Ok, ok... I know it's a little too late for a review of Linux Mint 4.0 (codename Daryna), but I was "dating" her sisters and I thought: "Why not give Daryna a chance, too?".
This review has been written during an entire week, starting the 26th and ending the 30th of November. I tested Linux Mint 4.0 on a computer with the following specs:
- AMD K8 nForce 250Gb Motherboard
- AMD Sempron 2800+ Processor
- Nvdia GeForce FX5200 Video Card
- 512 MB RAM
- LG CD-RW/DVD-ROM Drive
- 17" BENQ T720 MonitorDay One: 26th Nov, 2007
So, here we are on my first day with Daryna, also known as Linux Mint 4.0. I started with the regular installation. If you�ve installed Ubuntu or an Ubuntu-based operating system before, then you would have no difficulties in installing Linux Mint as well. The installation process is very simple and straightforward; first, you select your country, then the keyboard layout, followed by the partitioning step where I have selected "Guided - Use entire disk" option (I did a fresh install, no resize) and, in the end, I've created an username. That's basically it! The whole installation took about 10 minutes. However, I didn't count them. As always, I wanted to play some Mahjongg while installing, but Linux Mint doesn't have any games installed, so I went on another computer.
After the installation, it comes the usual routine. A message pops-up from the tray area, notifying me about some drivers I must install - Nvidia driver - which was
(as always) very easy to do, with the help of Restricted Drivers Manager. I've rebooted Daryna after the Nvidia driver installation, and then I began the update process with mintUpdate. I have to say that I didn't quite understand, at that moment, how mintUpdate was functioning, as I had to update the system in two steps. Firstly, I had to install some packages with level 2 mark and then others with level 3 and 1. Level 1 packages are those certified by Linux Mint, level 2 packages are recommended updates and level 3 packages are safe ones, but not tested by Linux Mint. So, that's why I had to install level 3 packages, on the second step. In the end, mintUpdate didn't want to install the linux-restricted-modules-2.6.22-14-generic and linux-restricted-modules-common packages. These packages were invisible and marked as level 4 packages, which means that they were unsafe and could potentially affect the stability of the system. I think that's probably because of the built-in protection. If you want to see these level 4 and 5 packages, all you have to do is to click the "lock" icon on the system tray area, hit the "Preferences" button and check the "Safe?" and "Visible?" options in front of them. Be aware that level 5 packages are the most dangerous ones, as they are known to affect the stability of the system (on certain hardware).Day Two: 27th Nov, 2007
Daryna looks beautiful today! I've tried to configure my favorite applications. I've "dressed up" Firefox with a nice skin and enforced it with some useful extensions. I think it's important to mention that Firefox has the Backspace key assigned for back navigation. I've configured Amarok and Gimp, setup Thunderbird (which comes with Lightning – the integrated calendar) as the default e-mail client, MPlayer as the default video player application and, last but not least, Pidgin as my favorite IM client. Talking about Pidgin, you must install the pidgin-plugin-pack package, as it provides a lot of useful plugins. Pidgin can also be enhanced with pidgin-encryption for secure messaging and pidgin-libnotify or pidgin-guifications for some nice notifications in the tray area, when buddies sign-in or sign-out. These packages can be installed with Synaptic Package Manager.
I must admit that I hate the fact that some of the applications are not in their final version. Gimp for example is at version 2.4.0 RC3. Also, Firefox and Thunderbird are both version 184.108.40.206, which I think is very old. Moreover, Daryna is loaded with some applications that I don't need and I will never need, such as Envy (Restricted Drivers Manager does the job very well) and Xchat (Pidgin is also an IRC client).
But Daryna has some very nice features, like that "Open Terminal" function implemented in the right-click context menu. Also, I have to say that I really love the custom splashes Linux Mint team created for OpenOffice.org, Gimp and Amarok. Talking about Amarok, Linux Mint should have Exaile installed instead of it, because it is a GNOME software. Installing Amarok in GNOME and any other KDE application that requires the KDE libraries may lead to some crashes of Knotify. Therefore, if you use Amarok, don't be astonished when you'll see a warning window about a Knotify crash, when you'll try to minimize it in the tray area.
Daryna comes with a nice tool to configure some aspects of your desktop and system. For example, mintDesktop is a smart tool which helps you select what icons you want to appear on your desktop, setup Nautilus to open folders in separate windows or in a single one. Moreover, mintDesktop offers you the possibility to restore the custom splashes Linux Mint team created for Amarok, OpenOffice.org and Gimp, but I doubt anyone will want to change them, because they are so beautiful!Day Three: 28th Nov, 2007
I wanted to test the Software Portal today, and so I did. Software Portal is an invention of Linux Mint, a new technology which tries to offer you applications that you can't find in the usual Ubuntu repositories. There are all kind of applications in the Software Portal for you to install, from games such as Second Life, Open Arena and Battle for Wesnoth, to Microsoft Fonts, Wine Doors and programming tools like Eclipse or MonoDevelop. Each application in the Software Portal has a description, license and screenshots. You also have the possibility to write a review and vote the application if you like it, that, of course, if you create a user and log-in with it in the Software Portal.
To access Software Portal, I had to click the "Software Portal" link situated in the "System" area of the Main Menu. A window pops-up, offering you the possibility to search for software directly from your desktop, and a button that takes you to the Software Portal. I don't like the fact that the Software Portal window I've talked about earlier remains active and it doesn't close, after you click the "Go to the Software Portal" button. In my opinion, as a normal user, this window should close immediately after I click that button. Anyway, this new window that allows you to search the Software Portal has been introduced in this version of Linux Mint for the first time.
I've tested Second Life via Software Portal. The installation worked like a charm and I've found a shortcut of the game in the Internet category. Why Internet? Ask the Linux Mint developers! Probably because it's an Online game/community. However, I still think it should be put into a Games category (which doesn't exist). Oh, and I strongly suggest to deactivate Compiz Fusion, before running an OpenGL game.Day Four: 29th Nov, 2007
I wanted to watch some movies today. There are two video players installed in Linux Mint 4.0: Totem and MPlayer. I've tested a DVD-Video disc and also MP4 and XviD video files. The DVD-Video disc worked very well on Totem, but it failed to work on MPlayer. As for the MP4 and XviD video files, they worked nicely in both players. I doubt you can find a video file that these players can't play, as Linux Mint contains a lot of today's frequently used codecs.Day Five: 30th Nov, 2007
This is my last day with Daryna and I want to draw a line and enumerate the pros and cons.Pros:
- It's simple and does the job. And I think this is the most important aspect that most users are looking for.
- It offers a lot of technologies that you will never
find in other distributions.
- Software Portal is a must have for any distribution out there. I know CNR will come someday, but until then...Cons:
- I don't like the theme. Why? Because of two main reasons:
1. It looks old.
2. It makes the right click menu entries look like they are deactivated.
- In the first two days, it took too long from the moment I have clicked the "Shutdown" button, until the computer has shut down. Don't know why, but maybe it was a problem that happened only to me.
- I never liked Tasty Menu (Daryna's Main Menu) because it's big, but you'll get used to it and it comes in handy sometimes.
In the end I want to say thank you to the developers, especially Clem, for this nicely done edition of Linux Mint. Daryna is cute and living with "her" may turn out to be a "bad habit".Download Linux Mint 4.0 (Daryna) now from Softpedia