Reply to post: Mint 19.x Cinnamon has been an uncharacteristically rough patch in the road

Long-term Linux Mint: 19.3 release unchains the Gimp, adds HiDPI, is kind to your older, less-beefy kit

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Mint 19.x Cinnamon has been an uncharacteristically rough patch in the road

If you're considering switching or upgrading to Mint 19.x and you need Samba (to network with Windows 7 machines in particular), make sure to read the Mint release notes carefully and take the warning about Samba seriously. Samba apparently has fundamental problems in all distros based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, and Mint itself recommends sticking with 18.3 if you need to use Samba on a regular basis. I'm actually considering downgrading to 18.3 or switching to another distro -- one not based on Ubuntu 18.04 -- for this reason alone. I'm getting file-transfer speeds between Mint 19.3 and Windows 7 that are around a tenth of USB 2.0 speeds -- that's USB 2, not 3 -- and that's not really what I'd call acceptable on a gigabit Ethernet network.

I decided I was done with Microsoft back in 2016 and started trialing various Linux distros in virtual machines. Over a couple of years, Mint Cinnamon came out on top in terms of ease of transition, ease of use, and stability. That said, my in-place, bare-metal (non-VM) upgrade from 19.2 to 19.3 on an old ThinkPad T500 with 8GM of RAM was not a happy one. Nothing got borked, but lag time increased exponentially, to the point of making the computer unusable. Downgrading from kernel 5.x to kernel 4.15.x helped the most. Then I radically decreased swappiness (which you wouldn't think would be necessary with 8GB RAM), as well as cache pressure, and that helped some more. Then I disabled background indexing in Recoll and ended up uninstalling Recoll entirely, and that helped some more. Then I disabled most of my non-essential Cinnamon Spices, and that helped some more. Then I disabled desktop animations and related frou-frou, and that helped some more. And then Mint released an update to Cinnamon, and that helped yet some more. The machine is now usable, but it's still pokier than it used to be, and I really shouldn't have had to do all that tweaking.

The fault could be mine, for installing one or two best-in-class KDE apps and their requisite libraries (from the official repositories, mind you) in a Cinnamon environment, but the bottom line is that my Linux Mint computer is no longer as snappy as it used to be. To give it a fair shot, I'd probably have to reinstall 19.3 from scratch and steer clear of foreign-DE apps ... which I'm not going to do because it still wouldn't fix Samba. And the best I can say about that is that the Samba problems are not Mint's fault, they're Ubuntu's. If you hitch your wagon to an upstream distro, sometimes horse apples are going to come flying your way. At least Mint is smart enough to maintain a parallel, if less actively developed, Debian-based edition (LMDE) in case they need to jump ship in the future. (Sorry about the mixed metaphors.)

I don't recall experiencing the standard-package/Flatpak/Snap confusion the reviewer mentioned. I don't think I've seen any Snaps in the repo -- the Mint team has serious objections to the way Ubuntu has centralized control over them -- but I'm pretty sure Flatpaks are clearly flagged in Software Manager's listings, along the lines of Fabulous App X (flatpak). I guess that doesn't help Windows refugees who don't know what a Flatpak is, but as with Windows users who don't know what a "portable program" is, the solution to that problem lies in a couple minutes of googling and reading. Learn once, know forever.

Final Note: If you use Tor Browser, avoid the Ubuntu repo package like the plague, because it's not only out of date, it's catastrophically bad. Instead, download the package from the Tor Browser site and install it by following the site's reasonably straightforward instructions. Once that's done, you'll get update notifications in Tor Browser and you'll be able to update from within the app (same as in Windows). And if you use Pale Moon, Steve Pusser's officially endorsed PPA is very promptly updated and works perfectly.

Anyway, I'm still a big fan of Mint and of Cinnamon, but for me, 19.x has been kind of a rough patch in the road. I feel like I should wrap up with a clever remark combining wagons, horses, horse apples, and ships, but I got nothin'... ;-)

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