for wife to simplify supporting her usage).

      Most of these other machines, and earlier ones, have had little trouble with Mint updates and upgrades over the past 10 years or so.

      But this beast: when all drivers are working it's great, but about every other kernel update messes up any and all of bluetooth, video/touch screen, wifi, audio, and random lockups (if it boots up at all - a simple low-end MS mouse with USB cord can freeze booting at times).

      I have learned to keep 1 or 2 of the previous versions for alternate booting with each such update, blacklist the offending kernel, and see what the next version fixes with one hand, and breaks with the other.

      The latest f-up was a probably the most aggravating: I installed a new Mint MATE 20.3 instance in a new partition of its own on the 500GB SSD for testing, but when I wanted to boot back up with the "stable" 20.2 version that I had been using before, I was appalled to find out its partition was EMPTIED of any OS files. Luckily, I had the Home directory on a separate partition that was untouched, so I could copy over my primary user files (and still had all the recent originals of system and home on the the prior 256GB SSD).

      WHAT. THE. F'ing. Hell, Clement/Mint???

      However, the "fun" of this love/hate relationship will probably continue my insanity as I keep doing the same things, and expect different results - been doingthat since installing from floppies in the 90's when not locked into work PC's with Windows of all versions...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ten years and counting.

        As a workaround (not ideal, but hey), you could try the next LiveUSB before committing to an upgrade. That way you'd get a good indication of whether it will cause any problems.

        It's likely that any breakages will occur following significant kernel updates. Short of of reading the kernel changelogs, a liveUSB test would preempt that and allow you to wait until any regressions were reversed.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mint for me

    I have tried a few distros over the years like PCLinux, Debian+XFCE, Mandrake, Ubuntu, Slackware, Arch, CentOS, RedHat, Scientific, etc.. I stuck with Ubuntu for a number of years till they replaced Gnome 2 with Unity. I hated it. I jumped about a bit again, mostly Debian based.

    I’ve now been using Mint Cinnamon for a few years and that tends to be my go to but I’m always trying new distros. My works laptop is Ubuntu and that’s ok, wouldn’t be my first choice but they gave me a choice of Win 10 or Ubuntu. To be fair there would be no issue in me changing the distro but I prefer to keep it the same as some of the dev/support team (mixture of win/ubuntu/macOS) so I can provide help to them (I’m Operations Engineer). My main workstation boots automatically to Mint Cinnamon but with GRUB and 6 drives it offers choices; 5 different OS and 1 data. I have Alma Linux, Zorin OS, KaOS, Debian (Gnome3, Cinnamon, KDE) and of course Mint Cinnamon.

    I’m fairly happy with Mint for the moment as it just works, like Ubuntu used to. It has it’s quirks but nothing serious. I’d prefer pure Debian but Cinnamon doesn’t feel quite as responsive on it just now and I’m not interested in KDE or Gnome3. Might consider going back to XFCE to try.

    Zorin OS is interesting, not sure I would use it myself but combined with the future Zorin Grid it could be good from a business point of view. I guess it depends on cost too.

    1. FuzzyTheBear
      Mushroom

      Re: Mint for me

      Zorin is evil .. upon activation Silicon valley and everything west of the San Andreas fault will slip in the ocean ! .. DON"T PRESS THAT " OK " BUTTON :D .. or press it .. depends on your mood towards Silicon Valley :D

  10. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Snaplessness is enough to tempt me strongly to switch (from Xubuntu 18.04) but have they dealt with Firefox's tendency to update itself in the background then stop working until restarted, losing any work in open tabs.

    Under other OSes I gather this can be turned off, but not under Xubuntu / Ubuntu? / Linux?. Somebody somewhere must have thought it was a good idea.

    1. PaulVD

      Firefox updates

      In Firefox Settings, General, Firefox Updates

      change the selection from Automatically install updates (recommended)

      to Check for updates but let you choose to install them

      Done.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Firefox updates

        Except that there is no choice under Xubuntu (Ubuntu? Linux?) That section is there in the settings, but is purely informational. Turning off is not an option. That's the problem.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Firefox updates

          Try using about:config in the address bar then type update in the search field.

          Double click the following to change to false:

          - app.update.auto

          - app.update.checkInstallTime

  11. T-Rex Neb

    As an inveterate Mac user, I choose to run elementaryOS on my linux laptops. It just works, and I can install the software I need from either .deb, snap, or flatpak sources. As for LibreOffice, the UI is horrible. I really like Softmaker FreeOffice 2021.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bluetooth HSP/HFP ? Miracast ?

    These aren't niche features.

  13. Timothyconnelly

    Hello, can I follow the link (Stated Below) to fix unable to play YouTube on Firefox, I am using Mint Linus?

    https://bottobotto.com/firefox-wont-play-youtube/

  14. Arty Effem

    Estimating Popularity

    "It's very hard to estimate the relative popularity of Linux distributions. Aside from a couple of paid enterprise distros, they're all free downloads without serial numbers, activation nor any other tracking mechanisms"

    I'm sure I remember reading on this site that each copy of Firefox has it's own unique serial number. Given the relationship with Mozilla, that could be a tracking mechanism.

  15. FuzzyTheBear
    Thumb Up

    Mint ? it's ok d00d :)

    Been on mint and recently the upgrade to the latest version is smooth as slik .

    I got nothing to complain about , i got 3 recent machines with AMD processors , various GPU's and all works fine.

    Plugged a USB wifi key .. it just worked. I mean .. there's nothing that i can say goes wrong and i do all the work i need those machines to do.

    There's not much use case for me for windows. All i need is a solid distro and Mint is it for me.

    Good day.

  16. surya80

    Linux Mint 20.3 is beautiful & functional

    Linux Mint is my first love, pretty, does a lot of things really well, doesn't do everything I want it to but gets better with age. Windows 10 is like a whore I am forced to sleep with (to use AutoCAD, Revit, SAP2000, ETABS, STAAD etc) and Mac is a shiny stupid expensive whore I cannot afford to tap.

  17. The Year of Linux on the Desktop

    Why not Chromium? Do Mint users really care about avoiding Google? I thought Mint was for people who just want an easy free OS?

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