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June 6, 2013 / CoffeeCoder

Falling in love with Linux Mint

So for the last several days, I have been playing around with various Linux distributions for my own geeky curiosity.  I’ve been a fairly avid user of Ubuntu since 9.10 Karmic Koala (released in 2009), and loved it for the longest time despite the horrid “Unity” interface they introduced a few years ago.  With each release came an easier setup process, and with the introduction of the Ubuntu Software Center came the easiest way to install software on Linux.  Similar to the Control Panel in design, it allowed users to discover software and install it from one central application.  A very brilliant move!

However, it began to feel as though Ubuntu were becoming more and more bloated with each release.  Then came the day that the .iso files were no longer less than ~700MiB, meaning that they could no longer be burned to regular CDs.  Eventually, the annoyances that the new Unity interface had made me lose patience with Ubuntu, and I lost interest in using it.  I tried Kubuntu, but KDE is so incredibly resource-heavy that I gave up.  I was no longer interested in Ubuntu, and 11.10 was the last version I had installed on my system.

A couple of years passed with which I had no Linux distribution installed, but I had heard of several I was interested in trying.  I did try Xubuntu (another version of Ubuntu utilizing the Xfce Desktop Environment), but didn’t like it very well.  It felt “wrong” somehow, but I’m not sure what I mean by that.  I had also heard of Linux Mint, but was reluctant to try it until just earlier this week.

And all I can say is “WOW!”.  I have never, ever had a Linux distribution be as easy to setup as Mint, or be as fluid and fast.  Sure, there are a couple of things that could be better, but for first-time running after installation, the process couldn’t have gone better!  It installed directly over my old Xubuntu installation without problems, and even updated GRUB with no troubles whatsoever.  Installation took a little less than ~20 minutes, and because I was doing it from the Live DVD, I was able to play around with settings and learn how to operate the system.

The interface is gorgeous.  Similar to the sleekness of Apple products but still retaining individuality, the overall design is wonderfully coherent and intuitive.  You can also download themes directly from the Control Center, making it even easier to customize the look and feel of the system.  However, with how beautiful the default themes are, you may not want to!

It is so much easier than Ubuntu, although I do wish it came with the Ubuntu Software Center.  It comes with its own Software Manager which is similar, but not quite as advanced or as well produced.  I have read it’s possible to install the USC inside of Mint, but I have yet to try it.

Here is a screenshot of my current desktop.  I have Docky installed, which is a great little app I used all the time back in “Old Ubuntu”, and missed so much.

Linux Mint Desktop

I also installed MonoDevelop, which allows C#.NET code to run on any platform, which makes me incredibly happy because I HATE Java with a burning passion!  The fact that I can have C# code running almost natively on any platform is so cool!

MonoDevelop on Linux Mint!

 

I love Linux Mint so much that it has become my default boot option.  Windows will be used for my game development with Unity3D and GameMaker, but as for everything else, Linux Mint can do it all pretty well!  And with emulators such as WINE constantly being updated and able to run more Windows programs, you really can’t go wrong with Linux, though it definitely isn’t for everyone!

On the subject of MonoDevelop, there’s a wonderful project called MonoGame that allows developers to make cross-platform XNA-style games, meaning that my $80 spent on XNA 4.0 books won’t go to waste!

I can say with great conviction that I absolutely love Linux Mint, and recommend it to anyone looking to tinker with Linux.  It’s so easy!

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